Going from Hobbyist to Open Mic/Jam player

Wooly Fox

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Update: No luck yet in my part of Vancouver, had one query on Bandmix to jam but has gone quiet as they didn't have a jam space arranged.

Got a busy few weeks ahead with work travel so it's on the back burner for now.
 

Wooly Fox

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Got a tip off last night of a new bar/music venue being opened in a few weeks looking to host a weekly open mic and band night. Girlfriend knows the owner and staff so may be a good place to check out and then see if I feel confident enough to put my name down for one night.

I cannot sing (unless I get 6 months of vocal coaching) so it's a struggle to think of how to do an open mic (I don't like playing to a backing track). Do I need to find a singer or do I try doing one guitar instrumental music?
 

MrClint

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I would start with a youtube or soundcloud channel (or both). Record yourself. All you need is a cellphone. Post your recordings here in the twanger central forum. Ask folks for honest feedback. Make some friends in there, as there are some really decent people here who are good players. Learn to self-assess your own playing. Your recordings will serve as a calling card as you reach out for jam buddies and will give you some confidence for the open mics as well. Keep learning and keep playing.
 

chulaivet1966

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I cannot sing (unless I get 6 months of vocal coaching) so it's a struggle to think of how to do an open mic (I don't like playing to a backing track). Do I need to find a singer or do I try doing one guitar instrumental music?
Howdy Wooly....

Positive encouragement on your quest.
Personally, I'm not a solo entertainer....just a song writer/rhythm guitarist so doing open mic nights doesn't interest me.
But....as I've said before: "there's no drug in the world like playing original music in a band to a receptive audience"

If it were me with your interest:
I would not even consider doing any open mics unless I was totally comfortable with knowing the songs, my playing and singing.
I can think of few things more embarrassing than going up on stage whofully unprepared just because I've missed playing to an audience.
I'd have to meet or exceed my own expectations.
If I don't....guess I'll have to work harder.
I would not want to be perceived as being part of the totally unprepared performers.

Good luck and hope it turns out well....keep us updated. :)

But....that's just me.
 

kbold

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I would not even consider doing any open mics unless I was totally comfortable with knowing the songs, my playing and singing
Yep .... practice, practice, practice, then record and critique yourself. Then practice, practice, practice.
I'd have to meet or exceed my own expectations.
Won't happen.
You'll have to get comfortable with the word "imperfect", or even worse "mistake riddled".
Although you'll probably be the only one focussing on the mistakes and imperfections.

Like songwriting, playing to an audience is not easy. Takes practice.
 

VonBonfire

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I cannot sing (unless I get 6 months of vocal coaching) so it's a struggle to think of how to do an open mic (I don't like playing to a backing track). Do I need to find a singer or do I try doing one guitar instrumental music?
There is little or no market for instrumental music. Learn to sing, it's a much more valuable skill than playing guitar in the world of music. Otherwise you will just be backing someone else, which is fine if that's all you want out of it. But then the vocalist will be more likely to be dictating material based around his or her ability and tastes, which is how it should be if you want the best possible act.

Open mics are for live on-stage experience and playing for free. If you blow it badly you can disappear and try again later or go someplace else. Never pay to play or play for free or "for beer". "It's good exposure" is another scam. Exposure is something people die from in the outdoors. Either your efforts are worth money or they aren't. If you don't value your efforts enough to command pay then you probably aren't good enough and should quit while you are ahead. A worker deserves to get paid. Good luck out there.
 

chulaivet1966

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Won't happen.
You'll have to get comfortable with the word "imperfect", or even worse "mistake riddled".
Although you'll probably be the only one focussing on the mistakes and imperfections.

Like songwriting, playing to an audience is not easy. Takes practice.
G'day K....

Ha....I hear you.
Exactly why I'd never make a confident, solo front man performer.
My comfort zone is rhythm guitar and some harmonies.

Hope all is well.

Carry on....
 

pbenn

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Kudos to your quest. If Vanc is anything like Toronto, just Google "open stage vancouver" on any afternoon you feel like going out.

Then analyze your possible venue choices for location, price$, and "newness." New open stages start out with very few people there, then become populated with repeaters, until they're established and harder to break in to.

"Harder to break in to" means after 3 hours sitting there you are too drunk to play and owe $25 + tip. On that note, maybe make the first beer "light" and nurse it until you go on. Conversely, in a really "New" open stage, you'll be the only one there and it will be open for you.

Types of open stage, on a sort of sliding scale, are "list", "semi-list", and "who you know" open stages. They sell different amounts of beer to different markets.

An audience of nice chicks and well-off non-players expects reasonably consistent professionalism, so the "who you know" or all-star jam develops at that bar, given a consistent host.

The other extreme, an entire audience of amateurs, are better served by a strict list so they can schedule themselves and their drinking and guarantee their slot.
 

adeiderich

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You can sing but don't go onstage without practicing! Get a mic and start practicing with something that you deem "passable" and expand from there. Get a looper and try to make it through a "set". It gives your playing another dimension
 

swarfrat

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About practicing singing into a mic. I see lots of people sing into dynamic mics from far away and it works in a traditional church setting when the volume isn't but a few db above speaking volumes. But once the volume gets up into amplified music levels you're going to have to eat that mic to keep feedback at bay.

If you play sitting at home - standing is its own thing. If you don't sing while playing, that's its own thing too. Regards of where you are on the neck, position shifts become harder when you're signing and eating a mic. If you're playing a busy part that goes way up. I ended up taping gaffe tape to the back of the neck for one particular position shift in a busy vocal part

I've just started down this road after a couple years of singing with an acoustic guitar while seated and singing into a not terribly close mic in a room I could almost carry unamplified.

If you don't already own a small powered monitor for your guitar, I'd say get one and use it for vocal
 

martinlb

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Definitely learn a few songs all the way through. And something new players don't often think of; when you make a mistake don't stop! Make certain you're firmly in the habit of playing through. If you're by yourself and make a mistake, letting it throw you and stopping can be pretty common. Don't let it be a habit. When you're playing with others - in public or not - there's nothing as good at messing up the flow than stopping the flow.
 

swarfrat

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Yeah. Not stopping is so hard to break. I started creating backing tracks to practice with for that one.
 

Flaneur

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I have been playing guitar for 16 months now and think I need to start making some goals for my playing beyond mindless noodling and learning parts of songs.

Now the world is opening up I am looking to start playing out with others but have no clue how to do it. I suspect my goal should be an open mic or jam setting but I have no idea if I am good enough yet or when I'll be good enough.

My plan of action is:
1) Learn some songs all the way through
2) Find people to play with
3) Book or arrange to play at a venue to motivate practice and give reason to playing.

Any words or wisdom on how to achieve the above is very much welcome as I have never done this before.
Start at the beginning:

1. Learn some songs- all the way through. Sing them- or get someone else to sing them but first......all the way through.

If you turn up to an open mic, or arrange an informal jam and have no material.....what will you do?
 

swarfrat

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My practice how you play setup:
IMG_20220622_112057160.jpg
 

Wooly Fox

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Thanks all for your replies!

Firstly, from age 12 to 18, I did play in an orchestra and a big band ensemble playing tenor saxophone and clarinet so many transferable skills from those days (12 years ago now).

My issue is remembering all the parts and chords I need to play as well as sing. I guess I need to do more woodshedding to get to a point that I don't make mistakes and I can play them almost automatically.

I also really struggle with timing (same issues I had when playing saxophone) so metronome and rhythm practice is high on my practice priorities.

Learning BTO songs right now as they're mostly 3-5 chords per song but the licks can be challenging at tempo.
 




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