Playing in a band is great fun and you’re never too old to do it. It can be daunting at first, but with the right foundation and practice you'll be jamming in no time.
1. Learn an instrument
Learning an instrument isn’t as difficult as you might think. Starting at a younger age is always a great advantage, but it’s never too late to learn an instrument. It’s a great way to keep your mind active and it’s a lot of fun!
First decide on what instrument you might enjoy playing, while also considering the genres of music you want to play. If you like rock or metal then electric guitar is a good option, alternatively if you like jazz then you could go for a wind instrument like a saxophone.
Think about how much money you want to spend and how feasible it is to practice. If you’re living in a small apartment with other people then it might be tough to take up the drums and you might want to go for something a bit quieter. Instruments can be expensive too, make sure you look at prices of entry level instruments and ensure it’s affordable for you.
You don’t necessarily need to get lessons since there is so much out there on YouTube and other sources, but getting a couple of lessons at the beginning can be really helpful to learn the basics, like holding your instrument correctly.
2. Get the basics down
Truth is most non-musical people wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between an average drummer and a good drummer, the differences can be subtle and only noticeable to other musicians, so having a grasp of basic techniques will be enough to get you by for a lot of songs.
Most pop and rocks songs are in basic time (4/4) and aren’t musically complicated. Take Nirvana for example - they are an amazing band but all their songs follow a very similar pattern and timing. This is actually great as it means by learning some fundamental concepts and techniques you’ll be able to play a lot of great songs quickly.
When playing with other musicians it’s more important to know the song structure (when to change from verse to chorus) and to keep good time than playing amazing one handed solos behind your back while blindfolded. This is why focusing your practice on core fundamentals will really help you have confidence when playing with other musicians and make you a great asset to the band!
3. Find other musicians and bands
You can go to gigs and meetup groups to find other musicians and bands, but a much easier option to find musicians and bands is online.
You can use Craigslist or Gumtree but there are also musician classifieds websites that let you search specifically for musicians and bands around your area that match your criteria. You can try checking out Musos - it allows you to create your own profile and then search and message other musicians and bands.
It’s important to set yourself up a profile and tell prospective bands what music you are into, what your skill level is and what you hope to achieve. You can even record some demos or videos of yourself playing to help showcase your ability.
Find musicians with a similar skill level as yourself and that play a style of music you are comfortable in playing. People of all ages play in bands, so while there is nothing wrong with playing with people a lot older or younger than yourself it can often be easier to join a band with people of a similar age bracket as yourself, as often the experience, commitment levels and maturity are more aligned.
Make sure you are upfront with your experience and be honest about how much time you can commit to rehearsing.
4. Book a rehearsal space and practice
You’ve found a band you want to try out with and you’ve set up a time and place to rehearse - Awesome! It can be a very nerve-racking experience playing with a band for the first time, so here’s a few tips that will help make it easier.
Talk beforehand about which songs you will be expected to play, this will give you time to get familiar with them. If they have some demos this will also be a great way to play along to them and really get yourself ready. If they don’t have any songs yet, try suggesting some covers you could all play.
Learning the structure of the songs is important - knowing when to go from verse to bridge to chorus will make playing the songs on the day a lot easier and make you feel more comfortable.
Although not often said, listening is actually as important as playing. Make sure you listen to what the other musicians are playing and ensure you match their timing and rhythm. Keep things simple and don’t over play - keep good time, get comfortable with the songs and then you can be more elaborate and start exploring.
Having an audition for a band can be adaunting experience, but it can also be massively rewarding and enjoyable. So, remember to relax and have fun!