Frequently Asked Questions

How are you adapting for COVID-19? (updated November 1, 2022)
The following measures are in effect:

  • Masks are optional for everyone during rehearsals, including singers. For the show, we will set things up so that the performers can go unmasked, but masks will be encouraged for the audience.
  • Band members and mentors continue to practice social distancing where possible.
  • If the government orders a lockdown, sessions are put on hold until the limits are lifted.
  • Microphones and other gear are cleaned after each use.
  • The number of people handling gear is restricted
  • The final show will be in person with spacing, masking, and attendance restrictions appropriate to the health guidelines in effect for the date of the show.

If you have questions or concerns, please email us.

Who can sign up?
The Bandmakers Basic workshop is for musicians who want to learn what it’s like to be in a band without the long-term commitment associated with a working ensemble, or for those who are interested in exploring new instruments or new directions. For instance, maybe you want to try singing with a band–this is the place to do that!
Is the tuition per week?
Tuition for both Basic and Advanced classes is for the complete 10-week course. Participants are expected to commit for the full time. You are going to be part of a band for those 10 weeks, so quitting in the middle disrupts the process for everyone.
What are the Advanced auditions like?
Everyone will audition in a group. The mentors will send out pre-selected pieces about a week before the audition date. When you come to the audition, you will play those pieces along with everyone else. This will test not only your own musicianship, but also your ability to play in a group and cope with the unknown.
What if I don't pass the Advanced audition?
You will have the option to join the Bandmakers Basic class for that term. If you decide to do that, we will refund the difference in tuition. If not, we’ll refund the total amount.
I'm looking to network with local musicians. Can you help?
Not in the way sites like craigslist or Bandmix can do. Our focus is on building bands within the framework of our classes rather than serving as a musicians networking site. While we acknowledge the lack of a highly useful networking service in the Portland area, we’re not really in a position to fill that role.
Is there an age range?
Experience has shown that students under 14 may have difficulties with some of the skills required for success. If you have any questions about appropriate age or skill level, please contact us and we’ll be happy to help you.
What skills are required?
  • Be able to play songs at a reasonable tempo all the way through without stopping
  • Enough competence on your instrument to play the notes and/or chords needed for a given song
  • Learn & repeat songs through practice
  • Work as part of a team, doing your own distinct job
  • Learn & incorporate changes to songs agreed upon by the band
Do I need to be able to read sheet music?
No. If you can read music or tablature that may make certain things easier for you, but it is not a requirement. You will use all the tools in your musical toolbox, whatever they may be. And you’ll probably pick up a few new ones along the way!
What about song selection?
Each band chooses its own material. This can include covers of existing songs or original material written by band members. The only restriction is that the show must be family-friendly so lyrics may influence which songs a band chooses, or the lyrics can be modified to make them more appropriate. Usually the biggest factors in song selection are which instruments the band is working with and the skill level of the members of each band.
Will charts or sheets be provided?
Since each band selects its own songs, it will be up to each band to provide charts to its members.
Do I need to know any music theory?
Not specifically. Knowing a little bit about how scales work and what a chord progression is will be helpful, but these are simple skills that you can pick up along the way. Knowing music theory will make it easier to learn songs, but it is not a requirement. Just like reading music, it’s a tool in your toolbox that you can use if you have it.
What instruments are allowed?
Any and all, including voices. Drums, piano, guitars, horns, strings, even kazoos. There’s room for everyone and each band will learn to make the best music they can with the resources that are available. Normally there is a mix of instruments and voices, but there’s no reason at all why there couldn’t be an a cappella group performing on the same bill with an instrumental jazz combo and a rock band.
I play (insert style here). Will there be a group of like-minded people for me to play with?
The best answer is “it depends.” Each 10-week term of the program is different and depends entirely on the interests & skills of the people who sign up. This program has seen everything from bands that focus on a single genre to those where each song is in a different style.
Who supplies the gear?
Those requiring instrument amplifiers will need to bring their own. PA equipment required for the show such as vocal microphones, monitor speakers, and a mixing board will be provided.
Is there a piano available?
No. Keyboard players will need to supply their own instruments. This is an important part of the learning process, since many places where bands perform also don’t have pianos.
Is there a drum kit available?
No. See the questions above and below this one.
Can I store my gear at the rehearsal space?
There is no storage space at the venue. Plan to haul your gear to and from all rehearsals. Besides, how can you practice between rehearsals if your gear is somewhere else?
Can I get lessons on my instrument?
Some of our mentors offer music lessons, but that is not part of the Bandmakers program. You will need to make your own arrangements with a mentor for private lessons.
Where will the performance be?
Performances currently take place in Hillsboro. See the events calendar for more information.
Do I have to sing?
Singing is not required. However, more voices allow for more interesting arrangements and harmonies. This is a great time to try singing harmony, backing vocals, or even a lead. You may be surprised at how good you sound!

In the same vein, you’re not required to play an instrument, either. Singing is just as important as instrumental work, and just as welcome in our programs.

What happens to my band after the show?
That’s up to your band. Some bands get together and jam after the class is over, some decide to work on more songs and play gigs, and some just go their separate ways. If you enroll in another session, you may end up playing with old bandmates in new bands.