Find Other Musicians
To play in a band obviously means that you will have to find other musicians to play with. You could join an existing band that just needs one more player to complete their line up, or start with only one other person.
How many band members?
This is completely up to you. You could even forego the idea of having a band and go solo! A lot of solo artists do rely on other musicians to play with at gigs though, who are normally hired by the solo artist. This can be quite expensive at first, especially if you aren’t yet established and have a following (fan base) to buy your gig tickets and merchandise.
The number of members can also be a stylistic decision. If you know you want to play in an acoustic duo then you only need one other musician. Although if you really fancy playing in a big brass band, then there’s going to be a little more work involved...!
You can also stay flexible and see who you meet and get along with. Then allow it to develop in a more organic way.
Joining an existing band
Often, a complete band will lose a member and have to look for someone else to fill the role. This could be due to life changes, moving away, ‘creative differences’, etc. If you happen to play the instrument that they are looking for and you like their sound, then fantastic! Apply as soon as you can.
This is by far the easiest way of playing in a band, but you give up on controlling the initial direction and decisions. This might mean accepting their band’s name, practice times, existing songs, etc. But if you already like all of that, then it’ll be a breeze to get into.
Where to Find Musicians
Online is the fastest way of checking out who might be available to join your band. You can search by instrument and location to see who’s nearby. Send them a quick message and go from there.
Things to mention in your message
- Style/genre preferences
- Ability level and experience
- Your contact details
Another good place is checking out the display boards in music shops. A lot of the time there are adverts for band members, however, you are not always aware of how long they have been up for. You may find that bands have already found someone and haven’t gone back to take their poster down.
Go to gigs
Musicians often hang out at music venues and attend gigs. You can quite easily meet potential members at open mic nights or acoustic nights in local bars/pubs. Search online to find some that are near you. These are also great for getting used to playing live if you’re only just starting out.
It may seem obvious, but mention that you are forming a band to your friends and family; they might just know someone who is also looking to start a band.
Now would be a good time to think ahead and realise your motivations for forming a band in the first place. It’s important to find people who share your motivation. The last thing you want is for someone to join your band who intends to make it big time, when you’d prefer to just keep it casual due to other commitments. Or vice versa! It isn’t fair on either of you, and at some point (normally the more motivated) is going to get fed up and move on.
Keep it casual
Many band projects are started as a hobby. It’s a great way to meet new people, improve your playing skills and exercise your creativity. Forming a band with others who also want to keep it casual is an effective way of making lifelong friends.
Go for the big time!
If you want to be the next big thing, begin the way you intend to go on. Find others who share your vision and are willing to put in the work in order to get there. This means regularly practicing the songs, reliably showing up on time to band rehearsals, doing their part to promote the band and organise gigs, etc.
We know everyone has to work, so it can be difficult finding people out there who happen to be free at the same time during the week as you and who can put in the same level of commitment. It’s definitely worth the initial search effort though, as you’ll create a solid foundation to grow from.
So you’ve got your band together and you’re ready to start jammin’, but where do you begin?
To start off, meet up and have a jam with your new band members. You might also want to meet each member individually so that you can get to know them a little bit beforehand. Jammin’ with others is a fun and creative process, but also one that lets you discover how compatible you are as musicians.
You can get to know someone’s ability level, musical preferences, and creativity through jammin’; even their punctuality and time-keeping, which may be important to you as well.
Learn some covers
A great way to kick off your first meet up is to agree on a couple of cover songs that you might already know how to play. This way you can all turn up to the rehearsal and play together right from the start.
Learn original songs
If you’re joining an existing band and have been asked to audition, then you may have been given some of their songs to work on. Different bands will vary as to how they want you to play. This could mean learning your parts note-for-note, or having the freedom to improvise and create parts of your own that will work with the rest of the song.
It can be quite a commitment to learn specific songs for a band. But then you don’t have to put in the effort of forming one yourself.
The most important thing is for everyone to have fun and enjoy playing together.
Find a regular practice time
Find a time to practice regularly as often as you are all able to commit. A good tip is to use these practices as deadlines; for example to learn a song by the next rehearsal.
Optimise your time
It’s good to structure your rehearsals so that you’re able to cover all of the material you want. As the saying goes, time certainly flies when you’re having fun! Rehearsals are soon over, so make the most of them and maybe check off a list of items you wish to cover, or at least keep track of the time remaining.
Be sure to take a break in the middle to get some air, food and daylight! Then everyone can come back refreshed to finish on a high note. 😉
Don’t use rehearsals for individual practice
Make sure you know your stuff before you get to the rehearsal space. It can waste everyone’s time and money if one member hasn’t done their homework and has everyone else waiting for them to catch up.
Write Music Together
Writing music is a very rewarding process, and can be quite therapeutic as well. Every band will have their own way of writing, whether that’s one person doing the majority or each member coming to rehearsals and demonstrating their ideas.
The more you write together, the more you’ll get to know how everyone in the band likes to work. Maybe they are better at writing riffs than you are, but you can more easily come up with vocal melodies. It works well when you put your ideas together to form complete songs as your skills complement each other. This also helps to create your own distinctive sound.
Refine your sound
This is actually a continual process for most bands and happens over the course of a long career in music! However, at the very least, in the beginning it’s good to have a distinctive sound that is uniquely ‘you’. This will set you apart from all of the other bands in your area and even the world. People will come to your shows to listen to your sound.
Staying on Top of Your Game
Keep your playing skills honed so that you can continually develop and improve your songwriting and playing ability. The most effective way of doing this, of course, is by taking by private lessons with an expert tutor. They can give you excellent advice and motivate you through tough patches.
Check out instrumental tutors near you: