Playing with other people is a huge part of developing as a musician. Higher stakes situations like jams or gigs put your experience and practice to the test.
It’s easy to be discouraged after trying a new jam session or playing a gig with new people. All of the sudden all your hours of practice seem to amount to nothing. Your instrument doesn’t sound right, you can’t think of your usual licks and songs, your rhythm seems stiff and unmusical. It happens all the time. To everyone.
And it makes sense that it happens. Usually a new jam or gig means a few things. It’s probably in a place you’ve never been before, which means it feels and sounds different from what you’re used to. You’re probably playing with different people, who play different and react differently to your playing. And you’re probably a little nervous, which accounts for a large portion of any of the physical discomfort.
As it turns out, this is something you can practice. If you have enough experience playing in new places with new people it will start to feel like a normal occurrence. Eventually you’ll start to feel like you do at home, practicing in the most ideal conditions.
But that means you have to get out there! You’re going to have to be a little uncomfortable before you get used to the uncertainty of live performance. Don’t shy away from the things that make it uncomfortable. Those are defining characteristics of playing music publicly! If you get out of your comfort zone and put yourself in tough situations you’ll be amazed at what you can get used to.