How to be in a Band part 1

Hi all,

In case you’re not aware, there has recently been some fantastic news from the Musician’s Union for musicians and gig-watchers in the UK.

It involves a change to the strict licensing laws which venues have to adhere to in order to put on live music anywhere – basically, it has become a lot easier, less bureaucratic and cheaper for a venue to put on a gig!

The full story…

In light of this, I have decided to post a few pointers for those of you who want to start a band or join a band and take your first step to local stardom…

Wanted: band member - must be reliable, sociable, level headed. Don't we all?

1) Get out there!!

Now this sounds pretty straightforward, but I get asked quite often

“how do you join/start a band”?

If you don’t have any friends (musical ones at least) and have scoured the local free-ads and internet sites, one of the best places to start is at your local jam night.  These places are brilliant training grounds for new performers cutting their teeth.  A good jam night will usually be run by an experienced musician(s) and will have a full backline (amps, drums) and a PA.  It is also a great place to find local musicians of all levels and a lot of them are looking to join or start a band…! You might even find some pros or ex-touring musos there too, all of them with much experience to share.

You will be pant-wettingly nervous and try to talk yourself out of it, but do yourself a favour and just GO! You don’t have to play. Maybe next time you could, but it’s good to meet everyone first.  These events need supporting as much as possible anyway, so just by being there (and buying a drink) you are contributing to your local music scene (check age restrictions first).

When you are ready, the usual etiquette is to find the ‘jam leader’ and put down your name and instrument(s) you would like to play.  You will then be called out to play with other participants (usually the house band if it’s your first time) and either make something up on the spot, or play a song with a basic chord format so it’s easy for everyone to follow.

Tip – learn the 12 bar blues (in A)

A | A | A | A

D | D | A | A

E | D | A | E

This is more than likely to crop up during the evening and is a great ice-breaker before you get crazy with the funk!

If you want to solo, wait for…

The NOD is a very important tool in the musician’s arsenal.  It is a simple movement of the head, yet it can mean a myriad of so many different things -

“Your turn”, “are you ready…?” “shut up” “your amp’s on fire”…

basically, it’s a form of communication, and this is extremely important when you are on stage and jam nights are where you learn things like this.

You’ll also learn that onstage volumes and mixes are COMPLETELY different to what you hear as an audience member and it might throw you at first…

It may take a while, but if you attend regularly, talk to people and respect everyone’s abilities you will make some good friends, some of which might end up being your bandmates, and when you do, it will be time to rehearse… 

More on that next week!