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Apr 19

YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR REPERTOIRE

YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR REPERTOIRE

If you are paying the bills or would like to pay the bills playing live music, on of the most important factors in being successful is realising that YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR REPERTOIRE
If you are playing live music in a pub, hotel, restaurant etc your first objective is not to impress with virtuosity, but to entertain. The vast majority of our audiences are not musicians, and therefore perceive the performance in a completely different way to us the musician. These are the people spending money in the establishment that in turn pays us. If they want you back week after week, year after year you need to scratch where your audience itches, in other words PLAY THE RIGHT SONGS.

A successful repertoire is achieved not by talent, but by HARD WORK,EFFORT and RESEARCH.

Repertoire must be FAMILIAR to your audience. I as a rule do not play original music at my gig and learn the songs that made the charts, and not the B side songs.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. More often than not a certain venue will attract a certain profile of people. If you are playing to an audience of football fans, it is essential you have done your homework as to what the anthems of the teams are. Most of my audiences in hotels are 65 plus. As a result any repertoire post 1980 is lost on them.
When entertaining a niche audience, once again make sure you have done your homework. For example if you are playing for Line Dancing, or Ballroom Dancing, pick the brains of the dance school teachers as to which are the specific songs for specific dances and tempos

Research is so easy these days. What did we do before YouTube and Wikipedia? In my early years I can remember going to listen to other musicians, just to see what songs they were playing, and to see what the reaction of the audience was to certain songs.

A few years back a fellow musician said to me: “Patrick, I don’t know why you bother learning new repertoire, there are only 40 songs” The point he was making, he could earn a living by hand picking 40 crowd pleasers.
I think the value in this comment has to do with hand picking a repertoire of crowd pleasers. The comment falls down when a regular crowd at your gig gets bored with your repertoire being the same each week. I also tend to get bored when I don’t have new repertoire. The larger your repertoire, the more versatile you can be to fit into different venues, and profile of audiences.

I have learnt my repertoire based on my audiences requests over the years. When the same song gets requested week after week, you know it is a winner. When your repertoire is learnt based on consistent requests you get to the point where your bases are covered with requests. Many a night I can play just about anything that is thrown at me request wise. Believe me an audience is more impressed by an entertainer that can play most of the requests than a good guitar solo. (A good guitar solo is the icing on the cake)

The great South African golfer Gary Player chipped a shot out of a bunker, the ball bounced a couple of times, and rolled into the hole. A spectator shouted out “Lucky shot Gary”. Gary Player looked at the spectator and said: “Its funny how the more I practice, the luckier I get.”
That’s how I feel about repertoire and requests: “THE MORE I PRACTICE, THE LUCKIER I GET.”

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  1. YOU'RE PLAYING THE MUSIC WE LISTEN TO ON THE RADIO. - Saxaxeman

    […] few months ago I wrote a post YOU ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR REPERTOIRE where I discuss the importance of choosing and learning  your repertoire according to your […]

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