How to Prepare Yourself for Your First Gig

Are you planning to play your first ever gig? This is a prospect that can stop many budding musicians in their tracks. Follow these steps by guest blogger Diego Cardini if you want to have a great first gig. 

The big day is finally here! Whether you a playing an open mic in a coffee shop or a crowded auditorium full of thousands of fans, the first gig can always feel the scariest. Don’t worry. If you follow these tips, you will be ready to show off your skills and wow the audience so that the will be begging for an encore!

Step 1: Keep it Simple

A lot of new musicians really want to demonstrate that they have what it takes to be a great musicians. They want to play complex arrangements as quickly as possible so people will appreciate them. But think about some of the most famous songs. A lot of them have pretty simple chords and easy to remember choruses and verses.

For you first time in the spotlight, you are better off going with a simple song you mastered than a more difficult one that you have a better chance of making a mistake while performing.

Step 2: Less is More

There is a reason why people always say practice makes perfect. What nobody thinks about when they listen to a song is how many times the musicians practiced it to get everything sounding just right. Bands like the Rolling Stones have probably played some of their most famous songs about 100,000 times by now!

When you are going to perform, you likewise should stick to a handful of songs (about three) that you know extremely well. These are songs that you can blindfolded in the dark while hanging upside down. The whole purpose of your first gig is to get used to being in front of people, you can amaze them with you huge catalog of hits after you’ve had a little more practice.

Step 3: Practice in Front of People

On that note, there is a huge different between when you practice in front of people and when you are alone. You have to get used to people being around. For many musicians, they hardly notice anybody else is in the room when they play. For others, they feed off the energy of the crowd to enhance their performance. Whatever approach you take, you have to be able to play around other people.

playing open mic

Playing open mic nights usually offer a smal, friendly and intimate environment for a first gig…

Start small and ask if your friends and family could watch you play. Even if they are just browsing Facebook on their phone, it is good to get used to having other people around. Go to some public spaces as well like the park so you can be familiar with playing around strangers. This way, when the day of the first gig comes around, it won’t see so new.

Step 4: Don’t Let a Mistake Get to You

Remember that even Michael Jordan missed shots and occasionally Aerosmith was out of tune. And even the best bands had pretty bad first gigs. If you make a mistake while playing, just play through! Don’t think about it. It is like looking down when you are on top of high place, it will only make things scarier!

Even if you feel like you messed up an entire song, forget about it and just focus on the next one. People get afraid of audiences, but they forget that most people are not there to watch you fail. This is doubly true for your first gig which is largely going to be attended by people close to you. If you make a mistake, move on and remember, you can always arrange another gig.

Step 5: Have the Right Equipment

The beginner guitar you have been playing has been fine as you have been learning scales and chords, but you are going to want a decent electric guitar if you are going up on stage. This is true for any instrument from classical guitar to pianos and even dj equipment.

Having good quality instruments will not only improve how you sound, but help you feel more professional. You have to fake it until you make it. Which means you have to feel like rock star even if you aren’t one yet.

Finally… Everything is Going to be Great!

The first gig is always seems like the biggest mountain to climb. But once you do it, you will see that it wasn’t so bad after all. All you have to do is take a deep breath, relax and be willing to embarrass yourself a little. It is all about building that confidence to be able to go up on stage.

The more you do this and the more all of your musician skills improve, the better your performances will be and they will stop seeming scary and be something you look forward to. Who knows, maybe soon you will even be selling out whole stadiums!

– by Diego Cardini

Diego has a passion for music since he was 12 years old. Enjoying jamming and teaching, he runs The Musician Lab a space to learn and get involved with music for musicians of all levels.