Some thoughts on solo performance...?

A cozy place to hang out and discuss all things music.

Moderators: admin, mdc, TAXIstaff

Post Reply
southpaw
Committed Musician
Committed Musician
Posts: 739
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:24 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by southpaw » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:47 am

Ultimately with a music career, my dream is to communicate my stories and have them resonate with people on an emotional level. I want to get out on the road to meet people, share who i am, understand those around me and really inspire and have an impact on my fans..At times, i wonder if ill ever get everything 'all together' and actualize this... There are many reasons that i sometimes think this.. The main one, tho, is that ive yet to find musicians that have the drive/passion that i have, and/or the dedication to even consider forming a band with. This may be partially due to where i live... But nonetheless remains the fact of the matter. All the time i spend on my music, im wondering if trying to put together a solo act and refining 'an act' to start doing more performance is where i should focus more time at this point.. -If i practiced, and just sang over my instrumentals, does it sound impractical to 'really' make the full impact that i might have with a full band...? -Additionally, if anyone does/or has perform solo... Is it as hard as it seems, being that.. it is all you, and you dont have that 'commaroderie' (or support of a group of friends) or what have you..? I think it may be best to just throw myself out there and go play shows, but there is a part of me that doesnt want to be unprepared. I am a very thorough and perfectionistic person by nature. I am also the kind of person that can hear when i sound bad, and when things sound good. My fear is that: Since, being a great live performer means so much to me, say i go out there, feel i dont measure up, and get discouraged from continuing performing and just kind of slowly form a belief that hey, maybe i am not a live performer, and slowly phase this out... If you know what im saying here.Id be grateful to hear your thoughts and insight here folks.*P.S. Let me be clear, I know there is nothing wrong with either. It is all individual, and there is no better or worse way to go. (I.E. Live side vs. writing/composing side.) What im saying is that, personally, i believe i will feel somewhat unfulfilled in some respects, by just staying in my comfort zone..
Stay Fresh,

Jamie Leger 
The Music Business Architect for Independent Musicians

--> FREE GUIDE: Double New Fan Signups At Your Next Show!

Proudly Helping Hundreds of Modern Musicians liberate the music business-on their own terms.

orest
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 3020
Joined: Thu May 29, 2008 9:55 am
Gender: Male
Location: Sweden
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by orest » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:32 am

Well, I really love to play love, but I'm having a hard time finding musicians that think like me. So, for the moment it's the comfort zone for me!

User avatar
ggalen
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 1427
Joined: Mon Oct 09, 2006 11:24 am
Gender: Male
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by ggalen » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:54 am

I play solo over my own backing tracks.I first performed at a solo act in 1973. I played college coffeehouses and small clubs over the years, but never full time. I always have had a career in addition to my music.Like you, I want to play well and be proud of what I do.A few years ago I dropped acoustic guitar and went "all electric". It took me 1 year of practicing 2 or 3 hours a day to get to a good level on electric guitar.Then it took me another year of 2 hours a day practice to get create the backing tracks for a 1 hour set, and learn the songs and leads well enough that I could play them without mistakes when the pressure is on.I will give you a good piece of advice: you are not good enough on your instrument until you can play the most difficult parts even when you are quite nervous and the pressure is on!That means "overlearning" the part until your fingers can play it almost automatically. You don't have a band playing with you to keep the music going when you forget a part or make a mistake. So there is more pressure on you.I thought I was ready when I could play it at home perfectly every time. Then I had some people come and listen at home, and when the pressure was on, I flubbed the harder parts.So...you keep practicing until you can play it well even when quite nervous.That will give you the confidence you need. You'll be much more calm then, because you will be so sure of your ability.I THINK you might have it a lot easier today with a younger crowd, because frankly, a lot of what is popular on the radio is not all that hard to play for a decent musician. And I suspect many of today's audiences are just fine with simple playing and simple riffs.If you go for more complex and interesting music, then it's much more work to get your act together, of course.ONE MORE THING...where are you planning to play? If you want people to listen, house concerts seem to be the coming thing. Playing at private homes for small audiences.I don't think playing in a restaurant or bar is going to be all that satisfying.People don't really listen there, and cannot hear you over the other talking and laughing patrons.Best wishes if you go for it.Above all...have fun! And don't worry too much about getting famous. It may or may not happen and much is outside your control anyway, no matter how great you are.Read this article:http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/smal ... i.htmlFrom the article: "...it’s often suggested that you play anywhere and everywhere, because you never know where a new fan (including one with some power to help in a significant way) will turn up. And if you return consistently, you’ll build an audience.I say it’s nonsense.Of course, if you are an artist on the road, not every gig is likely to be a part of your grand strategic plan. But it is wrong to start with the premise that you should play in rooms where people don’t pay attention, and where the financial prospects are gloomy at best. That mentality is a disservice not only to your music, but to professional artists everywhere."Glenn

southpaw
Committed Musician
Committed Musician
Posts: 739
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 3:24 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by southpaw » Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:23 am

Thanks for sharing your experience and input with me Glenn. Very much appreciate it."Above all...have fun! And don't worry too much about getting famous. It may or may not happen and much is outside your control anyway, no matter how great you are." Right on. I would, still, like to be famous.. (and still think i will be) That would be a great way to communicate to a bigger audience, plus it would be nice to drive a porsche, and get more tail. But my goal is to build and sustain a career in this business. As you said, the rest, is not up to me. "I don't think playing in a restaurant or bar is going to be all that satisfying.People don't really listen there, and cannot hear you over the other talking and laughing patrons."Very interesting. I did wonder if being selective about where you performed was considered 'arrogant' or limiting your exposure - because of not being willing to: 'play anywhere that'ell let ya' so to speak. Ill read the article.
Stay Fresh,

Jamie Leger 
The Music Business Architect for Independent Musicians

--> FREE GUIDE: Double New Fan Signups At Your Next Show!

