Hi there, I’m Riley, and I’m here to give you some pointers about being part of a band! Performing in a band is very different to performing solo as there are a lot of other factors that you have to take into consideration to create a smooth, tight performance, for example, don’t talk or play over a band member when they’re trying to say something, and don’t play while someone else is tuning. When you’re in a band, there are a fair few other things that should be done so that the peace is kept within the band, and nobody gets anything thrown at them, like what Stevie Nicks did to Lindsay Buckingham in Fleetwood Mac. Anyway, that’s besides the point… time for some tips!
Now one of the key factors to having a tight and spectacular performance is to listen to others while you’re playing. For example, a few times I’ve seen two guitarists start playing a piece with their capos in different spots, meaning they were playing in different keys. Most of those times though, the guitarist who had the capo in the wrong spot realised straight away, stopped playing and fixed his mistake, because he listened to the rest of the band and realised there was something wrong. That’s why for big concerts, people will often use earpieces so that they can hear what they’re playing and hear what everyone else is playing over the noise of the crowd so that they can blend and play together as a band, which is why listening is so so important!
*Stage Presence and Motivation*
When you’re performing in a band, it’s important to have a good stage presence, but not just yourself, the whole band! For example, if the bass player is having a great time and jumping around, but the guitarist is just standing still and playing, the balance is uneven and it can look a bit odd. All members of the band should be equally excited about the music they’re playing, and should feel comfortable enough to all play together and create a fun, entertaining atmosphere for the audience. If this is not the case, then often one or more members of the band may not be too happy with the sort of music the band is playing. It’s important to discuss very early on which music you all want to play, so that you can all be happy in the band with the style of music you all agree to play. Then if you all like the music you’re playing, and you enjoy playing together, stage presence should come easily.
*Taking The Spotlight*
This section is particularly for the lead guitarists and singers of the band. So, it’s natural for these members to be the main focus of the band as they’re the ones playing the melodies of the songs, however, you’ve got to be careful to not overshadow the other members of the band. If they’re totally cool about it and you’ve talked about it beforehand then go ahead and do your thing, but for example I’ve been to some gigs where the lead guitarist will sort of go off on their own and play whatever they want, and then expect the other members to just follow them. Also, I’ve seen singers change things and sing parts in a different order, and then watched the band look around at each other trying to figure out what’s going on. That’s not great if you’re trying to play together as a band. Everyone should have a say in decisions and there’s no part that’s less important than another. If there’s something you want to do differently, the best idea is to have a conversation with the other members of the band beforehand so that you all feel confident and happy with what you’re playing.
Going off overpowering other members of the band, it’s also important to have balanced levels in order to sound like a unified band. It’s also about respect. Nobody wants to be trying to play under someone who’s got their volume turned up all the way. If you’re playing in a band, there should be a balance so that all of the different parts can be heard and are equal. I know it might be tempting to turn yourself up a lot, but if the other instruments are softer, the performance just won’t sound the best it can because all the other instruments will be drowned out and it will sound messy and unbalanced. It’s aaaallll about the balance when it comes to performing in a band.
*Be Respectful Of Others*
When you’re part of a band, it can be easy to want to take the reigns and have your way all the time, but that’s just not the way it works. Being in a band is like being in a relationship, it’s all about compromise. If there’s a song you really want to play but no one else is that keen on it, you might have to accept that it’s just not going to happen, and find another song that everyone will be enthusiastic about playing. Also, a band environment should be an environment where everyone is free to share their ideas without being ridiculed. Even if the idea is not that great, you shouldn’t make fun of someone for it because that can make the environment tense and that can cause a band to split up. Instead, maybe offer up suggestions on how you can keep the same general idea, but make it slightly different. For example, if you were in a metal band and someone suggested you play “Cry Me A River” by Michael Buble, instead of laughing and saying it’s a silly idea, maybe suggest that you all work on a cool soft metal cover of it. Nevertheless, a band should always be a positive environment for all members involved.
So, pretty much if in a band you listen, have a good balance, and keep a positive environment, working together as a band should be simple and fun! I’ve seen jamming and gigging become a chore for some bands, but hopefully if you keep these few ideas in mind, playing in a band will be an enjoyable hobby for everyone involved, and will be a great way to relax, let your hair down, and have a great time playing groovy music with groovy people. Happy playing 🙂