Janice Ho

Janice Ho is Song Talk Radio’s “Tweeting Songbird” and occasional guest co-host. She is also a singer-songwriter and has been trained in both classical and contemporary styles of singing. Connect with her on Twitter @janicehotweets and Facebook.

Making an Emotional Impact as a Performer: Part 2


If you read Part 1 of this three-part series, you’ll also have listened to three different performances of the song “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

What you may have learned is that the way you interpret a song makes a difference in the way people will react to your performance.  This means the way you choose to sing each phrase, emphasize key words, and bring in dynamics and emotional expression are important in making an emotional impact.

So, now I want to get into the Song Interpretation Exercise that I mentioned, which can help you think more intentionally about all of these elements.

Just a note: I’d like to think I’m brilliant, but I didn’t make this all up. A huge thanks goes to my former vocal teacher, Véronik Fournier (a.k.a. V), who passed on this incredibly helpful exercise to me.

First things first, choose a song you want to work on. Then download the Song Interpretation Exercise template here and get going with Step 1!

Step 1: Character, Objective, Moment Before, Win or Loss?

My Character

It may seem obvious that the “Character” in question – i.e. the person singing the song – is, well, you.

Technically, yes. However, is every story that you communicate through the songs you perform actually about you?

Maybe you are singing a song that you wrote completely based on your own personal life story. In that case, when you do the rest of this exercise, you’ll probably be drawing from the exact events and emotions you experienced.

However, sometimes we perform songs that aren’t based on our real life history. For example, one of my songwriting collaborations involved me having to sing about how my now-ex-lover just ran off to Havana. Well, I assure you that this has never happened – but I needed to convince everyone that it had!

So, I created a character in my mind who I could embody when singing Havana”: a young woman who had gotten in deep with her Cuban lover and brought him back to her homeland. Yet, after a tumultuous time together, he packed up and left her high and dry.

Although creating this made-up character may have seemed a bit disingenuous at first, I was able to own the performance by drawing from my own, very real experiences of having felt the emotions of longing, bitterness and despair that are expressed in the song.

Singing To

If you are performing at a show, you will, of course, be singing to your audience.  But, again, let’s get to the heart of the story behind the song.

Who are you, as the character of the song, singing to? Are you singing to your cheating, ex-boyfriend who is now trying to win you back? A group of angry protestors who are demanding change? Your first, newborn baby?

There’s something kind of freeing about approaching a performance in this way. Rather than getting the jitters about singing to a sea of faces watching you from their seats, you are simply communicating a story that is really about, and being directed at, someone else.


What is your objective, or reason, for singing these words to the person (or people) you are singing to? Is it to assure them that they are going to make it through their challenging situation? To convince yourself to take the leap into a new romance?

Clarifying this for yourself from the outset can help in shaping the rest of the exercise. Read more

Making an Emotional Impact as a Performer: Part 1

Having been immersed in the wonderful world of singer-songwriters during my time at Song Talk Radio, I’ve attended quite a number of gigs and open mics over the past year.

Everyone I’ve seen perform has great talent in singing, playing an instrument and writing music.

However, I find there’s a lot of variation in a performer’s ability to make an emotional impact on me as an audience member.

A singer may have an amazing voice, but if every song in their set (or even a single song) is delivered in the exact same way and with little variation in emotional expression, I might leave thinking: “That was a good show”, but not feeling that my mind was blown or heart inspired.

So, I’d like to share an exercise – the Song Interpretation Exercise, to be exact – that may help in taking your performance up a notch in the mind-blowing, heart-inspiring department.

Read more

How Song Talk’s Tweeting Songbird Landed in the Studio

Listening to the Tickle

I learned a really important lesson in 2015 that I’m taking with me as we charge ahead into the New Year.

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself to try something completely new – something you’d never expect to be interested in or be able to predict all the doors it would open for you down the road.

When that opportunity arises and you feel your curiosity pique, a buzz of excitement tickle you inside, don’t let fear or doubt dissuade you from what could be the beginning of a fun, life-changing journey!

For me, that unexpected opportunity was diving into the unknown world of radio.

Three weeks into 2015, my Facebook status declared in revelation:

2015 is all about getting out there and exploring unchartered territory! And so far January has been off to an amazing start, from checking out my first songwriters’ circle that motivated me to compose a new tune … to doing something totally unexpected but surprisingly interesting today – a volunteer workshop for Ryerson’s radio programming hub “The Scope”!

I had learned about The Scope at Ryerson from attending my first songwriters’ circle – a Meetup group organized by Bruce Harrott, Neel Modi and Phil Emery – where I discovered that this fab trio are also co-hosts of a show called Song Talk Radio at The Scope.

After returning home from the meetup, I started curiously browsing around The Scope’s website. Lo and behold, there was an announcement that they would be holding a volunteer boot camp in just a couple of days.

Was I in? I had no idea what to expect or what I wanted to come out of it. But I felt the tickle inside and suddenly found myself filling out the registration form and clicking “Submit.”

Read more