How To Start A Band

After doing online music lessons and setting up a perfect practice space it is time to put all those hours of practicing at home to use by starting a band. After all, for most, the idea of practicing individually is to eventually play with other like-minded musicians and perform or record music.

How to get started depends on your network, the opportunities presented in your local community, and what the ultimate goal of the band is. Is the band a passion project? Perhaps it is a creative outlet for original music? Is the purpose of the band to generate money? All of these variables will ultimately shape how the band is operated, who is in the band, and what the band’s ultimate purpose will be.

Deciding on Musical Genre or Direction

As with many aspects of life, everyone has a different taste when it comes to music. When it comes to creating a band, the first decision to make is what style of music the band will play. This will help later on when trying to find musicians to play in the band. Depending on the genre, it will also have an impact on how big the band may be. If the main idea of the band is to play original singer-songwriter music, perhaps a duo of guitar and vocals would be suitable. If the musical genre is to be swing music, the band size can go from 3 to 21 musicians and more to cover the various instruments found in that band. Of course, it is also important to see if there are people playing the instruments you envision in your local community. This is not to say that you can’t have a choice of what instruments are in the band. For example, if you are looking to start a Jazz Band but there isn’t a drummer in town, having a jazz band without a drummer is perfectly fine.

Finding Like-Minded Musicians

A band without members that get along on a musical and personal level is heading down a path of frustration. This is not where music should be. As with a lot of activities in life, finding a person with the right attitude is important. Someone that is easy to get along with, isn’t defensive when it comes to pointing out musical choices, and has a positive attitude towards the direction that the band is going in. 

There also needs to be an understanding of what level of musicianship is needed for the band. Everyone strives to be the best they can be, but frustration can be minimized if there is a clear understanding of the level that a band is at when seeking band members. If a band is too advanced for a member, there is added stress for that specific member to keep up with the group. If the gap between the skillset of the member and the band is too great, everyone may get frustrated making band rehearsals less productive. 

The best way to find the perfect bandmate is through a personal network. See which friends or colleagues are musically inclined and have the same taste in music. When working together with familiar people, the stress and frustration of starting the band can be diminished. It may take an effort though to keep the stress diminished as the band progresses.

Another way to find musicians is through services like BandMix, social media platforms like Facebook, or even platforms like Craigslist. When posting on platforms it’s important to give a true representation of what kind of person you are looking for, the genre of music, the frequency of practices and gigs, and the location of band practices. Keeping the post positive in nature will attract more respondents. On platforms like Facebook, there will be local groups or pages which can be used to post on. This will get the message across to more like-minded musicians.

Personal Practice vs Band Practice

It is also important to point out the difference between personal practice and band practice. In a personal practice session, one focuses on enhancing the skills on an instrument which makes executing the required musical passage as smooth and clean as possible. During band practice, however, it’s about finding a cohesive way to integrate all members to do justice to the music that is being played. Oftentimes in an amateur band, time is being spent on playing elements to address the individual player rather than the group. For example, if a guitar player doesn’t know the position of a C Major Chord and has to stop the entire band to figure this out, it may be productive to the individual but certainly will not be productive to the other musicians that have to wait. 

Showing up to a band practice knowing your part will minimize frustration and maximize productivity during the band practice. It is important to be attentive, open-minded, and take notes during band practice. 

Finding Music To Play

Now that there are members in the band to play music, the next step is to find music to play. Depending on the skillset of the musician and the instruments in the band, there are some considerations to think about. If the band plays original music, a collaborative effort may be appropriate. Having songwriting sessions where the band makes a few decisions ahead of time will make practicing together more efficient. If the band plays mainly cover songs, it’s important to build a list of songs with reference tracks so that each member can have a chance to listen to the song. Musicians that mainly play by ear should have a clear understanding of structure in their head or on paper so that when it comes time for the band practice, time isn’t wasted on finding out what key a song is in and what the structure of the song is. 

