How To Find Performance Opportunities | Hub Guitar

How To Find Performance Opportunities

Andrey Armyagov/

Do You Want to Perform?

Sooner or later, most people who get serious about the guitar are asked to perform. For some people, performance is the most meaningful part of music. It is why they play music, and it is what they live to do. For others, it is dreaded and feared, even unnecessary. Even among professional musicians, some prefer to be out in the center, and others like to work quietly behind the scenes.

Before you can decide what performance means to you, you’ll need some experience. Here are a few ways to get it.

Leaving your comfort zone, but carefully

The less experience you have with the guitar, the more important it is to protect your ego.

Some ignorant people (who, incidentally, know nothing about music and can’t play any) have through repeated exposure to our “American Idol” culture become quite comfortable criticizing musicians. These people don’t know how long it takes to master an instrument, and don’t understand how much it hurts to hear harsh criticism when you’ve spent so many hours practicing.

Do not expose yourself to criticism that you’re not ready for! Get out there, but take it slow.

Your best bet as a beginning or intermediate player is to strictly avoid harsh critics. Keep your distance if you can, and laugh it off if it happens. If such a critic is unavoidable, as is the case with a family member, you should tell them point blank to keep their comments to themselves. If your teacher makes you feel disrespected, get a new teacher, and if your guitar friends do it, consider finding new ones. You will get nowhere if you are surrounded by forces dragging you down.

In general, you should know that being insensitive, rude and disrespectful is considered low-class in the world’s music community, just as it is in any other. Don’t assume that because you’re the newbie, you have to take abuse.

Performance Opportunities for Beginning Players

  • Friends and family, if they are supportive
  • Your teacher
  • Other learners and students at your level

You can ask your friends and family to sit down and listen to a piece that you’ve been working on. If you want to make it less “weird”, you can just say that you want to test how well you can play it under the pressure of someone watching you. That will help everyone relax bit, and they won’t feel as awkward in trying to decide how much enthusiasm they need to express.

A guitar teacher is also a great way to perform in front of someone else on a regular basis.

You can find other learners who are approximately at your level (or who recently were) by contacting your teacher (or any other teacher in the area). You can also post in the classifieds, or put up a poster. Be clear about your level and what you’re looking for. And be open about whom you’re willing to meet up and practice with. You don’t need to find another guitar player; just about any instrument can form a duo with a guitar.

Performance Opportunities for Intermediate and Above

  • Meetup groups that run jam sessions
  • Open mic nights
  • Family, work or community events

At this level, you should start to prepare yourself for a bit of discomfort. You never know what you’ll run into. If you get in over your head, just remember that nobody ever died of stage fright.

One of the best things you can do for yourself as a performer is go to a weekly jam session. In addition to being a great way to make friends and build your musical skills, you may find that it’s a fun and relaxing outlet that you look forward to every week. In metropolitan areas, these sessions are advertised on Meetup, Facebook and the like. In other areas, you may have to organize your own.

Almost every town has at least one open mic. These informal events are hosted to allow anybody to have a chance to perform. A true open mic allows anybody to step up and perform. By the time you’ve reached the advanced level, there should be at least one poor soul whose sloppy performance at open mic makes you feel a bit like the heat has been taken off. Unless you are that poor soul, but if so, the community thanks you!

Perhaps one of the best opportunities are to play at events for your family, work, or community groups that you’re involved with. Here you will find a supportive audience of people who know you, and they’d probably love to hear you play.

Performance Opportunities for Advanced Players

In addition to the previously-mentioned opportunities, paid work may become a consideration. If you’ve reached this level and you’re going to perform, you might consider trying to get paid for it.


For many, musical performance is the purpose of learning music. You don’t have to have a busy gigging schedule, but if you’re interested in performance it’s never too soon to start pushing the envelope a bit. Don’t try to wait until you’re “ready” to start performing, because you’ll never be completely ready.

As the creator of Hub Guitar, Grey has compiled hundreds of guitar lessons, written several books, and filmed hundreds of video lessons. He teaches private lessons in his Boston studio, as well as via video chat through TakeLessons.

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