Playing in a Music Band

1. Being a team player:

Is about playing together, getting along and having fun. Being a great musician is good, but unless you are a Jimmy Page and in constant demand, then it’s really more important, when playing in a music band, to know how to work with a group of people and get along, be able to trade idea’s and have some fun.

Some musicians are the, my way is the only way type, making your life miserable and a little more difficult. Working with a good team can be real good and very rewarding. When you pull off that near perfect gig together and then reflect after the show, it’s a feeling that always gets to me. The team effort from everyone is what makes playing in a music band rewarding.

2. The people and place

Associating with people outside your band is very important. Get to know your bartenders because if they like you, they can be a big promoter of yours, and also the owners (the ones with the cash) and your patrons and followers (the ones that are there to watch you). Always try to find out what kind of bar or establishment it is, so you know what king of genre it is before your get there so you are prepared. At your breaks, talk to the people, and treat them as friends. Your audience will notice not only your music but also your demeanor and the way you socialize with them. It is great to get that reward of your audience liking your music but when you hear that they also think you are also just a nice bunch of guys, then you can say that playing in a music band is really worth it. When playing in a band, there is a few things to consider:

1. Your stage presence (begins at the start of the gig whether you look like a bunch of amateurs

or whether you look like you know what you are doing).

2. Playing with feeling (you know when you have it and know when you don’t). Even an easy song

played with feeling will sound awesome when you’re all together.

3. Association with the crowd (do not snub your audience, talk to them, they are the ones that will

come back to see you the next time).

4. The music itself (how it sounds, your song selection, how you play together (that team thing).

5. Stay in your comfort zone (if a song is not ready to play out, don’t play it and risk the band’s

reputation) and if someone requests a song that you do not know, then be honest and tell them.

Playing in a music band is about giving. I think the guideline above is a great start for any band that is looking to enhance their performance. If you really enjoy the music you play, you will find getting the feeling of playing together gets easier all the time, and when the feeling is there your stage presence will follow. Stay in your comfort zone.

3. Practice

Practice is time, but very rewarding. If you want to get that feeling, practice!! With the internet and all the magazines today, there are a number ways to learn new things. Online programs are one of the best learning tools, because you can learn and watch on your own time whenever you want. Magazines have all kinds of great articles and also the cheap guitars today are very playable and an excellent value. It does not cost a lot of money to get started playing in a music band. “So belly up to the bar”, as they say, and get that first guitar and an online lesson program and get started today. So practice, practice, practice, if you aren’t making mistakes you’re not learning.

4. Knowing the material

When playing in a band, there’s more to learning a song than working out the chords, solos and lyrics. It is all about the feeling, whether a song is easy or hard Know what the songs are about, and tell the story.

You have everything you need at your disposal to create the feeling, and make each song unique. Effects are OK for short periods; subtle effects are good for long periods. I am partial on this as I play in an acoustic band and like the clean sound. Using a little reverb and chorus on the vocals is fine.

5. Don’t Blame Anyone

Always Remember that playing in a music band is a team effort and nobody is to blame. Don’t be upset or put blame if your audience does not dance or if they do not applaud. Do not blame if you do not get asked back, because it could be list of different things. Do not blame other band members if something goes wrong or a mistake is made, because it does happen from time to time and ends up just creating tension which you do not need at a gig. Do not blame anyone for equipment problems or the way it sounds in the monitors or mains, because everyone is trying to do their best. All of these things will happen and putting the blame on anyone will just make everything worse. All of these things can be solved in a positive manner that also can be a learning experience for the next show or even learning a new song.

6. Have Fun

It is all about the fun and enjoyment, the chances are good that you are having fun or you would not be doing it. One of the biggest things in showing your audience you’re having fun, is looking at them and making eye contact and maybe even give them a little smile, its ok. If you’re have fun, so will the people around you and you will feed off of their energy and they will feed off yours and that makes for a successful show. The practices should be fun because you’re getting together with the band and friends for some socialization, to talk about songs, learning new ones or just thinking about how playing in a music band is what you always wanted to do. Having fun just pushing yourself to be better at what you love to do.

7. The Song List

When playing in a music band your song selection is very important. For instance, if you are a dance band playing covers then your song list should be:

1. well known songs that the audience can relate to

2. have a danceable beat

3. songs that you, yourself, like to play, because the feeling is a lot easier to capture when you enjoy the song.

Deciding what songs to play is, again, a team effort and if anyone in the band has a problem with a song then you should come up with a different song. It should be a band decision. The front man or lead singer will know if he or she can sing it or if it should be changed to a different key to be sung or if it is a song that he/she do not think they can sing, then the band should take a look at the song because it will show to the audience. If any player has a rational strong objection to a song, then find another song, it is not worth trying to sell it to him because it will just end up being a song that will not capture the feeling.

8. Mix While You Play

When the band is playing and singing all together, listen to what you’re doing and see if it fits into the total band sound. If you think that you can do whatever you want and have the sound man fix it, then you are not playing as a team, you are playing solo. Nothing can fix an over played guitar or an over played keyboard. You have to listen to the band sound and make adjustments as you go. Some things to think about: am I leaving enough room for the other musicians to do their thing, am I turned up too loud making it hard for the rest of the band to hear themselves, is what I am doing fitting in with the band sound. There is a lot on this subject, but you really have to listen to the band sound as a whole and do a little mixing as you go. Playing in a band is not easy when you have to try to listen to everybody and just not yourself and the sooner you can do this, the sooner you will be playing in a music band together. When you achieve that, who knows where it will go. Remember it is all about the feeling and the music as a band.

9. Be Positive

You only have to prove this to yourself. Just like being physically fit, this is also about being mentally fit. Just like you run your life, you try to be as positive as you can, and work toward your goals and I know it is not as easy as me writing this article. You have to trust yourself to do what you have to. When playing in a music band you also need to keep positive, this is what will keep you moving forward. Don’t get discouraged when you cannot get the gigs you want or when you want. The positive way of thinking is that we now have more time to practice and learn more songs before the next gig. Life in general is too short to not be positive. Everything tends to work out in its own way. If you try this approach, I hope it helps you as it has helped me. Think about the old saying, the glass is half full, and don’t think of it as half empty.

10. State of Mind

If you are serious about your music and playing in a band, know your own state of mind and what is good for you. Some people have to have a drink before they start because they say it relaxes them, others may need a smoke, but the point is know your limitations your gig depends on it. Playing is more physical that many people think. They always say why are you so tired all you did was play music, but the fact is playing in a music band is very physical and you need to be able to be in the right state of mind and physically fit enough to get through the gig. Speaking for myself, I am in good shape but at the end of a gig I am exhausted, and sometimes sore, from the banging on the floor with my foot or just kind of dancing around and getting into the feeling. The more you give the more sore you get, but it is a good and satisfying sore.

“KEEP THE SHINY SIDE OUT”