Well, if you want to get in a band, VERY.
When you hear a band live and they have a really rounded and full sound, the chances are they’ve got at least two backing vocalists. With budgets getting tighter by the minute, the best way to achieve this is with musicians who can sing.
A lot of my students are instrumentalists who are a bit shy when it comes to their vocals. Like any other instrument, singing well involves good technique and while nothing beats consistent practise, there are a few simple rules and tips that will really help you to feel confident when you open your mouth to vocalise. For example, being mindful of your vowels when you are struggling to reach a note.
Widening or narrowing vowels fixes a multitude of problemsand will usually go completely unnoticed within a song and allow you to stabilise your larynx. Shyness breeds flat notes, nasty tones and unintentional fall off.
Enjoy what you’re singing. Embrace it and make it free, but please remember, If you have any discomfort whatsoever you must always seek out a professional voice coach. Following exercises from a video or a blog is sufficient if you are performing them correctly, but an understanding of YOUR voice and YOUR areas of improvement is essential before undertaking any generic voice exercises.
Where do I find ads for musicians wanted?
There are so many places to look: Social media, local music shops, ads in the back of music magazines and online, notices in music venues and rehearsal studios, word of mouth, the possibilities are endless – and it’s easy to get lost.
The key is: to know what YOU want.
Knowing what you want to achieve will make you better to work with, more positive and focused and undoubtedly help you reach your goals faster.
What do I want to gain out of the experience?
Some people think of it as a hobby and others as a career choice, either way, it’s about enjoying yourself.
Work out how and where you see yourself playing and what kind of commitment you are prepared to make.
If you’re not sure, talk to your tutor, other musicians and friends, get involved with workshops, join a drumming group or musical collective.
Sometimes you need to find ways to bounce ideas around before making an initial commitment to a band.
What type of music do I want to play?
This is not about playing one style but it’s helpful to give yourself a starting point so that finding people becomes easier.
You’re likely to discover all sorts of sounds that inspire you and, ultimately, it’s about finding like minded people to play with.
Most bands looking for members state music their musical preferences in their ads. Match your taste against theirs. If it fits, get an audition.
How long before I find something?
Some of you may feel ready to go out there and find your band, others might want to join workshops, collectives and jam with other musicians to get a better idea of which direction they want to go in, musically.
The advice is always the same - If you practice hard, give it your all and keep an open mind, you're likely to do just fine.
Putting the work in will open doors to all sorts of opportunities and the more you put yourself out there, the more chance you have.
Get involved, stay focused and things will fall into place.
Don’t forget if you're a drummer, that compared to the other members of a band, drummers are in high demand, so use this to your advantage.
And above all – ENJOY THE RIDE!
I have only recently learned her name
due to her recent passing, but I was instantly inspired and curious to learn more about her. As it turns out, she was pretty epic. In a male dominated industry (and world), she was quickly promoted as the ‘fastest girl drummer in the world’ in the 1930’s, alongside blazing a path for women in music. Viola played a giant drum set that included a double bass drum, an instrument that would years later become a tool for hard-hitting rock drummers.
Where did it all start?
Viola smith took up drumming as a teenager in Wisconsin, when her father assembled the ‘Schmitz sisters family orchestra’ (there were 8 daughters)! Their band played in theatres during school holidays and Viola took lessons from drummers in the orchestra pits. They were soon in demand for weddings and fairs. By 1938, she formed another all-female orchestra - The Croquettes. They moved to New York in 1942, where Viola studied under legendary snare drum innovator Billy Gladstone.
In the same year
as men were being drafted to war and women taking their place in factories, Viola wrote a now-famous article for Down Beat magazine, arguing for the inclusion of women in the big bands of the day. She wrote:
“Many of the star instrumentalists of the big name bands are being drafted. Instead of replacing them with what may be mediocre talent, why not let some of the great girl musicians of the country take their places?
“We girls have as much stamina as men. There are many girl trumpet players, girl saxophonists and girl drummers who can stand the grind of long tours and exacting one-night stands. The girls of today are not the helpless creatures of an earlier generation.
“Some girl musicians who are as much the masters of their instruments as are male musicians. They can improvise; their solos are well-defined and thought-provoking and show unlimited imagination”.
