Ready to Gig? How to know, what to do...

kilroy6262

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Mar 8, 2020
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114
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60
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PA
You're ready to start playing with others. Do it!! Nothing will improve you more than playing with others, and if you can play with people who are better than you, you will improve even faster. Learning to play with people is a whole set of skills unto itself, and you're not going to get those skills until you do it.
 

Tom Grattan

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Don't worry about being embarrassed because you don't think you're ready to play with people. Believe me, no matter how long you've been playing you're going to be embarrassed along the way. Wanting to do things right means going through all of the pit falls of playing live. Play with people as soon as you can given what you said about your progress. Just keep at it and it'll come but you're going to have to develop thicker skin as you progress. Believe in yourself and keep playing!
 

BlueGillGreg

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Jul 30, 2013
Posts
237
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New England
I'd be grateful for some wisdom and advice from the TDPRI hive mind.

Once a guy knows a bunch of chords, pentatonic scales, some blues riffs, a dozen time-honored solos, a bunch of strumming pattern and other guitarish knowledge, then what?

I've been playing (again) for a year. I know more than I can do, if you know what I mean, but I can take a lead sheet/chord chart and play rhythm along with the band on YouTube for most songs. The problem is making the leap from that to feeling like I can play with others without embarrassing myself.

How do I know when I'm ready? Different answer for different people, I guess.

How did you know when you were ready? How good were you when you started getting up with others? What do you wish you had known or done before you took the leap?

Sorry for the open-ended question but I want to be ready but not wait too long, if you get my meaning.

Thanks!!
Occasional embarrassment is a given. Just accept that it'll happen somewhat and that some things you'll also play well and feel good about. Everyone in a band or a jam session has been in your shoes and are still playing. They get it. Don't expect to play every song. Bring beer or even better, food. Help move the bass amp and the drummer's gear. Enjoy the whole thing. Don't worry, be happy!
 

Pualee

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Joined
Feb 5, 2014
Posts
893
Location
Virginia
In my case... there are two critical pieces.

1. Playing with a recording tells me I have all the parts in the right place.
2. Playing without the recording tells me I have the parts right.

And you can't learn to play in a band, without playing in a band. Find some friends, learn your parts, and then work from there. You can always record the practice if you need honest feedback. Listen to it the next day and ask yourself if it is good.
 

brashboy

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Joined
Apr 6, 2017
Posts
214
Age
70
Location
Florida
I'd be grateful for some wisdom and advice from the TDPRI hive mind.

Once a guy knows a bunch of chords, pentatonic scales, some blues riffs, a dozen time-honored solos, a bunch of strumming pattern and other guitarish knowledge, then what?

I've been playing (again) for a year. I know more than I can do, if you know what I mean, but I can take a lead sheet/chord chart and play rhythm along with the band on YouTube for most songs. The problem is making the leap from that to feeling like I can play with others without embarrassing myself.

How do I know when I'm ready? Different answer for different people, I guess.

How did you know when you were ready? How good were you when you started getting up with others? What do you wish you had known or done before you took the leap?

Sorry for the open-ended question but I want to be ready but not wait too long, if you get my meaning.

Thanks!!
You learn to play with others by playing with others. Preferably a little better than you. Gigging comes when you and your jam pals turn into a band.
 

Linkslover

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Joined
Mar 16, 2017
Posts
302
Location
Naples, FL
As a mediocre guitarist/singer, I started young to open mics z while ago. First time, I was scared s***less. Think I went to the bathroom every 15 minutes waiting for my 3 song set.

I was doing one song with a mandolin player who I asked to join me and we I'm playing, Dunedin doesn't sound right. The mandolin player looks at me and whispers "C" chord. I already knew.

I survived, people clapped and when I was done, I got a lot of nice jobs from other performers who were in the audience.

So, my advice is just do it. You'll survive the experience. No one but you will hear the mistakes and most importantly - HAVE FUN!. If it obvious to the audience that you're having fun, they'll have fun too. Having fun is contagious!
 

Fatlip

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Joined
Jan 24, 2017
Posts
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Age
60
Location
St Louis
Practice practice practice... then get a band and practice practice practice some more. Some people are very good at improvising on the fly. Most aren’t. Get your sets tight, you don’t have to play note for note, just get it tight. Nothing bothers me more than guys that bring a music stand on stage for music or lyrics. Memorize your songs. If you screw up, everyone does, do not stop, just keep going, most people will never notice. Don’t talk on the mic and rattle on, you say anything in the mic, it had better be clever or your going to look like a douche. Keep the mic chatter to the bare minimum. No one cares what inspires you or that some chick broke your heart is why you wrote a song. The music should speak for itself. Introduce the band members and thank the venue for having you and the audience for coming to listen, other than that, shut up and sing. You’ll be more focused and look much more professional. Trust me, I’ve seen guys empty a club because they talked too much.
 

