July 08, 2022
Whether it’s because the pandemic had you isolated, you’ve been ensconced in a new record, or you’ve just been busy with work and life, if you haven’t been on stage in a while, an invitation to play solo can be a daunting proposition. After all, without a band to back you up, it’s all on you. But even if it’s been a while since you’ve been on stage, you can still succeed in coming back strong.
Here are a few tips for getting ready for that long-awaited comeback.
First and foremost, if it’s been a long time since you’ve performed, you’ll need time to get adjusted – even if you’re already really good on stage. How much time does depend on your previous experience and whether or not solo gigs are usually your thing. If solo shows are all you’ve ever done, you toured for 10 years straight and you’ll be doing all the same material, you might only need a week to brush up. But if you’re used to playing with a band and you’re going to have to adapt a bunch of material, you may want a month or two to practice and lock things in.
Speaking of material, it’s obvious that songs you’ve done a thousand times on stage will be easier to brush off than brand new material. The added benefit is with older, more comfortable tunes, nerves won’t play as big a role. So, while you may want a couple new songs to liven things up, it’s ok to build your comeback set around classic stuff.
Since you’re just getting back into the swing of things, this may not be the best time to introduce a lot of crazy gimmicks, new technologies, and complicated setups. One of the great things about coming back to the stage as a soloist is you can strip down to the bare essentials, concentrating on performing rather than technical details. So, your return to the stage is a good time to just go with one acoustic (or piano) and you. That makes it easier to get practice reps in too.
Since performing does take energy and you’ll have some limit on practice time, you might want to keep your return to stage shorter than normal. If you’re used to doing hour long sets, maybe try booking a half hour instead. This gives you less to deal with in rehearsals and gives you the opportunity to ease in as far as energy output. This is an especially good idea for singers, because your voice may not be in good enough shape to handle a long show yet.
You’ll need practice to get ready for a new show – even more so than when you’re on stage a lot. It’s wise to get structured. Set a daily rehearsal time, stick to it, and practice efficiently, especially if the gig is coming up soon. Don’t make these crucial practice sessions about noodling, socializing, or writing music. Get your reps in.
Finally, while you’ll want to make sure to get daily reps in, it’s more important to do this regularly than a lot at once. Perhaps you’ll run through the set once or twice, drill problem areas a few more times, and then call it quits and come back tomorrow. That’s why it’s helpful to book your come back gig well in advance. Practicing too much at once can burn you out, mess up your voice, and take the fun out of it. So, get your daily reps, then let it go until tomorrow.
A lot of us have spent a long time off stage in the last few years due largely to the pandemic, but now live music is back with a vengeance, so if you’re ready to come on out, book that solo set and have fun getting ready!
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"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all of the earth; make a loud noise and rejoice and sing praises. Sing to the Lord with the harp and the voice of the psalm." - Psalm 98:4-5