Heading out on the Road? First Gig Essentials for Newbie Musicians!
Preparation Tips For First-Time Performers
Studies show that music improves morale and reduces stress, which is one of the reasons why performing at gigs can be such a thrill. For musicians new to gigging, though, performing in front of audiences can be quite a daunting prospect. Along with focusing on good technique and self-care, it is important to make sure you prepare appropriately before gigs to give you the best chance of having an enjoyable show and performing well. This will stand you in good stead over time and help you gain confidence the more shows you play.
Practise and look after your instrument
It goes without saying that to play well at any gig you need to practise sufficiently beforehand. This will make you more confident about your playing in the run up to the gig, which will probably help you look and feel more at ease on stage. Be sure to keep your instrument in good condition in between shows, remembering to source appropriate accessories for your instrument and replace them when need be. Meanwhile, it is a good idea to practise improvising during rehearsals. Research shows that improvising improves self-expression and reduces anxiety, while also developing more versatile musicians.
Play in front of friends and family
It is a good idea to do some low-key performances in front of familiar faces, such as family members or close friends. This can help you test the water with songs and also get used to playing in front of people before you perform in different surroundings and to unfamiliar faces. Ask for honest, constructive feedback from people you know and work on using these suggestions to hone your performance. When you feel confident enough to play in front of larger crowds, consider approaching organisers of fundraising events with musical acts. These sorts of shows tend to be low-pressure because of their charitable focus, but also offer you the chance to gain experience playing in front of larger audiences.
Have a pre-gig ritual to calm nerves
It can be helpful to have some sort of ritual before you go on stage at a gig. In fact, recent research has revealed that rituals lower raised heart rates, reducing anxiety effectively in the process. This is why so many musicians have a ritual they stick to before a performance. It might be listening to a particular song, doing a particular stretching routine or reading a piece of motivational writing; finding something that resonates with you or acts as a source of comfort will help you feel calmer and in the right ‘zone’ mentally to go out and perform.
Learn from each gig
Performing gigs can be exciting and nerve-racking at the same time – even for the most experienced performers. After all, you can’t always predict how many people will be in the audience or how they are going to respond to you. However, try to focus on enjoying the gig and using each one as a positive learning experience. Not all gigs will go smoothly; that is inevitable. It is what you learn from each performance and apply to the next one that matters.
Written by Cassandra Moorhouse