Adult Guitar Lessons

The culmination for any musician aspiring to play in a band is when you actually get out on stage and start playing gigs.
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Playing for a live audience is a great experience and one that can be extremely satisfying. For a guitar player that has spent countless hours practicing their chops, it is the ultimate "high".

As much fun as gigging can be, it is also important to keep in mind some basic considerations and business issues to make the live band experience more rewarding and gratifying.

Be Punctual

clockBeing on time is crucial to playing live gigs. This may sound like stating the obvious but I have seen bands, or band members, that don't seem to own a watch, and have the attitude that they will "play when they get ready to play".

If the gig is scheduled to start at 9:00pm and the band doesn't show up with their equipment to set up until 8:45pm, club managers can get a little nervous. They may even dock the band's pay, or worse, cancel the gig.

Show some consideration to the club and the audience by being on stage ready to play at the appointed time.

Setting Up

Most clubs and venues would prefer that the band is set up well in advance of the gig. Try to coordinate with the manager a time when you can get in to set up your equipment earlier in the day.
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Patrons don't want to listen to sound checks and amp testing while they are eating dinner or trying to have a conversation, so be aware and respectful of that. It is their money that you will be putting in your pocket.

Coordinate Times

Most clubs have a time schedule they want you to follow. A specific starting and ending time and how long they want you to play your sets.

Some insist on a regimented - 45 minute sets and 15 minute breaks - schedule. Others are more flexible and will let you "read" the crowd.

One cover band I play in will always open up, when possible, with a 90 minute set. That's long for a lot of bands, but it tends to keep the late dinner crowd in the club longer than they normally would. When they stick around, they spend more money and the club owner is happy.

Be mindful of the "stop" time as well. If a club has a policy that entertainment ends at 1:00am it is probably for a reason. They are preparing to close the doors and want to clear out the patrons so they can get the employees off of payroll. There may also be local liquor laws involved. If you have a rowdy crowd at the end of the night insisting on "one more" try to make it just "one more". Preferably a slow song that will bring them back down to earth and out the door!

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When it's break time you sometimes just want to go outside and clear your head for a while. And you should. But don't forget the audience that makes it possible for you to be there. Try to at least stop by and say hello to some folks in the crowd and acknowledge their existence.

It will go a long way to spread some goodwill, and if they keep coming out, you will keep getting hired to play the gig.

All for One

A band is a "group" of people, not just one individual. As a guitar player it's great to get the chance to step out there and shine. Just be mindful of the fact that others are up there as well waiting for their chance to shine.

By truly listening to all the other parts and playing as a member of the "whole", you will make the band sound better. A band that sounds good will be popular and get invited to play more gigs.

Dress the Part

In a lot of bar gigs, jeans and T-shirts work well. But even in those types of gigs, dressing a notch or two above the norm won't hurt. It will help portray a more professional image.

If you are doing a wedding reception you may want to re-think the jeans. Any type of gig where the patrons are wearing suits and evening gowns requires a little more effort in the dressing room.
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You don't necessarily have to go out and buy a new wardrobe for upper end gigs, but these gigs usually pay a lot more than clubs, and the ones that hired you have a higher level of expectation. If you are unsure what to wear, dressing in an all black outfit, that is clean and pressed, is usually a safe bet.

A lot of this is, of course, common sense but I have played high profile corporate parties to a crowd of tuxes, and had a band member show up in jeans. You are getting paid to be there, so try to dress appropriately.

Have Fun

It is amazing to see people who are otherwise calm and nice, turn into monsters when they get on stage. Constantly stressing out about the crowd reaction and mistakes made on stage is a recipe for disaster.

I can promise you that everyone of us makes mistakes on stage. It is part of live music. It can't be avoided. What should be avoided is how some people handle it. Lashing out and criticising while on stage is not only unprofessional, it's disrespectful to fellow band mates.
band 11The truth of the matter is that most people in the crowd don't know when you made a mistake. The average listener doesn't hear music they way you and I do. Most of them are too busy talking, eating, drinking and dancing to know that you should have hit a G instead of that F#.

