local pubs and clubs feature a "Talent
night" once a week, where songwriters and
musicians of all kinds can get their feet wet. It's a
great way to find others with which to co-write or to
form a band, duo, or trio. Perhaps, most importantly,
it's a great way to perform for an audience and see
what it takes to pull off a show of your own.
nights can be a lot of fun as Instrumentalists,
poets, solos, duos, trios, bands, you name it, will
usually perform 3 or 4 pieces at a time, which makes
it bearable for any audience to enjoy. If you don't
like the act that's presently on, well, in 20 minutes
they'll be gone and you can enjoy the next surprise.
And, often, it is a surprise! You never know when
some real talent might step up and do something
uniquely from the heart. If you're just observing,
you'll find yourself thinking how well you would do
in comparison to all that you've witnessed...but be
fore-warned, this isn't as simple as it looks!
may have done all your homework, practiced to the
max, compiled songs that are pure hits, with vocals
and parts worked out to dazzle any audience. You're
sure you're better than anything you've seen at the
local jam nights, but on your first try, you'll most
likely drop a bomb as big as any you've seen - and in
total disbelief! Fact is, you didn't know what you
were doing, and did a poor job. You didn't really
think you'd pull it off perfectly on your very first
try, did you? Of course you did! You worked hard at
this! You prepared thoroughly! So what went wrong?
Distraction, unfamiliar surroundings and lack of
experience, that's what.
what to do? Go back next week, and do it all over
again, simple as that. This is what talent nights are
for! Let's face it, until you pull this gig off, you
aren't gonna' be touring or getting paid for what you
do. But if you focus, keep at it, and figure out all
the little things that go on in a club atmosphere, it
won't be long before you're a popular and welcomed
face on the local talent night scene.
every person in the audience ... in any audience ...
wants to see you do well, really well. They're
rooting for you from the moment you get on stage. The
audience is not sitting there judging your talent or
waiting for the next big thing to strike like a bolt
from heaven. They don't care how "great"
you are, or how wonderful you think you are. They're
simply out to have a good time, and when you get up
on that stage, they're hoping you'll be pure magic!
If they see you struggling at all with anything,
they're secretly praying for your success because
they're putting themselves in your shoes! They're
being "you!" Isn't that what you do when
you're watching and listening to an act? When you get
up in front of an audience, you start with them on
get up there trying to prove how good you are, you're
likely to do just the opposite. Try to let go of your
ego. This isn't easy, because it takes quite a bit of
ego to get up there in the first place, but you're
there for them, they're not there for you. The
performers who have this one twisted around are very
obvious, and it's offensive, not entertaining.
you're thinking about the audience, you're not going
to be focused about what you're doing, and you're
going to make a mistake. And then you'll be thinking
about what the audience is thinking about you for
making that mistake. And while you're concentrating
on that dilemma, you'll make yet another mistake and
short, it all becomes a matter of what you really
care about. If you care about what an audience is
thinking of you, you're bound to blow it. On the
other hand, if you care about what you're doing,
it'll show as a sincere presentation of whatever
talent you have, and that's all anyone can ask for,
know that any audience, from the very start, is on
your side. So be there for them by focusing on your
song and giving yourself over to that. It's not easy
to develop this kind of trust in yourself, let alone
a room full of strangers, but you may as well,
because in the end that's the way it's going to be,
or you won't be playing in front of people for very
first thing you do when you get up in front of the
mike is plug your guitar in, test it in conjunction
with the mike and get a happy balance. Don't get all
flustered, and don't expect anyone to know what you
need, you're the only one who knows that. Simply say,
"A little less guitar, please" or, "A
little less vocal, please". Notice I said
"less." Amateurs tend to ask for
"more." Wrong idea, less is more. The only
time to ask for "more" is in reference to
the monitors. If they aren't loud enough, you might
wind up playing in one key and singing in another
without ever knowing it. The audience will though,
and they'll think you're some sick cow who never
should've got up there in the first place so make
sure your monitors are comfortable for you.
you've got a good balance and you can hear your
guitar and your vocals. Now you're ready to play. If
you ever start playing before applying this
discipline (and you probably will), you'll know, and
you'll never forget why it's so important. If you
can't hear yourself in those monitors, you're going
to do a lot of very silly things, and, as I said, you
probably won't even know it...but the audience will.
relax and pull back. Play your instrument and sing
your songs...quietly! Don't be fooled! This applies
to rock bands too! I repeat - pull back and play
softer than you think you should, especially in a
noisy room! There's something that happens when you
do this. It can't be explained, but you'll see what I
mean when you successfully apply this technique. It
seems to create a controlled tension that adds magic
and professionalism to any performance.
how to apply "controlled tension" by
pulling back and focusing on having your own private
party on stage ... and everyone will want to join
and get there early, and place your guitar/equipment
near the stage ... there's usually a designated area
- find out where it is, and when you're called to
play, be organized and quick about your setup without
sacrificing your satisfaction with the monitors and
supportive of every act that performs ... no matter
what your opinion may be. Everyone needs
encouragement, especially those who may seem to be
wasting your time. If they have the guts to get up
there, they deserve your attention and applause.
you're on stage, keep an eye on the
head-honcho-in-charge for any signals - he may want
you to do another song, or he may want you to wrap it
up - act like a pro.
make excuses about/for anything. No one wants to know
whether or not you have a cold, etc. There's nothing
so unprofessional as making excuses about your voice,
or rambling on about some other unrelated issue. If
you have a cool story to relate about a song, tell it
like a friend, and it can add to the performance ...
but keep it to the point and, for the most part, let
your music speak for itself.
but certainly not least, don't play any song you
haven't practiced to the hilt. You should know your
stuff backwards, forwards and upside down if you ever
expect to let the muse have it's way.
luck ... and remember:
you ain't killin 'em, maybe your point ain't sharp
don't happen till you do."