I have been playing guitar since I was 12 years old, that’s about 40 years. The first many, many years of my guitar obsession were spent learning and playing guitar alone at home in my bedroom. Sure, I had dreams of stardom but I really didn’t have many people to play with and mostly played by myself. Don’t get me wrong, this was rewarding and enjoyable, but, I’ve come to discover that playing and performing music with and for other people is really where it’s at. Playing publicly and performing are challenging aspects of music and they require courage, bravery and can really help you develop as a person.
So, how do you get started? How do you go from where you are now if you’ve never performed or done it very little to a place where it is more comfortable and even, dare I say, enjoyable?
There are many good ways to do this in a step by step way rather than just diving into the deep end. First, check out all the usual online social media avenues – on Facebook there are usually many Facebook groups that have to do with music in your local area. meetup.com is also a great venue where you can find local jams and group musical happenings. Where I live in Ventura, CA I host an acoustic jam every couple weeks. It’s a place that people can come, play lots of great songs together in a very down to earth environment. No one is put on the spot and it’s just a lot of fun getting together and playing and singing together. I’ve discovered that there are many similar jams, song circles and other types of gatherings around. These group gatherings are purely supportive and don’t require any performance ability and everyone plays and sings together so it’s pretty easy and low anxiety. In my particular group, regulars have come over time and we’ve come to a place where we are pretty tight and sound good. Sometimes we joke after a particularly good song that we’re ready to tour. Not only is it a great time, but you might meet other musicians that you click with.
Once you’ve done that, the next step is to start going to open mics. Open mics vary from coffee shops to bars and can be very small or larger and better established. Some are acoustic only and others are open to electric guitar and have drums, bass, etc… Open mics are a great way to start out performing to an audience that knows what it’s like to get up on stage and the people I’ve met are really supportive even when I’ve blundered and made mistakes.
Some music teachers offer performance workshops or master classes where you can get up on stage, perform a song and get constructive feedback in front of an audience.
See performing music as a personal challenge and a powerful way you can grow and develop as an individual. Take it on as an adventure and see yourself as a performance warrior – someone who will get out there despite the difficulties, anxieties, etc… You’ll discover such a great way of expressing yourself over time and a great way to learn, grow and meet people.
Andrew Bassuk is the owner and primary guitar teacher at Harmony Music Center in Ventura, CA. Please visit his site at www.harmonymusiccenter.com