Becoming a confident performer at Open Mic

Lily Andrey - Open MicBy Lily Andrey
The first time I played in front of an audience was at a South Shore Conservatory (SSC) Open Mic. The only thing I remember was how terrified I was… and my big orange rain boots. My eight-year-old self had never done anything like this before and didn’t know what to expect. I did not want to speak and wouldn’t even sit with anyone because of how nervous I was. But then I played, and playing gave me this happiness I had never felt before. I realized I didn’t want that day to be the last time I performed.

I can thank Cliff Williams, my first guitar teacher, for pushing me to do Open Mic. I had only been playing for about one year, and performing at Open Mic was the last thing on my mind. He encouraged me to sing as well as play guitar. I had always enjoyed singing, but never thought of doing it in front of an audience. I finally agreed, and after experiencing the thrill of it, I am so glad I did.

I have always loved music, but performing it in front of others is very different from just listening to it. You can know how to play a song, but no one can play it the same as the original artist or the one covering it. Sometimes it sounds like a different song. You hear that at Open Mic. But the coolest part is, you hear it from people of all ages. Knowing you can go into these events and have a common interest with the people around you gives you a certain level of comfort. I have met so many people because of SSC, and sometimes I hate to think what my life would be like without it. One of the best parts of an Open Mic is watching others perform. I have been playing at them for six years and have seen so many amazing musicians. It is one of the least intimidating environments.

I never envisioned myself as a songwriter, but that changed when I was in eighth grade. And I can thank SSC for that. I started writing music all of the time and it is still crazy to me. I technically wrote my first song when I was 12, now two years ago, but that is one I would rather forget. Nevertheless, I love playing them at Open Mics first because everyone is so supportive.

The first time I ever saw someone my age in a band was at an Open Mic, and that eventually led me to my own. This event is such a great place to try out new material because you only have to play two songs. At other places, your set is around thirty minutes or more. If your set is mostly new, that is terrifying because so much could go wrong. And trust me, I am speaking from experience.

I always suggest that my friends, who are learning instruments, perform at an Open Mic because it is one of the best places to play in front of a supportive audience. I highly recommend going to an Open Mic because you can enjoy lots of different artists and art forms.  It changed my life, and I am sure I am not the only one.

South Shore Conservatory’s Open Mic nights are all-inclusive events, with a variety of performances, including poetry, rock bands, musicians experimenting on new instruments, solos/duos, a student MC, and more! It is free for SSC students to participate, and $10 for non-SSC performers. Admission to the event is free, and open to the public.

SSC’s next Open Mic is Friday, March 8, 7 pm at One Conservatory Drive in Hingham.  Learn more at, or find South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.

Singer/songwriter guitarist/vocalist Lily Andrey lives in Hingham, and is an eight grader at Hingham Middle School. 

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