- If you are visiting a venue for the first time it is a good idea to ring ahead to ensure that the event is on.
- It will help your preparation to attend a couple of sessions before you plan to perform. Visit a few before deciding on where to do your first performance. Trust your instincts. Some places ‘feel’ better than others and each open mic has it’s own culture. Some have a very supportive clientele. Some are just unpleasant.
- Arrive early and be prepared to wait if you want to perform. The more often you attend the more likely you are to get a slot.
- Make a note of what songs are being played by the other performers. Try not to duplicate other people’s material.
- Don’t be intimidated. Get talking to people. Most people are there for the same reason as you: to share their love of music and enjoy the experience of music making and performance. There are always a few small egos out to impress and compete but they are easy to spot as in most walks of life.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. You will make friends. have a great time, learn some new songs, have a laugh and be a better player for the experience.
- Most of the performers will be regular open mic players. They will be the best people to ask about any other open mics in the area.
- Take some friends along with you. To be honest this is why bars have open mic nights on quiet nights. The organisers (who will be geting paid by the venue) will be more popular with the owners if you are increasing their business so are more likely to ask you to come back and play again.
- As soon as is possible find out who is in charge of the running order, ask if there are any places, how many songs you can play and an approximate time that you will be performing.
- Expect the playing schedule to overrun, underrun or to be switched around.
- Get yourself a clip on tuner with a backlight.
- One or two songs will be enough to get you on and off stage for the first time and get you through the first time. 3 songs are the staple for most regular performers. build up to that.
- Alcohol and guitars do not mix! I have seen some amazing players rendered talentless by a couple of pints although one stiff drink may get you over the nerves and not interfere with your technical skills.
(NB this does not work for driving tests.)
- Have a backup song. On a quiet night you may be asked to play again or you may be much better than you realise and be asked for an encore. You can always decline politely and leave them wanting more.
- Talking over other performers, not applauding or leaving as soon as your performance is over is not going to make you any friends.
- Treat others as you would wish to be treated.
- Expect to feel the worst you have ever felt before you go on. Expect to come off with no memory of what has just happened. Expect to want to do all over again as soon as possible.
Many thanks to Elton Ritchie, Music Teacher, for permission to post his tips on the Ukes4Fun blog.
Visit Elton’s site to print these tips and to find out more about his approach to personal and group tuition for ukulele and guitar: http://www.lovetoplayguitar.co.uk