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Hop, Skip, and a Jump

Well, this month I thought I would cover something a little different. Instead of increasing you’re chops, I thought I would actually teach you something important. WHOA! Imagine that? Well, since I know for a fact that most of you never leave your rooms and practice all day ( haha kidding), I’m going to help teach you some key elements to being a performer, not just a bedroom bad ass. Yes… you heard me, I’m going to tell you how to play in from of other people! Performing is an art and too few people know how to do it. Especially, technical players. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to concerts and the guitar player who just rips it up is just sitting in one spot, looking like a loser. I feel like I should throw my beer at him so he moves. The idea to cover this topic came from listening to a very talented friend of mine, talk about how he freezes up when he has to play in front of people. Face it.. everyone gets nervous and unless you know how to control it, you are not going to be very good on stage. There are several factors that must be over come when playing live. A good combination of preparation in each area will make you one heck of a monster on stage. So, here we go:

1) Gear

Having played out hundreds of times for thousands of people, the first thing I can tell you is to MAKE SURE that you have all your gear! I can’t tell you how many times the drummer forgets his sticks, or I forget to bring enough cables, batteries, ect…. It happens and it sucks. Unless you are a signed national act with techs, you MUST remember your gear! Always make a check list for things that you need to bring with you. What happens if you break a string on stage? Got your back up guitar? You better! Do you have a set of wrenches? Did you bring a string winder and extra strings? Got a screwdriver in case you need to take apart that faulty speaker cabinet? There are so many things that get broken, damaged, lost, stolen, ect… The best thing to do is have coverage for everything like that. You don’t want to forget any of your important items.

2) Know your role

I can’t even begin to tell you how important it is to know your music hands down. Be able to play it blindfolded. Closed eyes, what ever it takes. Practice the hardest spots in you’re music on repeat until they aren’t hard anymore. If your drummer drops a stick and pauses, you better be able to keep going. If your other guitarist breaks a string, get ready to cover their parts.

3) Converting Butterflies into Adrenaline

Here is a key thing: So, you have all your gear, and your prepped good on your parts.. You’re all set up, about to take the stage…then… all the sudden you feel sick to you’re stomach. You start to shake. Yes, EVERYONE gets a little jittery before they go out. How you handle it will mean the difference between locking up and sucking, or stealing the crowds heart with your daring stage antics. The first thing to always do is take a few really controlled breaths and relax yourself. If possible, have your girlfriend massage you before you go on. BE RELAXED! There is no reason to get tense. Now what the hell do I do with these butterflies you ask? It’s actually really simple. Most people dwell on them. That’s the biggest mistake ever. The key is thrive off of them and let them give you adrenaline. Let them get you pumped up. Jump up and down while picturing yourself mentally making everyone in the crowd’s jaw drop with your insane guitar playing. Let the little butterflies pump you up, not scare you. Tell yourself that you are going to kick ass and you will. Go over and get your band mates pumped up. The more psyched up you get, the less you’ll be nervous. Once you do this, you are ready to perform. If you need to practice converting butterflies to adrenaline, go to the local music store and turn up and play in front of people.

4) Accuracy vs. Presence

No matter how good you are, someone is going to say you suck. Don’t be afraid that someone out in that crowd is going to talk smack about you. I’ve heard people say that every amazing guitarist I’ve ever head of sucks. It is quite sad actually. Usually mediocrity attacks excellence though.So, get over the fact that someone is going to criticize what you do on stage. Forget the haters. Are they on stage? Hell no. Nothing but hacks and it is as simple as that.

Both accuracy and stage presence are equally as important. A good rule of thumb is not to get so wild that you’re sacrificing accuracy, but don’t get so technical that you’re  guitar masturbating in one spot all night. Remember that intensity we built up? Let’s use it! Take that enormous bust of energy and channel it into you’re playing. DON’T be afraid to make mistakes, just go for it! DON’T be afraid to do something crazy on stage because you don’t want to look stupid! Take chances, slide on you’re knees, stage dive, play behind the head, play with you’re teeth, jump up and down…. JUST GET DOWN AND ROCK! The harder get into your playing and more energy you channel into your presence, the more the crowd will get into it. They will get louder and you’ll play better. It’s a positive correlation.

5) Hitting That Ungodly Hard Run

No! It’s coming! The lick you miss every time! Are you going to miss it or make everyone in the audience go “WOW!” Well, you’ve practiced it a billion times. The key to nailing them hard spots is to go for it all out. A soon as you think that you are going to make a mistake, you will already have. Say to you’re self, I AM GOING TO NAIL THIS and you most likely will. Never be afraid to make a mistake, it happens to everyone. Just go for it! Don’t look back even if you mess up. Focus yourself, concentrate and keep thinking that you’re going to nail that run and you shall be victorious.

6) After Show

So you were great on stage. The fans went crazy. The shows over. Well, what the hell are you waiting for, go shake everyone’s hand and thank them for coming! Don’t be a jerk, show your fans and friends that you love them!

Well, I hope that you’ve picked up some pointers on live playing. Just remember to stay calm and focus you’re self. Don’t you dare stand in one spot either! Be an animal! Good luck to you all, I’ll check in with you later.

Questions? Comments?

webmaster@insaneguitar.net

www.myspace.com/joelwanasek

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