The best way to handle a mistake is to keep playing without acknowledging that it ever happened, and have a good laugh about it on break.

If you get on stage and make up your mind that it is a blessing to be up there doing something you love to do, and that you are going to have fun, irregardless of any hiccups - you will be able to put all your focus on what's truly important - making good music!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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I once had a high school football coach that always said, "you play like you practice". He was insinuating that the effort on the practice field should equal the effort put forth on the playing field at game time.

Although I had great respect for him, I never subscribed to that theory. There is just no way to match the level of intensity in practice that you experience on game day.
band 005Band rehearsal is much the same. It is almost impossible to play music with the same level of intensity as when you are on stage with the adrenalin flowing in front of a live audience.

There are, however, things that you can do to make the most effective use of rehearsal time to ensure that, when the stage lights come up, you are ready for a screaming crowd.

Be Prepared

The most productive band rehearsals take place when all band members are prepared ahead of time. You should have agreed, prior to rehearsal, on a course of action. Everyone should know in advance exactly which songs they are expected to learn.

Everyone should also have done their homework ahead of time. Each member should have their individual parts worked out before getting together as a group. Each should know what key the songs are to be played in and the basic structure of the songs.

There is no bigger waste of every one's time than to show up at rehearsal, prepared to work up the agreed upon songs, and to have one member that just didn't put forth the effort into learning their part before they got there. One way to throw a wet blanket on a rehearsal is for one member to sit there trying to learn their part "on the spot" while everyone else is ready to go.


Show up on time and be band 003prepared to go to work. If you have agreed that rehearsal starts at 6:00pm then be there a few minutes ahead time to set your gear up and be ready to hit the first lick at 6:00pm.

Be respectful of everyone else's time and save the socializing for later. Remember that the purpose of rehearsal is to rehearse! Social interaction is great, but discussions about the work day, spouses, families and joke telling are better left for afterwards.
Rehearsal is not the time to jam. Work up the song and move on. Keep solos to a minimum and save your best licks for a live crowd.

Be Considerate

There will be times when one or more members may be having difficulty nailing a part. It can be frustrating for the other members to keep going over and over a section of a song for that person and impatience can turn into criticism.

It is in these times that restraint will need to be exercised. Critisizing someone will not help them get their part any faster, and will probably delay it as "their" frustration level increases.

Sometimes it can help to just move on to something else and come back to the difficult part later. Playing in a band can be an emotional experience and being considerate of other members feelings will go a long way toward making rehearsals more productive.

Keep in mind, the next song may be the one that "you"  are having difficulty with.

Plan Ahead

Save some time at the end of rehearsal to plan ahead for the next one. Make sure there is a clear understanding with all members exactly which songs will be worked on for the next 002

Set a date and time for the next rehearsal and make sure everyone leaves with a written list of what the songs are for the next get-together, as well as what keys the songs will be played in.

If possible, see that everyone walks out with a CD or MP3 of the new songs to be worked on next. If all band members have a list and recordings of the songs for the next rehearsal, there can be no excuses if someone shows up unprepared.

It is a great feeling to walk out of a productive rehearsal having accomplished the goals set forth in advance. It keeps the band feeling "tight" and creates a sense of anticipation to break out the new material at the next gig.

If all the band members can stay on the same page by being prepared, focusing on the task at hand, exercising consideration for each other, and planning ahead for the next rehearsal - the band will run much more smoothly and you be part of a musical group that is more than ready to hit the stage!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Playing in a band can be a lot of fun. Lot's of good times, emotional highs, and a few lows. It is a great experience to get on stage and make music with other musicians.articles

As fun and exciting as gigging with a band can be, if you are getting paid to be up there under the spotlights, you are nevertheless, running a "business".

It can be beneficial for bands to step back and take a look at a few of the business aspects of running a band and how some issues can affect them in the long term.

