To Make Your Live Band Better Schedule Gigs

The best way to improve your live band is to schedule a gig and get out and play.

Bonne Nuit Live Show 5-15-10 pic 2
Bonne Nuit Playing A Live Gig

   Every live band wants to be the best band that they can be. I’ve seen so many bands that practice, practice, practice and never really feel ready to get out and play a gig. I’ve seen bands begin and end in the practice studio without ever getting out and playing a live show. The biggest reason for this is the fact that the band never feels ready to get out and play a gig. So they practice and practice until they’re bored and then they end up giving up.   Continue reading “To Make Your Live Band Better Schedule Gigs”

So Your Band Sounds Like A Train Wreck

Does your live band sound like a train wreck? This post will help you figure out why and how to solve it.

In Stereo Jamming Live At The Canyon Inn
In Stereo Started Out Sounding Like A Train Wreck

   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.    Continue reading “So Your Band Sounds Like A Train Wreck”

Having A Vocal Only Rehearsal With Your Band

If you want your band to sound it’s best, have a dedicated Vocals only band practice.

The Eagles Singing Harmony
The Eagles Sing Harmony Live

   One of the most neglected aspects I’ve seen with live bands over the years is the backing vocals. I’ve seen plenty of bands that have an excellent lead singer or even multiple lead singers that nail the lead vocals every time. But they are severely lacking in the backing vocals. Too many bands just don’t take the time to learn and then fix problems with their backing vocals.

   I’ve written many times on Live Musician Central that the ability to sing is crucial to your skills as a band musician. It’s up to you as an individual player to take ownership of singing backup vocals in your band. Along with your regular, personal practice on your instrument you need to take the time to practice your backing vocals. I often practice my singing while I’m driving as it’s something I can do without my hands. Make sure you take the time to learn your individual backing vocal part before you have a band rehearsal.   Continue reading “Having A Vocal Only Rehearsal With Your Band”

Tips For Auditioning For A Live Band

If you are going to be auditioning for a live band, here are some tips to help you do your best.

Kyle Johnson
Bill Barely Passed His Audition

   The other day I wrote a post about joining a band by answering Musician Wanted ads. Naturally the next step in the process is going to the audition so that’s what we’ll discuss today. I’ve played in a lot of live bands over the years and been to my share of live band auditions too. Auditions are always an interesting process and I’ve always learned something going through the band audition process. Today I’m going to give you a few tips on preparing to audition for a live band.

   The first thing you want to do is make sure you have the correct address for where the audition is going to be held. I remember once getting so lost going to an audition that I was an hour late. Needless to say, it didn’t make a good impression and I didn’t get the gig. Get directions and a phone number you can call in case you get lost or you get stuck in traffic.     Continue reading “Tips For Auditioning For A Live Band”

How To Become An Expert Musician

It’s easy to become an expert musician. You just have to complete the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

Kent, Matt and Erik Rolling Up Gig Hours
Kent, Matt and Erik Rolling Up Gig Hours

   I recently had a discussion with a good friend about how the 10,000 hour rule applies to musicians that play in a live band. If you haven’t heard of the 10,000 hour rule it simply states that if you spend 10,000 hours of deliberate practice on something you will become an expert. Deliberate practice being defined as a focused study and application of a skill or subject. If you’ve been working at your job for 10 years then you’re most likely an expert as 10 years job experience roughly translates into 10,000 hours of deliberate practice at your job.

   I’m sure that if you’ve been doing the same job for 10 years that your co-workers probably consider you an expert at whatever your job function is. The same thing can be said for musicians. I’ve been playing in live bands for 28 years now and I have become an expert at playing in live bands through experience. I’ve put my 10,000 hours in by practicing my instrument, preparing for live performances, setting up, tearing down and hauling equipment. I’ve put the hours in working with agents, club managers and other musicians. I’ve put the hours in mixing sound, programming sound patches and running amplification.   Continue reading “How To Become An Expert Musician”

Playing Any Gig Is Better Than Playing No Gig At All

If you’re a musician, then playing any live band gig at all will help you become a better musician.

