– concerts and gigs are not only about playing well –
Consider every aspect related to a performance. You may be completely centred on the music, but your audience is affected by a lot more than your playing. First a word about the music…
Choose your programmes according to your strengths. It’s not about what you would like to play, but what you can already play well. The former belongs to your student days, the latter is about being a pro.
Dress well. Take advice. Girls tend to over-dress, while blokes look like they just bought a boring black shirt from the nearest discount store.
Plan what you are going to say to an audience from the platform, and stick to it. Make it interesting. Avoid silly observations such as “Villa-Lobos was a famous Brazilian composer.” Rather, describe in one sentence why he was famous. If you can’t think why, find out.
Still on the matter of public speaking, pitch your remarks according to the type of audience. A guitar festival is quite different from a benefit concert in a local community.
One more thing: don’t mumble, and speak more slowly than you do usually. If you can’t project your voice use a microphone. Think: how would an actor say these words?
Be polite and friendly to your promoters and whoever is looking after you. Do not take them for granted. Some are rich impresarios, others may be unpaid volunteer staff.
Be polite and friendly to your audience after the show (and yes, it is a show, no matter what type of music you play). You will be asked the same questions again and again. Answer them as if it were the first time.
You are only as good as your last performance, at least for the foreseeable future. The day you become a huge star it still won’t be any different. Things will only improve when you get to 80 or thereabouts, for at that age you will be admired for managing to play at all!
If you have made a CD give it as a present to whoever is looking after you. Sign and date it with a personalized dedication. One day in the distant future that same person may come backstage and show it you with pride and satisfaction, or of course, it might be a grandchild who does so – that’s if you are still on the road at 80.
13th September 2014, Oklahoma, USA