In the past I have attended folk clubs where the use of paper was frowned upon.
The idea was, “If the song is worth singing, then commit it to memory before you perform it!”
I used to share that opinion, but read on ...
At CFC we regularly see enthusiastic participants come along armed with great ring-binders full of musical material that must have taken decades to amass. I am full of admiration.
We have one performer who regularly scrolls through a hand-held computer to find the words. Once we witnessed someone who sang from text saved on a mobile phone. On another occasion a performer even sang while accompanying himself by music reproduced by such an invention of the evil one. That was novel, and amusing!
In youth I would have scorned such activity as being 'unauthentic', but age has tempered that opinion.
Oh, how frail we become; how transient those neurones, ganglia and synapses!
Along with my eligibility for a bus-pass, the persistence of memory has become a myth - nothing more than a surrealist painting, of great value, by some Catalan guy whose name I've already forgotten.
So, if you need paper, by all means bring it. After all, that’s why we provide a music stand. However, the club has no intention of supplying computers and portable communication devices for all to use.
A word of advice here, from my own limited experience ...
If you’re going to perform from memory, shut the book or leave the paper at home.
Just 'go for it'!
If you need to resort to paper, or other aids to recollection, that’s fine. Rely on it, because you know that you transcribed it in a rare interval of sobriety. Concentrate on in throughout your performance.
So often have I come along with a piece of paper that I regard as a 'safety net', then thought, “I know this!”
Such self-confidence is always misplaced. I hit the ‘block’. My cortical neuro-transmitting chemicals fail.
I go back to the paper. (Now where did I put it?)
I search my pockets for my mobile phone, only to discover I've brought the TV remote control instead. (That'll sabotage Jane's viewing of Eastenders!)
Then I realise I’ve left my spectacles at home. (Anyway, where was I in that text?!)
Oh, this folk-singing thing is such a hazardous undertaking!