by Steven Danner
All summer long you’ve been taking lessons and working very hard to perfect your music. But sometimes being in a practice room for so long, you can forget to live a little bit. The best thing a musician can do for the mind is taking a breather, a small break from the practice room, for a little while, to refocus and then go back at it with a clear mind. There've been a lot of blogs on the topic of practicing and practice tips, but we’ve missed a part: What do you do with time off from the practice room? You hang out!
Hanging out in a community filled with other musicians can be a great thing to refresh the mind. It’s a chance to speak the language of music amongst people who will understand you. Many musicians gather at open mic nights. Open mic nights can be found almost anywhere. It’s typically an event hosted by a venue or small business that allows people to come hang out and express themselves through music, poetry, or even comedy; an event where you get the microphone and time to be creative in front of an audience. My favorite thing is finding the ones inside little coffee shops. It’s a great chance to catch up and see what other musicians have been working on all summer, and a great way to relax from the school week (assuming you have your homework done). It can also be a great opportunity to challenge yourself to perform in front of others. Music of all kinds is played at open mic nights. You could get the chance to hear classical music, folk music, or even an interesting rendition of a popular song, all in one place. Being exposed to this diversity may even inspire you with ideas and direction on how to take your music to the next level.
The benefit to getting out to an open mic night or musician-friendly event is that you also get a chance to network. And as it was stated in a previous blog for songwriters, networking is the most important thing. These events often lead to jam sessions, where you can work on improvisation, and they most always end in friendship. All the ones I’ve attended are warm, positive, and welcoming atmospheres for a musician. No matter what skill level you’re at, it can all around be a fun time. These events can be utilized, especially for the songwriter, to break in that new song and work out all the rough edges. The sky is the limit at these kinds of events.
If for some reason there are no open mic nights available in your area, try creating a Facebook event, find a place to have it, and invite people. For the avid music lover, even if you don’t play an instrument, you can use these events as a tool to stimulate community involvement by working alongside groups. These events support the music and bring awareness to the music community.
These gatherings can be held at local music stores, music schools, or in the center of city parks. Just about anywhere is a good place to have music. It doesn’t even have to be a big event. It could just be getting several of your music friends together and playing the music you’ve been working on for each other. Get creative on different ways to interact with other musicians. The most important thing in this situation is to hang out with other musicians, cultivate that creative environment, have fun, and showcase your hard work.
Although I say "take a break," networking is an essential part to being a musician. Open mic nights are a fun way to approach it, and they can be a nice, relaxing way to break up the practice time.