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Old 01-11-2022, 01:53 AM
Banter Shack Banter Shack is offline
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Default 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!
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Old 01-11-2022, 07:13 AM
Mandobart Mandobart is offline
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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?
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Old 01-11-2022, 09:14 AM
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Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banter Shack View Post
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.
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Old 01-11-2022, 12:05 PM
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…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.




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Old 01-11-2022, 01:13 PM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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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!
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Old 01-11-2022, 02:01 PM
Bushleague Bushleague is offline
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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.
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Old 01-12-2022, 09:04 AM
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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
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Old 01-12-2022, 09:40 AM
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Are you talking about busking in a park or playing a venue for an audience?
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Old 01-12-2022, 10:48 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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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.
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Old 01-12-2022, 02:28 PM
Banter Shack Banter Shack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandobart View Post
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.
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Old 01-12-2022, 02:32 PM
Banter Shack Banter Shack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bushleague View Post
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!
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Old 01-12-2022, 02:34 PM
Banter Shack Banter Shack is offline
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Originally Posted by rllink View Post
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.
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Old 01-12-2022, 02:53 PM
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posted in wrong thead
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Old 01-12-2022, 03:05 PM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reeve21 View Post
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.
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Old 01-12-2022, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banter Shack View Post
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.



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