How Music Lessons Relate to Live Performance

I thought you might find it interesting to know how music lessons can directly relate to live performance in ways that might not seem obvious. I’ve been wanting to write something about this for years, one of my gigs last December sparked my interest in getting this done.

I played a gig in Redondo Beach with my singer/songwriter pal, Ron Rutherford. Really good talent. We opened for Leon Russel, so it wasn’t just “any ole’ gig.”

It was a little last minute with only a handful of rehearsals, and my job as musical director was to slam the band into shape! (Which I did.) To me, this meant: exact rehearsal times, efficient rehearsals and nothing missed. This entailed a complete overview of what needed to be done, a correct evaluation of how much time was needed for each point and ensuring that everything needing rehearsal was rehearsed—and things not needing rehearsal were not. It’s easy and fun to rehearse things one likes to play, but if that time spent neglects rehearsing what you NEED to rehearse, it’s not only wasted time but detrimental by neglecting what needs to be done and diminishing the possibility of playing a great show.

Here is a brief list of the corresponding points that compare lessons to live performance:

~ Learning personal skills translate into playing well at gigs (or any performance, for fun or pro).Knowing how to practice one musical aspect on a lesson translates into knowing how to break a song down and rehearse it — as a group. You learn how to do the same, isolated thing repetitively until finished with it. And more importantly, it gives one the tolerance and ability to persist on something until it’s complete.

~ Taking directions from an instructor can translate to taking instruction from a bandleader, producer or stage manager. This is an important skill to have. (Ever work with someone who always has to have things his way—when he’s not in charge? This does not work.) You have to know how to take directions without fussing about things.

~ And lastly, when you have been through good music instruction to the point of actually achieving a musical goal, you gain certainty that you can do it! This certainty builds confidence which carries over to the bandstand.

A few band members who hadn’t had much private instruction were amazed at how fast the show came together.

You want to have as much certainty and confidence as possible when you are performing. This develops mainly from performing a lot, but these roots begin by having certainty as a musician — at whatever level you are at.
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