One of the great things about music is the more you share it, the more fun it is. There comes a time in every young musician’s journey when they decide to start playing with other musicians. It’s incredibly exciting to start your first band, and it can be quite challenging. Here are four tips to make sure you are heading in the right direction in starting a band.
Define the Leader
I’ve been in bands where we just got together, set up instruments, and said, “Now what do we do?” It is incredibly frustrating and is a big reason a lot of first bands never get off the ground. This is why it is important for someone to step up and point everyone in the right direction. A future post will go over some Do’s and Do Not’s of being a band leader. One important thing to know is that being the leader does not make it YOUR band. A good leader will keep a practice moving, make adjustments when needed, and listen to the other band members input. The main thing when starting out is defining the leader, so when the question of, “Now what do we do?” comes up, there is someone with an answer. Then you can start having fun playing music!
Have a similar skill level
One thing you do not want to happen is putting a band together with a lot of various skill levels. This is especially important if you are in your first band. You don’t want an incredibly skilled drummer that has been playing for seven years to try to play with a guitarist that has been playing for six months. The experienced player is going to feel like he or she is carrying all the weight and the beginner will feel left in the dust. Now, there will always be some disparities in skill. A lead guitarist should be able to solo better than the rhythm guitarist. The drummer should have a better sense of rhythm than the vocalist. Just avoid the huge gaps in skill, and you’ll avoid huge frustrations.
Settle on a Style
This is one of the more obvious tips, but it is an important one. You want to have a vision for what your band will be, and that includes style. Whether you are doing cover songs, or originals, everyone should be on the same page with the sound you’re going for. A piano player that likes pop and rock probably won’t fit into or enjoy playing with a heavy metal band. One thing to know is that band styles can change over time. I was in a band that started off with a classic rock sound because that was the style we liked. After a few years, we all were listening to heavier rock and metal, so we started writing in that style. A band is a team; a more cohesive team will have more success and fun.
Set a Practice Schedule
This tip is easier said than done, and could have kept a few of my bands going longer if I had followed it. If you want your band to progress, it is so important to set a practice schedule. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to meet three times a week for three hours. It just means to know when your band will practice and be consistent about it. I recommend getting together once a week to progress and a good pace. A regular schedule keeps your mind fresh and engaged with what the band is trying to accomplish. That can included preparing for a show, writing new material, practicing new covers, or just reviewing songs you already know. Bands that don’t have a regular practice schedule tend to only practice when there is a show coming up. Eventually, they stop booking shows, so they stop practicing. That’s how a lot of bands fizzle out.
Playing in a band is one of the most rewarding experiences of music. There is a certain connection between band mates that can’t be found anywhere else. I hope these tips help you start your own experience.
What is one thing you have learned from being in a band?