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  • HOW TO BE THE BEST BANDMATE
  • PRACTICE GUITAR
  • HOW TO BE THE BEST BANDMATE

    BY DAVID BLUEFIELD

     

    1- LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN

    learn to listen to actual music parts — rhythm and melody to find your part -learn to listen to the sound spectrum Example :pick out bass and treble and train your ear to stay focused throughout an entire piece- think of it as spatial ranges moving horizontally - picture a thermometer in your mind from 0 bottom to 100 top and try to keep your focus at the bottom and listen for the bass line and kick drum - visualize them staying in the same range moving horizontally -then move into the middle range and try to lock into a keyboard or guitar rhythm and then to upper mid -the easiest - listen to the vocal. When listening to the vocal - it also means listening to the spaces inbetween the vocal - what musical line is happening ? Is it in the same range of the vocal? More on vocal - listen for tonality, listen for phrasing - is the lyric being delivered in a conversational way and is there intention? The bottom line is that noticing the subtleties will improve over time but if the singer is making you listen and feel the lyric -then you have virtual gold to work with.

    2-KNOW YOUR ROLE

    Learn the appropriate roles or positions or basic functions of the rhythm section and lead section lead guitar plays what during verses -during chorus . There are basic rules that the brain can only focus on one musical line at a time and since all the music is moving horizontally as well as vertically - at any one point in the vertical spectrum there are multiple parts going on - but it is a conversation where one part is primary and others are supportive - a lead line is usually in the upper midrange and other parts in that same range should either lead into or lead out of the lead line -

    3-WHAT TO PLAY WHEN TO PLAY IT

    rhythm part should change from verse to chorus - sometimes actually lay out to create sparseness and then add power The options are either double up or halve the rhythm part and always listen listen listen to the accents of the drummer and bass player. BASS - root and 5th -always solid on the downbeat - lead into the next section in the song - always with the drummer If you are a bass player -your actual personality should be supportive - you are holding up the bottom of the foundation and are critical - you are the entire defensive line protecting the quarterback - who, in this analogy is the lead guitar or lead vocal as the primary focus - you must be content to play basic tones ( root and 5th) and play it over and over - when you are locked with the drummer you are in the groove and there is certain momentum that occurs that is hypnotic when done right. GUITAR - rhythm can be a constant driving strum (depending on the genre) or a spotty repeated pattern - a short rhythmic lick that occurs at a certain place in the bar -every bar or every other bar -which is part of the groove set up by the Bass and Drum KEYS - similar to the guitar but withtout the strum aspect -Keys are percussive and can find a pattern that repeats as well as single lines that lead into or out of a section LEAD - these parts/players are the quarterback or running back sharing the song with the lead singer - whenever there is a space left by the vocalist - this can be the space for a tasteful lead line - "leading" into the next section of music - which is usually the chorus and often a solo - George Harrison was one of the all-time best at playing parts that fit the song - also The Edge in U2 comes up with entire song guitar parts

    4- SIGN LANGUAGE CUES

    Determine who ends the song who starts the song it could be guitar with obvious motion of neck or it could be drummer with stick sounds Regardless - at every ending -keep eyes on leader for cues on when and where to go and ears on drummer for actual anticipations

    5- HOW TO BLEND

    mix yourself so that you hear the other sounds equal to the sound you are making - in fact it is better if you don't hear your part separate but as blended

    6-INTEGRITY OF THE MUSIC

    The more you can instill the absolute importance of valuing what you play as adding to a whole - as opposed to adding to the energy will make a difference - constant awareness of DYNAMICS will help you remember to drop down in the verses and to match the sensitivity of the other players in certain softer delicate parts of a song. EMPHASIS by catching upbeats by the drummer or bass player or not - "or not" means knowing the space they occupy and stay out of it -

    7. PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

    Know your parts inside and out before group rehearsals. That way the band can actually focus on the finer details or the big picture together and have more fun in the process. If you don't understand a section of a song, talk about it and make sure to smooth out the kinks sooner rather than later. You don't want those doubts to linger until it's too late to ask or you get on stage and the nerves kick in.

    8.WHICH ONE ARE YOU ?

