Jul 7, 2015

Performing in front of an unreceptive audience

Musicians are often requested to play/perform songs in a private party environment where they are basically a part of the party party and are not performing as such for the party. If you are lucky, people can be genuinely interested in your music. Most times, however, they just want a change in the flow of the party up until then. They also want to do something cool – like singing along while someone plays a guitar.

In either situation, you can get interrupted distracted by people being disinterested in the performance or, even worse, loud conversations. As a performing musician, I’m used to such experiences and I modify my performance accordingly. However, if someone else is singing when I’m playing the guitar, they often feel so dejected that they ask me to stop the performance.

There are two things wrong here. People talking when people are playing/performing itself indicates selfishness and lack of respect toward the performers. However, if performers reciprocate by stopping abruptly, they are just being selfish and being unprofessional.

So here’s my suggestion – do not stop in the middle of a song!

So what to do? As a preventive strategy, I wait until it’s the right time (or as late as I possibly can) to bring out the guitar. Once the initial fervor has settled down, I am quick to take the guitar back out of the party floor to avoid such experiences. When these interruptions become annoying, finish the song and slyly get to your drink and get involved in a conversation. If you can guage the audience before starting the song, don’t start it at all.

Once again, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t react to the audience. But please don’t stop midway through a song just because someone is talking loud.

Jul 2, 2015

Welcome to my strange mind

Parties are something that most people with at least a shred of extroversion look forward to. Even I, with my combination of introversion and social reclusiveness lurking in the background, look forward to parties as special gatherings where you find may find avenues for conversation that won't be available in a much more intimate setting.

Three weeks back, J had his birthday party at his apartment. There were about 15 people invited to make merry on the occasion. I was, as is usual in such situations, caught in a dilemma as to how long I should spend time with an individual or a group of individuals in conversations. I guess I want to be always on the move, thanks to a a mixture of my overenthusiastic host-itude, interest to explore options, and my hesitation to expose myself in in-depth conversations.

So I took the opportunity to carry around trays of the famous J cheese/onion dip and the assorted chips that go with it. This gave me options to introduce myself to strangers with warm introductions "Hey, would you like to try some of this? This is the dip that you keep hearing about." This would followed by the obligatory "Oh, you are so kind to bring it to us" and "Oh, wow. This is a very nice dip indeed" comments. Perfect social lubrication, if you ask me.

After hanging out with any particular group for a couple of minutes, I found that it's easy to slither out and seek another group and repeat the social rewards and positive reinforcement. Of course, I also used lines like "Can I pour you another drink?" to repeat the exercise of pleasantly detaching myself from conversations and getting these social rewards in return.

At the end of the night, during a conversation with J, I realized that I had hardly spent any time with people who might have wanted to spend more time with me. People from my workplace were all together in a group, which I paid as little/much attention to that I did to other groups.

I don't often feel like I need to meet people (even my friends) and have conversations with them. In fact, many people, including my dearest friends, have expressed their disappointment at how I don't make time for them. However, on occasions such as this, I often am able to assign myself a purpose/role (as a host and a nice guy), and thus am able to lubricate/sugarcoat these otherwise-daunting interactions.

During and after such parties, I am able to convince myself that spending time with these people is fun. This makes me ephemerally wish that I would have a more prolonged interactions with them at the party on other social occasions. But when it comes to executing this, I make myself so busy with other things that I hardly ever get myself involved in such situations.

Welcome to my mind. It's confusing, I agree. But that's how it works.