When is your child ready to perform? (and other opportunities)

'If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?'


Your child has been playing guitar for over a year. He exhibits so much passion for playing, but wants to graduate from the garage to the stage. 

At what point can you confidently introduce your child to performance? 

From my experience, following this course of action can tell you if your child is performance-ready: 

  1. If your child wants to perform and show his music to other people, expose them as much as possible to live performance, be it through going to concerts or performing live (more below).  
  2. Take a video of your child practising guitar, and show him/her a replay of their performance. This gives them both the critical mind to analyse performance caveats, and also the confidence to keep performing.and being their best.
  3. He/she can confidently play his piece without looking at the music.  
  4. He/she plays guitar in front of people other than his family. This is commonly called the 'Mum test'; your Mum wouldn't say you're a horrible guitar player! Other people, however, can provide valuable feedback to your performance, highlight your strengths and areas of development, and lead you towards a path of improvement.


"I'm not good enough, Mum."


You may also hear this excuse in the form of 'I'm not ready yet'. 

Most of the beautiful things in life are spontaneous. I sincerely believe that all of my students are unique in their own way, and that if they put in the hard work, they can perform to crowds in less than a year. I know some of my students have. 

I will be publishing a later article on how to appease performance anxiety and build confidence through positive reinforcement every day. 

For now, it's best to discuss what types of setlists your child will be performing, and what opportunities he/she is best suited for. Setlists are lists of songs that you will perform on the night to an audience, which is dependent on how many songs he/she knows. By performance, we're also going to expand this box outside of school. Let's go! 

  1. The one-hit wonder - this could be one cover, one piece of music they know through their lessons, or one original. The one-hit wonder is best suited for private performances - i.e to family and friends. However, depending on the facilities of the school, the one-hit setlist can also be played during school performances, when there is a set amount of time (usually less than 5 minutes) per performer. 
  2. Three songs - when your child can play three songs by memory, it is time to scale his/her performance. From private performance, the student can graduate to uploading cover versions/original songs on Youtube and Soundcloud. From the school hall, your child can also graduate to BBQ type events and school festivals, If he/she is really keen, you can also introduce them to open mic nights, a night in the week where anyone can go on stage and play to a crowd for free (or little registration costs).
  3. Five songs and more - now we are talking! 

To let you know a ball park figure, five songs would roughly be around 15-20 mins. I like to allow 5 mins in total between songs to chat with the crowd, re-tune guitar, drink water etc. 

A 25 minute setlist is ample for your child to start performing in venues more often. Most promoters will request a guardian to be present during the performance if he/she is under 18 years old. At 5 songs or more, the biggest area of growth for a young musician is to get a following - which will mean more live performances (a la open mic nights, community festivals) and possibly entering talent contests. 

Below are some of the partner organisations we are currently developing a partnership with:

  • School Broadcasting Network (SBN) - a radio channel averse to rock music, but a great platform for young people to create media, perform live in the studio, and have their music heard on community radio. Play one song only.
  • Fast Track Showcase: my friend got into the semi-finals of this competition. Starting from 6 years onwards, this music competition invites singers and singer-songwriters to prepare 2 songs (max 4 min each) to go into the draw to win cash prizes, as well as industry equipment and consultations with music industry experts. 
  • Emergenza - My band competed in this competition and got to the semi-finals. Emergenza is a global organisation that organises music competitions for young artists, in which artists are able to play prolific venues such as the Espy, Revolver, and the Hi Fi bar. National winners gets to play in Germany. At least 20 min of material required.
  • Fresh Music Industry Showcase (at Revolver) - also competed in this competition, has a battle-of-the-bands feel to it like Emergenza. This competition also has a penchant for unsigned acoustic artists, some of which beat us to the Finals! 
  • Freeza - a youth leadership program run by the Push, Australia's largest not-for-profit youth music organisation. Young people are given the opportunity to network, perform and organise their own gigs, afoot in the door to the music industry. Find the nearest Freeza Chapter near you!

There are many performance opportunities if your child is passionate and committed to the next step as a musician. A musician cannot perform his art if there is no audience. 

If you would like to involve your child in music performance, taking his/her ability to the next level, please like this post and leave a comment below.