Posted by Brian on 28th May 2010 in Guitar, Journal, Performing

In a previous post, I talked about the importance of getting out and performing for people. And while I have, in the past, performed as part of an ensemble – most often in church, I have not sought out opportunities to perform very often. I recently decided that this has been a gross oversight on my part.

My eight year-old son started taking piano lessons last fall and has already taken part in a recital and a school talent show and is currently preparing for another recital. It doesn’t occur to him that this is something to get nervous about, as far as he is concerned, its “just something that you do” if you play piano. I’ve now realized that it should be “just something you do” if you play the guitar too.

While I have always believed, in theory, that performing helps build musicianship, I have never really put this belief into practice – until recently. Shortly after deciding that I should be seeking out opportunities to perform, I discovered that there was a local(ish) fingerstyle guitar association, and that they were having an open mic on the first Sunday in May. This really left me with no alternative but to go. Yes, I was nervous – I’ve never really enjoyed being the centre of attention. But to my surprise, when the host got up to start he was nervous – and he apparently makes money performing. I had the luxury of watching several performances before it was my turn and, to my great surprise (and relief) almost all of them were visibly nervous, and yet, like me, felt that it was important to get up and play.

When my turn finally came I was already feeling much more comfortable. I knew that everyone else there was sympathetic to my nervousness and that made me much less nervous. It also helped that a couple of them played songs that I knew how to play. (I don’t know why that helped, but it did.) I had diligently prepared my three tunes and when I played them, everyone seemed genuinely impressed with “the new guy” and they then let me know that they had changed the rules and I could play a fourth tune if I wanted to – something I had not prepared for. Fortunately, I had suspected that a fourth song might be expected since everyone else seemed to be playing four songs so I had already chosen one in my head – though I hadn’t rehearsed it – and it went well too. My one regret is that I opted not to take my video camera – not knowing for sure if it would even be allowed – or practical. But most of the participants were, in fact, video taping themselves and it would have been nice to see for myself how it went. Next time…

So now I’ve chosen my four songs for the June edition of the open mic. Hopefully I’ll have video to show you (and see for myself) how it goes.

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