From the blog

A Summer of Music & Fun!

No Comments Uncategorized

by Todd McPherren, bassist for Loose Chords

I signed up for the Summer 2016 course, and it was a lot of fun. I recommend the program highly. Of course, everyone’s experience will vary a little: The lineups will always be different, and who can say what songs your band will choose to play? However, most aspects of the course will probably remain pretty consistent, so I can give you a realistic idea of what to expect from Bandmakers.

What will you get out of your time in Bandmakers? Well, if playing in a band and/or playing in front of a live audience is something you want to do, Bandmakers will give you the opportunity to practice all of the skills you’ll need in order to make it happen. Even if you’ve played in a band before, odds are good that you will still learn a thing or two from the mentors (and probably from your new bandmates, too!)

Mentors – The Helpful Hardware Guys

First and foremost- the mentors are rock solid. I worked most closely with Jim, but Dale is also great. These guys will treat you and your new band with the utmost respect and professionalism. They are a fantastic resource, and they make Bandmakers a fun learning environment. Most of the decisions will be up to your band–which songs to play, who sings, who plays which part, the name of your band, etc… And these guys will be there to help make sure the group stays on track.

Jim was always able to offer great advice when my band ran into any problems, while reminding us that it was our band and that we could do as we pleased. He would consistently provide several great solutions to whatever issue our band was struggling with. Alternate chords/voicings, tips on song order, ideas for arranging a song, suggestions for adding rhythm, and even gentle nudges to stay on task when half the band was noodling around! All this while also establishing a comfortable space for musicians to experiment and grow.

First Steps

The first week or so will be a lot of brainstorming. You and your new bandmates will be generating a huge list of songs, which you will narrow down pretty rapidly. You will be talking about instruments, because it may be that most of you will be guitarists. That’s okay, because someone will probably take up bass (like I did!) or perhaps someone will play a little piano. Someone else might bring in some maracas or a tambourine. Your new band will find a way to be something besides a bunch of guitars, unless that is really what your band wants! Everyone will work together to get some chord charts and videos or MP3s, so each member can begin learning the material. You will sound very rough at this point, but hang in there! After another few weeks, your band will be focusing on just a handful of songs and you will be getting fairly familiar with your bandmates. Songs will be morphing from a total mess to something mostly recognisable that just has some rough patches.

The Big Questions

The two points that were the biggest concern for me when I was deciding whether or not to take Bandmakers: Will I like my band members? And will I like the songs?

After taking the course, I can answer with a resounding ‘most likely.’ Since everyone in the band was very focused on sounding as good as possible for the performances at the end of the course, everyone was willing and able to work together for our common goal. As for the songs? Well, sadly, some of my favorites were eventually dropped. But that was okay because some songs that I didn’t like much at first really grew on me as we practiced them. A song that isn’t your favorite now very well could be after it all comes together for your band in a rehearsal! Overall, I really did enjoy playing every song in our final set, and I got along just fine with everyone in my band.

Bringing It All Together

The mentors will gently coach you through all of this, and as the weeks go by your band’s set will become tighter. You will be working on all the aspects of performing, including the dreaded ‘making eye contact with the strangers in the audience!’ By the end of the course, you may be quite surprised by how far you’ve come. And you will probably wish you had another few weeks to work before the performance. I know I sure did. That’s part of the reason I am considering signing up again next term!

Editor’s note:  Todd did sign up again.  He has done several sessions with Bandmakers, and it’s been great to see his musical and leadership skills improve.

Leave a Reply