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Searching for the best open mic tips for beginners? Thinking about playing a music open mic night for the first time?
If you’ve been practicing some songs at home and are ready to share your new skills with the world, attending an open mic is one of the best ways to start.
Open mics are generally pretty lowkey and are welcoming to new musicians who want to start performing and playing songs on stage. Unfortunately, playing your first several open mics can still be pretty nerve-wracking if you’re a performance beginner.
Luckily, we’re here to guide you. In this article, we’ll give you our top 5 tips for playing open mic nights with confidence.
1. Know Your Song Well
Before attending an open mic night, it’s a good idea to practice your songs at home as much as you can. Once you’re on stage, the nerves can start to affect your playing. Even if you play a song perfectly at home, that may not translate well to the stage automatically.
Repetition is key to making sure that you can play your song well and get a good feel for it before performing. Make sure that you practice your song all the way through multiple times. By practicing your song well, you’ll also be much more comfortable once you’re on stage with a lot of eyes looking your way.
Ideally, you’ll also memorize the songs you play eventually. However, there’s no shame in using your phone or having the lyrics with you if you’re a beginner to open mics.
2. Choose the Right Venue
Another thing but you should think about when playing your first open mic night is what the venue itself will be like. Different venues have different atmospheres, and while many open mics are meant for casual players, many are geared towards professionals that already have a lot of experience performing live.
If a professional music venue in your area also happens to have an open mic night during the week, it might be geared more for experienced players and original singer-songwriters. A local dive bar, however, is more likely to be a low-stakes affair where the majority of players lean towards covers rather than original music.
You’ll want to think about the venue you’ll be attending for open mic carefully beforehand. It can be well worth visiting the open mic during a previous week or calling ahead to get an idea of what it will be like.
3. Add Variation to Your Set
No matter what open mic venue or event you choose to attend, it’s also important to think about your setlist a bit. Make sure that you choose your songs wisely.
It’s a good idea to create some variation in some way or another to make sure that your set stays interesting for the listeners. If you mostly play slow songs, for example, you may want to consider adding at least one upbeat one into your setlist as well. Similarly, if you play only original songs then you might want to consider playing at least one cover during the night, or vice versa.
By thinking about adding some variation to your set and by considering how one song flows into another, you’ll be able to make a bigger impact overall. This is definitely one of the top open mic tips for beginners that you’ll want to take to heart.
4. Temper Your Expectations and Relax
When attending an open mic night for the first time, it’s important to keep your expectations in check. Do your best to relax as much as possible and resist stressing yourself out.
Most Open Mic nights are very welcoming, and even if you bomb completely, nobody is likely to care. It’s okay to just have fun and you should simply treat it as a live practice rather than making a big deal out of it.
On the flip side, if you have professional aspirations, keep your expectations in check as well. Although we’ve all heard stories about record label execs finding the next big thing at an open mic, this type of thing doesn’t really happen very often.
While you might make a fan or two at an open mic or hear a few encouraging comments, a single open mic likely won’t make or break your would-be career.
5. Support Others
When you attend an open mic, you might only have 5 or 10% of the entire performance time. Most of the night will be filled up by other performers who attended the open mic, so you need to be sure to relax and have fun during other performances as well.
Don’t think so much about your own set that you forget to enjoy the performances of others. Listen to the music and watch the performers. You might learn something about performance, songwriting, or singing, or simply just enjoy listening.
One of the best things about open mics is all of the people you can meet while there. Meeting other musicians is a great goal in and of itself when at an open mic, so make sure you’re supportive of other musicians and that you don’t keep to yourself. Who knows? You might even meet your future band members at an open mic night.
Be open to making friends or making a positive comment to a musician or a performer you really liked. By supporting others and focusing on being a part of the community, you’ll make the most of your first open mic and others may start supporting you as well.
If you’re thinking about playing an open mic night, you’re already ahead of many beginner players. By making use of the open mic tips for beginners listed above, you’ll be able to have the most enjoyable time at your next open mic and might just make a few new friends in the process.
Need more tips for performing solo? Check out this article about the top guitar pedals you can use to improve your performances as a solo musician.
Hi, I’m Harrison! I created this website to help musicians navigate the ins and outs of their craft and to help them choose new instruments and gear to add to their collection. I have 15 years of experience as a guitarist and singer and have also played many other instruments throughout the years including the bass guitar, piano, banjo, mandolin, and harmonica.