At a recent performance in California there was some confusion as to when we were starting to play among the musicians. One musician wanted to play earlier in the day, one arrived very late, and one did not want to play until the person that asked him there said to play. The problem again was that the person who asked was not available for hours. This begs the question, “When shall we start playing live music?”
The answer may be slightly complex but there are a few things that must be in place before you can begin. If you follow these considerations before you begin playing live music it will go much more smoothly and the experience for your audience will be more gratifying.
You should have your instrument tuned up and sound checked before you start playing.
This means that anyone that you will be playing with including all of your instruments or voice should be warmed up, in key with the other musicians as well as their separate instruments, and sound checked through any amplification you will be using at the level you will be performing at. This will insure fewer problems with sound once the live music begins. Be sure that your seating, music stands if needed, and any other staging requirements are also set up when you are preparing to play.
Ensure your venue is stable.
To ensure that your live performance will go smoothly find out from the local authorities if your live music is permitted at the venue you are playing at. Sometimes there are local restrictions as to the hours that live music can be played or the volume it can be performed at. In many cases all acoustic music can be performed during normal hours outdoors. Sometimes special permits are required and you will want to make sure your venue has these permits. Also, if the venue is planning on paying you for the performance be sure this is worked out before you start playing live music. So many new musicians do not mind waiting until the end of their performance to be paid but this causes extra stress and I have seen a few venues that have had problems paying even with a signed contract after a packed house has enjoyed a live performance.
Plan for audience interaction.
When performing live music, people tend to hear it from many locations, come near to the source of the music, and many times dance or move about. They may want to eat, drink, or do a variety of other activities so be sure to plan for this. If you want the audience to play your instruments with you then be on the same level as them with little barriers. In just a few moments they will come right over and want to play with you. If you want to perform live with your own group, it is best to separate the group in some way from the audience that is appropriate for the setting.
When you are ready, perform.
It is important to start playing when you are ready to play, the sound is where you want it, and the other parts of the environment are in place. Do not be concerned if the audience is ready because they are always ready for your performance and will start listening as soon as you start playing. Also do not be too concerned if the other musicians in your band are ready or available to start when you are. In many cases a Jazz band will begin performing live before the leader is even on stage. You can start a gig as a drummer, bass, or any instrument but be sure you are ready.
I hope you are enjoying performing live this year in 2011 like I have. There are many opportunities to share your music and if you are looking for more, please contact me by leaving your comment or by calling (802)HILLMAN