- Communicating with your leader in advance of the gig (get location, start time, music, dress, additional info)
- Showing up on time (with plenty of time to set up--minimum of half hour early)
- Dressing appropriately (did you ask what to wear?)
- Bringing ALL your equipment (extra reeds, music, pencil, music & instrument stands, mic if necessary, iPad, stand light, etc.)
- Being mentally prepared (free of extraneous influencers), well-rested and well-fed with a cheerful and compliant attitude
- Paying attention to the leader and your band mates while performing (cell phone off and out of sight)
- Fitting in as part of the ensemble; tailoring your playing to match the venue and event
- Returning to the stand promptly after breaks
- Interacting cordially with the guests, refraining from negative comments or self-promotion while in someone else's band
After spending hours practicing and performing in school and sitting in with whatever bands you can find, you're finally offered a real GIG for REAL MONEY! Definitely not in abundance these days, they mostly consist of small groups with one or two horns, so you'll often be playing as the only wind instrument in the group, maybe as a vocal accompanist. Well, equally as important as your performing ability is your professionalism, which includes, but is not limited to:
The blues scale is a great tool for getting started improvising. You can apply the notes in it to the entire 12-bar blues form and not sound very lost. As soon as possible, however, you should start paying attention to the chord changes within the form and adjust your notes accordingly. There are a few different blues scales, but the one most commonly used in middle and high schools is the root, minor third, fourth , flat fifth, fifth and flat seventh (C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb in the key of C).
C Blues: |C7 |C7 |C7 |C7 |F7 |F7 |C7 | C7 |G7 |F7 | C7 | C7 |
It's a great scale for a one-size-fits-all approach, but leaves out a few excellent note choices like the major third and sixth (E and A in the key of C) which can make your solo a heck of a lot more interesting and melodic. If you add these notes, you'll need to pay attention to the changes, however.
That E won't sound so great when you go to the IV7 chord in measure 5 (F7 in C blues) because of the Eb in the chord. Changing to an Eb during those two measures will make you sound like you know what you're doing. By the same token, adding a B natural (major 3rd in G) in measure 9 for the V7 (G7) chord will give your solo some movement as well.
Beginners, try these ideas out the next time you're improvising. The idea is to use a different note or two when the chords change to go with the harmonic movement. The more complex the song form, the harder it is to keep up. there are some tricks to "playing through changes," too. More about that later.
Being a little bit nervous for a performance is a good thing--it helps you do a good job. As always, the secret to any good performance is preparation so you can feel confident you know your material. Being panic-stricken is NOT a good thing. Too much anxiety can yield unexpected results. Being too relaxed isn't good either. Being overconfident can result in unexpected results also when you find yourself in front of an audience. I have experienced both extremes; one caused a way-too-soft performance and the other wiped out my memorized piece completely.
Here are some tips:
Couple of things to consider when preparing for a concert: