Preparing For Your First Guitar Gig

Congratulations! You have landed your very first guitar gig. It is exciting to be provided with the opportunity to perform live. 

Now comes the difficult part: how do you properly prepare so that you’re ready? Battle the stage fright?

There are some beneficial tips and techniques you can utilize to help you feel prepared. It’s time to get yourself in the right mindset so you can tackle your performance with ease.

Practice, Practice, and – of course – Practice

The most important thing that you can do when preparing for your debut is to, yes, practice. It may be annoying to hear this obvious piece of advice; but the more you practice the songs you will be playing, the better you will become at performing them. Identify ways that you can improve on your playing skills, find trouble areas to work on, and focus on practicing those sections more. 

Susana V., a teacher who specializes in professional guitar lessons out of New York City with Music To Your Home states that “practicing is essential for players to work their fingers, to improve their sound, and also to find their true potential and playing style.” So, make sure you set aside some quality practice time each day to perfect your guitar playing.

If you want to make sure your fingers stay nimble and are ready for all of your chord progressions, check out some of these great warm-up suggestions. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will be when it’s showtime.

Further Reading – The Ultimate Guide To Guitar Practice 

Deal With Your Stage Fears

Anxiety is a completely normal, inherited response when playing in front of an audience. Even some of the most distinguished performers will admit to still having stage fright, after performing countless times. Here are a few ways to help you with combating your fears: 

  • First, acknowledge what you’re experiencing. You are scared. You need to say it out loud – if you try to ignore your pre-show jitters, that can make it worse. 
  • When you acknowledge being afraid, in your next breath you should remind yourself that “fear is a completely normal, instinctive response, and that is OK.” When you say something out loud you give it weight. You are more likely to believe it.
  • Engage in some calming exercises such as counting your breathing, focusing on the air filling your lungs, taking some time to meditate, or whatever works for you to help you relax. Some artists take to exercise or yoga right before a performance.

Record Your Practice Sessions / Rehearsals 

You can’t always tell what areas need to be focused on; so it can be extremely helpful to record your practice sessions. When you play them back it will be easier to see what areas are either dragging in tempo or need to be more polished. You can identify trouble spots that you need to concentrate on playing over and over so that they sound the way you want. 

If you are working with a band, record rehearsals so you can listen to all of the instruments together and work on difficult parts together. An additional resource is our article, Become a Better Guitarist, where you can find more tips like this one.

Work on Your Stage Presence

Commanding the stage is a significant part of performing. The audience is going to see you and they want to see how you interact with them. Take a look at successful live bands to see what they do to keep their audience entertained in between songs, or how they interact during a song. 

If you can, take your guitar to the stage or location and try to utilize the entire area you’ll be playing in so that you have a feel for it and know where you can move during songs. Part of a good stage presence is to utilize the entire space. This is a great way to establishing your stage persona as well because when it looks like you know how to move about on stage, you will exude more confidence during your performance, feel more at ease, and are less likely to make mistakes. 

Don’t Forget Your Soundcheck 

One last preparation technique you should do is make sure to do sound checks, for yourself and all band members. You don’t only want to be seen, but you have to make sure you’re being heard as well. It can be a difficult situation to be in when your sound doesn’t work; and that’s not something that you want to happen during a live performance. 

When you perform the sound checks make sure you do each instrument or voice individually before playing together so that you have the right blend of sound that is desired. Light checks can also come into play here since you want to be sure that you (or the band) are being seen on stage.

Be Prepared for Things to Go Wrong – And Fix Them Quickly!

During the live show, make sure you keep your energy up since the audience will feed off of you. If something happens to go wrong, such as a wrong note or chord was played, or you lost your guitar pick; try to laugh it off or turn it into a funny moment for the audience. This will keep the performance going smoothly for you; make light of things that could be potential disasters if you don’t handle them quickly. 

Be prepared for anything. Don’t forget the reason you took this guitar gig in the first place though – to perform; so make sure you have fun and enjoy the spotlight.

Good luck with your first guitar gig, and feel free to share some tips if you got any!