When you’re staring down a gristly gap about eighty feet from lip to lip, or a gnarly barrel the size of your G-ma’s house, you know you gotta send it, but would you believe that sending it is crucial for a great musical performance as well?
Are you guys silly? Of course it is!
In all seriousness, most of us would acknowledge that confidence is important when performing. However, too many of us regularly approach the task in practice with shy timidity, neglecting to employ the useful benefits that a confident, courageous posture can foster in a live set.
Many of us will attribute our lack of outward confidence on stage to an intention to “really nail each part,” but if we’re honest, we’ll admit that our parts should be unquestionably solid long before we hit the stage. Individual practice or group rehearsal are perfect times to nitpick the details of execution, but when we perform, we need to be as mentally free as possible to just play.
Here are five reasons why you just gotta send it:
- You’re more fun to watch
- When we play with confidence and courage, we’re far more engaging the audience than when we play like the stage is covered in eggshells. A band that sounds great may lose the audience’s attention if their visual presence is static, while a mediocre sound can be easily overshadowed by solid crowd engagement. Clearly, sound is most important, but ignoring the way we present our music visually is ignoring the potential for multi-sensory engagement.
- You’re more resistant to mistakes
- If you’re a musician who’s experienced the internet, you’ve probably watched your fair share of “fail” videos, where some unlucky teen butchers a song at their talent show. Often the most uncomfortable part is the telegraphed discomfort of the performer themselves, who seems to know how badly things are going, wishing along with the audience that the song would end. In truth, one bad note coupled with nervousness can feel like drowning, but a confident player can shake off even the most potentially embarrassing mishap with a smile, knowing that their confidence shines through any mistake, and that their mistakes don’t define them in the first place.
- You’re more likely to play with feeling
- Timidity isn’t useful in too many situations, but it’s particularly detrimental when feel and nuance are important. It’s difficult to have a varied touch when we play like we’re scared of our instrument, but when we own our performance with courage, our dynamic nuance can truly be unlocked.
- You’re more likely to have great tone
- When we dial in the sound of our instrument, the timbres that we build are dependent upon the typical force with which we play. Some of us are more heavy-handed than others, but there’s no faster route to a wimpy sound than playing more timidly in public than in private. Truly, playing with the appropriate amount of authority allows us to sound like ourselves, which is what most of us want in the first place.
- You’re more likely to have fun
- Perhaps the most striking effect of timid playing is the way that it sucks the enjoyment out of performing. Most of us got into playing live because of the way it made us feel, and to rob ourselves of that feeling out of fear is simply tragic. In truth, playing confidently allows us to be present enough to experience the moments that make live music great, letting us leave the stage feeling satisfied in what we’ve created.
Ultimately, fear is normal and understandable, especially in the vulnerable space of musical performance. Thankfully, as we grow as musicians, we can learn to see fear for the obstacle that it is, and ultimately work past it to make our music say what we mean.