Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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kmurdick
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Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by kmurdick » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:28 pm

Hardly anyone has the drive and the talent to be a top level player, but most freshman guitar majors have enough skills to make a living playing the guitar in classical guitar style. The skill level needed is to be able to play the 20 Sor Studies (Segovia Ed.) confidently. There are three of four of these studies, BTW, which will fit into a restaurant repertoire, then all you need is a bunch of tricks. These tricks will allow you to arrange popular tunes in an impressive manor. They will basically allow you to make the guitar sound like three instruments playing at once: melody, bass line and middle part/chord. This really impresses people. Go strong on popular melodies, light on the classical pieces (everyone likes Romanza). The styles I used are shown below.

1) Alternating bass and/or Root/chord, 5th /chord style (Merl Travis)
2) Waltz style (see Tarrega's Grand Waltz)
3) Habanera style (see La Paloma) I used a middle chord when arranged in this style.
4) Beguine Style
5) Bossa Nova Style (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xTqNrWx4Xs) steady Root/5th bass, syncopated melody and syncopated inner chord whenever possible.
6) Arpeggio style (Sor #15)
7) Tremolo: don't be afraid to overuse it if you got it.
I got inspired to write this from the "Playing a simple song" thread.

FrankBlack
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by FrankBlack » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:12 pm

I think we'd have to define "make a living". It certainly depends on where you live, cost of living, etc. I live in an area overflowing with major musical talent (many world-class classical guitarists within a two-hour drive) and I can't recall the last time I saw someone playing solo guitar in a restaurant as a job. I am sure it happens, but I haven't seen it myself. In my area, you'd need to work pretty hard to afford to buy a house, have health insurance, pay for a car (and the gas you'll need to drive around for your gigs) and the rest of life if you relied on solo guitar performance for your living. Yes, it can be done, but I really don't know many who do it without at least a non-performing part-time job. Most people I know work in several bands, weddings, lessons, etc. It is hard work, but when you are passionate, I guess you can't do anything else. :)

kmurdick
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by kmurdick » Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:55 pm

You make good points, Frankblack. There was no one in my area (tri cities in upstate New York) playing gigs on the classical guitar when I was making a living there 50 years ago. Now that I live in Mobile Alabama, I'm the only sax player playing solo regularly (and there are at least 20 players who are better than I am). You don't have to be great on your instrument, you just have to be convincing. But perhaps making a living is too strong a statement. Let me rephrase that to playing a regular gig for reasonable compensation.

I don't think that your opportunities are limited because there are world class players in your area. 95+% of the public wouldn't know a world class player if he bit them on their a**. Also, good players practice and/or teach a lot and don't have the time to learn pop tunes and usually think it's beneath them. Once you have two hours of commercial repertoire, you can find some three or four nights a week gig for crap money. And once you have a job with videos on youtube,etc. it's a lot easier to find a better job. You can also get a booking agent to find you the classy gigs.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by AndreiKrylov » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:36 am

I did make living playing/performing guitar most of my life.. It was a very modest living,
Last edited by AndreiKrylov on Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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guitarrista
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by guitarrista » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:22 am

"Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar" - until many decide to follow that and make a living with the guitar, at which point hardly anyone can make a living from it... :delcamp_fiesta:
Konstantin
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dtoh
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by dtoh » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:41 am

Believe it or not, if you are not in the employ of someone else, there are almost no professions that are easy. Compensation may be better in some than in others, but they all require a huge amount of drive and discipline. I would have to disagee with the premise of the thread - Most people can NOT make a living performing on the guitar or any other field where they actually have to take responsibility for the bottom line. My hat's off to the posters who had the gumption and discipline to have been successful as performers. It is a real accomplishment.

davekear
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by davekear » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:23 am

I've done it all my life. It's actually not that difficult if you play well, and you play what the public, (mostly non-musicians) want to hear. So you have to play well, you have to have a good repertoire, (at least 6 hours) and you have to get out there. Play lots of pop tunes. When I was in L.A., most of the time I had too much work, same as in Sacramento. But there was always someone who could sub for me, and vice versa. I played weddings, restaurants, lots of studio work, and I also taught. Most of the restaurant gigs I got were by cold calling restaurants out of the yellow pages. Especially if they don't (or didn't) have entertainment. If I got the audition, I almost always I got the gig. Usually ended up playing there for years. Also you need to dress well. I played mostly high class establishments so I dressed in a tuxedo. It's a great way to make a living. And you eat well too.

