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View Full Version : Playing in public, any advice?



tuscadero
06-23-2009, 01:26 AM
I've been playing a little over a year, I'm getting there, but I'm definitely still a n00b. This weekend my friend's mom is throwing a luau-themed BBQ and she has asked me to bring my uke for some sing-along action. I've put together a little songbook of tunes that I feel like the people there will know, and that I feel like I can play pretty well. Beyond that and practicing a lot these last couple of weeks, I haven't done much preparation.

My questions/concerns; I usually play alone, and I can get through the tunes pretty well, but I've never played in front of a group of people, I'm worried that it will throw me off my game. If you've ever been in this boat, what have you learned that I should keep in mind? (and don't tell me to imagine them naked, they are not a sexy bunch :p )

Also, my instinct is to bring my unassuming little Mele concert, instead of my Fender electric. I'm thinking smaller uke, smaller sound, keep the expectations more modest. Thoughts?

HaileISela
06-23-2009, 01:33 AM
I've been playing a little over a year, I'm getting there, but I'm definitely still a n00b. This weekend my friend's mom is throwing a luau-themed BBQ and she has asked me to bring my uke for some sing-along action. I've put together a little songbook of tunes that I feel like the people there will know, and that I feel like I can play pretty well. Beyond that and practicing a lot these last couple of weeks, I haven't done much preparation.

My questions/concerns; I usually play alone, and I can get through the tunes pretty well, but I've never played in front of a group of people, I'm worried that it will throw me off my game. If you've ever been in this boat, what have you learned that I should keep in mind? (and don't tell me to imagine them naked, they are not a sexy bunch :p )

Also, my instinct is to bring my unassuming little Mele concert, instead of my Fender electric. I'm thinking smaller uke, smaller sound, keep the expectations more modest. Thoughts?

Imagine them nekkid.... no wait...

just be yourself, tell them you feel a little new to this situation and keep cool. that moment always gets everyone. you will do good!

Choboy
06-23-2009, 01:41 AM
i played for a public crowd yesterday during work. it was during a break in at a workshop. no one was responsive haha! but at the same half the people were outside getting a snack.

then this morning i played the uke on the train (which is illegal in dc). but if you follow the news there was an accident on the dc metro. sad stuff. i actually take that route twice a week. so long story short the metro was empty today because half the red line was closed, so i just busted out my uke and played away. no one said anything. i think on the way home ill play it again and right before i leave the metro shout out to everyone "HAVE A NICE DAY!" :D:D:D:D

Denno
06-23-2009, 01:44 AM
Do like nike.
Just just do it! :D

And most important, if you look like you are having fun. You will get away with small misstakes. :)

Lanark
06-23-2009, 02:32 AM
Pretty much all that. It's not a big deal and nobody gets hurt if you mess up a song. Have a cocktail and take a couple of deep breaths. You'll be fine.

It can be a bit nerve wracking initially to look up and find people are actually paying attention, but screw it. Have yourself some damn fun. There's going to be people there you know and who know you and nobody's expecting a floorshow out of you.

And they're on your side. People aren't going to start screening your calls because you flubbed a few notes. Everybody's there to have a good time. If you have a good time and enjoy yourself, they will too.

And above all It's just a Party, not Carnegie effin' Hall. Relax. You'll be fine.

I'd go with the Mele too. It should have enough volume and be a more straight up uke experience. And less stuff to lug around.

And if imagining them naked isn't going to work, perhaps you could consider just going ahead and playing naked yourself. If nothing else, it'd take your mind off of worrying about your playing.

buddhuu
06-23-2009, 02:37 AM
Take both ukes. Hide the electric in your car so there's no pressure to use it unless you feel confident. ;) . Better to bring a uke you don't want than to want a uke you didn't bring...

Treat the whole thing as fun.

If you've printed off a few copies of your songbook that you can hand out and get people to sing along with you, then that's great. That way you feel like less of a target and more like part of a crowd!

As you have a few nerves, just have your chords/lyrics to hand. People might be surprised if they see a pro band playing from cheat sheets, but for us "normal" people there's no shame in referring to notes if it helps to get the job done.

Play songs you are comfortable with, preferably the ones you could do in your sleep, but also bear in mind that nothing engages an audience more quickly than a few familiar, popular songs.

