Friday, February 8, 2013

Sometimes You Just Gotta Play

I remember two gigs from my early days that had me a bit freaked out. The first was with a dance band. It was in my home town, I was just a kid, and I was as nervous as heck. The other was my first gig in the big city. I almost didn't take that one. I was asked to sub for someone whose name had been tossed around admiringly by our little tribe of drummers, so I was duly intimidated. I wanted to ‘think about it’. The fellow answered, ‘Don’t think; just do it.’ And so I did. Both jobs went very well and I believe I handled myself admirably.

The thing is, in both cases my first thought was to say ‘No’. I didn't think I was ready. Thankfully, I was able to set aside my nerves and my lack of confidence and say ‘Yes’. (William Shatner would be proud. He advises that you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Seems to have worked out OK for him.)

I studied at a drum school that had a peculiar rule: No one was allowed to take a playing job unless it was approved by the school's principal. That struck me as rather odd. I don't know the motive behind the rule (perhaps it was to protect us from the dark side of the local music scene) but whatever the case, it was wrong-headed. Instead of being concerned about us playing, the school should have been concerned about us NOT playing.

There's a club in the town where I live that has regular open stage events. Anyone is welcome. I go to have a bit of fun and to support the club and the players, but mostly I go to see the new-comers, some of whom are getting on stage for the first time. The more seasoned players are generally supportive, and they give everyone a chance. It's a wonderful opportunity of the type that's not easy to find. So check around and see if there are any ‘jam nights’ that will let you on-stage.

If you're having trouble finding opportunities to play, why not create your own? Network with friends and other musicians. Visit music stores and get some names of people who want to play, or put up a poster. Then find a place, line up some tunes, and go for it. If it doesn't gel, nothing's lost. Just make a few calls and find out who else is game for your next session.

Cuz' you gotta play, right?

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