TrueFire's Guitar Blog

Breaking Out Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Playing Live

Lights Up

It’s go time. You crank up the amp and start rocking out that ballad you’ve been working on for weeks. You hit every note, and pluck every string just right. You even belt that high note you were stressing over. Then it’s over. You did it. You rocked. Only problem? The venue is your living room and the audience is your cat.

Yeah, it’s time you start playing out.

Break Out

When you get to a point where you feel super solid with your music, you’ve got to take it to the next level and play in front of an audience. After all, isn’t that what all the prep was for?

Playing in front of an audience, whether you kill or not, leaves you with a feeling unable to be put into words. You’ll be floating on a cloud for several days after and nothing will bring you down! All it takes is one performance to break out. Once you do, you’ll realize it’s not that bad! You’ll have the itch to do it again and again until you’re hooked on the live music circuit.

Many Roads

There’s several ways to make your debut into live performance. Let’s take a look at a few:

Open Mics

This is your best bet when you’re first starting to play live. You’ll never find a more supportive audience than at an open mic. And, chances are, somebody will play who has less skill than you, giving you a boost of self-confidence. Just make sure you don’t admit that to anybody, it’s best to stay humble!

When it comes to choosing your music for an open mic, you can’t go wrong. Some people choose to do original songs as these venues are so supportive to new music. Others play covers of popular songs. If you’re nervous about making mistakes, pick a super simple song to cover and give it a shot. Just make sure to bring your own guitar to an open mic as well as any accessories you might need, such as a capo.

Check out this site to find an open mic in your neighborhood!

Solo Performance

A lot of times, local coffee shops and bars will offer weeknights up to emerging musicians. You can invite family and friends to fill the shop and plan to play for about 45 minutes to a couple hours. You can also check out sites like GigSalad where you can create a profile and get hired for all different types of events.

Playing a gig like this definitely requires more work than an open mic where you might play one or two songs. However, if you have a plethora of music you’ve been practicing, you should try a solo gig. Remember to bring a folder with all your printed chords so you can easily remember all the music and lyrics.

Playing in a band

Playing in a band is a great way to break into playing live. Being one of several members onstage removes some of the pressure a solo performer would feel. Also, there’s a certain camaraderie that comes along with playing in a band – everybody’s got your back!

Got some talented friends? Consider putting together a band. Set up a practice schedule and book a gig that’s down the line. This way, you’ll have a goal in mind as you practice and everybody will stay motivated.

If your friends can’t jam, that’s cool too. There’s a bunch of ways to find yourself into a band. Check the bulletin board of your local music shop for band openings. You can also check out sites like BandMix where you can search for band openings online.

The Takeaway

If your cat, dog, husband, wife, or children have had enough of you playing inside the confines of your home, maybe it’s time you try playing live. Consider the venues discussed in this article and pick the one that’s best for you.

Of course, you can really do all three if you want to just jump right in! We recommend starting with an open mic as this really helps get the feet wet. If you think you’re still too nervous for an open mic, maybe you need to start with some good old-fashioned karaoke! Whatever gets you onto the stage!

Before going on stage, make sure to check out this TrueFire article, “The 7 Deadly Sins of Playing A Live Gig.” It’s packed with the major things to avoid when playing live.

Are you a seasoned pro? What advice do you have for emerging musicians? Let them know!

By John Lombard