I used to perform often a few years ago but had taken a break of two years and barely touched my clarsach until recently. Performing has always been my favourite aspect about playing music. I feel like when I’m in front of people I’m pushed to do my best which oddly enough seems to include making a lot of stupid jokes and improvising rather than playing whatever set list I had intended to play. I had forgotten how much I loved it and I’m so glad I agreed to play at September’s music session, despite my lack of confidence.
I procrastinated for far too long and barely practised before the night. I began singing and playing old songs, but I didn’t feel the connection to them I had in the past. The last time I took music seriously in any way was probably about six years ago and both my voice and my approach has changed a great deal since then. Songs I used to sing now felt cheesy and made me feel childish, so I looked to songs I had heard my parents sing while I was growing up.
There weren’t very many audience members to start with on the night, it was a quiet night and as I sat down to start playing, the ferry was just making its way into the harbour. The sky was turning that calm dusky blue-pink colour and the whole atmosphere was so relaxed that I didn’t feel like sticking to my set-list.
I started with one of the songs I had thought was too cheesy to play anymore. My voice, being unused to public singing was pretty shaky at first but after a verse and a chorus I felt nearly as relaxed as the atmosphere around me.
I felt the confidence I only feel when performing, I had friends and others I knew watching and I was so happy to be playing in this intimate setting. As I continued to play and awkwardly introduce the songs – terrible jokes included – the room began to slowly fill up as more visitors, locals and friends arrived.
I finished on a song I had only learnt the week before – which was risky – but felt completely safe as this was such an encouraging place. If ever there was a time to play new songs it was now!
Once I had put my clarsach away I returned to listen to the other performers. It could have gone any way, maybe nobody else would want to play and we would have called it a night, but luckily several musicians and even a poet was present to perform!
We were blessed with an amazingly diverse night of music and some friends of mine played Persian and Spanish songs with ukulele and even taught the audience the words to another, simpler song so we could all join in- which we did!
There were a group of people from France who, while not rehearsed, had great fun playing some traditional French tunes on guitar, trumpet, clarinet and accordion. This was followed by another fellow singing some hilarious Doric songs while accompanying himself with the spoons.
We had a local guitar player and singer who played and sang some very loved local songs. And finally, a poet recited some of her beautiful poetry which she had never read to an audience before.
The whole night was full of people encouraging and uplifting each other’s creativity. There was no judgement and little worry or anxiety – even when mistakes were made, or the right key couldn’t be found. I’m so glad I was there!
I intend to start performing a lot more after this – it really was the boost I needed.
Thank you to Sandra Kennedy who organises the Open Music Sessions, to Mike for the sound, the bar staff and to everyone who came to watch/listen and play!