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I'm doing a gig soon, together with a friend. We will play songs written by myself, at a small local venue.

The last couple of weeks, I've been practising a lot. I now know the songs flawlessly, technically speaking. But I have practised so much that I've grown somewhat weary of them.

Because of that, I'm now worried that I won't be able to convey the emotional content and message of the songs at the actual concert.

So, any thoughts on how to deal with this? Is there a way to practise songs to perfection (or close enough), without becoming bored with them? Or am I looking at this completely wrong..?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Playing live is very different to practicing. You will find you get an adrenaline rush, maybe nervousness, perhaps you will have astonishing vibrato (from your hands shaking - this happened to my at my first couple of gigs). You will feed off the audience's energy and responses.

So initially, I would say don't worry about knowing them too well - it will feel different once you are on that stage.

You could try thinking about choreography - I don't mean actual dancing, necessarily, but thinking about where/how each band member stands during each song. Should you jump about? Move between mic stands? Doing a bit of this could make your next couple of weeks practicing much more fun.

Do you have a song which picks you all up and gets things jumping? Play that as part of your warm up in practice sessions to help you feel more energetic. We have an established couple of songs we always start with in the practice studio - by the end of the second one we are all grinning and jumping about, no matter how we feel on entering the room.

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I suspect that when you comne to do the gig, that latent boredom with the tunes will translate into confidence while playing them. I think this underlines the first part of Dr Mayhem's answer - that the adrenalin will carry you through, and it won't feel boring at the time because performing is different to practicing. You'll feed off the audience and there will; be nerves etc. Much more "woop wahay" involved in a gig than in a practice.

One thing you could do is leave the tunes alone, don't practice between now and maybe just before the gig to let it re-fresh itself in your mind a bit.

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Something a friend told me to do to help me just get pumped on stage is to plan some moves out for just your first song... jump here, guitar flip here (hehe), etc. This helps you get used to moving around for the show and builds a strange confidence in yourself to take care of the rest of the show yourself. It sounds silly, but it works.

For your case, since they're your songs I'm just going to assume you're singing and playing guitar, just maybe practice how they feel for you, or something along those lines, in front of a mirror so that when you get on stage you can just get into the feeling and get going.

This happens to every one, every band. Big name pop and rock acts will rehearse for hours every day months before a tour (for example, if you've seen Michael Jackson's This Is It). What you're feeling is totally normal. Take a little break from the songs before your gig and if you're bored of your songs, maybe take the time to use as inspiration to write something new!

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They're your songs, your babies. Babies grow and your songs could as well. If you regard a song as 'etched in stone' it never will be any different. For me at least, songs are the blank canvas. What else can happen in a particular song? Can the format be changed - a solo here, a bridge there, etc.? A key change makes a big difference sometimes. Can two songs be segued? What does this song sound like a lot slower? There is mileage in leaning stuff by rote, but, as you've discovered, it gets boring, just like practising pieces for an exam.A jazzer's approach may be 'I've got the bare bones of a well-known tune, what direction can I take it in for a change?' There's always a tendency for a really well-rehearsed song to become bland to the performer, but never forget that the audience, bless it, is hearing it for the first time.So keep it as if that's how you are playing it - fresh. It's often a state of mind.

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