How to Make the Change
If you’re bored with playing at home and want to take your music to a different level and get out there and do some gigs, there are a few steps you can take to bridge the gap without having to throw yourself to lions in one big step.
It can be really stressful stepping out on stage for the first time so my advice would be to break yourself in slowly and get some stage experience in a not so hostile environment.
Come and have a go jam nights at your local bar or pub are great way of building your confidence as a musician. Amateur musicians of all skill levels come to these nights to test themselves in the spotlight. You will probably find a lot of regular players turn up and many of them will be great musicians but there will also be other players who will be complete beginners like yourself and have never performed publicly.
Being surrounded by other musicians is a great way of motivating yourself and you will generally find a supportive atmosphere. If you screw up, people won’t really mind and you won’t get booed off the stage. You also don’t have to have learn hundreds of songs to get you up there as you will probably be given 10 or 15 minutes to play two or three songs if you go down well.
In a bar on a Saturday night when you are the main entertainment for the night, it doesn’t matter how good you are, you will still have to put up with people giving you grief one way or another, so unless you are confident in your playing and are used to the limelight, you might find getting some stage experience first is a wise idea.
Busking in the street is really putting yourself in the thick of it.
Essentially, you are laying yourself open to criticism from the general public by forcing them to listen to your music in the street. If you are reasonably good, the chances are, people will let you know, and if you are pretty bad, they will definitely let you know.
While you are playing, people will shout at you, make comments, stand right in your face, talk to you while you are in the middle of a song, offer you stuff, come on to you and generally do just about anything they can to distract you from playing whether intentionally or not. It takes a thick skin to get through a days busking and with the added distractions of everything else that goes on in the street on a Saturday afternoon, you will soon become pretty good at playing through just about anything the general public can throw at you. This is really good training for your future performance in a pub as being surrounded by a bunch of drunk people trying to distract you or grab the mike and mess with your equipment also takes a lot of getting used to.
So get out there, go to a couple of jam nights and do a bit of busking, and you will will have given your self a crash course in dealing with your nerves, distractions and crowd control. Hopefully this experience will serve you well.
By the time you have built up your song itinerary to be able to fill a set of two halves of a least 45 minutes each, have played at a few different jam nights and gone busking a few times, you will probably be ready to book yourself a gig and have the confidence to pull it off without crashing and burning live on stage.
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