The Top 4 Ways to Get Gig Ready

Whether you’re getting ready for your first gig at the local coffee house jam session or preparing for a huge tour, one thing is for certain, it takes a lot of preparatory work to make sure the gig goes off without a hitch. There are several things that factor in to each and every gig and by taking the time to prepare for the desired outcome you will build insight, or “MILEAGE” as we musicians often call it, that will help you in every aspect of your journey as a player or performer.

Photo by deep schismic

1. Perfect the tunes

It’s probably the most obvious place to start, but perfecting your songs and any “Flash” or “Swagger” you wanna add in the live performance needs to be clearly mapped out well in advance. Often groups or players change the songs arrangement a bit to keep it interesting so all these types of things should be practiced regularly.

One thing that I have found to be hugely valuable is having a recorded version of the set with all the songs recorded as they will be played live. This can be a boom box recording of a jam session or anything else that will give you a solid reference to practice with. This will help ingrain the tempos and parts in your mind as you practice. It’s a great idea to play the set along with your recording then go back and work on any weak spots in the set. It’s also of extreme importance to practice using whatever gear you plan to use live. For example, if you have a solo and you’re gonna be borrowing your homies wah pedal for the gig, invite him over for a beer a week prior to the gig and ask him to bring his pedal so you can work on the solo. You want to always make sure to take into account the effects you’ll be using and practice switching smoothly from one sound to another.

2. Get Your Head on Straight

It’s important to be mentally prepared and this is also something that you should practice leading up to your gig. I have seen a poor attitude ruin many potential amazing shows and it can start long before you ever get to a venue. As you practice, get in the mindset that you’re at the gig onstage in front of your crowd. Build in your mind how the show will flow, what you’ll say in between songs etc. These little subtle preparations will help ensure a smooth flowing set at your gig!

3. Get Yourself in Shape

Physical preparation is most often overlooked by musicians. The truth is that performing is taxing on the body, especially if you are touring and playing multiple shows in a row. It’s important to stretch and loosen all the muscle groups that you use to perform (ie: your wrists and forearms, shoulders, chest and lungs if you sing, etc). Being loose and relaxed will always ensure a smooth performance. Also staying hydrated is essential. The heat of the stage lights compounded with nerves and adrenaline can drain your energy really fast.

4. Get in The Spirit of Performing

What you want to do here is prepare yourself to have a good time and make some people smile and feel good with your music. It’s an easy concept but getting in the spirit of the music can really make a seemingly dull gig the best one yet. I’ve looked out at a few almost empty clubs and looked at the band and said “Fellas, we may not be playing to 15,000 people tonight but DAMN IT – we’re gonna ACT like it!” If it’s one person or 100,000 people, ALWAYS show up with the music in your heart and give 110%. You NEVER know who might be listening.

So go on and get busy gettin’ ready to ROCK and remember the it ain’t the ingredients that make a tasty cake, it’s the preparation!

Scott “SVH” Von Heldt is a staff writer for SMG. Scott is currently the lead guitarist for Brian “Head” Welch (ex-Korn) and has worked with members of White Zombie, Cirque Du Soliel and many others. In late 2008 he released the first book of his Mystic Art of Self-Discovery series entitled Mind Over Metal: The Musician’s Guide to Mental Mastery.

Email: SVH@sharemyguitar.com

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  • This is something that every musician should read. Great tips… nothing better than being prepared, and knowing how to prepare!

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