    If you don't know your role, talk about it. Are you a support musician? Are you a bandleader? Do you have a say in the creation and selection of the material? Or are you supposed to just learn your parts from a chart and do what you're instructed to do? Once you know this, you'll be able to make sure that you're not stepping on any toes, and you'll also feel more free within your defined role. What makes a good leader is allowing and appreciating all comments and knowing what each member needs to hear - on confidence on what the band expects.Place equal value on each musician– everyone contributes to the band's unique sound.

    9. WILLINGNESS TO ASSIST

    Whether it's carrying equipment or promoting the band, always help when it's needed. Depending on your forte and interests outside of music, find a way to contribute to the management of the band. Maybe you're a good driver and can get the band to gigs, or you love to design and can make the T-shirts and posters. Maybe you have a big social network, and naturally will be the promoter. Or maybe you host the rehearsals. What ever your part is, make sure you share the legwork, because it's way too much for one person.

    10. Each instrument has its own details and complexities on which to focus, and each individual deserves respect. Every member should be included in band discussions and practices, and everyone should feel welcome to weigh in with suggestions when appropriate. This gives ownership and builds commitment.

    11. Be on time

    The band members depend on each other to make "it" happen, so be respectful of each other's time. Don't be the one to hold everyone up when people are already making sacrifices to make time for the band between their jobs, families and possibly other musical projects. if you're too flaky, you might just lose your seat in the group.

    12. Plan in advance

    Schedule rehearsals and gigs in advance. If a show is booked and you've committed to it, don't miss it unless it's a true emergency. It reflects badly on the whole band if they have to cancel or cannot produce what's expected. Also, give a heads up if you're going out of town so that your bandmates know when to book practices and shows, or have ample time to get a sub for you if needed.

    13. Do social things together

    Hanging out together is inevitable if you practice a lot or go on tour together. Whether or not you're friends outside of the band, try to find times after rehearsal to get food or drinks, or go to a show together for inspiration. Being social creates a bond. A real friendship and understanding of each other shines through in the music. Building a relationship as friends places importance on the art rather than the business side of things and keeps things in perspective. Also, the more you know each other, the more you can read each other and mend mistakes on the fly during a performance!

    14. Discuss style

    Details make a band unique and stand out. This includes fashion! It's embarrassing to witness a band where everyone is dressed up except for that one person who rolled out of bed and looks downright slovenly. If you're going for the "I don't care" or "grungy" look, that's fine – just be on the same page as everyone else. Prepare and discuss it in advance – maybe you want matching outfits, or you just want to be casual, or maybe dressy. These details matter. Your shows are a presentation of your art, sound and appearance all together. Paying attention to all of these aspects shows that you care about your presentation and your audience.

    15. Work on your stage presence

    Being a musician usually means that you're also a performer. This requires stage presecnce. Enjoy it, and give a little love to the audience. This can be as simple as smiling, or thanking the audience for coming, or even creating choreography. Just make sure that you and your bandmates work together to always give good energy to the audience. This will increase your fan loyalty and it will also enhance the music. People always love stories ( short and sweet) about a song or why an arrangement turned out the way it did.

    16. Promote

    Part of being a good bandmate involves putting effort into not only the music, but also the promotion of it. You've done so much work to get to this point, so now it's time to share it. Create a mail list with info how and when folks can see you and it is always great to say hi to your buds from the stage with a call out.

    17. Be transparent

    I'm talking about money. If you're performing together as a band, there is money involved. The group as a whole should be open about it. Ideally, the group should decide together what to do with the funds. It could be small enough that you all go out for dinner together, or you pay a member back for the time they bought gas. If it's large you can divide it up, or put into a band fund, or towards your next album, etc. Also, unless someone has signed up to be a sponsor for the band, always pay them back if they fronted the group. If there is a tip jar how is it divided ? Is anyone due a payback or had/has an additional hardship -this is a great opportunity to make these kinds of paybacks

    18. Speak up

    When things that matter are bothering you, it's important to voice your concerns as soon as possible. Certain things will blow over, but if you have any nagging thoughts that continue to bring you down, that means it's time to talk about it – no matter how small of an issue it seems. Nothing is too small to talk about if it feels important to you. For big issues, like who owns royalties, and what to do if a member quits, it's a good idea to create a space to straighten out any kinks that might need clarification early on. Don't be afraid to be the one to suggest that these conversations be had.

    19. Reflect

    Remember why you are here and why you chose this to do- the luckiest are ones who can make this a true labor of love.