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Banter Shack 01-11-2022 01:53 AM

Live Performance
 
Hey folks,

By March 1st, I will have been playing guitar for exactly one year and I would like to celebrate by going into Manchester City centre and playing to raise money for the homeless. However, despite playing for several hours a day, I'm really not sure if I'm ready.

How long were you playing guitar for before you started performing live - events, on the high street, etc - anything outside of playing in front of family/friends? How many songs do you think it's necessary to have? Additionally, are listeners more forgiving if they know you're playing for a good cause?

Any anecdotes, tips and advice hugely appreciated.

Cheers!

Mandobart 01-11-2022 07:13 AM

I started music as a child in grade school, in orchestra. In public shool music programs, in the US, in the 70's, you start publicly performing (for mostly the parents of the kids playing) right away. I did music in orchestra and jazz band all through my school years and it progressed up to adjudicated performances with some tough critics. At the same time I got into bluegrass and rock and played in a few flash in the pan bands, but by the time I was doing that (with other orchestra and band geeks), we were all actually pretty well seasoned public performers.

As an adult learner, likely self or internet taught, your experience is going to be way different. If you've never performed on a stage before in front of an audience, I would NOT suggest you play solo the first time. You may not know if you'll lock up with stage fright, be able to engage with the audience, remember chords & lyrics, etc.

I recommend you have a playing or singing partner, someone hopefully with a little performance experience. Plan your set list and practice it until you are sick of the songs. Do "dress rehearsals" using the sound gear you'll use for your performance, real time. Play each tune all the way through, just like on your set list. Record it! Have a few friends there so they can give you honest, real feedback. Listen to and watch the recorded practice.

There are people who'll say this is overkill, just wing it. That works for some but for most it doesn't. I've run open mics and seen spectacular crashes. People painfully unprepared, with no idea how their gear worked, no backup cord/tuner/battery/strings/etc. No idea what they were going to play. Started the song, realized they forgot their capo, fumbled for it (finally the host lent them one), started over, guitar sounded terrible, realized they didn't tune, didn't have a tuner, borrowed one from the host..... Some people go through that and never want to play in public again.

Its kind of similar to your first big road trip. Some people head out without checking the tires, oil, belts, etc. and they arrive just fine 1500 miles later by sheer luck or the kindness of strangers. Others do a little preparation and have a few glitches but at least were prepared for the problems they encounter. Some break down 20 miles from home. Are you the kind of person that likes to wing it and trust fate or try to be reasonably prepared?

Mr. Jelly 01-11-2022 09:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Banter Shack (Post 6902803)
How long were you playing guitar for before you started performing live - events, on the high street, etc - anything outside of playing in front of family/friends? How many songs do you think it's necessary to have? Additionally, are listeners more forgiving if they know you're playing for a good cause?

I don't know anything about the venue so I'm limited with my answer. None of these concerns really matters. For me performing is a humbling action. I assume you are singing. You perform what you do as best as you can and it is taken as each person accepts or rejects it. The more you do it the better you get in dealing with it and doing it. If the audience is evolving you can get by with repeating songs every 45 mninutes or so.

ljguitar 01-11-2022 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Banter Shack (Post 6902803)
…are listeners more forgiving if they know you're playing for a good cause?

Hi BS

Not really. People (outside our family members) want to hear music (whether simple or complex) played and sung well.





reeve21 01-11-2022 01:13 PM

Good on you for wanting to get after it for a good cause!

If you can sing (either well, and/or confidently, or at least loudly) and can play I, IV, V and maybe a couple of minor chords in whatever key best suits your voice then I say go for it :)

98 per cent of the public doesn't know or care about guitar skills, so belt it out!

Bushleague 01-11-2022 02:01 PM

I think I played less than a year before I first performed, but it was in a band setting which I think is a little easyer than solo.

A couple things, I dont like to play a gig of any importance before I know for sure the group I'm with is ready. I've refused to do some pretty tempting gigs in the past, often to the frustration of my bandmates, simply because I knew the group had only about a 50% chance of pulling it off half decent, and in the end the gig would likely end up being all the wrong sorts of publicity.

If its a venue you'd like to play at regularly, best to make sure you are going to leave a good impression. If you live in a small town where pretty much every potential fan is going to know how well you did, ditto. Speaking from experience it can take a long time to live down a bad first impression sometimes. A basement show or open mic in a large city, thats where you want to work out your kinks.

jjbigfly 01-12-2022 09:04 AM

ONLY play what you know well. Performing is not the time to learn tunes. If you keep time and stay on pitch (if singing) it will be fine. If you only play what you know well in public, most will think you are quite competent…..
And you will be

rllink 01-12-2022 09:40 AM

Are you talking about busking in a park or playing a venue for an audience?

FrankHudson 01-12-2022 10:48 AM

I suspect no one is truly ready to play live for the first time.

Folks up-thread are giving you good tips to prepare, and that's worthwhile. However, when playing live you may find you'll need to think on your feet. My theory: most good performers get better by repeating the act of performing itself.

Banter Shack 01-12-2022 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mandobart (Post 6902887)
If you've never performed on a stage before in front of an audience, I would NOT suggest you play solo the first time. You may not know if you'll lock up with stage fright, be able to engage with the audience, remember chords & lyrics, etc. Are you the kind of person that likes to wing it and trust fate or try to be reasonably prepared?

I'm definitely taking this into consideration. As I really don't feel competent yet, I'm starting to think that perhaps a live stream would be a better idea. Thanks for your imput.

