At some point in your guitar journey, you’ll dream about or have the opportunity to play with other musicians in a band. Trust me; I’ve enjoyed my own guitar playing and teaching and coaching hundreds of my students over the years. Playing with other people is awesome. It’s so much fun and is satisfying in a completely different way from playing by yourself.
But if you’re not careful, the band will end up making everyone mad and turn you off from playing, possibly forever. This is why I share these 4 simple ways to improve your ability to play in a band with my students.
Take note, though; this is advice for playing at a high level and an amateur level. That said, I’m more about having a positive music experience than creating professional bands. Either way, these tips will work for both situations.
#1 Check Your Ego At The Door
We’ve all heard the many stories of how bands broke up because of in-fighting. Most of the time, it was because of ego. Some members thought they were better than others and got into struggles for more of the spotlight or control.
Groups work best when they work together. I know that sounds like Kumbaya peace stuff, but it’s true. Even if you’re better than everyone else in the band, it’s still a band. It’s a group. Ask for opinions and check in with people as you play. You’d be surprised how such simple niceties make your group even more fun to play in.
#2 Practice For The Band And Your Guitar
A lot of people practice to improve their own guitar-playing skills. But when you’re in a band, you also need to practice for the band. The things you practice for yourself are often different from what you need to practice for the band.
Don’t just think because you’re playing a lot of rhythm guitar for a song that seems simple in your band; you don’t need to practice it. You’ll end up not being at your best and letting the group down.
#3 Practice with a Metronome
Guess what? You need to practice with a metronome. When you play by yourself, if you speed up or slow down slightly, nothing too bad will happen. The most that usually does is that another musician will point it out and potentially make you feel bad.
When you’re in a band, small fluctuations in tempo will completely derail the song and prove catastrophic to the sound of your group. Get that metronome out when you practice for your band and stick with it. Don’t let yourself speed up or slow down. You don’t want to be the one running your band off the rails.
#4 Open Your Ears
I love the guitar, but I started my music journey way back mumble mumble years ago on the trumpet. I still love that instrument, though I haven’t played it as much in a while. When I listen to a concert band or orchestra, I find myself listening to the trumpets. My wife is a flute player, and when she listens to a band, she hears what the flutes play first.
Your ears are drawn to what you’re most familiar with. If you’re a guitarist, you probably listen for guitar first. In a band, you need to hear all the parts more equally. Listen to your favorite songs and bands and make an effort to hear what the bass, drums, keyboard, etc., are doing. You’d be surprised by what you hear, and it’ll help you to hear better in your own band.
This will get you started, but there are a lot of other things and tips to learn about playing in a band. Of all the guitar learning programs, I think Jam Play does the best with this topic, so check it out.
Check out Jam Play online guitar courses.