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How to Conduct a First Band Meeting
You are starting from scratch. You’ve got an instrument, friends with instruments, a place to make a lot of noise, a dream…now what? You all want to make good music. You all have an opinion. You all want the same number of people who entered the band room to leave the band room alive. Here’s what I found helpful for my first band practice:
Influence – It’s a cornerstone of any band and will let you know very quickly if there’s any compatibility… As weird/weird as it sounds, think of a first band rehearsal like a first date: you’re trying to find it. If there’s something in common, it’s worth moving on. If one person is dead into prog-rock and the other is extreme into death metal, you can form a prog-death metal band, or, more likely, these two people should be in another band.
If you can identify a few common influences, that’s a great place to start. You should never come out and say, “I want this band to sound like (insert artist),” but saying that you like the sound of (artist) or (artist) can help you create a general atmosphere in which you’ll work. find a way to make it your own over time.
It should also be said here that you don’t have to start writing from day one. Sometimes starting with a cover song or two will give you a chance to see how you work together and help build that foundation. You can look back and say, yes, we learned that song as a whole band (go team!), and it builds morale early (which is something I wish I’d known a lot of bands before – if you’re too quick to write (If pressed, the band drops very quickly.)
Collaborative style – You want to get an idea early on of how each member works and how best to work with it, changing their style as little as possible if possible. For example, some guitar players are very good at just jamming, creating a riff, and winging it. Others often have to take the idea home, work out the details on their own, and practice with finely tuned riffs.
These should be dealt with in very different ways: if you have a guitar player that’s a riff machine, invest in a badass boombox or something with recording capabilities, put it in a room, make a record, and let it go to town. You can always go back to the tape later and see what went well and what didn’t. I’ve worked with a guitarist in the past who forgot a better riff than he wrote, and we found the best way to deal with it. Conversely, if someone is of the second type, don’t expect them to produce gold on the spot. You’ll probably be wasting practice time and embarrassing them.
Remember: each member agrees to work together in his own style, and if nothing comes of it, you should start to worry.
Expectations from everyone – It’s okay to set ground rules early. If someone in the group consistently falls short of your expectations, it’s your fault for not recognizing them. Establishing Basic Concepts:
– How many days a week do you plan to train?
– How many days can everyone meet?
– Are there members whose work schedule fluctuates?
– How will you two relate to each other? (side note: make a sheet with everyone’s cell phone and email address and make sure everyone has a copy)
– How many days in advance should I inform each member if I can’t prepare? (While the specific emergency situation doesn’t apply here… we once had a drummer running an hour late for his audition, but got a call from him and looked out the window at our rehearsal space to see that he was wrecked. Half a mile away. He was fine and punctuality didn’t affect the situation. obviously)
Expectations from the band as a whole – This is often overlooked and acts as a band bomb. Some band members might want to quit their day jobs, tour the world, and sell a million albums. Others may see it as a creative outlet or just a fun hobby. And some may just want a chick.
It’s important to get that out of the way early on and figure out what each member wants to do with this thing they’re building together, because the conversation gets harder along the way. Imagine if you were on the verge of signing a record deal only to find out that half of the band has no intention of touring…see the problem?
Duties of members: Finally, define the role of each member (but this is also something you can easily understand). For example, some members manage their finances better, some book shows, communicate with other bands, some write the basis of songs, etc.
… and there’s always someone who needs to make sure everything is okay. After a few practices, if no one else is stepping up and your band is wandering around aimlessly, it just needs to be you, my friend. Not so bad. If you’re wondering if I’ve ever been in this situation, I’ll answer it with a question: How do you think I was able to write so easily?
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