Five Levels of Set-Up Shows


With our seventh annual road trip in the rear view mirrors, it’s time to look at how we prepared for our six performances in Nashville and studio session at Muscle Shoals. Our Set-Up Shows took us to Starbucks in Burlington, Wild Wing Bronte West, Fionn MacCool’s in Oakville, and the Legion Hall in Milton.  For anyone preparing for an important performance, such as a competitive music festival, exam, or audition, the key is to escalate the profile of the performances so that performers will be set up to shine. “Under pressure, we don’t rise to the occasion, we fall to the level of our training.”
Here are five levels of performances, in order of profile:
1. Mini-concerts for a familiar audience. Informal Fireside Concerts in your home or Studio Lobby Series are great places to break the ice for solo students.
2. Community performances. Retirement homes (eg, Seasons on Bronte St) and Youth Centres (eg, Re:Soul in Milton or Youth Unlimited in Waterdown) allow you to play for strangers in a somewhat enclosed environment.
3. Local collective performances. Get in touch with your favourite music program to share in small doses at PorchFests, student concerts, farmers’ markets, talent shows, etc. to contribute to a larger audience without having to take on a 45 minute timeslot.
4. Businesses. Cafes and pubs with Music Nights, Open Mic Sessions, or ad hoc sets require real skill and awareness as businesses trust performers to engage the audience and not detract from their customers’ experiences.
5. Ticketed public events.  Events with cover charges or minimums are fun when you have live performance experience. The monthly concert series, Acoustic Blend Cafe, for example, opens with an Open Mic segment then finishes with a pro headliner.

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