Are you ready for your performance?
In this article I will be providing some advice on how to prepare your guitar playing prior to the actual performance. These suggestions get me ready for a gig and will set my mind at ease (at least somewhat). Hopefully in doing these steps also will help you achieving a successful and less stressful show.
I said less stressful and mean it. There a lot of factors that could go wrong or are out of your control when it comes to a show (delayed start times, shortened performance time, bad audio system, unhappy sound man in the venue, extreme heat, extreme cold etc, etc etc). Gigs/shows/performances are hostile environments that hurl you out of your comfort zone and force you to adapt . These cannot be controlled but what we can control can contribute to an optimum guitar playing performance. I have found that there has never been a show that didn’t have some kind of kink in it where everything was great and ran perfectly smooth.
The first thing that should be addressed by you is how well you know your material. “Yeah , yeah , yeah” your thinking “I know the songs” otherwise there wouldn’t be a gig. I’m sure you know the material, but how well can you execute them in less than optimal surroundings? What types of situations did you try to recreate in your personal rehearsal time to be unfavorable for a good performance? This may seem odd but what you are doing is trying to preemptively create a situation that is less than optimal and take you outside of your personal safe zone where you rehearse. Pay attention to how it “feels” when playing your guitar and it’s played correct in a optimum environment and then duplicate that same feeling in hostile environment. This will help tremendously while under duress. Here a few ideas of things to try to recreate during your rehearsals to have experience with how to handle these situations before you hit the stage.
Practice playing your guitar: in dim lighting, total darkness, with a bright light shining directly into your eyes, in extreme heat, in extreme cold, on your back up guitar, on a guitar you never played (borrow one, you may have to someday at a show), with your volume too loud, with your volume too soft, moving around a lot (practice your stage presence, rock star moves), standing up, sitting down.
When you are able to truly give a great performance regardless of the hostile situation you may encounter that is when you have reached the next level of being a performer. The audience doesn’t care how bad it is for you. They just want to see and hear something great. Their takeaway from a bad performance is that you stink. Even if they aware about your poor environment that usually won’t change their mind anyway. If you do give the audience a great performance and they are aware of your challenges you look like a superhero guitar player. Be the superhero guitar player.
As you can see there are many things you can do to prepare for a poor environment, you will never probably think of them all ahead of time but being prepped for the most common will help you greatly. Oh, and about that unhappy sound guy, be nice to him, he may not make you sound better but he can definitely make you sound bad
About the author: Mark Turko is a professional guitarist with over 25 years of playing and teaching experience in Connecticut. If you are interested in electric or acoustic guitar lessons in the North Haven, Woodbridge, West Haven, Hamden, New Haven CT. area please be sure to contact Mark
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