There are also instrument-specific considerations. In general, horn players are more likely to be able to read music than guitar players. This may result in having some band members play from memory because they may not be able to read sheet music while other members may need to rely on sheet music. In the band practice session, having a discussion and making notes on the general structure of the song, who solos were, and what band member is in charge of musical decisions like cut-offs is important. When it comes time to play a gig, however, everyone should have an open mind and ear to react to unplanned circumstances. At times a song may have an extra bar in the first chorus vs the second chorus. If that extra bar is skipped by accident, everyone needs to have an understanding of the song to know that this happened and to move on in order to minimize the impact of this accidental situation.

Finding a Time and Space to Practice

As with many things in life, having a frequency and familiarity with an activity will contribute to the enjoyment and productivity of that activity. Band practices are no different. As creatures of habit, having a regular practice day and time is important. This can all be figured out through a few phone calls, text messages, or emails. Another idea is to use apps like WhatsApp and set up a group chat so that everyone can see and contribute to the conversation in real-time but when they are able to do so. Making communication as easy and efficient as possible will ensure that everyone can have a voice and get access to the information they need to show up prepared for practices and gigs.

Finding a regular space can be challenging depending on where you live. Ultimately a band member has a setup in a house that has the required backline for the band. However, if this isn’t possible the next step may be to seek out a practice space in a practice facility. In Toronto, one of the more popular and affordable practice spaces are the Rehearsal Factory and Lynx Music. In your community, similar practice spaces may exist. If however, they don’t, an alternative may be to approach a local church, community centre, or even a senior’s home. In the case of the seniors home and depending on the genre of the band, in lieu of paying money to rent a space, a senior home may accept a few free performances for their residence.

Other Considerations

There are some other considerations when it comes to starting a band. At the top of the list may be how finances are handled. If the band has members that do music as a hobby, creating a band fund where everyone pools money to operate the band may be the best way to go. There will be expenses associated to running the band which everyone could share. In a band that has a mix of hobbyist and freelancing musicians, it is important to recognize the various reasons why a member is in the band for. The hobbyist may not care about making money from gigs but the freelancing musicians rely on money being generated. Having an understanding ahead of time for this scenario will help create an environment of positivity. 

It may also be important to record a demo and post it through a social media platform. This will help when approaching venues to play in and can create a community of fans around the band. Loyal followers will be important to make the gig a rewarding experience for both musicians and audiences. Of course, the first fans of the band may be the family and friends of the musicians. Having a social media presence will help expand on this familiar fan base to get the music out to more people who may not have a direct connection to the band members. 

Finding gigs when the band is ready will become an important part to keep the band evolving. Utilizing a personal network is again beneficial. Perhaps there are band members that work for a company looking for a band for their next employee picnic. Maybe a neighbourhood is putting together a local community event and would like to involve local members as part of their entertainment. Being on the lookout for music festivals and Rib Fests is a good next step, but more preparation to approach a more formally structured event is needed. A website and social media channels may be required to showcase videos of the band which can be sent to event organizers. There are also platforms like GigSalad which can help in finding the right gig for your band.

Now that you are aware of these tools and strategies, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

How To Set Up The Perfect Home Music Practice Space

Setting up a music practice space can be extremely beneficial to the developing musician, no matter if this space is a corner of a room or a separate room in a house. A familiar space containing all the required tools at the ready means that more time is spent practicing and less time is spent trying to get organized. In this blog let’s explore a few strategies to get a well organized music practice space.

Make It A Dedicated Practice Space

When it comes to cooking, having a kitchen makes meal preparation a lot more efficient and enjoyable. All pots and pans, utensils, and plates are in an accessible area. Being familiar with the layout and knowing exactly where one needs to go to get the tools to prepare a meal means dinner will be ready a lot faster. If one is making dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen, the quality of the meal may be impacted because the tools for the job may be missing or not where one expects them to be.

