Congratulations. I don’t play for money but also refer to my playing opportunities, occasional church services and community band concerts, as gigs. I treat them as seriously as if they were paying me, and prepare, show up on time, find out when to start and stop, play my best, and generally try to make sure they’re glad I played and want me to play again.
I’ve found that simple pieces, besides being safer to play if you’re still learning like I am, can be very effective if they’re good arrangements and played with a pleasant tone. The music minister at the church where I’ve played said my playing at one service had “presence but space.” In many settings you don’t need to overwhelm them and a really busy piece or a flashy glissando party can sound like distracting noise in the wrong setting.
Congratulations! It’s always exciting when you have the opportunity to share your love of music with others. Like you, I didn’t get paid on my first gig. Actually, my first dozen gigs. As you start gaining experience, while playing for other people, you might try donating your time to community events. Living in a small town myself, I’ve found that to be a great way to gain exposure to my business (I play for weddings/events). I have played for the opening night of local plays at our cultural arts center, done children’s educational library programs, volunteered for local benefit dinners; try it, you might get some “leads” on a few more gigs!
Like you, I also didn’t have enough pieces to play at early gigs. The thing to remember is, that you’re playing background music. If you have to go through your list twice in an emergency, it’s not the end of the world. Quite frankly, unless the song is a well-known tune, generally, most people won’t notice if you play it twice. I’ve done it sometimes, though it’s really best to have a larger repertoire for each event. When you practice your “song list” for an event, time yourself. How long will it take you to play the songs you are playing for that event?
Keep in mind that you might take a one-minute break every now and then, and usually you will have at least one person who wants to chat with you. A friend of mine told me that it’s best to play easier songs (don’t add a lot of “frill”) so if someone comes up to chat, you aren’t thrown off in your music. Keep up the good work, and enjoy playing!
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