Ukulele and a Microphone

by | Feb 6, 2020

Wow. That was… exhilarating!

My first time will not be my last.

It didn’t go as well as I hoped, but who cares! It was SO MUCH FUN.

I ended up going 8th/last (insert long story about how I wanted to make sure Aldon would be able to make it on time).

I had so much nervous energy, I felt like I was going to blast off through the roof. But it felt amazing, not scary.

I fucked up each song in it’s own way, getting worse and worse as my tempo sped up and up and up (BLAST OFF)! I lost my place, forgot the lyrics, rambled on and… it was not good musicianship, but maybe it also wasn’t a terrible performance.

And I learned so much from that 10 minutes of doing-a-thing-I-had-never-done-before.

Not just about the feeling of doing-a-thing-I-had-never-done-before, but about doing that particular thing. Do I need a list? Probably not, but why the hell not.

Lessons I learned last night about playing at an open mic:

1. Slow the fuck down.

Nerves lead to energy and an increased heart rate and I need to slow down (i.e. keep the tempo) if I’m going to be able to play the right chords and sing the right lyrics at the right time. Timing is huge! Can I hear it for percussion?! And breathe, dammit! Allowing little moments of silence and stillness will serve me well.

2. Crutches are there to support you.

Yeah, so when I first came up with this challenge to myself it was: play a 3 song set at open mic with 100% memorization. Well, that’s all fine and good, but maybe not for your first ever performance in public. It was a lot to ask. Yes, I know those 3 songs 100%, but when I’m in a very particular environment: i.e. at home, alone. Next time I will not be so stubborn. I will allow myself to bring so-called cheat sheets. It’s not cheating!

3. Practice smart.

I practice a lot. It builds my confidence, it makes me better and it’s fun! But next time I’m practicing to perform at a different time and place, with varying environmental factors, I will consider the effects each of these things might have, and try to include/account for them in practice. I never play uke with a pick. But I did last night my first time playing in front of strangers! See #2 above.

4. I really love performing.

It’s probably a good idea to find more opportunities to do so, and keep practicing so I can get better. I’m not looking to be a professional musician (or actor or anything else), but that doesn’t mean I can’t put time and effort toward it.

5. It’s scary, and that’s why it’s awesome.

Push, push, push those boundaries. Keep searching for that thing you haven’t found yet. Maybe it’s out there, maybe it’s in here, maybe it doesn’t even exist, but keep looking. It’s not the finding that matters, it’s the seeking.

Curious about the set? I played:

  1. Ain’t No Reason – Brett Dennen.
  2. Bad Moon Rising – CCR
  3. Mr. Jones – Counting Crows (to be fair I messed this up so bad I don’t know if I can count it, but I tried)!

The Evidence

Courtesy of my friend, SM ❤️. The view from the couch!



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