If you screw up, be the first person to laugh. Crack gags if/when you mess up:

"That wasn't a mistake, it was jazz!"
"Test time: can anyone tell me what key that mistake was in?"
"Sorry about that - I forgot to bring my ukulele fingers..."

Etc etc etc. Messing up is usually a bigger deal for the person playing than for the audience.

Do you have a beater uke? If you do, you could take it along as well, and show people a couple of chords if they ask (and they often seem to).

Good luck. Have fun! :music: :shaka:

seeso
06-23-2009, 03:23 AM
First of all, that's awesome, Stace! A gig! :D And you are totally not a n00b anymore. Take it from me, you play more than well enough to play in front of people. Be confident in your abilities!

Is the Luau coming up really soon? If it's not too soon, I'd suggest getting together with a few close friends and playing your set for them. People you feel totally comfortable with. It's a good way to ease yourself into playing live.

hoosierhiver
06-23-2009, 03:34 AM
i played for a public crowd yesterday during work. it was during a break in at a workshop. no one was responsive haha! but at the same half the people were outside getting a snack.

then this morning i played the uke on the train (which is illegal in dc). but if you follow the news there was an accident on the dc metro. sad stuff. i actually take that route twice a week. so long story short the metro was empty today because half the red line was closed, so i just busted out my uke and played away. no one said anything. i think on the way home ill play it again and right before i leave the metro shout out to everyone "HAVE A NICE DAY!"

You're my kind of rebel Steve!:cool:

krabbers
06-23-2009, 03:48 AM
someone gave me some good advice once, play the song if you mess up, dont stop and try and catch up just jump back in when you are ready .
if you forget the chords just keep singing and do chug chords with muted strings. people who dont understand ukes will think that is what you are suposed to do , also dont( this is what i am guilty of ) make it obvious that you have made a mistake, chances are people wont notice anyway.

and most of all, i have found that if you have the balls to get up and play in front of people they will warm to you , you cant go wrong with a uke , unless you realy suck or sing offensive songs, which i am sure you do niether

RevWill
06-23-2009, 03:55 AM
Just relax and enjoy yourself. Remember you aren't performing, you're playing.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_3UZyqPvApXM/SZ0aBJyU4NI/AAAAAAAADxk/buCOlHKQkhE/s400/bob_ross_1.jpg
"There are no mistakes, just happy little accidents." - Bob Ross

uber_goober
06-23-2009, 06:10 AM
Just echoing what others have said..smile, have fun with it, don't be afraid of mistakes...they happen to everyone. If something doesn't go quite right, just keep going, smile and chuckle to yourself about it.

Performing is all about connecting with the audience and bringing them along for the ride. If you look like you're having fun, other people will join in on the sentiment and have fun with you. Once that happens, it's smooth sailing.

Have fun (yes, it's a theme),

-John

Pueo
06-23-2009, 06:12 AM
Just a quick story:
It's my brother-in-law's birthday on Wednesday. He loves John Denver, so as kind of a little joke I have been learning "Country Roads" to play for him on his birthday. Sunday, Father's Day, we were at his house, and my mom, my brother, my Father-in-law, the neighbors, sisters, etc. were all there and they said, "Hey play us something on the ukulele!" I have NEVER played for anyone except my wife, but since I'd been practicing Country Roads for Wednesday I went with that. There is one part of the song where there is a rapid change to Eb that I had been practicing so that I would not blow it. Guess what happened? I went right over that part with no problems, but then a gust of wind blew my music off the table! I totally faked the end of the song (I missed one change but no one noticed) and got a big round of applause. So my advice is go for it! Now that that is out of the way, I am looking forward to doing it again.

mealfrog41
06-23-2009, 07:48 AM
Just a quick story:
It's my brother-in-law's birthday on Wednesday. He loves John Denver, so as kind of a little joke I have been learning "Country Roads" to play for him on his birthday. Sunday, Father's Day, we were at his house, and my mom, my brother, my Father-in-law, the neighbors, sisters, etc. were all there and they said, "Hey play us something on the ukulele!" I have NEVER played for anyone except my wife, but since I'd been practicing Country Roads for Wednesday I went with that. There is one part of the song where there is a rapid change to Eb that I had been practicing so that I would not blow it. Guess what happened? I went right over that part with no problems, but then a gust of wind blew my music off the table! I totally faked the end of the song (I missed one change but no one noticed) and got a big round of applause. So my advice is go for it! Now that that is out of the way, I am looking forward to doing it again.