Much like a familiar kitchen, having an organized Music Practice Spaces allows for a familiar environment where the layout is known and the required tools are found quickly. It also allows to minimize distractions which will elevate a practice session making it more fruitful. Ideally the goal should be to walk into a practice space that is ready so that one can sit down and start practicing right away.

There is also a mental benefit to having a dedicated space. Humans are creatures of habit and routine. The brain seems to be able to settle down on a task a lot quicker when there is an element of familiarity. By having a dedicated space setup, the brain knows that when it is in the practice space, it’s time to play an instrument. 

Tools to Keep In A Music Practice Space

One motivational strategy is to always have an instrument setup. Leave the instrument out of its case so that all that is needed is to reach for it. This also has the added benefit that it’s always in sight. If an instrument is seen, it is likely to be used more often. Keep it In sight and in mind!

Keeping all required tools in arms reach is important. Depending on preference, this starts with having access to paper, pencil, and an eraser. While there is a level of convenience to using a tablet and stylus, some students of music find that using an actual pencil on paper helps the brain remember things better.

While on the topic of tablets and apps, it may still be useful to have a real tuner and metronome. While it may be useful having all required apps on our smartphones, it may be distracting to pick up a smartphone to use a tuner but then find that there is a text message. Having a dedicated tuner means that there is less of a risk of becoming distracted with one of the many other apps that are on a smartphone. 

For the same reason as having a separate tuner and metronome, having physical books provide a less distracting and more personal practice experience. Making personal notes in the book adds a personal touch to the practice experience. There is also a sense of progress that is observed when writing in a faster tempo marking because an exercise can now be executed at a faster tempo. Of course, a mistake or two can also be made here and there so having an eraser nearby is useful. 

Keep a Journal

Going back to being able to come and go as needed due to various elements in life including children, pets, partners, or other activities that may interfere with your practice session, having a journal provides a quick way to make notes, look back, and plan ahead. Starting with a thought of the day might help get in the right headspace to practice. Looking at where an exercise was left off last time will give a quicker way to start right into what’s next. One can also plan ahead by making notes at the end of a practice session. For example, perhaps an exercise is played in three keys. For the “next session”, pick three other keys to play the exercise in so that no time is wasted thinking of what keys an exercise has already been played in and what keys are left to do. Musicians that are dedicated to journaling have a sense of accomplishment when looking back a week, month, or year.

The perfect music practice space can contribute to a more productive practice session. Always have your instrument and tools in sight, be aware that mentally you are in control, and keep a journal so you can record your progress.

Now that you are aware of these tools, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

Do Online Music Lessons Benefit Me and Are They Helpful?

As a parent of a 7 year old and a private trumpet teacher, I wondered if online music lessons are a viable option or a complete waste of time? Looking at this from both perspectives I can honestly say that with the proper equipment and teacher, not only do online music lessons work, they are in some ways better than in-person music lessons.

What matters more than anything is taking the time to set up your environment for success. It starts with having a dedicated space for music lessons. The mindset of the student and teacher need to be aligned with each other and last, there is a technology component that needs to be considered.

Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of what is that makes online music lessons better in some ways, let’s compare in-person and virtual lessons

What’s The Difference Between In-Person and Online Music Lessons?

There are some obvious differences between the two and ultimately as THIS ARTICLE points out, when deciding the most important aspect is weighing out the pros and cons for your situation. The best pro for in-person lessons is the ability of the instructor to listen to tone production of the instrument. The natural tone produced by the instrument can tell a well-trained instructor a lot about how the student is playing on an instrument. While this is the strongest reason to pick in-person over online, an instructor can find ways to overcome this obstacle.

Where virtual truly shines is the convenience aspect for both instructor and student. As an instructor, having access to all the virtual tools, PDF music, and other resources is extremely helpful. Not all books are digitized and not all resources an instructor has are available. For the student the best feature is that you don’t have to pack up and go somewhere for a lesson. Spend more time practicing and less time commuting.

Do You Need Special Equipment?

