Could you imagine a baseball player who only practiced in a batting cage but never played a game? What about a musician who practices diligently but rarely performs and plays with others? Does this sound familiar to you?
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in learning and practicing that we forget other important aspects of developing musicianship: performing and playing with others.
Let’s explore some ways to get out of the practice room.
Find the Musicians’ Hangouts
Somehow, somewhere, there is likely already some kind of community for musicians in your area. Seek them out and be friends. This may be a local community orchestra, or a MeetUp for musicians, or perhaps there is even a Classical Revolution chapter in your area. If you aren’t familiar with Classical Revolution, it is a wonderful grassroots initiative to bring classical music into unusual spaces (such as cafés or bars).
Meeting with other musicians will offer support and inspiration, as well as give context to why you’re learning music in the first place.
Take it Outside – Literally!
Be that romantic touch that everyone loves on a lazy Sunday morning – busk at the local park or at that café downtown. Not only will it give you casual, low-pressure performance experience, you may even earn a few bucks out of it if you play your cards right!
One thing to advise is to make sure you check with your local city government for permit requirements surrounding street performances. Each city varies and it is important to ensure that your busking experience is a positive and successful one. While it may seem obvious, the same goes for cafés or other establishments – make sure to ask the owner or manager for permission to play before your debut performance.
Perform for All Ages
What better of an audience could you ask for than lovely seniors or young children? They love seeing live music and often have a great appreciation for the arts. Performing in retirement communities and schools can be an excellent confidence boost. Not only will you have the opportunity for an extremely low-pressure performance experience, you will also enjoy the added benefit of a supportive audience who wants nothing more than to see you succeed.
Organize a chamber music party
Perhaps one of the most fun and entertaining ways to get out of the practice room is to simply organize a sight-reading chamber music party with your friends. Organize a laid-back session in which you sight-read duets, trios, quartets, or maybe even larger pieces if you have the means! This is a great way to build community with other musicians in your area, while also giving you a low-pressure opportunity to engage in positive musicianship.
Remember Your “Why”
Remember that one of the greatest gifts of learning music is to be able to share the music with others. Not only does sharing music benefit others, it’s an integral part of our own growth and improvement. Some aspects of musicianship just cannot be developed in the comfort of a practice room. Such growth demands taking risks that will get us out of the practice room and into the community.
I actually started performing for my grandmother’s care home and I really enjoy it. While not everyone present pays attention, the ones who do give me such wonderful feedback and if I mess up, they don’t mind at all. It is nice to be able to play for people without the pressure of being perfect.