Essential skills for being in a band

Discussion in 'Beginners/FAQ' started by Boofchuck, Mar 25, 2020 at 2:09 PM.

  1. Boofchuck

    Boofchuck SS.org Irregular

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    Hi everyone, I'd like to start/join a band soon. But I have little experience playing with other musicians. As such, I am wondering what you all consider essential skills and concepts for playing with others and communicating musical ideas. I'm curious what I should brush up on. Thank you all.
     
  2. MaxOfMetal

    MaxOfMetal Likes trem wankery. Super Moderator

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    Good rhythm and a decent ear will get you very far, even if you don't know much about theory. Get used to playing along to a rhythm section, there are years worth of drum loops to mess around with.

    As for developing your ear, start simple. Learn to tune by ear, and graduate to trying to figure out basic riffs and intervals. It's a lot of rote memorization at first, but it'll become second nature if you stick with it in earnest.

    If you have those two things down reasonably well you should have no problem playing with others.
     
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  3. Demiurge

    Demiurge Intrepid Jackass

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    Good preparation habits will help, too. You don't want to be that guy who is out of tune (and whose guitar can't keep in tune- pre-stretch new strings!), has dying batteries for their pickups/batteries, or needs to borrow patch cables.
     
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  4. akinari

    akinari does his own setups

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    It's really important to figure out your place in the band musically. Like, what comes natural for you in terms of musical contributions? Rhythm guitar parts? Leads? If you're working with another rhythm guy, are you better at locking in with him, or contributing complementary parts? Nail those down, and then work your ass off getting tighter and more efficient at doing what comes natural based on your chemistry with the other guys.

    Then there's the task of finding where you fit with the other musicians on a personal level. There are what I call "The" people, and then there are the tag-alongs. It sounds terrible to say, but it's how everyone works. Dave Mustaine would be an example of a "The Guy." Some can do both, and some can't.

    Some folks are real chameleons, the kinds of players who can come into a setting, get a feel for what other people are communicating, and really spice things up by adding their sauce. A lot of people in this category may not be the quickest to bring in their own fully finished material, but can nevertheless become invaluable members of a group because of their response to the music. Or sometimes they come in and ruin songs.

    Some people have a very clear vision, musical voice and skillset that is kind of built to facilitate their thing, and they don't always mesh well with others. Learn to recognize these people and adapt accordingly, and if you're one of these people, never feel guilty about having a strong opinion or outline for what music you want to make, but also make a solid effort to never condescend or leave others feeling unduly invalidated in the process. Also, never try to force writing chemistry or enthusiasm for material when it is simply not there. There is absolutely nothing wrong with cordially explaining to people that something is not for you, versus forcing it and making yourself miserable.

    And the simplest advice? Be yourself, be honest, be courteous, and work hard.
     
  5. sleewell

    sleewell SS.org Regular

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    communication skills are crucial.

    dont just say play this part 8 times. show everyone what you are counting as 1 so everyone is on the same page. that clears up a lot of confusion at least in our band.


    get a good mix. use a db meter if you have to. volume wars are the worst and lead to tension that hampers growth.


    record practices and listen to them during the week.


    dynamics are key. when you are new you want to play all the time but sometimes its actually heavier if you drop out and come back in. that is very hard to learn when you are new bc you want to contribute. its counter intuitive but is huge once you learn it.
     
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  6. SpaceDock

    SpaceDock Shred till your dead

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    Best skills for being in a band are humility, patience, and the willingness to concede to others. Big egos wreck the best bands.
     
  7. Chebax

    Chebax SS.org Regular

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    This. Just leave your ego behind and be ready to concede to others.

    Maybe that song doesn’t need a 3 min solo after all... ;)
     
  8. efiltsohg

    efiltsohg SS.org Regular

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    learn lots of jokes to make fun of the drummer with
     
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  9. budda

    budda Guiterrorizer Contributor

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    Are you good at communicating in existing relationships? Do you have the ability to write and play the kind of music you *want* to write and play? I ask that as someone who can't sweep or shred, but enjoys listening to music beyond my ability.

    What is your commitment level? Are you on the same page with expectations as everyone else?

    The biggest thing is communication and commitment. If people aren't committed, it doesn't matter if you have endorsements and management...
     
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  10. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    “Or maybe this solo doesn’t need that 3 minute song after all.” - Yngwie Malmsteen
     
  11. BornToLooze

    BornToLooze SS.org Regular

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    Learn how to watch the drummer and bass player in case your can't hear what you're playing.

    Also, KISS. By all means use pedals and stuff, but be prepared to have a pedal go dead and have to plug straight into your amp.
     
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  12. Werecow

    Werecow SS.org Regular

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    Don't do the following:

    Observe that your childhood friend and now drummer in your first band as an 18 year old is turning up stoned, and seemingly can't be bothered to play properly.
    Let this carry on over a period of a few months without talking to him about it.
    Next observe him turning up to practice with two of his cymbals completely missing two huge chunks of a quarter or more of their circumference because he "can't afford new ones" even though he's spending literally hundreds on weed and other drugs every single week.
    Offer to lend him money for new cymbals.
    Six months go by without him repaying any money whatsoever, but carry on "trusting him"


    The above may or may not be a true story.
     
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  13. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    Nobody cares if you can play or how you look. Just bring a crowd to the shows and your golden!
     
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  14. Boofchuck

    Boofchuck SS.org Irregular

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    Lots of great advice, thank you all. I feel confident I can do these things. And I hope others may find this helpful as well.

    Just not more than 10 people closer than 6 feet apart.
     
  15. c7spheres

    c7spheres GuitArtist

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    That's gonna make a sold out show much easier!
     
  16. Gmork

    Gmork SS.org Regular

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    Learning to compromise/go with the flow/not sweat it too much.
    For years i was like some evil band leader practice nazi, trying to force everyone else to fall in line in preparation to take over the world with our super pro band where every little faucet of the band and sound was thought of, turned out they more or less just wanted to have fun and play some tunes lol. If you cant tell i can be a bit difficult to work with lol.


    Things went a lot smoother once i learned to accept what type of band we were lol. Im a strong believe that most musicians should have more than one musical outlet to better express themselves and accomplish what you want but to also not feel you have to force things and just learn to have fun... Or something along those lines.

    Also sometimes less is more, and egos suck for everyone!
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020 at 1:24 AM
  17. auntyethel

    auntyethel Skommeling

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    Some people have touched on the ego thing, to expand on that:

    Accept that some of your ideas might suck and don't be butthurt about it.
     
  18. Boofchuck

    Boofchuck SS.org Irregular

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    Ha, I'm pretty sure most of my ideas suck actually.
     
  19. natedog_approved

    natedog_approved Meatsack

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    Probably not the most musically essential, but just have fun with it man.

    I was in a band for like 3ish years with some dudes in high school. We were friends, not just band mates. We were a terrible, terrible band, but we had fun and ended up making pretty regular appearances at the local shows with some of the "bigger" local bands. Still talk to a few of the dudes occasionally, though we've all distanced.

    This is also the single most significant period of growth I had as a musician.
     
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  20. iamaom

    iamaom SS.org Regular

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    Be punctual. Don't be that guy who shows up 45 minutes late with no excuse every day and is shocked when he's kicked out because he doesn't know any of the material.
     
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