When I arrived in London to film Guitar Star’s Acoustic Heat, and met the 3 acoustic guitarists I’d be competing against, it became clear that we were a capable bunch, but also so different to each other that no-one could feel bad if they didn’t win this round. I could not think of more honourable circumstances in which to be knocked out. Gary Lutton won it, and my heartfelt congratulations to the man!
The Heat comprised of playing one piece of our choosing, and a “challenge” piece. We’d each been given 1 week to prepare a Rodrigo y Gabriella cover, and were genuinely surprised to find that the duo themselves would be mentoring us for this episode!
Rodrigo y Gabriella were the most encouraging people imaginable. They were totally positive and willing to celebrate our individual strengths. They even gave us a little private concert. Then we had to play them their composition… I’d never played someone their own music before, never mind on camera!
I have to say, I did underestimate how hard it is to perform for a camera, and how skilled actors, presenters and musicians are who film all the time. Thankfully a studio audience made it feel more like home. Even so, it was incredibly disorientating to wait all day and then suddenly film two pieces in a first take. Interviews we filmed over and over again, but music – one take only. I still felt I would have played those pieces much better on a gig. But that experience has been good for me and taught me to practice filming YouTube videos in only one take, so I’ll be better prepared next time I’m on TV.
Another thing I learned from the 2 days filming is that it’s really easy to practice when everyone around wants you to. The film crew wanted us as comfortable as possible on camera so we could play well. So they kept us well supplied with food and drink, and provided us with everything we needed to practice effectively during waiting periods. Want a private practice room? An amp? A special height chair? All were available.
It made me realise how much of my practice time takes place in much more compromised circumstances. Short of time, or worrying about noise complaints, practicing outdoors whilst travelling and then finding it’s raining… etc. It made me realise that if I’m to practice effectively I need to find a way to give myself better environments. I also need to change how I value practice. Guitar Star was like Uni, where I felt justified in practicing because my teachers and parents wanted me to do well. As a “grown-up”, practicing is something I struggle to justify because it doesn’t earn money or help anyone else. It’s purely a selfish act, which would allow me to create art and/or advance my career. It’s funny that even with all the effort I’ve made to craft a lifestyle for myself in which I have time to be an artist, I still find it hard to justify actually getting on with it! I still find those limiting thoughts lurking in the back of my mind. Out the window with them then, and on with the show!