At the height of her success, Viola performed with Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb, as well as for the 33rd president, Harry Truman in 1949. Today in 2020, the drumming industry is still very male dominated, with very few female drummers pursuing it as a full time job. I feel it is important to read about these female pioneers and continue to play in their honour.
Let’s keep drumming girls!
I’ve been playing the drums for 13 years now
And for a very large portion of that time, I would always practice on my own drum kit.
Everything was set up exactly how I liked it and I’d know if a single drum or cymbal had shifted a millimetre.
When I first got the drumming bug, I convinced my dad to build an extra shed in the garden and made it my musical home. I playing on the same drum kit, set up in exactly the same way for a good few years before I even thought about doing a gig.
When I finally started practicing with a band, we had a rehearsal place that a family member had built. Eventually, I moved my drum kit in, and with few other people using the place, I was still able to fulfil my slightly OCD tendencies of having everything exactly how I wanted it.
When the time came to start gigging,
I realised something very important: drummers need to learn to be comfortable playing on unfamiliar drum kits.
You can’t always take your own kit with you, especially when you’ve just started out and you’re playing support slots in dingy London bars.
Other people’s bass pedals are weird. Tall drummers have incredibly low seats. Some long-armed musicians have cymbal stands locked in place at a higher altitude than Mount Everest.
Before a gig, I would get really, really nervous. Not so much about getting on stage and playing in front of people, but nervous about what the equipment is going to be like.
I quickly learnt that you’ve just gotta suck it up and get on with it.There was one time where there were not enough stands for the amount of cymbals I use. I only had one crash where I would usually have two. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but because some of the songs were so engrained in my muscle memory, I tried to hit a non-existent cymbal on a few occasions during that gig!
I learnt to get over the fear of the unfamiliar drum kit by making myself play the same drum beats to my band’s songs on different parts of the kit. I would play the song using less cymbals and think about the pattern of drum fills rather than the actual drums that were being hit. That way I knew if all else failed, I could play them just on the snare and not put any other band members off.
Once I let go of having my cymbals in a certain place, and putting up with it if my seat was an inch lower than I usually had it, I realised I could get through any gig regardless.
Everything changed on my birthday a few years ago
As a surprise for my birthday, my other half (a tall handsome Irish bloke) led me on a mystery tour ending at the Scar Studios in Camden, the one time home of Planet drum. He had arranged for a few drumming lessons for my birthday. There to greet us was Alain.
Becoming a drummer, has been an enjoyable journey but not an easy one. I am not being humble when I say that I am not a ‘natural’… far from it … but I stuck with it and, as they say, persistence is stronger that failure.
The love for drumming has never faded, in fact it continues to grow stronger.
It took me a while to pluck up the courage to throw myself under the bus in search of a band. I was fearful of replying to adverts looking for a drummer. I had that constant terror that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I was somehow a fake and would be found out… “Call yourself a Drummer!”
Having a demanding full time job, a family and that Irish guy I mentioned! didn’t make it easy to fit drumming into my life but I guess when you love something you magically just make time.
I am currently a happy member of the noise pop outfit called Bedlam Motel.We are constantly busy with emails, rehearsal times, gigs, carrying stuff, uploading recordings, reschedules, bookings, updating Facebook pages and endless debate about the name of our band. To some this may be a chore but to me it's all worth it.
After a long hard day of work, the tiredness of dragging yourself, and in some cases your kit, to rehearsals or a gig may seem a chore but any misgivings soon disappear within minutes of immersing ourselves into the glorious racket we create.
Rehearsals nowadays usually consists of a good old crazy jam
"About 15 minutes before the end we will do a rendition of one of our “old classics”. Songs are created out of these jams which we record and pour over and dissect over the following few days until next rehearsal when we might be ready to stitch it into something… or not!
I look forward to my commute the morning after a rehearsal, where I can re-live the evening (including chats and comments but also all the mistakes and "bad beats"). Sometimes, it all comes together when I am about to reach the office entrance and then I have to walk once around the block to get a couple more minutes of joy before grown up life begins.
We'd like to record and album but this takes time. There should be a couple of songs printed on tape this year.It still brings a smile to my face when I arrive at a rehearsal studio or a gig, or by simply walking in the street with the guys carrying guitars, and I think, I am not with the Band, I am IN the Band.
Planet drum student
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.