How To Start Your Own Band
by Kathy Unruh
Every once in awhile a guitar student will express a desire to be in a band someday. If this is your ambition too, then read on. Whether you’re a guitar player or not doesn’t really matter.
If you are a talented singer or musician then the question is, do YOU want to be in a band? In this article you will find some helpful ideas on how to get started in that direction.
One of the first things you will need to do is gain exposure for yourself. This can be as easy as following three simple steps:
1. Tell everyone you know that you want to start a band.
(Word of mouth is one of the best advertising strategies)
2. Make a flyer to put up around town (in music stores, at schools, on bulletin boards, etc.)
3. Place a classified ad in all the local newspapers
Here is an example of something you might say in your advertising:
“Lead guitarist seeking individuals interested in starting a Christian Rock band. Looking for a lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, bass guitarist and drummer. The emphasis will be on sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ through music. If you have a desire to use your musical gifts in this way, please call (give your name and phone number) for an interview.”
You can make the ad as detailed or generic as you need to. The important thing is to have a clear idea in your own mind of who you want in your band. Do you need a bass player, singer, drummer…? What type of qualifications or experience will you expect? Is age a factor? Jot down a list of questions to ask and keep it by your phone. When someone does call, you will be ready to have the interview right on the spot.
Try to make your questions require a yes or no answer, or a very short reply. That way, it will be easier for you to take notes. If someone looks like a good potential band mate, get their phone number and tell them you would like to call them back after you are through holding your interviews.
Try not to keep people waiting too long (between 2-4 weeks) if possible. When you’re ready, review your notes and decide who you want to call. Set up a time that is convenient for everyone you’ve selected to meet at YOUR CHOSEN LOCATION. This is important if you want to establish yourself as the originator of the band in order to maintain an influence on its direction.
I should insert a word of caution here. You might want to “play it safe” by not inviting them to your home until after you get to know them a little better. After all, they are strangers, but it’s your call of course.
You may want to keep the first meeting with your new band members very low key. Use the time to make introductions, share past experiences, set goals, discuss ideas, etc. This will give you the opportunity to gauge whether you think each personality is going to be able to work together and get along.
Avoid egocentric people like the plague as they will just create friction with other members of the band. Assess everyone fairly, but realistically. It’s better to get rid of a bad apple right away, rather than allow them to spoil the enthusiasm for the rest of the group.
After your first band meeting, you can aim for the next one to be an informal “jam” session. At this time you will be able to get a feel for whether the group is going to gel or not. But don’t be too hasty in your decisions! I remember one time “auditioning” for a band and being so self-conscious that I just couldn’t relax and enjoy the experience.
It was a local band that I had known of for some years and often desired to be a part of. Even though I had already acquired quite a bit of experience performing on my own, this was different. It was someone else’s “thing.” Nothing seemed to go right!
After I got home that evening, I was sure they would never call me back. The surprise was, they did! However, the second time wasn’t much better, but they decided to give me another chance and invited me to come back one more time. It’s a good thing for me, because the third time was the charm.
Our voices and music blended so perfectly that I just knew I was in. I share this story so that you might give your new fledgling band some time to get off the ground. If nothing seems to ignite a spark after giving it a fair amount of time, then you might want to reconsider your options. That’s something only you will be able to determine.
Well, that’s about all there is to it really. Once you’ve got your band members picked, you’re ready to start making music! If you have some original tunes, be sure to share them with the others. See if anyone else in the group has written any songs too.
Be open, honest and ready for almost anything. If you establish your own priorities first, it will help you to stay focused through whatever ups and downs may come along. And always remember, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
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Kathy Unruh is a singer/songwriter and webmaster of ABC Learn Guitar. She has been writing songs and providing guitar lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. For free guitar lessons, plus tips and resources on songwriting, recording and creating a music career, please visit: ABCLearnGuitar.com