I recently toured the Musician Rehearsal Center (MRC) in Sparks, Nevada, a unique facility that rents secure, temperature-controlled and sound-dampened rehearsal spaces to musicians. It’s located in an industrial area and features easy load-in and load-out for gear, is accessible to electronic key holders 24/7 and also features a large stage with professional lighting, audio and video equipment. The owner/founder Bill Woody is a former musician who wisely saw a need for this. As he gave me a tour, we joked about all the garages and basements where we rehearsed in our youth, hoping that the neighbors or our parents wouldn’t get too sick of hearing us play. Oh, if those walls could talk!

While providing a solution for musicians who really do want to rehearse — and really don’t want to irritate the neighbors — the MRC is also a place where musicians can network, post info about their upcoming gigs, gather feedback from others in the community and so on. And the MRC recently hosted a Musician Faire and Fanfest for the benefit of the Northern Nevada Food Bank and The Washoe County School District Music Department.

In a similar vein, I heard from a friend in Chicago about a Haymakers Reunion that took place a few months ago. Haymakers was a popular nightclub that closed in the early ’80s, so the actual reunion was held at another venue called Durty Nellie’s. But many bands and fans who were fixtures at Haymakers got back together for an energetic afternoon and evening of live music. This event also raised money for charitable organizations.

The bottom line is that busting out of the garage is important to musicians and composers on so many levels. At some point, you need to get out there and share your music, sometimes even when you’re not sure that you’re ready to do so. Networking with other musicians can be valuable, as is finding out (from audience reactions) whether you’re on the right course or maybe need to rethink the type of music you’re attempting to present or promote. Last but not least, it doesn’t hurt to donate your time and talent to worthy causes in your community. It’s not just a way to gain exposure, but can really make someone else’s day and/or help them to keep their good work going.

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