Movement & Miming: Acceptable or Not

singing and dancing

On my travels round various music websites, I was extremely dismayed to read a notice on a music messageboard (not ours) placed by a young singer advising a newcomer that miming is perfectly acceptable, as it was impossible to perform a dance routine and sing at the same time.


A professional singer/entertainer is one who can maintain a consistent vocal performance thoughout the show INCLUDING dance routines. That does not mean that all performers are also dancers or required to bounce around the stage like lunatics, but those who do, should also be able to do it without ‘miming’. The term ‘Professional’ in this case does not just apply to those who earn a living as a performer, but also to those who take pride in delivering a polished and interesting performance, regardless of age, style or experience.

There are times when miming is acceptable for a singer. Usually when the artist is not performing in front of a live audience, e.g., for filming purposes i.e., your shooting a video and need to repeat the performance several times to get angles, scenes etc. Some television programs also prefer the artist to mime, Top of the Pops used to require this but the preferance now is to record the artists live performance wherever possible. Backing vocalists, session singers and dancers who sing are a different matter entirely and may be required to mime when accompanying a solo artist.

Notable producers who proclaim that some of their artists never sing ‘live’ should take less pride in this disgraceful admission and heed the current mood of the buying public, who are the real reason why the sales figures are falling!

It is NOT acceptable for lead / solo singers to mime a live performance – people pay their hard earned money to hear and see their favoured artist, not watch them miming to a recording! It is common knowledge in the industry that singers who mime are usually hiding a less than average voice which has been ‘tweaked’ during recording, lack the training and experience to carry the show, or are unable to reproduce the recorded performance in a live environment. For those who have talent and dedication, these are all achievable aspects of performance that only come with time, practice and hard work.

Sadly this concept of miming as ‘acceptable’, has been encouraged by some members of the recording industry, who nowadays appear to prefer a quick fix rather than spending time and money on helping to develop their artists. Yes it is true that many signed acts often have their tracks recorded by experienced session musicians, which reduces recording time and studio costs – even The Beatles were shaky musicians when they started out, but their live shows were just that….Live…. bum notes n all!!

Of course dance routines can be demanding and to pull them off successfully the singer has to have a great deal of vocal control, abdominal support and physical stamina. The ability to ‘pace yourself’ so that a complete show can be produced in a fashion that is energetic, yet allows the perfomer to be consistent is an art in itself, some have the knack, others continually strive to perfect it.

Miming may be a necessary evil in certain cases, but no-one should expect to gain respect as a Vocalist or Performer if they are unable to produce the goods live. If that means the singer needs to adapt, cut out or work harder to improve a routine that is affecting their vocal performance, then so be it. With the exception of Classical music, most audiences don’t expect perfection….. what they pay to see is the artists trying to the best of their ability to entertain them. The odd glitch can be forgiven, even endear the artist to the audience.

Neither does this mean that amateurs or the vocally shaky should give up their dream and not attempt to perform live – singing is FUN and there are plenty of places where newcomers can hone their skills, like floorspots, talent shows, karaoke, jam nights, competitions and guest spots – all excellent ways of gaining experience, building a repertoire and learning the art of performing.

Fortunately few self-respecting singers would stoop to fooling their fans in such a manner, miming is detrimental to the business, undermining the hard working and talented individuals who strive to improve and achieve excellence in their performance at every opportunity. It is this difference in thinking that helps to establish their standing within the music fraternity – ‘Professional’ is an attitude. After all – why should they mime……. when they can do it for real!