Depending on your instrument you will need to invest a bit of time and money for a well functioning setup. With the exception of drums, the more common instruments benefit from a USB Microphone attached to a computer, for example a BLUE YETI microphone. Much like a high quality screen, a high quality microphone is the starting point of capturing audio. 

The best device for lessons is a laptop or desktop computer. Smartphones and tablets are able to be used but make adding microphones and communication challenging due to small screen sizes. 

The last component is a good stable internet connection. For households with multiple devices and users, it’s recommended that when music lessons are happening, other members of the household use the internet connection in a conservative way. Planning ahead and downloading an episode from your favorite Netflix TV show helps. 

Is Virtual Good for Students?

This question does depend on the student and the instructor. Setting the technology piece of the equation aside for a minute, setting up a path to success for online lessons requires a bit of planning ahead. Make sure that the environment for lessons is consistent. Mentally it helps to always have music lessons in the same spot of the house as it tells the brain that it’s now time for lessons. Having a clutter free space with minimal distractions will maximize the time of the lessons. If possible, do your lessons where you practice.

The instructor will play an important role in making the experience good for the student. A good instructor will have a proper setup for the lessons including a talking mic, a mic for the instrument, the ability to properly use screen sharing, and a way to engage the student to keep the lesson on track to success.

The other benefit with online is that the student and teacher can now share recordings of each other in between lessons. While every instructor policy is different, this new way of keeping in touch is convenient for both parties and can help in keeping on track. 

As with most things in life, virtual is not always a good fit for everyone. Some instruments do require more consideration than others when it comes to deciding if online music lessons is a good fit or not. Ultimately there are ways to make music lessons work online from a technology standpoint, so all that is left to do is thinking about the personal preferences when making the decision to have lessons in-person or online.

Now that you are aware of the differences between how you take your lessons, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG to get tools that will help you with your practice sessions and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.

5 Must Have Digital Tools to Help With Your Online Music Lessons

Your Online Music Lessons can be elevated by using these free or low-cost tools so you can become the musician you want to be faster.

The truth is, by using tools like metronomes, tuners, play-along apps, and software that allows us to slow down and change keys, your time spent in the practice room will be maximized and will allow you to measure gradual progress, a motivation that will lead to having more fun and advancing on your instrument. 

A Metronome App for your Apple Device

Using a metronome in your practice session can often lead to better time, feel, and faster progression of technique which ultimately makes playing any instrument or song more fun. These are some of the reasons why you should practice with a metronome. There are several free and paid versions of Metronome apps for many platforms, including smartphones. One of the best options we found is PRO METRONOME by EUM LAB. This app allows you to hear, see, and feel the beats on your Apple device of choice.

A Tuner that makes being in tune fun

Like metronomes, tuners are an important tool in any musician’s practice tool belt. With the progression of electronic tuners, there was little that could be improved until Tonal Energy Tuner found a way to make being in tune more fun.

Drone Tones to Help You Hear the Tuning

A highly effective and really fun way to improve your ears is using Drones to internalize intonation. The natural sounds of cellos are best when it comes to drones and the Drone Tone Tool uses just that in an easy-to-use website or a downloadable App.

A Play Along App That Is as Customizable as a Real Band

After the hard work of being in time and in tune is done, practicing to play real music is the fun payoff at the end of your practice road. There isn’t always a band in your home to satisfy this need. In comes iReal PRO, a tool that allows you to get popular songs right onto your Apple Device and allows you to change keys, tempos, and music styles.

When a Song is Too Fast or in The Wrong Key

With the access to songs being so easy thanks to search engines like YouTube, one frustration for the online music student might be that the song is simply too fast for now or that it is in the wrong key. Fear not, because with the Transcribe chrome extension you can slow down/speed up the tempo, change the key, and even loop a section of any video that you find online.
Now that you are aware of these tools, what else can you do to help your journey to becoming the musician you want to be? Check out THIS BLOG if you are an Adult Learning to Play Music and CONTACT US for private online music lessons to fast charge your progress on any instrument.