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Author Topic: Open mic nights and the like  (Read 513 times)
Hooked
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« on: May 23, 2017, 11:46:23 PM »

I am constantly in awe of the depth of experience and talent among this group. As a relatively new guitarist, still playing mostly for my dog, the birds out back, and my wife if she can't escape, I have a question for the esteemed of the group.

When you began playing, how good did you feel you were before venturing into public - open mics, church, whatever. I'm slowly working up a repertoire of things I don't screw up too badly, but nowhere near confident enough for the world tour yet. Any advice besides directions to Carnegie Hall?

Oh yeah -willing to trade flyfishing or BBQ lessons for guitar instruction. THOSE I feel pretty good about!     bowdown
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 02:36:36 AM »

Very scared.I have always hated the spotlight though I have been in many bands in my lifetime stay out of it was my way of dealing with it.Spent many years a a sideman,you know the guy behind the front person in the dim lights.About 6 years ago at our first gig my now duo partner had them put his and my name on sign,it freaked me out.I get told all the time to face the crowd but I don't mostly because I'm watching my partner.For giggle's and grins check out some of the gig video's we have on our facebook page and you'll see what I mean.
Keith and Barefoot Rob

I'd post a link but as everyone here know I'm not that smart....
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ST
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 02:38:52 AM »

Hi Hooked,

I've been hosting open mic events for years.  I love helping people along their journey. Take the following direct comments as having been said with the kindest of intent.

RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE

Hold off until you can do your three songs from memory. If you're reading, then you may as well be at home alone. If your focus is 18 inches away, then you're not going to give much to the audience.  If people are there for a performance, let them see you instead of the back of a music stand.

If you don't have the confidence or memory to do them without paper or a device, then take only the songs you need or have the songs cued up on the device. Nobody wants to watch you flipping through pages or fiddling around trying to find the next song.

Know what you are going to perform before you set foot on stage.

NEVER perform a song for the first, second, or third, or twentieth time in front of a live audience. You've got to be well seasoned to do that.

Tune your guitar before you get to the stage.

Don't apologize for anything. If you owe the audience an apology, then you're apologizing for wasting everyone's time.


RESPECT YOURSELF
If you can do the above, then you'll feel better than if you weren't prepared. I promise.

ST
 
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eded
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2017, 02:41:27 AM »

My (meager) advice is to go to a few open mics.  Find one that what you play will fit in.  Figure out what their ground rules are (3 songs, 15 min., or whatever), and work on that...  learn your x min of tunes so you're comfortable.  Then go give it a try.

Remember, the folks there are there to hear you play.  They are on your side, and want you to succeed.  

My biggest suggestion is, learn your songs all the way through.  Practice them all the way through.  Don't practice them halfway.  If you practice them halfway, you'll be good at doing them HALFWAY.  Don't be afraid to use cheat sheets, but if you use them, practice that way.

Remember it's supposed to be fun.  Do it.  

Ed
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Hooked
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2017, 10:51:30 PM »

Thanks all! I'm a while from playing out, but am taking your advice to heart. First goal is a small group at the house. Ply them with BBQ and beer, they might be less critical
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Barefoot Rob
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2017, 03:16:46 AM »

Beer and pizza a better way to go.
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flatlander
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« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2017, 02:11:52 PM »

You strike me as a social kind of guy. Gonna have us over for BBQ. Learn a few songs well (have a 4th for your encore!) and go for it. You might find you are right at home. Practice with a mic if at all possible though, or at least be aware you got to sing INTO it! Know what kind of set up they are going to have for your guitar. (mic'd? plug in?) and be ready for that.  Your goal is to communicate with the audience. You don't have to be technically great to do that. If playin at church, same thing. If people are singing along with you at church, be careful! Be ready for their timing to not be the same as yours! Listen to them singing or play forcefully enough so there's no doubt where you are. Do it! I was rather shy or at least quiet when I was young. And nor very good player. But surprisingly, most of all to me, I felt right at home on stage and have buffalo'd my way thru being on stage for 40 years now. (even actually learning to play decent after a couple decades of it. :)  )
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ducktrapper
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« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2017, 04:59:58 PM »

A good question. For me, I began playing electric guitar in high school bands and was too young and naive to know how bad we were. We just wanted to be Beatles and get girls. As for solo work on acoustic guitar at open mics and such, that was different. As soon as I could play songs in a way that didn't embarrass me, that is without too many obvious errors and in a manner that friends said was pretty decent, I was okay with sharing them with public. You can only get better after that or, unless you're totally insensitive, you quickly find out that no one wants to hear you no matter how polite they're being. It's necessary not to be too hard on yourself but to be honest, as well. How long does it take to decide if you have an aptitude for this kind of thing or not? As long as you're working on it and making steady progress, s'all good.   
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Danny
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« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2017, 09:24:26 PM »

I began playing in public after learning basic chords and acquiring a Gibson dread. I led a hundred or so young people in singing songs at our meetings. I played so hard, a lot of G and B strings snapped. I just kept playing, even though the guitar went out of tune.

  That was back in the early seventies. I have played a few open mics and several "gathering" of musicians in  recent years.

    ST has given the best advise in his post.

There is one apology I like to make briefly however. When I play a Jackson Browne song for an example. I will say "My apologies to Jackson Browne" then quickly begin the song.

   Music is meant to be shared. 

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flatlander
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2017, 12:47:23 AM »

You can only get better after that
Indeed. Both from the experience itself AND the fact that you work on songs more and nail them down better when you know you are going to do them in public. Motivation.
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