Proudly Helping Hundreds of Modern Musicians liberate the music business-on their own terms.

User avatar
elser
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 2222
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:32 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by elser » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:23 pm

You might be over thinking it. It might be a good idea, if your able to just go book some shows. Once you have that incentive you'll be forced to prepare as best as you can. Something else you might want to consider is it's not just the show but how you relate to your audience on a personal level. Take U2, or Johnny Cash, people just love those guys largely because of their personalities, so doing a solo gig is a great way to develop those kinds of chops and that's something that happens both on stage and during breaks, getting email addresses, establishing relationships with fans, all that stuff.Don't forget to have fun!

User avatar
elser
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 2222
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:32 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Nashville, TN
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by elser » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:30 pm

I just read your post more closely and saw that your instinct is exactly right.....just go do it!

ernstinen
Total Pro
Total Pro
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2004 6:59 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by ernstinen » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:58 pm

I also, like Glenn, did a solo act with backing tracks. Some people liked it, and others didn't because they thought it was "phony" that I played to recorded tracks.And I agree that when playing bars or restaurant lounges, you're kinda like background music and people don't listen; all they care about is drinking and talking.I did an "unplugged" version with my band in coffee houses here in L.A., and that was really fun.So, from my experience, if you're REALLY good playing guitar/piano and sing great, with great songs, I'd personally go that route.BTW, when I did my solo gig in Michigan to save $$ to move to L.A., overall I hated it. I had to travel a lot, be away from my wife, and play to people that didn't care if I was there or not. Plus, because it was so lonely, I tended to drink too much. Another idea is to do a duo. Less lonely, a fuller sound, and harmonies if the song calls for it!My 2 pesos,Ern

User avatar
suzdoyle
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 2111
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:36 pm
Gender: Female
Location: Pacific Northwest
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by suzdoyle » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:19 am

I started playing professionally at the age of 14, and over the years went from playing in cheesy bars to nice dinner houses, coffee houses, concert halls, new thought churches, and even the White House. This has been in various configurations, from solo piano work to duos, full bands, and even full theatre casts and variety show ensembles. Not to mention the occasional foray into leading groups in ayurvedic chanting and on the spot songwriting.The most important thing I've learned from all this is to enjoy the ride; to learn what I can from each experience, and to think more about what I can give to and co-create with an audience rather than what i might get. To me, providing music is about underscoring an event with emotion. If you are flexible and have a big repertoire of songs and styles, you can learn to read the audience and go with the flow of whatever is happening in the room. I can't tell you how many times formal black tie events I've played at that have ended with people gathered around the piano singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" or "Love Potion No. 9. To me, these kinds of unexpected surprises are the best part about performing live.I have a pretty high standard for myself for wanting to constantly improve and stretch my abilities; at the same time, I'm a very relaxed player who knows that mistakes are just part of the process and that most people are there to enjoy music from an emotional, rather than perfectionistic, standpoint and to feel that they are a part of the experience.Everyone has their own particular path about how they experience music. To me, it's stepping into JUST DOING IT! that is the most important thing.Just my two cents about life as a musician . . . Suz

ernstinen
Total Pro
Total Pro
Posts: 5658
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2004 6:59 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Los Angeles
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by ernstinen » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:57 am

Good post, Suz!I had a client that I was producing that wanted to go out and do a solo on guitar and vocal in coffee houses. I believe he did it a few times, then came back to my studio and told me that he wasn't connecting with the audience.I told him "It's your JOB to figure out how to connect! That's half of what you have to do as a performer. Talk to the people, get them involved."It takes a lot of experience to learn how to do that, what songs work and what don't, etc.But if you're working a room doing a single where no one cares whatever you do, you're S.O.L! I remember playing a biker bar outside of Flint, MI with a great horn band. We tried EVERYTHING, new songs, oldies, cranking it up --- nothing worked.Finally, after a great dance song where the floor was empty, there was dead silence from the crowd of about 300 people. I'm thinking "Oh Oh! Here come the beer bottles (exactly like the bar scene in "The Blues Brothers").Then, from the back of the room came a loud, gruff voice that yelled "Goddammit, play something f*^king MELLOW!"So we started playing slow songs, mostly 6/8 "ice cream" changes, and the dance floor was packed!There were still knife fights, and one night our sound man was taken hostage in the parking lot by a guy with a gun, but at least they finally liked our music! My 2 pesos,Ern

matthoggard
Serious Musician
Serious Musician
Posts: 1168
Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:43 pm
Gender: Male
Location: Oklahoma City, OK.
Contact:

Re: Some thoughts on solo performance...?

Post by matthoggard » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:16 pm

I played in live bands for almost 10 years straight. the one thing I really picked up on,Playing live makes you better. Nothing like a bar full of people to make you be a better player.Being a good player doesnt mean you play every part perfectly. Good players make mistakes and cover them so the audience doesnt even know it happened.Its more than playing well too. To be a successful live performer and to stay busy and keep getting booked, you have to be an entertainer too. Song after song and night after night if your not entertaining, people arent going to remember you. People remembering you is what keeps them filling clubs and buying drinks which keeps club owners and entertainment directors wanting to book you. I have a friend. bless his heart, not a very good singer but he fronted a band that was very popular around here for awhil. What he lacked in vocal skills he more than made up for on stage. He could make a wax figure laugh and he was engaging and got the audience involved and it was always a fun show. (kinda like David Lee Roth)SO its twofold, Be a good player and a good entertainer. You dont have to be perfect. Be human. Thats most people want in a good show.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 1 guest