Leaders of Rock!
Today I’m going to share a story close to me – the alter ego of my guitar teaching when I first started – being in a band.
Pete and I have shared the same experience of being musicians on the side, and guitar teachers as our day job.
I thought I would like to share what it’s like, and hopefully encourage all the little youngsters I teach to join a band.
A few weeks ago, my band Rejuvenate decided to part ways. I’ve been in this band for 5 years, and it’s shaped who I am. To cut a long story short, everyone had different paths in life they wanted to take. I got more passionate about classroom teaching and guitar teaching, whilst others wanted to pursue other career paths.
But the lessons I learned were invaluable, and so, I would like to share who I was as a guitarist 5 years ago, compared to who I am now. Allow me to tell this story in 5 key lessons:
1. The first song you write is definitely not the last song. This is a big one. When I first started, I wanted to have all the control of the music, and would be afraid to release it to the others until it was perfect – or done “my way”. Perfection is a myth if you want to become a musician, and the best thing to do is to create a musical idea, and share it as fast as possible.
2. Accept all feedback. The great thing about being in a band is that your band mates can help you develop your idea into something greater. At the start, whenever I took feedback, I took it personally. But as I progressed, I came to realise that these people were there to help me – to build this into something more beautiful than I could imagine, and to help me improve from a place of love. The trust and camaraderie you feel in a band situation is something I’m grateful to have ever since my younger years.
3. Guitar music is not just about distortion. As my band progressed, I began to experiment with delay pedals and clean passages. I began to realise that guitars are mid-range instruments, and can be used to complement front-line instruments like vocals. Venture beyond distortion on electric guitar, and you will be able to express the light and shade of music, of mood, or emotion.
4. Listen to music as a whole. This band really taught me about seeing music as textural layers – where do the drums come in, how loud do the guitars need to be, when do we put in vocal accents. I came to this band wanting to shred – but left this band wanting to form a piece of art. It also helped me develop some strong rhythm techniques like palm muting, as well as improve my sweep picking skills.
5. Lastly, enjoy the little wins. Some of my favourite memories with my band was pushing out tunes in the car, eating together, watching Youtube videos, and of course, playing shows together. The adrenalin moving from one place to another, the conversations that we had after a gig, the tension and resolution of recording, and the numerous selfies we took – I’ll never forget that. And I’ll always love my band mates for it.
You see, music is a jigsaw, and the right band and the right people make it all stick together.
These are the experiences we live for – where we connect with others, and create something larger than ourselves.
I encourage all guitar students to seriously consider playing with others in a band setting. It’s a leadership experience, a confidence exercise, a team building activity, and a pursuit of creativity like none other.
Keep your band radar on – and rock hard this week J