So you’ve searched for musicians, finally found a the perfect band lineup, and you’ve decided what type of music you want to play with your live band. You’ve had a few band practices but your new live band sounds like a train wreck. This is a common problem and believe it or not, can be very simple to solve.
The first question you have to answer is, what’s causing your band to sound like a train wreck. The most common problems I’ve seen in new bands are centered around the ability to play to a beat and individual player preparation.
Let’s talk about the ability to play to a beat first. I’m sure you’ve heard a guitarist who is simply amazing to listen to when he’s sitting around and jamming alone on his guitar. He can bust out Eruption note-for-note along with some seriously sweet riffage. But put him with a drummer and a bass player and he falls apart. This is common among musicians who haven’t played in a band before. They are used to being able to flex the beat to match what they’re playing because they don’t have to stay in sync with other musicians. In a live band, if everyone is trying to flex the beat a different way, then the band sounds like a train wreck.
This problem can be easily solved by having the individual players practice with a metronome or a drum machine. If players who are inexperienced playing with other people will take the time to practice with a metronome, they will develop the ability to play with a steady beat. That’s the most important thing for making a band sound tight, that ability of everyone staying together on the same beat.
Next is individual player preparation. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, band practice is not the time to learn your part in a song! Each player needs to take the time alone to listen and learn their individual part before coming to band practice. If a player doesn’t know the chord changes or solo’s, then your band is going to sound like a train wreck while that player searches for the right parts. Not preparing before band practice is a sure way to kill your band’s sound.
It’s a lot easier to work on staying on the beat together when everyone has learned their individual parts. Using a metronome at band practice can go a long way toward tightening your band up as well. Just plug a metronome into your mixer, set the click to the song tempo and have the band play along with the metronome. Remember, staying together on the beat is the most important aspect of keeping your band from sounding like a train wreck.