I’ve been playing in live bands for 27 years now and I’ve been through my share of band breakups. By band breakup, I mean either the the group will completely disband or I have quit a band that I felt wasn’t going anywhere. It’s always a bummer when your time in a band comes to an end but it’s also an opportunity to re-examine why you are playing music and what you hope to do with your skills as a musician.
I remember when my first band broke up. I had been playing with Seniors in High School and I was just a Freshman. They all graduated High School and that was pretty much the end of the band. I knew I wanted to keep playing but my skills were extremely limited at the time and I had no clue how to even go about getting into another band. I did know a couple of things though, I knew I had a deep love of music and that I wanted to become a better guitarist. So I immersed myself in the study of music theory and the guitar.
I grew incredibly as a musician while I was between my first and second bands. I learned a lot of new guitar skills as I played music with several guitarists and talked with them about the instrument. I read every book about guitar and music theory I could get my hands on and I played guitar in the High School Jazz Band which filled the void left after my first rock band had called it quits.
The next year I moved to a new city. I met a whole new group of musicians and I was able to put together another really fun and exciting rock band. I still play music with some of the guys from the second rock band I was ever in. My point is, I kept playing even though I didn’t have a band. I continued practicing and growing as a musician and a guitarist. That prepared me for my next band and it made that band even better than the previous one.
It’s extremely important that you keep growing musically between bands. My role as a musician has always been as a performer first and it’s difficult for me to find motivation when I’m not in a band. Yet those are the times I’ve discovered new aspects about my instrument and my talent. When I’m in a band I tend to focus my energy on what will help the band to be successful. When I’m not in a band, I explore the entire world of music and I often discover things ignite a new passion about music. What I learn as I explore that new passion always ends up helping me in my next band.
When my second band broke up, I discovered multi-track recording and I was able to spend time honing my skills as a songwriter while learning the world of Home Studio recording. Playing and recording music in my studio can be very rewarding and definitely fills the void I feel when I’m not actively playing out in a band. In fact, there are times when I’m in a band that I wish I could just sit home and make recordings of my original work! But of course, the pull of the stage is too strong for me to ignore at least for now.
Between bands I have become a better guitarist, learned and honed my studio engineering and production skills, learned how to make computer based music and even learned how to play various horns and ethnic instruments. I have always tried to learn and grow as a general practitioner of music between bands and this has kept me interested and “in the business” for all these years.
So remember, if your band breaks up, it’s not the end of the music experience. It’s really just a starting point for increasing your musical horizons. The thing you want to do is to keep on playing, studying and creating music. You’ll find another band that will take your time and you’ll also reap the rewards for the time you spent learning between band experiences. -Matt-