A new year approaches (or has started, depending on when you’re reading this). It is a time of reflection about what has come before, and a time to dream about what is to come.
It is a time to banish the following musical practises and burn them with fire:
1: Playing for free
Imagine this scenario, if you will… You have spent the last 10 years training to be a plumber. You are rightly proud of your accomplishments. You put up a sign in the local newsagents advertising your services and sit back waiting for the calls to start coming in. But… the calls don’t come. Why not? Because your neighbour is also a plumber, but he’s decided to do all his plumbing for free to get “exposure”.
Don’t play gigs for free! Doing so devalues music and undermines all the hard work put in by you and your musical peers. If you don’t value yourself, how can you expect others to value you?
2: Not practising
Whatever sort of music you play, you need to put the time in to master it. You can’t expect to be paid for doing something that anyone else can do, and being able to do something that not many people can do requires constant practise. However, don’t ever let it become a chore! In fact, don’t call it “practising”, just call it “playing”. If it becomes a chore, maybe you’re in the wrong business.
3: Turning up late to practice sessions
Time is money. Money is beer. Beer tastes nice. Don’t be late! Or you can pay for the post-practice beers…
4: Turning the volume up constantly
It starts with the guitarist. He can’t quite hear himself over the drums so he notches up the gain a little. Then the bassist feels that her tones aren’t really sitting well in the mix and cranks it up. The drummer – already pummelling those pads like Tyson Fury on crystal meth – starts hitting the drums yet harder. Before you know it, the whole band is playing so loud that the resultant sound waves cause a fracture in the space time continuum and the universe as we know it is consumed by a black hole. Or something.
5: Forgetting your strap / capo / tuner
I have to admit to being the major culprit here. Despite owning a music shop or two, I just can’t seem to ever remember to pack my capo. Or my strap. Or my tuner. I am bad and must be punished.
6: Arguing with the sound guy
I’m not saying that the sound guy or gal is always right. They’re not. But arguing with them really won’t help and will most likely result in them performing the auditory equivalent of a waiter spitting in your soup. Be courteous. Understand the pressures that they face. Help them make it sound amazing. And don’t get in their way.
7: Dressing badly
Music is basically part of showbiz. People who pay to watch you are paying to see a show. They want to be amazed not just by your playing but by the whole experience. They want to be catapulted into another world, and that other world doesn’t necessarily have to feature a threadbare Nirvana T-shirt.
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