Love is in the air, poems are in the post and yet ideas are still hard to come by for the hopeless romantic on Valentines Day.
Making a big impression is never easy, but here at Musicroom we don’t think you can go far wrong with a time tested classic: the serenade.
Expressing your inner most feelings is hard enough at the best of times. Nerves, fears and confidence all play their part in wilting the enthusiasm of potential Casanovas.
To help you find that spark of inspiration, we thought we’d put together a quick 5 step ‘How To’ guide for musicians seeking the right sentiments on this most mushy day of the year.
Step one: pick the right song
Choose something in your singing range!
Barry White’s earthshaking tones are a romance standard, but such a rumbling range is off limits for most singers. Instead, find something in-line with your natural voice – something you’ll find comfortable and easy to sing. You want that special person to focus on your expression of love, but your off-track wailings as you butcher a Valentines classic!
Sing one of their favorites!
Find out what your beloved’s favorite track is and learn it. Not only will they appreciated a song they’re already familiar with and enjoy more, but showing you’ve gone that extra mile to find out what they like is exactly the sort of spark that can send a serenade into the stratosphere!
On the other hand, choosing a track that YOU love, or assume they’d like can be a recipe for disaster. Your impassioned Cradle of Filth cover may allow you to scream out your feelings, but if they’re not interested in Filth, they could soon become disinterested with you!
Step two: find the perfect place
Quiet and private is more romantic
The balcony is the classic hotspot for a serenade, but not everyone is lucky enough to have one. Instead, a nice, relaxing venue such as a riverbank, garden or somewhere private and secluded will help make your serenade much more focused, personal and romantic. Again, find out where they like to go or any special quiet places they enjoy.
Don’t go too public or choose an inconvenient time to play
A full, round moon is another romantic staple of the picture perfect serenade, but don’t leave your serenading till it’s too late. Nobody likes being woken up in the dead of night, and rocking up at 2am is a sure fire way to catch your Valentine in the wrong mood, or even miss your chance to woo completely. Go for a dusky evening instead if you want your performance to shimmer in the tender light of the moon.
Avoid large apartment buildings of offices at all costs, or at least take a helmet. You’re more like to annoy the neighbors or invite abuse if you don’t take into account other people and their proximity. Its hard to make the right impression under a rain of boo’s, heckles and rotten fruit.
Step three: accompaniment?
Can’t sing or play? Want to make a BIG impression? Call up some friends.
Singing isn’t everything! Whilst the stereotypical image of the serenade is a singing muso, pouring out their heart through vocals and guitar strings, bringing an accompanist or singer to cover your weaknesses can make your intended listener feel even more special. The extra effort goes a long way and strumming along can be just as impressive as singing your heart out when done with some real feeling! Of course, covering your deficiencies is a much better option than stumbling through, trying to cover both.
Some extra voices or instruments can also ramp up the scale of your display of affection. Maybe you know a few guitarists and a bongo player that could form a backing band for a one-off, under-the-window performance? Just make sure the focus is on what you’re trying to say and avoid inviting Brad, your face melting, shred solo guitarist friend. His arpeggios may be impressive but your sentiments will soon be obscured as the purpose of the performance is lost.
Make sure you can play!
As the old adage goes ‘practice makes perfect’- make sure any performance is well oiled and ready for display, and contains musicians who can actually play. No one wants to be serenaded by a hopeless mess of bum notes by a clueless quartet out of time with each other.
Step four: accessorise!
Bring a gift and add some atmospheric touches
Flowers, chocolates, teddy bears or something more personal or fun (a shirt from her favourite football team? A rare Bolivian addition to his stamp collection?) always make an impression and can add a nice finish to your serenade, as you present your Valetines offering.
Adding some candles, rose petals or other hopelessly romantic touches can also set the tone and create the right atmosphere. Just don’t go over elaborate! Reconstructing the main stage of Glastonbury where you shared your first kiss may sound like a good idea at the time, but in practise you’ll end up being disruptive and annoying rather than thoughtful and clever. Again, the focus should be on your intimate musical expression, but the size of your Pyramid stage!
Stating the obvious…
Practical accessories such a guitar tuner or strap can also save you the embarrassment of a dodgy G string or unwieldy saxophone.
Step five: Go for it!
Break into song! Show lots of passion with a smile and pour out your love
The key to the perfect serenade, regardless of the fixtures, fittings and planning, is putting as much passion into your performance as possible. This is supposed to be the ultimate declaration of your love for the lucky person listening intently to you and your playing.
Don’t throw a diva strop if you make a mistake, or stare out your beloved as if you’re grinding through a serious recital. Smile, have fun and enjoy it! If you slip up, laugh it off. The key is to make them know you really mean it. Don’t sound bored, sad or play half-hearted. Just go for it!
If all else fails however, you can always just ‘do a Cusack’!
Stuck for ideas of what to play? Check out the Greatest Love Songs app for iPod, iPhone and iPad!