My role as leader of Axis of Four gives me many opportunities to observe what works for a band in performance before an audience. I believe that it is very important to have the right attitude combined with proper preparation in order to react to any situation which may happen during the course of a gig. And of course, we in the band always aim to please our clients and audience, no matter what happens!
As a professional musical act, we are called upon to play in a wide range of venues for many different audiences. It's very important to us to play the right tunes for the people, so we can leave the crowd with a good impression of Axis of Four. It's also imperative to be ready for the unexpected, the sudden manifestation of Murphy's Law lurking 'round the corner or the next chorus.
As a professional music instructor, I feel very responsible to translate my stage experience into understandable bites in order to help my students be prepared for their performances. During the music lessons, my students and I are always talking of the ways and means for them to bring it to the stage and send it to the crowd.
I've put together seven small topics that address the right approach toward performing and entertaining an audience. These are the same topics that I discuss with my students in the private guitar lessons at the Bradley School of Music in Lafayette, CA. Here's the first two topics:
Follow The Leader / See Each Other
When performing on stage it can be very easy to fall into a case of "tunnel vision" where the inexperienced player stares straight ahead oblivious to the group he's playing with. I have seen that look on many faces, and when I do I know I'm in for a lot more work than I bargained for. The solution is very simple. Follow the leader on stage. Make sure you look at him or her, and make sure to look at the other band members when playing. This is a great way to telegraph the drama of your performance to the audience, as well as to create a sense of teamwork. It's actually great fun when you can get the bass player to crack up by sticking out your tongue in the middle of a hot solo.
Smile At The People / Have Fun
Yes, I know we are all very serious in the study of our musical craft, and for many the guitar is the one true path, the individual's holy grail. When playing for an audience, it's a hard fact to swallow that most people don't care how hard you have worked, or cannot appreciate the fluid execution of that mixolydian run. The fact is, people want to have fun, and they want to see the band have fun. Smile at the people and enjoy yourself, and you will surely entertain the audience.