What’s The Difference Between an Open Mic and a Firing Squad?

By Mark Sandman

My wife doesn’t get it!  She understands my love of music and the pleasure I get playing guitar, writing songs, and interpreting the music of others.  But, what perplexes her is why I like to perform in front of an audience.  To her, it’s like volunteering to be put in front of a firing squad.

Before I attempt to answer the question, let me get this out of the way.  I have no ambition to be superstar.  I also don’t think I was born with any “special” musical gift. I’m not a Mozart, Coltrane, or Springsteen.  However, over the years, I think I’ve developed pretty good skills as a musician and performer.  So, here is my attempt to answer the question for my wife, anyone else that cares to read about why I like to perform.

First, it provides motivation and a goal.  It gives me a reason to practice and to try to improve my skills.  From my perspective, to not perform is like being a painter that never shows anyone their work or a golfer that practices regularly, but never steps on a golf course.

Secondly, on a few rare occasions, while performing in front of an audience, everything seems to come together in a magical way.  Not only do I feel totally connected to the music, I feel connected to the audience and that they feel the connection.  It’s an almost mystical experience. There is no way to make it happen or predict when it will happen.  But when it does it’s a high like no other.

However, the next time a friend asks me why or what it’s like to perform in front of an audience, I’ll probably shrug my shoulders and answer, “I don’t know, It’s fun”.

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