Always Play Your Best

So it's the big night and your band is playing the big club in town. You're excited and can't wait to put on a great show. But it's time to start and there are only 5 people in attendance. What do you do? Do you decide to hold back and just go through the motions, because after all, it's only 5 people. Or do you go out there and play your best, no matter how many (or how few) people are in the audience? The best advice I ever received was:

Always Play Your Best, because you 
never know who is in the audience.

A true story: famed guitarist Adrian Belew (Frank Zappa, David Bowie, King Crimson, and many others) was discovered by Frank Zappa while he was playing in a hotel lounge band. Zappa had come in after his own concert, and was impressed enough to get Belew's phone number. Months later, when Frank needed a guitarist, he called Belew and the rest is history.

Now I'm not saying that while playing a wedding gig you'll be discovered by a major act and hired to tour the world, but you never know who is in the audience. It's very possible that your performance could lead to being hired for other gigs, recording sessions, and other sorts of work. I've picked up both teaching and performing jobs from playing various gigs where I ended up talking to someone in the audience because they liked what I was doing up on stage. And some of these gigs were not always the ideal musical situation, but I was professional and always played my best.

And be aware that the opposite can happen: if you act like a jerk, or don't perform very well because you don't care about the gig, someone in the audience may take note and not hire you in the future, because they remember how you behaved/performed when they saw you.

So do yourself a favor, whether there's 5 or 5,000 people in the audience; or whether it's the type of music you love or not, always Play Your Best, because you never know who is in the audience! I know this sounds like a no brainer, but it bears repeating.

~ MB

Addendum: I remember one time playing a solo concert, where for whatever mysterious reason, no one showed up! The hosts of the concert were very apologetic and couldn't understand what happened, as all their events were usually well attended. Since I was all set up, I played the concert for both of them. And I played my best too!


  1. You are absolutely right with everything you are saying; I remember a funny story: I had to play with my band in a little stadium, we had about 5000 people in the audience, we where really excited, we started off and after even three minutes playing, I realized something strange is going on in the audience; after four minutes it was obvious, people were leaving the stadium in terms of dozends and dozends in all directions to the excits; my mates got mad and crazy, I told them: pretend all is good, keep the attention, stay in the focus and play the best; actualley after 6 minutes the whole stadium was empty, from 5000 people down to 15 people in front the stage, actualley dancing,.....well, I adviced the band to play all of the 60 minutes set, just do it; ....after the show,.... everybody was a bit of depressed, I had to meet the manager, trying to figure out what I could tell him, when I met hin, he was throwing himself down on the ground crying for apologize,...what happened; the audience which consisted of stiudents from all over the contry had to get their busses; but due to an overall delay of the event they couldn´t stay but where called to get on the busses; Actually the manager was very impressed that we kept uo, he said that seeing us keeping up was the best thing he had ever, " Always Play Your Best, because you
    never know what is going to happen."

  2. Thanks Michael and Jens for these sharings....
    I like to play to my own pleasure (and to a certain yogic model). To play to the pleasure of another is bit risky. Their once positive opinion may change and now we are stuck with feelings of rejection, etc.
    Regardless of what folks are saying, if they are snoring, coughing, crying or twitching, to me that's like applause :o)
    If they are not in their bodies in this way then I don't feel I 'performed' very well.

  3. Thank you Jens & Dharam for the comments!

    Dharam, there are 2 different models here (thanks for bringing up the other one). In the Gong meditation/Yoga world, I agree with what you say. There I have a specific intent and an end result in mind that is very different from when I perform a concert for an audience. I work in both worlds (I played a meditation last Wednesday and will perform a concert this Wednesday). And while the intent may differ, I think that this post (written more for the concert performance point of view) can also apply to a meditation, or even a Yoga session. We must always give our best, not just because of the possibility of being "discovered," or from satisfying our own ego, but because whoever chooses to show up for us deserves our best!

    Whether you play for 2 or 2,000; for money or for free; we should always strive to play our best because it honors not only ourselves and our listeners, but it honors the music/vibrations that we create. And if you are a Spiritual person, it honors that Spirituality.

    1. Absolutely, I do want to do/be my best regardless of who's laying there (not sitting)
      There will be, one day, a time when I will create gong songs for musical purposes. That will open a new door for me. I used to play flute way back in the early 80's and can appreciate a bit of that energy and perspective.



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