Designate Responsibilities

As with any business, there are certain tasks and jobs in a band that should be designated. One of those jobs is the band booking.

Most successful bands will have that "one person" who is good at handling the business and scheduling the booking. This is usually a person that has good networking skills and a good head for numbers. It is a job that requires the investment of a lot of extra time and energy and sometimes this person will ask for an extra cut of the pay in return for the added responsibilities. Coming to an agreement on compensation for this position is well worth it for the headaches involved.

Another common factor in most successful bands is that they usually have one person who acts as a "music director".

This is the person who organizes the song list and rehearsals. The one who pulls together the new material to be learned and keeps things moving effectively throughout rehearsals. They usually will organize set lists and see to it that the show runs smoothly on stage.

Neither one of these designated persons needs to operate as a "dictator" to be effective, and having someone in these positions should not impede the ability of a band that wants to operate as a "democracy".

The rest of the band, however, should be in agreement that these positions require a certain amount of extra effort, above and beyond the call of duty, and should be respectful of that.


Back in the old days you played gigs and got paid in cash with no paper trail. Nowadays the IRS has clamped down on clubs and venues and, quite often, bands will be issued a 1099 for earnings.

Someone will end up being responsible for the taxes on those earnings and it is often the person responsible for handling the bookings.
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If the band plays a lot of dates, that tax bill can add up so it can be necessary for the business person in the band to issue 1099's to the individual band members.

If you are
having to claim your band income on taxes then you should also claim your band expenses as well.

This is not an attempt to give you tax advice, only to make you aware that you may "need" tax advice. If you are receiving a 1099 for your band income, be sure to talk to your accountant regarding possible write-offs against that income.


Most musicians have their own gear - guitar players, drummers, keyboard players, bass players etc. - but a gigging band needs a PA system, lights and other incidentals to play shows.

Some bands are fortunate enough to have one person that owns and maintains the PA system. Other bands agree to purchase one as a band and pay for it with gig money.
band 005In that case it is always a good idea to have a written agreement amongst the band as to what will happen if and when the band spits up.

There also needs to be an understanding as to the maintenance of the equipment. Who is responsible for repairs and upkeep. Is it considered a band expense?

The same holds true for the vehicle used for band equipment transportation. Did someone buy a van or trailer specifically for the purpose of hauling band equipment? Who is responsible for repairs and maintenance of that?

Band Splits

A band is very much like a marriage and there needs to be an understanding how things will be handled when the warm and fuzzy honeymoon is over and divorce is looming.

In the case of equipment purchased together as a band, you will want to be clear how everything will be dispersed in the event of a band split, and also when an individual member quits.
band 007Will everything be sold off and the money divided? Will the equipment simply be divided? Will other members have an option to buy the equipment?

If an individual member quits will they forfeit their right to any equity? How about if they quit without working out a notice? Can their equity be stated in a dollar amount and purchased if they leave?

Other things to consider when a band splits.

Who "owns" the gigs on the books. Can that person continue on with another line-up?
Who "owns" the name of the band, who has the right to continue using it?
who "owns" the website and any promo material, t-shirts, hats, bumper stickers etc.
who "owns" the copyrights on original material and the masters of any recordings


For most bands, an insurance policy for the equipment is pretty low on the priority list. It's just not one of those "top of mind" issues when gigging.

The fact is though, that when you add up the totals, most bands have a fairly healthy investment riding down the road.  

The threat of theft, fire and auto accidents is always close at hand, so it is wise to seek protection.

Many musicians think that their homeowners insurance policy will cover equipment losses, but the truth is, that most only cover losses at "home". Most insurance companies will not cover losses on the road or at a venue.

There are a few companies that will write policies for bands, but musicians are considered high risk so they can be difficult to find. You may have to shop around.

Some high end venues require a band to have an insurance policy, with the venue named as beneficiary, in the event the band causes damage to the venue or injures patrons. These are considered "business" insurance policies and your local homeowners insurance agent may not have access to this sort of coverage.

