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How I Placed 2nd in an Open Mic Competition

how I placed 2nd in an open mic competition.
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How I placed 2nd in an Open Mic competition shares some basic tips on how to improve your stage presence and live performance.

Play In Tune

I like to remind myself that I am still young, but that is not true.   I can’t depend on looks or youth to hold the audience’s attention.  So, covering the basics, like playing in tune is a must. 

Know the Lyrics

Here’s another requirement.  Since an open mic is all about the performance, and the number of songs is usually limited to 3 or 4, do your best to have the songs’ lyrics memorized.  This implies you’ll need more than just 3 or 4 songs ready to go if you play several events in the same area.

Love Your Audience – how I placed 2nd in an open mic competition.

For me, this seems to be my edge.  Both the first-place winner and I excelled in stage presence over the other performers.  There were many skilled players who dazzled the crowd for sure.  The reason stage presence matters is because if the audience feels like you engaged with them, sometimes, at least in an open mic setting, that trumps a perfect performance. It was a key to how I placed 2nd in an open mic competition.

Here are a few tips on How do you love your audience?

1. Talk to the audience – how I placed 2nd in an open mic competition.

Have something to say.  You may want to think ahead of time about what you can talk about.  For me, this was easy since I had never played at this venue before.  I even asked the name of the river flowing behind the stage.  I also introduced myself and said how much I loved the setting for an open mic.

2. Make eye contact. Engage them with your gaze.

When you do this it makes people remember you because it is a connection when your eyes meet. To do this, you must have a good handle on your performance so as not to forget what you are doing. It was a key to how I placed 2nd in an open mic competition.

3. Ask the audience to sing along with you.

Based on the uniqueness of your performance, this may or may not work.  But if the song is easy enough and it’s already well known, like playing John Denver’s Country Roads in West Virginia, the audience will remember you when the song has ended. Being remembered is a key to winning, even 2nd place.

4 thoughts on “How I Placed 2nd in an Open Mic Competition”

  1. Good tips for normal folks, Jim. Unfortunately, I have a form of Nominal Dysphasia. That is characterized by the inability to remember names. It also makes lyrics impossible for me to remember. At open mics and song circles, I’m stuck with a music stand and, as you can imagine, that limits eye contact..

    This is not a function oaf age. It’s been a lifetime problem. Luckily, it does not extend to music itself. At a jam session, I can play along to 99% of the songs that people present, regardless of key or whether I’ve heard them before or not. But words? Not so lucky there! I even need my music stand for songs I’ve written!

  2. Hello Paul,
    Thank you for your comments regarding this post. I’d love to write about your situation as a way to help others. One thing is for sure, from the audience’s perspective, I don’t think they get any less talent or appreciate less what you do to learn and perform at the level you can. People appreciate the passion of the worker and surely you would need passion to pursue the level of effort you put into your performances. I welcome the idea that my posts are not “final” works. There is always more to learn.

  3. I did open mic at the Rudyard Kipling in Louisville KY. I always got a good the time I was doing vocals for my brother band but I really wanted to get my own material out there. It’s a shame the Rudyard has closed.

    1. Hello David,
      I know the feeling. Losing a great venue is like losing a good friend. But don’t stop. You know what it feels like to experience appreciation for your music. The world needs you. There are people everywhere that your music can help. Find another open mic. Just keeping doing what you do. It makes you and your audience know they’re alive and can still make a contribution. Thanks for considering.

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