1. One of the biggest things I have learned is how to tune everything else out and focus solely on what I am singing/playing. The other night, I did a gig at Michelangelo's and I was playing to a mostly empty room (which I will discuss a bit later) but these two women came and sat on the couch three feet away from me. The thing was though....they weren't sitting there to listen to me play. They sat through most of my set and talked to each other pretty much the whole time. If I hadn't learned to focus on my music despite what is going on around me, that might have really thrown me off! But it didn't! And I think that is one thing that experience can teach you that practice can't.
2. This is a big one : Support other musicians!! I cannot say this enough! Being a musician can be a really lonely, difficult thing, and it is so easy to get discouraged. The times that I have had other musicians come up to me and tell me that I'm doing a good job and to keep doing what I'm doing...those are the things that keep me going. And on top of all of this, as a woman in this industry, I especially believe in supporting other women who are in this industry. I refuse to let this world tell me to tear down my fellow ladies!
3. Playing to an empty room is not glamorous, but it sure will teach you something about yourself. I cannot count how many times I have played to mostly empty rooms. Let me tell you, it is a rough gig. (especially when you aren't even getting paid for it). However, some of my best "practice" sessions have been behind the microphone in a nearly abandoned coffee shop. No matter how much you may want to give up and say "Well, no one is listening anyway! What's the point?!" You have to see it through. Actually, that is something that I learned on my very first "gig" playing on the street in Guthrie two years ago. No one was really walking by me, and so I stopped playing for awhile. Then, these two guys came up and I played for them. One of them was kind of giving me a hard time and saying "if you play, people might walk by and listen...but if they don't know you're here to play, then how can you expect them to come?" It was a little hard to hear then, being that I was so new to performing and so easily wounded by strangers words, even if they were meant in good faith. But now, it makes all the sense in the world. If you don't play at all, no one knows what they are missing. So play play play play your little heart out!