How To Approach A Cover Song

Elvis Presley Covers Blue Suede Shoes

   A cover song is a song that has been recorded by another artist and that your band will be playing. Some famous artists that have played cover songs are Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Van Halen, The Rolling Stones. A lot of current artists will play cover songs as well and go on to have big hits playing them. The good thing about playing cover songs is that the song has already been marketed to the masses and has been proven to be a well loved hit. So your chances of having success playing the song is very high. There are a couple ways you can approach playing a cover song.

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The Delicate Art Of Playing Keyboards

Richard Wright or Elton John?

   I love playing keyboard instruments. The first instrument I learned to play was the trumpet but the first instrument I learned to love was the piano. The piano offers so much in the way of musical satisfaction when compared to other instruments. On what other instrument can you so richly play all the bass, harmony, melody and rhythm? Not to mention the technical complexity you can achieve on the piano. It’s a very satisfying instrument to play. Like most piano students I learned to play it as a solo instrument.

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A Nod To A Classic, The Ventures – Wipe Out (Live)

   I saw this while perusing the Guitar Player Forum, Rampdog posted a link to this classic live performance of Wipe Out by The Ventures. I didn’t realize how hard these guys really rocked live! Talk about technically proficient on their instruments. I think my band’s going to start stretching out a bit more on this one. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

The Ventures – Wipe Out (Live)

Playing The Song Instead Of The Instrument

AC/DC Play As A Band

   As a musician have you ever heard the saying “Playing The Song Instead Of The Instrument”? I was having a discussion with some fellow musicians the other day and we were discussing the problem of musicians overplaying during a song. It’s something that I guarantee you’ll have to deal with at some point if you’re playing in a band.

   Let’s define what overplaying is: Overplaying is when you play too much to suit the song. Let’s use the drums as an example. A blatant example of overplaying would be changing the beat deliberately to 5/4 without the rest of the band, just for a measure or two to show you can do it. Blatant overplaying would also be putting a drum break in every bit of extra space in a song. Continue reading “Playing The Song Instead Of The Instrument”

Highlight Your Skilled Players

Tony Levin - Elite Player

   Previously I wrote about how all the instruments in a band are equally important. Especially in the fact that everyone in the band is going for something greater than the individual parts. Another obvious fact of playing is that all musicians are not equally skilled on their instruments. I do believe that no matter how skilled you are on your instrument you need to remember to keep an eye on the ultimate goal of a band which is to create great music, not to simply play a great part. That being said, it would be foolish indeed not to feature your more skilled musicians with more prominent roles in the band.

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Which Instrument Is The Most Important In A Band

David Lee Roth - Not A Stellar Solo Career

  The other day I was talking to some young musicians that were just forming their first band. One of them asked me which instrument was the most important instrument in the band. This is a question I’ve heard a lot over the course of my career and I’ve had a lot of discussions with other musicians about which instrument is the most important in the band. Is it the Lead Singer? Everyone focuses on the singer when the band is playing right? How about the drums, you couldn’t have a rock party without drums. Everyone loves the lead guitar, always getting high-fives after a good solo. What about the bass, no bottom end means no rumble in the chest and it’s a lame show without some good shaking going on. Without decent keyboards the music loses it’s harmonic texture.

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Learn Guitar Chords, Scales And Tunings For Free

Guitar Chordbook at

   When I was learning guitar one of my most valuable learning aids was a chord book. I had a Beatles songbook that didn’t have chord diagrams but it did have chord names above the music notation. So I had to turn to the chord book to learn how to finger the chords I wanted to play. It was a good way to do it because I memorized chords faster that way. Later on I got in Jazz Band in high school and had to learn all kinds of jazz chords on the guitar. Needless to say I used that chord book until the covers were falling off.

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To Be A Great Musician, Be A Fan Of Music

Ringo Listening To Some New Music

   I have people ask me all the time who my biggest influences are in music. I always just keep it simple and say “The Beatles, The Who and Pink Floyd”. While that’s true to a large degree they’re obviously not my only influence. When I first started to get really excited about music those three bands really turned me on to a lot of great things. But then naturally I wanted to hear more new and exciting music. Which brings me to my topic today. I can honestly say that I’m a huge fan of all music and that every piece of music I hear influences me in some way or another.

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Hal Leonard Gig Guide Book With CD – The Performance Guide For Bands

Hal Leonard Gig Guide

   I’m always checking out new and interesting products to help make my life in a band easier. I was looking at some guitar tablature books and stumbled onto the Gig Guide series published by Hal Leonard. The Gig Guide series is designed to provide musicians with a blueprint for building bands.

   What Hal Leonard has done in the Gig Guide series is to pick a musical genre, say Classic Rock, and compile a 12-song setlist. It’s the same thing I’ve done for you with the Live Musician Central Set List series. You get several tools to use to learn the songs with the Hal Leonard Gig Guide series. Along with the list of songs are a Lead Sheet with the basic essential parts you’ll need to know to play the songs. This could be as simple as chords and melody. You also get a demo CD with a full band playing the song so you can hear how you should sound. Continue reading “Hal Leonard Gig Guide Book With CD – The Performance Guide For Bands”

Follow-up To Yesterdays “Importance Of Learning Piano” Post

   Yesterday I posted about how much learning to play the piano has helped me throughout my career as a musician. My post is titled “The Most Important Instrument To Learn – The Piano“. Dr. Christopher Foley who teaches at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada and is also the author of The Collaborative Piano Blog has written a fine article referencing my post. His article is titled “Piano as a Second Language” and you can read it by clicking on the title.

   Chris makes some excellent points in his article that I’m sure you will want to check out.