Monday, May 14, 2007

Music and my guitar

(Note: This is not a tech posting) I taught myself to play guitar starting 5 years ago, and I am at the stage where I can learn to play most new songs I hear. Looking up chords on the internet is invaluable here, as is my iPod as I listen to these songs over and over again, pausing, rewinding, etc. I haven't tried lyrics on my iPod yet, I use my Blackberry for that.

Performing and reproducing music has given me a new appreciation for the music I listen to, both past and present. Which songs are simple 4 chords with powerful lyrics, which are complex or subtle, or out of the ordinary format (Beatles seems to have all of the above). It's also trial and error, which songs I "feel" and thus perform verses which songs just don't take when I try them on the guitar.

I've played at 6 open mics so far, and enjoyed them all. I've had my hits and misses, but I am really learning to appreciate the art of the performance of my fellow amateurs. Now when I go see a professional musician, they make it seem so effortless its just incredible, as so much goes into a performance.

While I am still a freshman when it comes to performing at open mics, I have some tips for newbies:-
- Don't stop, pause, say "whoops". Noone knows when you make a mistake unless you tell them.
- Stand-up. That's what the real performers do, and it really helps projection
- Buy the cheapest mic, stand and amp on and practise singing into microphone and playing amplified. Really helps with confidence
- Record yourself (tape is fine, I use my Canon SD 600 digital camera), and play it back to hear what you sound like
- Announce song writer and song name before performing each song (else everyone will think you wrote it)
- Banter between first and second song. Connect with audience. "Is everyone having a good time" is an easy ice-breaker

I have to thank my friends at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse in Pleasantville - - for allowing me to learn these lessons while playing to them. And I have a lot more to learn....

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