Leonardocoate

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Silver Supporter
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Posts
838
Location
Ohio
I'd be grateful for some wisdom and advice from the TDPRI hive mind.

Once a guy knows a bunch of chords, pentatonic scales, some blues riffs, a dozen time-honored solos, a bunch of strumming pattern and other guitarish knowledge, then what?

I've been playing (again) for a year. I know more than I can do, if you know what I mean, but I can take a lead sheet/chord chart and play rhythm along with the band on YouTube for most songs. The problem is making the leap from that to feeling like I can play with others without embarrassing myself.

How do I know when I'm ready? Different answer for different people, I guess.

How did you know when you were ready? How good were you when you started getting up with others? What do you wish you had known or done before you took the leap?

Sorry for the open-ended question but I want to be ready but not wait too long, if you get my meaning.

Thanks!!
I guess the only real answer is, "whenever you think you are". You will need band mates. have some low pressure practice gigs...put on a show
 

waynereed

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Joined
Apr 2, 2013
Posts
86
Location
Central Ohio
I just read about half of the posts. Good stuff here! But I didn't read them all. So this might have been covered already but I bet it hasn't.

Like I said, the above posts are all pretty good! But this is something you can do to get a feeling as to whether or not you're ready. (BTW . . . you are! Find someone else to jam with for a while!)

OK, you gotta record yourself. If you had a decent teacher he or she would have already suggested it. Search the Web for how to's. DL Audacity and start working with it. You need to record 2 ways.

1). Just hit RECORD and start playing. Have a song list for reference and PLAY!

2). Record yourself playing with YouTube on songs you know really well. Play along and record yourself AND the YouTube video/audio.

Then . . . . sit back and LISTEN! I guarantee you two things will happen.

1). You'll probably be overly critical of yourself. (Unless you're a hopeless Narcissist.) And . . .

2). You'll hear yourself, and know if you're ready.

What most teachers and players fail to talk about is something I can your internal clock. What makes you go from CRAP to GOOD is how well you manage that internal clock. And the worst way to learn how to control it is by playing by yourself. You won't/can't learn how to do that while playing by yourself.

EX: You are learning a new song. It has 4 chords. You REALLY know 3 of them. But just learned the 4th for this song. So you start playing it. IN YOUR HEAD ... you go from chord to chord, in time with the music or metronome or drum beats. But what really happens is, your internal clock RESETS to zero every time you play that new chord. YOU think you're strumming in time. But ya know that hesitation as you reach for that new chord?

A skilled musician in this situation will keep in time, and not strum until he/she knows the chord is fingered correctly and will sound right. So he might miss a count, but starts strumming the new chord IN TIME as soon as his fingers are in place. There is no lost time between chord changes!

A non-pro doesn't do that. What they do is STOP . . . make the chord. Reset their internal clock to zero, and then continue playing. So the strumming might be like this . . . Let's say you just learned the D7.

G ' ' ' Em ' ' ' Am ' ' ' - - - D7 ' ' ' G ' ' ' Em ' ' ' Am ' ' ' - - - D7 ' ' '

THAT is what playing with others will help you learn to control. You can't do it by yourself.
 

Skyhook

Tele-Afflicted
Joined
Aug 12, 2014
Posts
1,714
Location
Turku, Finland
Just a few that helped me...

-Know the songs you want to play, inside and out.

This has been a hard nut for me personally when the songs are covers of music that makes me physically ill.
I've ended up playing cover gigs with my nose buried in chord charts.
Also, this, combined with lead singers who suddenly want the song a half step lower...
Yeah, it was money and I seriously bummed everyone out when I quit that cover band, but the frequency of gigs was
escalating when I wanted it to lessen and was considering chewing my leg off to get out of it anyway.

Moral of the story... only play music you like!
Even if it's covers, make sure it's songs you like!
 

Dik Ellis

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Jun 28, 2020
Posts
723
Age
68
Location
Georgetown, TX
I have played with musicians of all levels, and learned one thing early. You can learn from everyone. Get out there and play with any and all players. That's how you find yourself. Embarrassed? It just pushed me to get better. Music is supposed to be fun, so have some.
 

Dik Ellis

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Joined
Jun 28, 2020
Posts
723
Age
68
Location
Georgetown, TX
I just read about half of the posts. Good stuff here! But I didn't read them all. So this might have been covered already but I bet it hasn't.

Like I said, the above posts are all pretty good! But this is something you can do to get a feeling as to whether or not you're ready. (BTW . . . you are! Find someone else to jam with for a while!)

