Whether you are a friend, lover, acquaintance, related by blood or just getting to know a musician, you should know that the performance aspect of a musician’s career is both important and vulnerable. In performance, a musician bears their artistic soul to a crowd of veritable strangers with no guarantee that they will be accepted. Your presence at their concert can either be a source of great joy or a source of great annoyance. Here are some tips to consider when you head out the door to support your musician:
1) Do make note of when they are performing.
Realize that if you are special to a musician they want you to be there to experience that special relationship they have with music in performance. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard them practice a thousand times in the garage; they want you there for support. At the same time, you don’t need to be at every performance. You should be independent and have your own life but also, a musician doesn’t want to be in a situation where they are constantly begging you to come out to one of there concerts. Most musicians have enough anxiety associated with putting their craft on the line for a bunch of strangers, they don’t need the added stress of wondering whether or not you will flake on them… again.
2) Do pay attention to the performance.
While attending a concert might be a social event for you, for your musician it is work. It is presenting their art to society and they want you to listen. For most musicians, your support means your undivided attention to their performance. Think of it this way, if you were talking to a room of people, would you want someone, especially someone close to you to interrupt the impact of your lecture by presenting their own simultaneous lecture or paying more attention to their phone than the content of what you have to say?
3) Do understand the role of fans.
Fans and strangers are an inevitability of this career field. Whether you are just a friend or something more to a musician, fans are a reality. Give your musician time to schmooze with the fans after a show, they paid good money for this music and at the end of the day you get to see your musician outside of gigs. Trust that when your musician is done working the crowd he or she will be more than happy to give you some face time!
4) Do give constructive praise.
Compliments are great! However, it means a lot more to a musician when your compliment comes with a bit of thought behind it. Instead of doling out the typical “That was great!” or “You were awesome!” consider how the show played out. Did they have a really great tone? Did they connect with the audience more than usual? Was there a part of one song/composition that particularly touched you during this performance? You don’t have to be a musicologist to think of something to say, but you do have to pay attention.
5) Do understand that this is work and it is tiring.
At the end of a gig musicians are tired. Music making is physically and emotionally exhausting work. Don’t be hard on your musician if they are drained after a performance and want a moment to themselves before gearing up to hang out with you. Don’t be hard on your musician if they are drained after a performance and just want to go to bed and not hang out at all. While it may seem like a dream (and musicians feel incredibly lucky to make a living from their passion) it is still a job and just like your job makes you want to just pass out some days, the same is true for musicians.
In the end, every person is different and not every musician may hold these preferences true. However, as long as you remember that for a musician gigs are jobs, while remembering to be courteous and attentive, you can’t go wrong! The result is a happier musician (friend, lover, child, etc.) who can go into each performance feeling prepared to give their all to their art and their audience!