I am feeling tired, but very content. I got back to New York City last night at 3am from my mini-tour of Philadelphia, Wilmington DE, and Annapolis MD, and I’m happy to say that it was a huge success! As I’ve been mentioning a few times in my posts and recent blog-entries: these were the concerts where I played guitar on stage for the first time in my life! I exceeded all my expectations in the end, despite having experienced a serious lack of belief in myself on Tuesday-night, the night before our tour started. In our final rehearsal before the tour I freaked out when I realized that there was so much stuff that I wasn’t used to dealing with on stage… For a moment I doubted that I could do the performances at all.
I think that most people don’t realize how much muscle memory goes into performing a song on stage when an artist is singing and playing guitar at the same time. I certainly hadn’t thought of it myself. Naturally there’s the matter of performing the music and making it sound beautiful, which I had been learning to do in recent months. But then there’s all this other shit that hits you by surprise. Minor details, but stuff that’s impossible to ignore:
1. The issue of the pedal tuner, which one has to learn to operate between songs. Not having the muscle memory yet, I find it challenging to speak to the audience and tune at the same time. Note to self: practice it at home!
2. Trying not to hit my teeth on the microphone. Ouch! Did that a number of times…. I’m used to having control of the mic with my hand(s); with the guitar, obviously my hands are otherwise occupied…
3. Counting off the songs. This one’s tough for me as I’ve never really had to do it before. There’s so much other stuff going through my head at that moment that it’s hard to get a feel of the tempo of the song.
4. The technical stuff: chords and where to plug them to, volume and eq-knobs etc. In the end, all of it is easy and doesn’t take long to learn, but it’s frickin’ daunting when doing it for the first time.
On Tuesday-night after my freak-out my mentor sat me down and told me to practice all this minor stuff when I got home. To really block what was going to happen in between songs in terms of tuning, using a pick/no pick, using a capo/no capo, and figuring out exactly what I would bring and where everything would be on stage. To know that I was in control of the minor details, so that I was to be able to deliver in the most important area: the performance itself. Foggy details can be what trips you up and make you forget the lyrics etc., and my mentor made sure that I was aware of this. And so I did practice; even if it was at the last minute. Thus, I was able to deliver to the best of my ability for three nights and perform what was probably the best performance of my life last night in Ram’s Head, Annapolis.
Sometimes in concentrating on the big picture, we end up forgetting the little details that might make our lives that much easier. This was a great lesson, and I’m grateful I didn’t have to learn it the hard way. I am extremely proud of myself for this huge step I have taken as a musician this week, and I can’t wait to move forward with this new-found knowledge and ability.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”