OK, you gotta record yourself. If you had a decent teacher he or she would have already suggested it. Search the Web for how to's. DL Audacity and start working with it. You need to record 2 ways.

1). Just hit RECORD and start playing. Have a song list for reference and PLAY!

2). Record yourself playing with YouTube on songs you know really well. Play along and record yourself AND the YouTube video/audio.

Then . . . . sit back and LISTEN! I guarantee you two things will happen.

1). You'll probably be overly critical of yourself. (Unless you're a hopeless Narcissist.) And . . .

2). You'll hear yourself, and know if you're ready.

What most teachers and players fail to talk about is something I can your internal clock. What makes you go from CRAP to GOOD is how well you manage that internal clock. And the worst way to learn how to control it is by playing by yourself. You won't/can't learn how to do that while playing by yourself.

EX: You are learning a new song. It has 4 chords. You REALLY know 3 of them. But just learned the 4th for this song. So you start playing it. IN YOUR HEAD ... you go from chord to chord, in time with the music or metronome or drum beats. But what really happens is, your internal clock RESETS to zero every time you play that new chord. YOU think you're strumming in time. But ya know that hesitation as you reach for that new chord?

A skilled musician in this situation will keep in time, and not strum until he/she knows the chord is fingered correctly and will sound right. So he might miss a count, but starts strumming the new chord IN TIME as soon as his fingers are in place. There is no lost time between chord changes!

A non-pro doesn't do that. What they do is STOP . . . make the chord. Reset their internal clock to zero, and then continue playing. So the strumming might be like this . . . Let's say you just learned the D7.

G ' ' ' Em ' ' ' Am ' ' ' - - - D7 ' ' ' G ' ' ' Em ' ' ' Am ' ' ' - - - D7 ' ' '

THAT is what playing with others will help you learn to control. You can't do it by yourself.
 

drewg

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Joined
Feb 8, 2020
Posts
942
Location
West of the mountains...
The first time you sit in with even one other musician is magical.
An ensemble like guitar, bass, and another guitar and or drums will change your life, and you'll know when you are ready to play to an audience.
There's safety in numbers.
I really like how you put that. I've only played with others in a band-like setting twice. Subconsciously, I did feel protected somewhat by the other band members. And of course I made my share of mistakes.
 

rednoise

TDPRI Member
Joined
May 30, 2005
Posts
34
Location
Boston
One thing you can only learn by playing with others is how to think on your feet, in the moment. No matter how well-practiced and rehearsed the ensemble is, something unexpected is going to happen. Someone will miss a cue, play a wrong chord, fluff a lyric. Learning how to deal with that in real time is part of being a complete musician, and can actually be thrilling and gratifying when it works out.
 

tm1303

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Joined
Jul 1, 2016
Posts
187
Age
39
Location
Wales
Play with people IRL. This is always the best route forward. If possible you want some people who are slightly better than you, who you enjoy spending time with (not best friends, maybe not even drinking buddies, but much easier if you at least have a basic level of rapport), who are interested in playing things you can be interested in (classic rock is not my bag, but it's pretty fun and this will likely only last 18 months so why not give it a go).

How good were you when you started getting up with others?


Pretty bad. I was a total bedroom guitarist, I never did any solo performer thing, then I replied to an online add that sounded like my kinda thing and was local. I was absolutely the weak link, but I took it as the learning experience it was, stayed humble, asked questions and took advice. It is also the best motivation to practice when you're playing catch-up. Playing with other people who are a step or two ahead of you on the journey is a great way to learn. If they'd left it up to me we never would have had a first gig, but they kinda forced the issue, in a good way :) A half hour warm up slot in a local venue is a great place to start.

What do you wish you had known or done before you took the leap?

  • Most audiences are far less critical than you and your band members are
  • Learn to take a compliment, when someone says "good set" you don't reel off a list of mistakes or excuses, you say "thanks, very kind, glad you enjoyed it, hi my name is Bob nice to meet you". This is a hard lesson to learn.
  • A good guitar tech/setup is invaluable
  • Listen with your ears, not you preconceptions
  • Learn the songs, turn up on time, bring a good tuner, bring a spare lead, bring your plectrums
  • Don't mess people around
  • Learn to play with ear plugs (I'm still not there 100%, and I've been doing this a while now ;))
 

radiocaster

Poster Extraordinaire
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Posts
9,720
Location
europe
Just find some people to play with. Easier said than done, but still. Look for people slightly better than you, but not way better because they'll get annoyed.

Even if you don't have complete songs, you can finish them and write out all the parts (in your head or whatever) together.

You'll know you guys are ready to play a song live if one of you doesn't mess it up every time (problem I've had with a drummer, but that's another story).
 




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