You should check out the Toots and the Maytals version, maybe throw in a little reggae breakdown.. or do the whole thing that way. Just an idea.

I love your avatar, do you play any GD songs uke style?

UkuEroll
06-23-2009, 08:00 AM
"That wasn't a mistake, it was jazz!"
"Test time: can anyone tell me what key that mistake was in?"
"Sorry about that - I forgot to bring my ukulele fingers..."

Have fun! :music: :shaka:

That sounds like good advice from a man who's comfortable in there own skin, I will be putting them into my repertoire.:music:

RevWill
06-23-2009, 08:39 AM
You should check out the Toots and the Maytals version

I prefer the Jason and the Scorchers version (http://songza.com/~a3w5da), but it probably won't translate to uke well.

pink flamingo
06-23-2009, 10:23 AM
I always found emptying a bottle of tequila beforehand to be quite useful.

Jokes, you won't need that 'cause you'll be brilliant anyway and always remember no matter what your mum will always love you.

Pippin
06-23-2009, 10:40 AM
I had a very good manager for my band in 1979 and he told us that if we make a mistake, just keep playing and smiling and nobody will even notice. I hear mistakes all the time on CDs from major acts. They just keep playing and most people never notice.

Confidence makes all the difference in the world. So, play your songlist several times and think about introductions to songs, a few good one-liner jokes to loosen people up, and try to appear as relaxed as possible.

As good as Jake's LIVE CD is, there are a few audible mistakes on it. So, don't worry, it happens, even to virtuoso players.

tuscadero
06-23-2009, 12:19 PM
All great advice and encouragement, thanks much!

I did print extra copies of the song book. To thank you all for your help, I'll make a PDF and post a link in this thread. Just let me finish making turkey meatloaf for dinner first ;)

mailman
06-23-2009, 01:21 PM
Turkey meatloaf? When do we eat?! :D

RevWill
06-23-2009, 01:24 PM
All great advice and encouragement, thanks much!

I did print extra copies of the song book. To thank you all for your help, I'll make a PDF and post a link in this thread. Just let me finish making turkey meatloaf for dinner first ;)

One thing that may be helpful is to create a performance binder. I always printed songs in a large enough font to be readable, then placed them in plastic sheet protectors in the binder. You can rearrange the songs for every set, and the sheet protectors help keep the pages dry and in place.

tuscadero
06-23-2009, 01:49 PM
ok folks, here (http://staceygeorge.com/luau_singalong.pdf) is a PDF of the singalong book. If you print it out to letter size paper and fold it in the middle it makes a little book. Enjoy.

UkuEroll
06-23-2009, 02:32 PM
ok folks, here (http://staceygeorge.com/luau_singalong.pdf) is a PDF of the singalong book. If you print it out to letter size paper and fold it in the middle it makes a little book. Enjoy.

Thanks for that. It will come in very handy:shaka:

hawaiianmusiclover06
06-23-2009, 02:47 PM
Just have fun. I been in your situation about a month ago. I made some mistakes but I kept on playing. No one will notice your mistakes if you keep going. I am also a noob too, I been playing the 'ukulele for a little over 6 months now.

mailman
06-23-2009, 03:17 PM
ok folks, here (http://staceygeorge.com/luau_singalong.pdf) is a PDF of the singalong book. If you print it out to letter size paper and fold it in the middle it makes a little book. Enjoy.

Thanks for the songbook....there's several songs there I really like. Good luck with your "debut". I'm sure you'll do fine!

You don't have any of that turkey meatloaf left over, do you? :D

tuscadero
06-23-2009, 03:34 PM
We've got enough for sandwiches tomorrow, yummy lunch!

jamin9306
06-23-2009, 03:43 PM
just rember that if people are singing along 90% of the time they have the tempo wrong so you need to lissen and play with how they are singing.

P-Uker
06-24-2009, 04:21 AM
Great songbook! I'm sure your big debut will be great.

misterdub
06-24-2009, 05:49 AM
+1 on the thanks for the songbook, there are some great selections in there.

Good luck! :) Post some video of the event if you can...