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Open Mic Nights – Top Tips

If you have been following along, you’ll know that in our last few blog posts we have taught the basics of songwriting, how to improve your practising, and given some tips on overcoming stage fright.  That means you’re ready for your first open mic night!  We recommend open mics to any of our older students who are thinking about becoming professional musicians.  It is the perfect venue to become comfortable as a performer, try out some new songs, and hopefully get some great feedback.

Preparing beforehand

Think about your song choice.  Open mics are a great place to try out new material, but if you are feeling nervous, it is nice to have a song that you know well.  Often at open mics, you will get the opportunity to play two or three songs, so it is a good idea to think about how your songs compare to one another.  We recommend a mix of your music and covers.  Try to play some unusual covers, or popular songs differently. It will be much more memorable than another version of ‘Wonderwall’. Here are some creative covers to take inspiration from.

Decide if you will bring friends or not.  You will be guaranteed an enthusiastic audience, but some people get a lot more nervous performing for people they know.  Figure out which type you are and plan accordingly.

Practise…practise some more and when you think you are ready, practice again.

Arriving at the venue

Sign up: Introduce yourself to the host and sign up for a slot.  It is a good idea to get there early, so you are guaranteed a good spot.

Get ready: Find somewhere to tune and warm-up before you go onstage.

On stage:

Take a moment to get situated once you get onstage. Don’t be afraid to take 15 seconds and check your tuning (quickly) and the mic. Then, take a deep breath before you begin.

Say hello: The audience wants to know who you are, so introduce yourself and tell them what you are going to play.  But keep it short and sweet- ultimately they are there to see you play, not chat.

DO NOT make excuses: The audience will then be looking for mistakes, rather than enjoying your performance.

If you make a mistake try to keep going: The audience will be a lot less likely to notice if you blow past a mistake, rather than stopping the song outright.  Broken string, dropped plectrum, messed up words…the show must go on.

After the gig

Watch the other performances:  It is polite, and you will likely learn a lot from them.

Thank the host, the sound guy, the bar staff. Everyone remembers, and next time is willing to help out, a thoughtful person!

Make friends: Open mic nights are excellent places to make some like-minded friends, and therefore make the next night a lot more relaxed and enjoyable.

If you make a mistake: Remember that open mics are there to make you a better performer- learn from your mistake, then move onto the next performance!

There are many benefits to performing at open mic nights.  Keep it professional, have fun, and let us know how it goes!

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