Hearing someone play fingerstyle solo guitar is an life changing moment for some people. It's what starts so many of us on our own road of discovery.
For some people, playing guitar is a way to unwind. A way to relax after a hard day's work. Other people want to play in public. They want to be in the limelight. This, obviously, takes a different mindset.
Who plays fingerstyle guitar in public? While it seems to be dominated by men, there are some fabulous Women Guitarists.Why play fingerstyle solo guitar in public? There are several things to think about. It can be financially rewarding. Wedding guitar music can make a special day more special and it does pay well.
Some fingerstyle guitarists are also composers. They want to play their compositions for the world. Other players are approached by people who hear their playing and want them to play at a function.
Regardless to why you perform in public, there are some things that are common to every situation.
You need to have your songs down cold. It can be uncomfortable to play in an unfamiliar place. The lighting,sound and seating will all be different than they are in your practice space. Dealing with that can make focusing on playing music difficult. If you're playing a restuarant gig, it's worse. There are people laughing and talking and dishes rattling around. Then a waiter or busser drops a tray of dishes. Whew!
If you don't have your songs down cold then you need to be able to improvise. I have found this book
to be very helpful in developing that skill.
So you've nailed your songs or have become a great improviser. Your playing at a wedding, resturaunt or cocktail party. Guess what? Nobody cares! Or they don't seem to. They act like they aren't even aware that you're there. That can be pretty ego deflating. Especially after you've practiced your fingers off, developing your skills. Don't despair. People may be listening after all. Look for things like a foot tapping in time with the music. Or fingers tapping in time on a glass or table top. You may find that you're not being ignored after all.
That brings up another point. Some players feel that fingerstyle solo guitar gigs are a way to have a paid practice. Their thoughts are "nobody's listening, I'll just slop my way through it." That's a bad way to look at it. More people are listening than you might think. If they see you take an uncaring approach to your playing, they won't be inclined to hire you to play their event.
Playing fingerstyle solo guitar can be one of the most fulfilling ways of playing guitar. Both at home and in public.