Gigs: What are they? Why do them so young? What if my child is nervous, shy, or scared?
A mom recently asked me the question, why should I force my child to do a gig if he is nervous or shy? He is just starting out on the drums, can’t performing wait?
It’s a great question and it got me thinking that it may not, in fact, be obvious to parents the purpose of gigs, especially in the few years of learning an instrument. Our entire program is geared towards building a community of music making families that celebrate in creating, learning, and communicating (in the language of music) together…yet…actually having to perform is incredibly nerve-racking for some. Indeed, it can be debilitating.
I’ve seen a few musicians (young and old) come to tears before their performance and a few (again…young and old…I’m including adults here) that have bailed on the performance. I witnessed more than one student literally leave the building before their name was called!
First: What is a gig?
At Brooklyn Music Factory, a private lesson gig is when we pair musicians up with faculty to perform the song/s they have been working on in front of their community. Usually we have about fifty people in the audience, sometimes as many as seventy-five. A band is made up of two or more musicians, and ideally it is equal numbers students and faculty. The bands never get the chance to rehearse in advance, rather, the unified curriculum at BMF allows for faculty to guide their students to the gig so they will be ready to perform with others. They work on the same song & play all the same BLAM (Big Lessons About Music) games that teach everything from song form to song harmony and melody. All our musicians play BLAM games:drummers, singers, pianists, guitar players & bass players….SO when they get to their gig, they are speaking the same language. They have done the same exercises and have learned the same tools needed to play with other musicians.
The gig is an opportunity to put all the music tools…the Big Lessons…to the test.
A student that completes their music journey with BMF (usually an average of ten years of study) will have played well over a fifty gigs by the time they graduate. Yup…you read that correctly, fifty gigs!!
Second: Why attempt a gig if my child is just too shy?
Well, I decided to ask students and parents at a few recent gigs why they thought the private lesson gigs were so important. Here were some of their answers. These are real answers from real Brooklyn Music Factory families:
“It’s a chance to show off all my hard work.”
“It gives kids a chance to communicate with one another in the language of music.”
“Music brings people joy.”
“It gives my kid the confidence to get up on stage.”
“It builds performance skills in my kids.”
“I like to play with other people.”
All of these reasons are great. All of these reasons are equally valid . But I believe there is an even more basic reason to showing up to the private lesson gig…and by the way, just showing up is 90% of the challenge…the rest is easy!
I believe the reason for the gigs (especially in the first few years) is even more basic: Gigs are social.
Yes…it’s actually that simple. In the beginning, musicians need to meet other musicians that are doing the same thing they are doing. Going trough the same struggles they are going through. Having some successes on their instrument. Playing the same BLAM games. Having fun. Getting annoyed. On the same journey.
I challenge our musicians at each gig to one simple task: Meet one musician before you leave. I ask them to just say ‘hi’ to another guitarist or drummer. So simple yet so missing in music education.
Music lessons these days seem to be all about one person trying to get better at an instrument. That is a lonely AND miserable version of a music journey. And that is one that fails students most of the time. Did you take lessons as a kid and quit? Ask yourself why. Was it really about ‘talent’ or was it just lonely and ultimately not so fun. Of course, you picked basketball or soccer instead.
Gigs: Why do them so young? What if my child is nervous, shy, or scared?
The answer is not complicated. It’s because music must be social from the very beginning and our gigs are the one time when we can get lots of musicians (and their families) in our community room. Kids need a team of like minded kids right from the beginning. The private lesson gigs are one crucial way they get that support.
Oh yeah…and they are also incredibly fun!
See you at the next gig-
Co-Founder/Director of Private Lessons