7 Tips for Playing in Public


The following is a guest post by Greg Lattimer, owner of the 7 Tips for Playing in Public blog. 7 Tips for Playing in Public is a blog about tips for better busking performances.

The days are getting shorter and the weather isn’t always on our side, but that’s no excuse to stop busking. I’ve been playing guitar and singing on the streets of London for many years now and I have some tips to share with you to help you get more out of your performance.

1. Play When People Are Around

Avoid playing when there isn’t anyone around as it can be demoralising when you don’t get any response from people passing by. You may not see anyone around, but if you’re near a busy road or a station, there will be pedestrians all around once the traffic lights change.

2. Be Prepared

You will get more out of your time spent busking if you have everything ready before hand. If you need to spend time setting up or tuning your instrument while people are watching then they may just walk on by. The same goes for when you need to take a break; make sure everything is packed away before you leave your pitch so that people won’t lose interest while you’re away from your guitar case.

If you’re a busker, or an aspiring busker, this blog is for you. I’m going to post my experiences and tips for playing in public.

I’ve been playing guitar since I was 15 years old and have been playing on the streets of New York City, London, and Paris since I was 17. I love it, it’s fun and a great way to meet people and see places that tourists don’t get to see.

I’ll probably update this once a week or thereabouts.

I want to share with you some lessons I learned the hard way about busking.

Busking is playing music on the street for tips. But there is so much more to it than that. Busking can be an amazing experience, but it can also be a frustrating and self-destructive one.

Like many other things, busking is a skill and you need to learn that skill to get the best out of it.

These are my 7 tips on how to improve your guitar busking performances:

1 – Don’t Show Up Empty-Handed

2 – Don’t Play Too Loud

3 – Choose Your Repertoire Carefully

4 – Learn How To Deal With The Police And Passers By Effectively

5- Don’t Forget To Have Fun!

6 – Be Ready For The Good Times And The Bad Times

7 – Stay In Control Of Your Mindset

Performing in public is one of the best ways to improve your playing. When you play in public you are forced to keep your instrument in tune, and to be comfortable with every aspect of your music. You can’t hide behind a beautiful sounding guitar or amp when you are playing outside.

It’s also an opportunity to make money in an honest way, without having to depend on anyone else for it.

Even though there are many advantages, many people are afraid to play in the street for fear of rejection, or looking silly in front of other people.

So here are some tips that will help you to get over that fear and increase your enjoyment.

I’m a busker. I play guitar for cash on the street (and elsewhere). I’ve been doing it for 15 years, and I make my living from it. People often ask me how to get started. Here’s my guide to becoming a successful street musician.

1: Learn songs.

It’s not enough to just know the notes or have a good feel for the music. You need to learn songs note-for-note, so you can reproduce them perfectly every time. If you leave out a note or add in an extra one, it will sound wrong, and you’ll lose the audience’s attention.

2: Practice until they’re perfect.

I practice each song hundreds of times before playing them in public – until they are practically second nature to me and I never have to think about hitting the right notes or strumming at the right time. This takes some effort, and is probably more than most people are willing to do for their favourite songs, but it means that if I lose concentration while performing, I won’t make any mistakes.

3: Pick good songs (and sing well).

You don’t need to be able to sing well yourself, but if you’re covering someone else’s song then their voice needs to be

1. Play what you love.

2. Don’t play too loud.

3. Don’t get discouraged if people ignore you.

4. Don’t worry about the hat, just play your best.

5. The hat should be in front of you, not to the side or behind you.

6. Change locations, songs, and/or time of day as necessary if you’re not making any money.

7. Smile!

1. Practice, practice, practice!

2. Make a list of your repertoire and choose the right songs for particular audiences.

3. Play with confidence and enjoy yourself

4. Take advantage of props

5. Show respect towards others

6. Know when to quit

7. Keep a record of your performances


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