I went to one of my friends’ gigs the other day where they played some pop music at a bar. The place was packed and the crowd was really into the music, the room was vibrant. Still, as a musician, I was listening intently and did hear some errors, moments, of hesitation, and overall sloppiness. As I stood there looking at the subtle things that weren’t quiet as sharp as one would hope, I thought… So what?
I’m not sure of how many musicians were at this performance and how many were listening as intensely as I was, but when I looked around the room, I saw the joy on people’s faces, singing the songs, begging for more, I realized that it doesn’t really matter what I think. Who cares if the musician in me was noticing the imperfections? I was less than 1% of the audience, they weren’t playing for me they were playing for a room of 150 people and at the end of the day, everyone had a great time, the gig was a success, and they will undoubtedly be called back again. So what if I noticed these errors, music is to be enjoyed and if it was then that’s really the point right?
Of course as a musician we need to worry about these issues. It’s our goal to be perfect to have an error free performance even if that’s subjective and impossible. However, many times we are so focused on that goal that we forget about the objective, which is to have people enjoy our music. Often after a performance, we are just bitter. That solo sucked, I missed that one chord, the ending was a bit sloppy, etc. We need to stop feeding into this mentality so much. Yes it’s important to work on our craft and improve, but can we do so while still celebrating our accomplishments? Can we smile after a performance and say “Hey good job, that was fun!” Can we stop putting ourselves down when we should be our own biggest fans?
If you, my fellow musician, take anything away from this let it be this. Stop obsessing over your performance. The audience doesn’t care. As long as your swinging, rocking, or grooving, that’s all that matters. Can things have gone better? Of course. Is there room for improvement? Of course. But only a small number of the actual crowd noticed or even cared. Enjoy the journey, enjoy the stage, stop playing for musicians and start playing for the crowd.