We all have to start someplace taking gigs. It's easy to think that playing in public should be left to professionals, but that wrong assumption limits a lot of amateur musicians. It can also create unnecessary nervousness.
Some of my beginning intermediate students have done very well with their early gigs. Some have had the courage to step out in public after only a year or two of instruction, with no previous musical experience at all.
Impossible you say? Not if you think about what the average audience wants to hear. For the most part, they don't care about flashy, difficult music. They enjoy lovely music, nice easy melodies, satisfying harmonies, well crafted phrases. All of this may be found in carefully selected beginning intermediate music.
Here's some samples of what my brave, adult students have performed for their first time out:
Gretl: age 77: 9 months of lessons, had taken harp lessons 60 years prior for 3 months
Ode to Joy variations ~ wedding processional for her grandson's wedding, to the delight of the bride who previewed the performance before they agreed to this music.
Carol: age 50 +/-. 1 year of lessons, working full time, first instrument
Christmas Eve prelude: We Three Kings, Silent Night, Riu, Riu, Chiu from Green Grows the Holly (Suzanne Guldimann)
Anna: just retired from full time work, 18 months of lessons, piano background
20 min. prelude for friends wedding: Sweetheart Waltz (she added her own variations), Beside Still Waters (creatively taking some sections up an octave on repeat and adding harmonics to lenghten the piece), My Heart's Treasure, Ebbing Tide by Lucien Thomson, Be Thou My Vision, several selections from Marelles by Bernard Andrés.
Each of these ladies was able to pull off the request in a matter of weeks because they kept a repertoire book which they periodically updated and changed. At any moment, they knew exactly how many performance ready pieces they had in their hands. And, it was all music they enjoyed playing for their own personal enjoyment, making it easy to revisit, keeping phrasing, rhythm and tempo correct and fluent.
With little stress, knowing that the primary thing they needed to acomplish was lovely music, they each played in public as early harpists, with sweet success.