Matt Rushton Playing A Live Gig
Matt Rushton Playing A Live Gig

I’m a guitarist who has been playing for almost 30 years now and I’ve played in live bands almost that entire time. The reason I play is simple, I love to play in front of live audiences. Some things I love about it are the feedback I get from an excited crowd as well as the joy that comes with really nailing the music when the band is playing well.

I’ve played a lot of different styles of music over the years. I’ve played primarily rock-n-roll but I’ve also played country, jazz, pop, electronic and other styles that don’t really fit into any category at all. I’ve played in original bands playing my own music as well as backing up other artists who write their songs. I’ve played in cover bands with all kinds of lineups from two-piece bands all the way up to full size big bands. I’ve also spent time playing in pit orchestras for live stage plays.                              Continue reading “Playing Any Gig Is Better Than Playing No Gig At All”

Expand Your Vocal Chops By Cross-Training Your Voice

Cross-Train your voice by donating your time to your local choir. It will help you increase your skills as a singer and a musician.

Improve Your Lead Vocals With Cross-Training
Improve Your Lead Vocals With Cross-Training

   Singing is one of the most basic and essential skills in any live band. If you play an instrument, having the ability to sing will give you the multiple skills to make you a more valuable member of the band. It’s really in your own best interest to develop your singing skills as much as possible

   As you know, singing is controlled by the muscles in your throat and the muscles that control your breathing. Any athlete knows that training the correct muscles will give you stamina and greater power. This is also true with your voice. As you train these muscles you’ll be able to sing better, longer and with more vocal range.

   Another truth that any athlete knows is that cross-training muscles is an excellent way to increase those muscles abilities. The same is true with singing. If you are a lead singer and all you ever do is sing in the upper ranges of your voice you’ve probably noticed that you struggle singing parts that are in the lower ranges of your voice. The same is true if you only sing in the low range of your voice. You’ll struggle when you go to hit those high notes. That’s where the concept of cross-training your voice comes in.     Continue reading “Expand Your Vocal Chops By Cross-Training Your Voice”

An Easy Tip On Using A Metronome To Improve Your Tempo

Use this technique with a metronome to improve your ability to hold an even tempo.

Seiko DM70 Pocket Metronome
Seiko DM70 Pocket Metronome

   One of the biggest problems I’ve seen in my years of playing in a live band is the ability to keep a solid, steady tempo. If your band is speeding up and slowing down all the time, it’s darn near impossible to keep a danceable groove going. It’s primarily the responsibility of the drummer, bass player and rhythm guitarist to keep the tempo but everyone benefits when the entire band can hold a solid tempo.

   The best way I’ve found to practice keeping a solid tempo is using a metronome. The obvious way to practice is to set the metronome to a tempo that you want to work on and then practice along with it. This is a very basic way to use the metronome but it’s not the best way I’ve found to use it for improving your ability to hold a tempo.

Continue reading “An Easy Tip On Using A Metronome To Improve Your Tempo”

What To Do When The Band Breaks Up

When your band breaks up, it’s an opportunity to expand your talent and skills to become an even better musician.

Sammy Hagar Became A More Complete Musician After He Left Montrose
Sammy Hagar Became A More Complete Musician After He Left Montrose

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.   Continue reading “What To Do When The Band Breaks Up”

The Good Singers Vs. Bad Singers Debate

Trying to label something as unique as the human voice as either “Bad” or “Good” is a very difficult thing to do.

Bob Dylan - Good Singer or Bad Singer?
Bob Dylan - Good Singer or Bad Singer?

   Today I’m going to address a topic that is a personal pet peeve of mine. I personally don’t like labeling artists as either “Good” or “Bad”. That goes for anybody that creates a work of art including painters, writers, musicians or any other person that creates something from nothing. Art is subjective and what’s beautiful to one person, may seem ugly to another. But, my real pet peeve is the labeling of something as unique as an individual human voice as either “Good” or “Bad”. The sad thing is that I hear comments from the crowd about good vs. bad singing every time I watch a live band play.    Continue reading “The Good Singers Vs. Bad Singers Debate”

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