Music is something I’ve always loved. Which is funny, because I was pretty shy and reserved as a kid.
I still get recharged by being alone, but I’ve managed to overcome my inteovert’s tendencies in large part thanks to music. After all, if you want to perform, you can’t be shy.
It’s only fitting. After all, you’ve got to be a little cracked in the head to open yourself up to such criticism.
The terrible thing about all of this is that, in addition to selling 99% of my musical equipment (I did the math) recently to pay bills while I wasn’t working, the last time I’ve performed any kind of music on a stage in front of people was way back in 2012, the spring before my son was born.
But the itch never went away, and seeing as how I’m just down to my acoustic guitar, a new goal has come to mind. I’d like to do something I’ve never done before.
I want to play at an open mic.
Now, why would this be a big deal? I’ve played lots of shows in front of lots of people in various capacities–rock band, jazz ensemble, orchestra–right?
Right. But the “acoustic guitar singing guy” thing is something I’ve never done. It’s a challenge.
What makes it so challenging? Chew on these two things:
- I’m not a singer, and
- I’m not a guitar player.
Oh sure, I cansing, and I can play guitar, but I’m a bassist by training, and have only sung in rock bands or in choirs. And my guitar playing has only been on home recordings and the occasional acoustic jam with friends.
To be up there, all alone, singing and playing is a bit frightening.
That’s part of why I want to do it.
If I don’t will be one more thing added to the list of “Stuff I Wish I Did And Regret Not Doing,” which is long enough as it is.
Working on one’s weak spots spills over and helps improve the areas one is good at.
This sounds counterintuitive, but it makes sense. For example, if you’re a boxer who punches hard but is slow, working on your foot-speed and quickness will improve your punches by allowing you to get into the best position faster and support your full bodyweight.
Or let’s say you’re a good free-throw shooter who is weak at shooting three-pointers. Working on your technique from downtown will help reinforce and strengthen your free-throw shooting form.
Perhaps you’re a writer who’s good at descriptive prose but weak on dialogue. Working on your dialogue will help tighten and focus the rest of your prose and improve your ear for the language.
(Sports metaphors tend to be the easiest examples to give, but thanks for bearing with me.)
In my case, I can already see how practicing singing and playing an acoustic guitar has helped me:
- My weakness playing guitar, switching chords cleanly and playing without looking at my hands, will improve my strength of bass playing, since the techniques are largely interchangeable (it will also, of course, improve my coordination).
- My weakness of playing totally unaccompanied will improve my strength, which is time.
- My weakness of singing all alone will not only improve my voice, but help my strength, my ear, that is, my ability to discern correct pitch and adjust accordingly.
- And it’s pretty obvious how this whole thing will increase my confidence, which spills over into all areas of life.
I have no set date in mind because I’m trying to get my set list solidified and learn the songs. I also need to find time to practice, which is difficult. I’d like to do it before the end of 2016, but given the impending move and other family issues, I’m not setting this date in stone.
And since I can’t just wing it, here’s a partial list of songs I like that would be really fun to play on an acoustic guitar.
- “Sweet Lady Genevieve,” The Kinks
- “Ashes to Ashes,” Davide Bowie
- “She Loves Me Not,” Faith No More
- “Moving,” Supergrass
I don’t know too many contemporary songs that would be good to play on an acoustic guitar, so I’m crowd-sourcing mys set list here: Pop, country, whatever. I’m open to it all.
I’ll keep you posted with how this project goes. Maybe I’ll learn something along the way.
Any song suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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