I’m a guitarist who has been playing for almost 30 years now and I’ve played in live bands almost that entire time. The reason I play is simple, I love to play in front of live audiences. Some things I love about it are the feedback I get from an excited crowd as well as the joy that comes with really nailing the music when the band is playing well.
I’ve played a lot of different styles of music over the years. I’ve played primarily rock-n-roll but I’ve also played country, jazz, pop, electronic and other styles that don’t really fit into any category at all. I’ve played in original bands playing my own music as well as backing up other artists who write their songs. I’ve played in cover bands with all kinds of lineups from two-piece bands all the way up to full size big bands. I’ve also spent time playing in pit orchestras for live stage plays.
So why have I played in so many bands covering so many styles? Because there was a gig involved. There was a chance for me, playing in every one of these styles and settings, to get up and perform in front of a live audience. If there’s a chance to perform a gig, I’ll take that chance. For me as a performer the ultimate payoff for all the hours of practicing and dedication is to get up and perform.
What is so rewarding about playing live gigs? Honestly, it’s the feedback that I get from the audience about my playing. Way back when I started playing it was about getting girls of course. But as time went on playing gigs became a type of artistic validation. Even when I’ve played a show for a handful of people the feedback I get from the audience is what drives me to improve my skills.
I’ve learned that when I don’t have a gig scheduled that I don’t practice as much. I stop playing my guitar and start doing other things like playing video games or watching DVD’s. It’s essential to have a goal for me to achieve in order to motivate me to keep working on my craft as a musician. I’m also a competitive runner and I’ve found the same thing to be true about running. When I have a race scheduled I train a lot harder and keep my body running at peak efficiency.
So that’s why I say that playing any gig is better than playing no gig at all. I’ve had a lot of fun as well as diverse experiences playing some really interesting gigs over the years. It’s these gigs that have kept me in the game and playing music. So my advice to you is, if you are presented with an opportunity to play a gig, take it! Even if it’s playing for your daughter’s pre-school class. It will get you to practice and that will make you a better musician.
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