Friday, 9 November 2012

On being a performer

At the end of the day, what you're doing is asking people to be interested in you.

You are putting your skill, craft and experience on display and hoping people find it interesting or stimulating. Ambition has led you to develop, expand, maybe even invent talents from diverse influences. Your ability has been road tested and analysed by the most honest market research there is. Audiences.

The audience is your reason for existing. Success or failure is judged by how the punters respond, and they can't lie. Either they appreciate what you offer or they don't. All audiences are different and it could well be that not all of them are destined/designed to be supportive of what you do. But you need someone, anyone to give you at the very least attention, and hopefully reaction. The contact between you and them is the climax of everything else.

I'm a Musician and a songwriter. It's what I want to be doing, and I hate to say it but I can't think of much else I have either the desire or talents to succeed in. At the moment I pretty much make my whole living from teaching music in various ways, and I enjoy that and I think I'm pretty successful at times. Quite occasionally I have even done things that have made me feel really good and fulfilled, passed on knowledge that other people which much more musical ability than me would struggle to impart.  However, I'm only teaching to keep alive the ambition of building a career as a writer and performer. Unfortunately I have picked a job that is hard to start, really hard to build and impossible to predict or judge. I'm OK with that though, I was told it would be this way from the start.

In the past my biggest obstacle was probably myself and the various chips I had on my shoulders. This self-doubt was balanced with a pompous and egotistical ambition. (Sound familiar?)  I'm much more self-aware now. I know I can get on a stage, any stage and hold an audience. Audiences are all different, so sometimes holding them for a while is the best conclusion, other times I can make them genuinely interested in me and what I'm saying. I think I've even been loved by some. I know now what I'm capable of and very importantly I'm pretty much at ease with my ability compared to others I encounter. I could go into some detail, but basically I know I'm not a virtuoso. I can however make interesting statements, express myself and generate emotions/reactions in others. That's probably more important to me than being technically the best practitioner of an instrument (there's always someone better)
Being a performer relies on some of the most unattractive characteristics that anyone could exhibit.  Things like ego, self-involvement, extreme vulnerability, neediness, a belief that you have something important to say and a right to say it, dishonesty, honesty....

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