Guitar performance:Observing yourself

Guitar performance:Observing yourself

It seems a lot of regular guitar teaching websites offer a great deal of info and very useful tips on the technique and nuts and bolts of playing the guitar but I don’t come across many articles about the strategy for producing a finished product or the mental and emotional blockages that have to be overcome to finish a new or even just learn a piece enough to perform it. It’s ok to sit in your room and practice all day and even play along to backing tracks but there is nothing like the real thing of playing before an audience to get some real feedback. You may be able to roll off some killer chops and licks when on your own but when you are being observed and if you consider the quantum weirdness effect here, things change, you might find you fingers seizing up or even worse forgetting what your are meant to be playing next. What you look like also plays a part in how you feel and your overall level of confidence.

Well, I found this out myself just last week and realise that I need a lot more practice at performing complete pieces of music and I have even considered getting some help with image and presentation. I have played in bands, vocal quartets, folk groups and lately a guitar vocal duo, but in all the time I have been playing, I have never played solo either instrumental, or with singing (That will come next) so I sat down to record some tunes last week I had been working on specifically with the intention of recording as a performance to promote myself on Youtube. I needed an instant audience and I know of someone I can easily call on at a moment’s notice also happens to be one of the most critical I know of, myself.

So I had rehearsed three tunes a few times and sat down to record them on my Zoom Q3 and It’s amazing what goes through your mind thinking of all the millions of people just sat there watching you, it has quite an unnerving effect and what was normally a relatively straightforward, relaxed performance and I refer to quantum wierdness here when you are being observed things change!, you seem to lose a certain amount of fluidity to say the least. Anyway, the first tune I wanted to do was a cover of “Somewhere over The Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. It is my own arrangement played on my new classical guitar and is neither long nor complicated but it took me about ten takes to perform it all the way through and even then I was not too pleased with it. As it is I am going to re-record it again and have decided to post a tune I have been developing of my own which I have called “Guitar Salsa” for now. This is mainly because it’s played on guitar and you can dance your Salsa steps to the rhythm so was easy to name. Even the performance of this is not the best I’ve done but perfection can wait , I need to get it out and actually I am not so anxious about this because it’s rather embryonic as it is so is being published as a snapshot of work in progress. it will be further developed.

So in conclusion I have found this exercise incredibly valuable not only as an aid to helping to complete something but as a mirror to see exactly what you look like and sound like from the outside (Can be a bit disconcerting). This method of practice is extremely valuable not only for the inexperienced performer but for seasoned players also and I guess is probably used anyway by professionals to hone their skills. If you don’t believe me just try playing a piece from beginning to end without hitch good enough in your opinion to be broadcast. You might be a natural performer and be able to do this without any inhibition but I feel that there are a lot of performers and possibly even the best erstwhile performers that we will never see or hear because they have never stood up either before a video camera or a mirror or more importantly a live audience and gone through a song or played a piece from beginning to end mainly because there is no reason to. Well consider the completion of just a couple of tunes to camera as reason enough and you will gain fantastic value from doing just this.

I love to hear your comments so please feel free to tell me what you think.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Steve May 17, 2011, 10:38 pm


    When I put more first video online over two years ago, I felt very self-conscious…. “What would people think of me?”… “How would I look?” “Is the lighting ok?” “What if I mess up?”

    Funny thing is that I still mess up, I still have lighting problems and I still have people that like (and dislike) my videos, but none of that matters anymore… 😀

    Nice tune – it’s catchy,

    Great job!
    [Guitartisan]´s last [Blog] ..[How to remove fret buzz]

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