I Survived My First "Performance"

My mother wanted me to play for her while she was visiting. I’m 44, and I’ve never felt more like a kid! Soon, it’s my mom, my wife, and her her parents (and the dog!) all in the living room. Pretty glamorous stuff, y’all.

It’s been a tough few weeks for getting my practice in, so I went with “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield, one of my early favorites to play. Some observations:

  • listening to basic chords with no singing is BORING
  • I need to drill my early chords again
  • I did not die of embarrassment

So, a good, but awkward, experience. Now back to practice!


Congratulations Eric. Its a great start and it will get easier and you will be more relaxed the more you do it, although in my case it’s taking a while.

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Congrats on this huge milestone you achieved, Eric! First time is always the hardest one and I’m 100 % with Trevor here: The more often you do it, the easier it will be, the more relaxed you will be.

Also, it’s rewarding as you already take some lessons learnt from this experience. Great stuff! :slight_smile:

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Congrats, that’s a great milestone. When I first started playing I didn’t expect to sing and play because others told me that’s a lot harder. And it sort of is.

The first song I learned I would play and my wife would sing it. After 50 or 60 times quite by accident I started singing along in the chorus and realized amazingly (to me anyway) that it wasn’t so hard after all.

Justin has a very good lesson on singing and playing at the same time. Compared to my experience, he does over complicate it a little bit, just trying to be very thorough.

Singing and playing is heaps of fun.


I still can’t do it. The moment I start to sing, my strumming falls completely apart.

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Hang in there. It will happen. Also consider trying a different song. I’m not that familiar with playing “for what it’s worth”. Some songs are a lot harder to sing. If the chord changes aren’t closely aligned with the singing / phrases, it’s tougher to learn.

When I learned to sing Margaritaville I really struggled because the words don’t start till something like the 5th 1/8th note in the 3rd bar. That syncopation really did my head in and it took a fair while to where I could just do it automatically and at that stage I’d been playing and singing for well over 5 years.

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Nice job! 44 and feeling like a kid again! How was your song received? Did mom give you a cookie? If you don’t get a cookie, what’s the point? Maybe play the actual song in the background, just below the level you are playing so you get the beat going, lyrics, etc.

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What an inspiring story. I’m 75 and had my first lesson 6 mos ago. Progress is slow, but tales like this make me want to stay after it.

Great job Eric !,



Hi Eric, I had a quite similar experience this Christmas, as I was practicing some Christmas songs and other “parent compatible” tunes to “perform” during their stay at our house over Christmas. I felt like a child who has to recite a poem for Santa Claus or having to play in a concert of music school at year’s end. So funny…


Fantastic, well done. :slight_smile:

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Bravo, Eric, the first time is the hardest, well done.

Keep on keeping on!

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Agreed! And that is the problem if you don’t sing. How to make something interesting?

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Hi Eric, your post is soooo relatable. Thanks for sharing it, I guess many of us have been there, and many others will still have to cross that point afte you. It is a milestone indeed. I’ll be curious how you plan to deal with your three observations:

  • Will you start pursuing singing and playing, or will you develop to a great instrumentalist instead?
  • Practice makes permanent - will you get them right for now and forever?
  • Did the performance bug bite - and you’ll perform no matter how?

As it is time for New Years resolutions - what about sharing an AVOYP this year?

Happy New Year!

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Those are some great questions!

  • I’m extremely shy about my singing, but it’s something I’d like to work on. I’m not sure I’m far enough along my guitar journey to pick a direction yet.
  • I keep drilling the basics because I know it helps!
  • I enjoy performing, but my goal as a guitar player is to play with others.

I think you can definitely expect a AVOYP from me this New Year!

I guess a lot depends on your goals and aspirations. You may have long term aspirations or maybe you are taking it more step-by-step.

If you play solely for yourself, enjoy strumming songs you know, and can ‘hear’ the singing in your head, then all is good. For learning purposes, you can record portions of playing the chords to get feedback, rather than repeating othe same over and over.

If you want to play for others and don’t want to sing, maybe as you progress you’ll focus on finger-style and chord melodies. Eventually you can learn to have bass, harmony, and melody blended together on the guitar. Or maybe you like the finger-style blues, an intro, couple of cycles and an outro is not boring (as far as I am concerned).

Or maybe you aim to play electric guitar in a band?

And if you have no idea, keep working through the first three grades and see what emerges over time.

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I have struggled with this for a long time.

One solution is to find somebody to sing while you play. A spouse, a friend, a son or daughter. This is really very rewarding.

Lacking a singing partner (like me), another approach is to find songs that have distinctive riffs or single note runs that make the song recognizable. Like “Needle and the Damage Done” or “Heart of Gold” (lots of Neil Young songs fit this mold). It can be pretty satisfying to play something that others (and you!) can recognize. “Feels Like Teen Spirit” is also quite recognizable just from the chords/rhythym), and if you can manage the easy 1-string solo, that also is very satisfying. There are many songs like this. Of course, this requires a step up in guitar playing, beyond basic strumming.

Lately, I’ve been focusing on acoustic blues arrangements that I can play as instrumentals. I’m not that proficient at this style and it can take me quite a while to learn a song (months, although I’m usually learning a couple simultaneously). I will say, once a song is under my belt, it’s great to be able to play an instrumental from start to finish. Obviously, this sort of thing is for more advanced players.


Great stuff Eric!! Congrats with performing for youre family, i have not done that yet, and i get angst just thinking about it :grin: so well done!

Looking forward for an AVOYP of you sing and play when you feel up for it :grin:

Keep it up!

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BZ, Eric , and kudos to you for making it happen; a good song choice for your first audience too … no doubt a dog’s paw was tapping out the beat in the living room … :clap: :clap:
As the Steven’s song goes, “the first cut is the deepest” … :wink:
Looking forward to seeing your performance on an OM sometime in the future.
Keep it fun … :sunglasses:

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Congratulations on that milestone!
It only gets better!

If you are very shy about singing, it is ok to hold that for a while until your strumming automatisms, singing practice and confidence has grown.

Just asp laying guitar, singing needs work work work to improve; it’s not something that is “just there or not” and everybody can achieve a good technique.

Win terrain on the awkwardness day by day, bit by bit, by trying to sing in your safe space.
Muster some bravery to record and listen. You will probably hate the sound of your own voice, as we all do so keep that out of the equation. focus on the pitch, timings and technique. Stand up to sing if you can; it is the biggest and easiest boost for singing technique