FrankBlack
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by FrankBlack » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:20 pm

kmurdick wrote:
Thu Dec 28, 2017 11:55 pm
You don't have to be great on your instrument, you just have to be convincing.
I totally get what you are saying and agree 100%. Where I live the number of incredible musicians is, literally, mind-boggling. But, as you said, it isn't just mastery of the instrument. I do know people who play regular gigs and what sets many of them apart is their personality, their flexibility and their ingenuity. They know what people want and they find a way to give it to them. They find a way to get themselves out there to be seen on a regular basis. They have a way of interacting with people that make people want more. That is a very rare skill set to have, but one that goes a long way toward success in music (or any career, for that matter). I wish they could teach that skill in music school.

kmurdick
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by kmurdick » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:34 pm

dtoh wrote:
Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:41 am
Believe it or not, if you are not in the employ of someone else, there are almost no professions that are easy. Compensation may be better in some than in others, but they all require a huge amount of drive and discipline. I would have to disagee with the premise of the thread - Most people can NOT make a living performing on the guitar or any other field where they actually have to take responsibility for the bottom line. My hat's off to the posters who had the gumption and discipline to have been successful as performers. It is a real accomplishment.
I'm the OP and would like to amend what I said. You don't have to have a high playing level to make a living playing the classical guitar. I think almost anyone can attain a this playing level.

kmurdick
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by kmurdick » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:48 pm

dtoh says, "Believe it or not, if you are not in the employ of someone else, there are almost no professions that are easy. "

That's true. We actually live in a feudal society. You have to attach yourself to a "castle" so to speak or you end up outside the castle walls in a very vulnerable position. When I took my first full time job at a castle (specialized public boarding high school) at age 40, a great many problems in my life disappeared. That lasted for 14 years and then I was outside the walls again. After some searching and a couple of temporary castle positions, I landed another castle job (same castle, really) that lasted for 12 years. Now I'm outside the castle again but with more than 20 years in, so I have a pension and SS. I still have a lot of castle benefits. I'm now under pressure to make an extra 15k with music. The pressure never ends.

CactusWren
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by CactusWren » Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:25 pm

I think the feudal thing is not so far off. Basically, if you're not a vassal to a corporation, little things like steady work, health care, and career continuity are going to be very difficult (speaking US here).

As someone who's made his living playing out for 13 years, I agree it's not about massive chops or musical sensitivity. You have to play at a certain level, you have to have an appropriate repertoire, and you have to dress well/promote/network etc. It also depends on the competition and the local situation in other ways. I actually don't know anyone here in Phoenix who plays mostly classical, but we all know a variety of things that work for background music. One waiter told me he didn't like another guitarist, because "it just sounded like tuning to me." I figure he was probably playing Villa Lobos etudes or something! Also, most of the players around here are using tracks now. I haven't been able to make myself do it, but I did incorporate a looper and it's a lot of fun, and very effective to bring up the noise/energy level.

PeteJ
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by PeteJ » Sat Dec 30, 2017 11:19 am

If I was doing it I think I'd use a looper - or I'd team up with a keyboard player. It opens up a new world of tunes.

kmurdick
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by kmurdick » Sat Dec 30, 2017 2:13 pm

I know this will be hard to believe, but most of the public believes that all instrumental music is classical music. The professional buskers will all tell you that you have to sing. Carl Ferris on Fremont Street, perhaps the highest paid busker in the world; plays sax to backing tracks and sings. Go watch his shtick.

Having said that, you can still play instrumental music at a classy cafe or restaurant. Just play mostly pop music.

ronjazz
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by ronjazz » Thu Jan 18, 2018 1:36 pm

I just secured a solo gig at a Spanish/Italian tapas restaurant, the owners want Spanish classical and flamenco-style music, but the customers like to here favorite tunes as well, so I've developed a "Gipsy Kings" approach to pop tunes, and have employed a looper with some backing tracks I've made at home stored in the looper. Since I have a jazz as well as classical/flamenco background, this is a really fun gig, and I'm now booking this act in other places, from restaurants to country clubs and senior facilities. Some weeks I have 10 gigs, most an hour long.
Lester Devoe Flamenco Negra
Lester Devoe Flamenco Blanca
Aparicio Flamenco Blanca with RMC pickup
Bartolex 7-string with RMC pickup
Giannini 7-string with Shadow pickup
Sal Pace 7-string archtop

kmurdick
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Re: Anyone can make a living performing on the guitar.

Post by kmurdick » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:29 am

You might be on to something Ronjazz. There is sort of a craze going on for (fake?) gypsy/flamenco jazz. It's somewhat exotic and people can understand it as long as you play things like "Hotel California". BTW, Hotel California was originally written as an instrumental. When I first started this thread, some people got the idea that I was talking about playing classical music. I'm really talking about using classical technique to make a living.

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