Banter Shack 01-12-2022 02:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bushleague (Post 6903298)
I think I played less than a year before I first performed, but it was in a band setting which I think is a little easyer than solo.

If its a venue you'd like to play at regularly, best to make sure you are going to leave a good impression. If you live in a small town where pretty much every potential fan is going to know how well you did, ditto. Speaking from experience it can take a long time to live down a bad first impression sometimes. A basement show or open mic in a large city, thats where you want to work out your kinks.

I've also played less than a year and I really don't feel confident about my ability. I've seen other guitar beginners on Youtube who've been playing for several months and it feels like they're already better than me. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Open mics in large cities, though. Got ya. Cheers! :)

Banter Shack 01-12-2022 02:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rllink (Post 6903848)
Are you talking about busking in a park or playing a venue for an audience?

When I'm ready to perform, I want to start with parks and high streets first. At this moment, the scrutinous wrath of playing on stage terrifies me.

rick-slo 01-12-2022 02:53 PM

posted in wrong thead

Silly Moustache 01-12-2022 03:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by reeve21 (Post 6903239)
Good on you for wanting to get after it for a good cause!

If you can sing (either well, and/or confidently, or at least loudly) and can play I, IV, V and maybe a couple of minor chords in whatever key best suits your voice then I say go for it :)

98 per cent of the public doesn't know or care about guitar skills, so belt it out!

Hi BS, Reeves21's answer is a great one.

i'd add, don't knockyourself out on the first couple of somgs, don't try 2too hard2 busking, is a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep the guitar minimal - remember as much as we love these boxes with strings on, they are mostly about accompanying our singing.

Keep hydrated.

Relax and enjoy.

ljguitar 01-12-2022 03:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Banter Shack (Post 6904134)
I've also played less than a year and I really don't feel confident about my ability. I've seen other guitar beginners on Youtube who've been playing for several months and it feels like they're already better than me. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Open mics in large cities, though. Got ya. Cheers! :)

Hi BS

Find a playing 'buddy' and start your 'live' career as a duo.




rllink 01-12-2022 06:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Banter Shack (Post 6904138)
When I'm ready to perform, I want to start with parks and high streets first. At this moment, the scrutinous wrath of playing on stage terrifies me.

I like to busk and share my music. I got started at it because we lived in a condo in Puerto Rico in the winter and I would make a drink and go out to a little park a couple blocks from our house to practice and play songs. One day some ladies stopped to listen to a couple songs and gave me some money. After that I put a tip jar out while I played. That's about as complicated it needs to be.

If that is what you have in mind you don't need a lot of songs because people aren't going to stick around for a set, maybe a song or two and then they leave. Too few and you will bore yourself singing them over and over, but it won't make any difference to anyone else. More important than what you are playing and how many songs you can do, you really need to be able to play them well enough to engage with people walking by. At least make eye contact, nod and smile. If you know a few well enough to put them on hold while you trash talk a little and then go back to them, those are golden.

tbirdman 01-12-2022 08:53 PM

I played my first open mic 4 months into my guitar journey . I did play with a keyboard player. The next month he was traveling so AI went solo. This year I have only played solo. I always try to bring 3 new songs to,the open mic which forces me to learn three songs. I used to use backing tracks but my last couple open mics last year, I went with no backing tracks. Yeah soloing can be nerve wracking, but all the fellow performers were great supporter. Only once did get harassed by a singer from a band, but it wasn’t at an open mic. Just remember that all those you play with were also beginners at one time.

Banter Shack 01-15-2022 03:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rllink (Post 6904271)
If you know a few well enough to put them on hold while you trash talk a little and then go back to them, those are golden.

By this, do you mean being able to play the chord progressions for a few minutes and making small talk over the top, rather than singing the lyrics?

If so, then I think I've got a bit more practicing to do. :)

Banter Shack 01-16-2022 02:25 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tbirdman (Post 6904362)
I played my first open mic 4 months into my guitar journey .

Fair play! How many songs did you play and how much practice did you manage to accumulate in four months? I've been practicing relentlessly for the past ten months and I would still be terrified to perform now. Albeit, I'm contradicting myself a little. I've written my own humorous version of "Yellow Submarine" and I'm gonna walk around the neighbourhood to make a music video for it this week.

rllink 01-17-2022 07:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Banter Shack (Post 6906628)
By this, do you mean being able to play the chord progressions for a few minutes and making small talk over the top, rather than singing the lyrics?

If so, then I think I've got a bit more practicing to do. :)

Well not for minutes, long enough to get someone's attention. If you can stop on a chord and strum it while your talking for just a moment or two, just be ready to pick it back up. Be familiar with what you are playing and be prepared to be interrupted. Honestly, the best way to prepare for busking is to busk. I encourage you to go for it and see what happens.

Banter Shack 01-20-2022 01:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rllink (Post 6908090)
Well not for minutes, long enough to get someone's attention. If you can stop on a chord and strum it while your talking for just a moment or two, just be ready to pick it back up. Be familiar with what you are playing and be prepared to be interrupted. Honestly, the best way to prepare for busking is to busk. I encourage you to go for it and see what happens.

As it happens, I went out to record footage for a music video the other day; I did a daft rewrite of a Beatles tune. Whenever I was playing and singing in crowded areas, I kept forgetting the lines.

broy 01-27-2022 05:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jjbigfly (Post 6903821)
ONLY play what you know well. Performing is not the time to learn tunes. If you keep time and stay on pitch (if singing) it will be fine. If you only play what you know well in public, most will think you are quite competent…..
And you will be

This sums it up best for me.


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