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It goes without saying that any time you perform in a live setting you want to do your best. Nothing is more unsettling than forgetting the words to a song right in the middle of the chorus. The following are a few tips you can use to get the most out of your live performance.
Know what your going to play in advance.
Unless you're a pro it may be a good idea to pick out, in advance, what your going to play. Find something that you are comfortable playing and that you can relate to in a personal way. It will be just one less thing you have to worry about when you perform.
Practice, practice, practice.
We'd love to be able to give you some sort of secret that would give you astounding musical abilities. Unfortunately, no such potion or technique exists. It's up to you to practice the songs you've chosen to play until you feel good about them and know in your heart that you can do them justice. It all comes down to how well you've prepared and the only way to properly prepare is to practice. We could easily modify the old "7 P's" computer adage to suit our needs "Prior Proper Practice Prevents Piss Poor Performance". C'mon!
Make sure your guitar is properly tuned.
It's pretty simple and usually not a problem but make sure your guitar is in tune. Nothing will sound quite right if you've got a string out of whack.
Often people get an extra boost of energy prior to performing, make sure that you use this energy to your advantage. If you can do something to burn off some of the nervous energy, then relax, you are more likely to be able to focus on your performance. Perhaps a brisk walk around the block or planting your feet and pushing against the wall can help to burn excess energy.
Stay in the moment.
Get into the feel of the music and let your rhythm flow, your performance will be more convincing if it has emotion. Don't be distracted by anything to the point that it interferes with your focus. If you make a mistake simply recover and move on, it's not the end of the world and most people probably won't notice unless you bring it to their attention.
Music is a pretty spiritual and personal thing, playing music should be fun and enjoyable. Don't worry about being nervous, don't announce that your nervous, everyone has been in the same boat at one time or another. Just have a good time and share your music. NEVER let anything get in the way of having fun.
Your fellow musicians all know something that you could use to improve your music. If you pay attention to what other folks are doing you are bound to pick up something new, whether it's a different chord, a unique harmony or some far-out technique.