As a fellow musician, I know that there is no rush greater than the one we feel when we share our music with others. Whether it’s for family and friends, a small coffee shop open mic, or for a stadium full of people, we always want to give our best to our audience. So how exactly do you nail a performance? How do you ensure that your big night goes even better than planned?Well, there’s definitely no scientific formula for a great gig. But never fear! I’m here to give you some tips to make sure your gig goes perfectly.
- Practice makes perfect
I know, I know; you’ve heard this so much, your eyes could bleed just from reading it. But practice really does make perfect. If you want to blow your audience away, you’re going to have to be as comfortable with the music as possible and that kind of comfort only comes with practice. Practicing good vocal and/ or instrumental technique can also prevent injury and help you sound your best. And if you really want to impress your audience, practice so much that you memorize your music (provided you aren’t playing in a symphony or something)!
- Take care of yourself
Alright, I know I just told you to practice until you’re blue in the face, but it is very important that you do not over practice. Be sure to make sleep and healthy eating priorities as well. Over practicing can cause singers to lose their voices and musicians to injure their hands. Take regular breaks when you practice for extended periods of time, and in general, be kind to your body before a performance.
- Record yourselves and play it back
It is often hard to hear what you actually sound like when you’re the one making the music. To assure yourself that you’re headed in the right direction (or to hear where you need to practice a little more) set up a microphone to record yourself while you play. Be sure not to place your microphone too close or too far from you, so as not to distort the sound. Also, the quality of your microphone is important for getting as realistic of a playback as possible. I recommend a Blue Snowball microphone. I have one myself and it works great. Get it from Amazon here.
Afterwards, listen to the recording and take notes--what did you like? What didn’t you like? Use these notes to better target your next rehearsal. Hopefully by your performance date, you’ll play back a performance of which you can be proud.
- Get in the space ahead of time
The layout of a room is, of course, important for acoustics and electrical setup. But unfamiliarity with a performance space can actually add to a musician’s anxiety levels before and while performing. To prevent normal pre-show nerves from turning into stage fright jitters, visit your performance space ahead of time if you can. Get a feel for the room and the stage; knowing your space will make you feel much better come performance day.
- Take the gig seriously, no matter how small it is.
So you’re not going to be on the Madison Square Garden stage. Big deal! You’re going to get to share your musical talent with a room of people who came out to hear your perform! If you decide to savor any opportunity to get on stage, every gig is important. And if every, single gig is important, you will be more likely to give your very best every, single time.
- Make sure you’re performing with people, who take this just as seriously as you do
One day, you and your friends have this AMAZING jam session, and then, somebody finally says it:
“Guys, we should totally be a band!”
How fun would that be? Performing with your friends sounds like a great idea... At first glance. Now, I’m not saying that friends don’t make good bandmates. However, if the only reason your friends are in your band is to socialize, rehearsals may consist of more leisure than music, which may lead to less than perfect performances.
So, if you decide to start a band with all your friends, good for you! Just make sure they are just as committed to the cause as you are.
- Be kind
Tony nominee, Rob McClure, an alum from my high school, spoke at our senior awards dinner years ago. His one piece of advice to all the graduating seniors was: be kind. Be kind to the backstage crew; sound engineers can make you sound great or awful and roadies can either care for or ruin your equipment. Be kind to your fans; maybe you aren’t being stalked by the paparazzi, but there may be some people who will want your picture after the show. Say yes, no matter how tired you are; your audience is why you have gigs at all! Being kind will leave people with good impressions of you and, therefore, your show!
- Be early
Running late before a show can make you miss crucial parts of your pre-show rituals. Make sure you give yourself more than enough time to set up, warm up, calm down, and pump yourself before performing!
- Do a sound check and take pictures of your settings
Once, at an open mic night, my bandmate meticulously set the sound board to our settings before our performance. However, we were not the first band to play that night, so when we got on stage to set up, all of our settings were gone! After that experience, we always take pictures of the sound board after we set it, so that it will be easy to set it back after other bands have changed it.
- Always warm up and tune
Skipping warm ups can cause vocal injuries for singers and hand injuries for musicians. And even if you were just playing your instruments earlier that day, always tune before a performance. God forbid you find out your instrument is out of tune while you’re already performing. As they say, better safe than sorry.
- Be wary about trying things you never practiced
Being in the moment and doing what feels right can make your performance great. But deviating too much from what you practiced can throw off your bandmates and cause noticeable mistakes. If you want to be organic on stage, try being as organic as you can be during rehearsals. That way, your bandmates won’t be surprised by any improvisation you may do.
- Transport your instruments properly
You won’t be able to perform at all if your instruments and equipment get destroyed on your way to the gig. For protection, especially on tours or long distance travel, invest in a high quality case. It will give you peace of mind while traveling and ensure that your instruments and equipment survives the trip safe and sound. I would recommend TANK cases; you can get these at Cases by Source here.
And here's a bonus tip: have funMaking music is, above all, about having fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself, your audience won’t be either. So let loose and have a blast! That’s what music is for, after all.
And don't forget to take care of your instruments; they deserve the best protection! If you're a brass player, check out our TANK Cases. Click below!