Voluneering to Perform

I have a recital coming up next week, and this week, while on spring break, I sought out performance opportunities everywhere I could. I want to talk specifically about one: serving a volunteer in the “healing arts program” at the Medical College of Georgia hospital.

The biggest part about playing music is enjoyment. Some people play only for themselves, which is fine–there’s something to be said for the discipline it takes to be a so called “hobbyist” player. I can’t work like that; I need a goal or something to work towards. So I do recitals, etc. But as someone who has a hard time crossing over from the practice room to performance (crazy nerves), I realize the only way to get better is to do more performing.

The Point!

But finding some place to play or perform is not easy. There’s a few standards that can work: coffee shops, open mic nights, etc. But looking outside the beaten path yields more options.

Volunteering your time as a guitarist is a great way to get some performance experience and do something great. In the past week, I was able to play my recital program about six times in three days. I played in one unit at MCG for an hour then moved to another, playing about two hours/day for three days. And it was awesome. Nursing homes are also great place to volunteer some performance time.

Look around! there’s tons of opportunities out there. As someone who has a hard time performing for free, I looked at it this way: I’m getting a lot of practice, helping some people out and find a way to be of service doing nothing more than playing some guitar.

Posted on in Guitar Performance Tips


  • Justin

    This is an old post, but maybe you’ll still get the comment. I would like to volunteer to perform. I can see nursing homes being a possibility, I have also thought about schools. I have two concerns though. One, being heard. Do you bring some kind of amplification with you? Can you utilize what they have on site? Do you just try to play loud, but then if there are people talking, or someone is in the back of the room, can they hear you? Two is repetoire. I assume most people are not familiar with Torroba, Villa-Lobos, Tarrega, and Giuliani, and these make up the bulk of my repetoire right now. Do I need to learn specific pieces to “cater” to the audience? I would really like to do some recitals, but these things are holding me back, any thoughts?

  • Christopher Davis

    I always get the comments, Justin!

    As far as amplification goes: most sights won’t have anything. So you can either play loud or bring your own. Chances are it’s not really going to matter a whole lot — try some things out, maybe you’ll find a great venue that’s nice and quiet.

    I don’t think you need to learn anything to cater to the audience. I wouldn’t play things that are way “out there” for a volunteer gig, but Giuliani, Torroba, and Villa-lobos write some very attractive music that almost everyone likes.