You will also want to consider the insurance for the vehicle that transports the band equipment and who is responsible for paying the premiums.
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As you can see, when forming a band, there are a number of important "business" issues that need to be addressed that have nothing to do with the "fun" part of a band.

It would be prudent to discuss and decide these issues up front so that everyone can get down to the important business at hand, which is - making great music!

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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Bands tend to fall into two major categories. Cover bands and original bands. Yes, there are the ones that do a little of both but they typically lean more towards the "cover" side.
header guitar 5 01If you are contemplating joining or forming a band, one of your early decisions will be whether you want to play covers or originals. There are considerations for both courses of action.

Cover Bands

Cover bands fall into various categories based on the style of music and the type of venues they play.

There are bands that focus on playing rock, classic rock, blues, dance music, folk, country, oldies, beach music, variety and more.

There are bands that focus on venues such as wedding receptions, bars, nightclubs, country clubs, casinos, corporate, churches, restaurants and more.

Although most cover bands are comprised of "weekend warriors", musicians with day gigs that play on weekends, there are a number of full time bands that play weddings, corporate gigs and casinos that make a good living.

Cover bands are usually focused more on making money. That is not to say that musicians in cover bands are only interested in making money. It's just that cover bands tend to have a more business like approach. They book gigs, negotiate pay and sign contracts based on the dollars earned.
lesson 2If you choose to play in cover bands keep in mind that the audience expects to hear covers. Usually they want to hear the songs they are familiar with. The songs they know and can sing along with. Most aren't interested in hearing some obscure cut from the "B" side of a long forgotten album.

They want to hear "Sweet Home Alabama", so be prepared to play it for them, even if it makes you nauseous!

Original Bands

Many musicians that opt to play originals consider themselves to be "purists". Playing music for the sake of "creating" music rather than copying the music of others.

Original bands, like cover bands, can very often be categorized by genre as well as the level they are at.

The "entry level" original band is usually comprised of younger players that have decided to get together and "make some music".  They could very well be a "garage" band or "basement" band and do not play anywhere else other than for friends and family.

The next level is the original band that decides to leave the garage and "take it to the streets". If the band members are under the legal drinking limit, they may play teen venues, skating rinks and private parties - often times for free. They may also piggy back on a multiple band show in a local, teen oriented venue, and agree to split the door with other bands.

The next level is a band that has recorded an album or two and has developed a local or regional following. There are more gig opportunites available to a band at this level, and a little more money to be made.
lyrics 1The top level is, of course, an original band that gets signed to a label deal and is out touring the concert circuit. Although this is the ultimate aspiration of most musicians choosing the original route, the intensity of the "business end" of the music at this level can leave many a "purist" disillusioned.

If playing originals is your calling then be prepared for some realities. There are fewer gig opportunities available to the original artist. Most club owners pay bands according to the crowds they draw, and, unfortunately, your average club patron just wants to hear the songs that they have spent all day listening to on the radio.

In an original band you may have to play a lot of free gigs just to get your name out there. Recording an album is a must so you will need to figure out how to pay for an album if you are playing free gigs.

Many audiences are simply not receptive to original music so be prepared to get requests for "Freebird". If your band is serious, you may consider moving to a major music center and start knocking on doors.

Original bands that develop a strong regional following will eventually get the notice of A&R folks and can lead to bigger things.

Which Way to Go

Although some purists might not agree, there can be a high level of satisfaction in playing cover songs and seeing the positive reaction of an audience.header guitar 4 01
Conversely, with an original band, you are in control of your musical destiny. You call the shots and only play songs that mean something to you.

There are bands that are "hybrids" of the two. Bands that lean heavily on playing covers, yet squeeze in a few originals throughout the course of a show. This tends to work well by "priming" the audience up with their favorite covers before sneaking in an original. Many times they don't even know that they are listening to an original.

Cover band or original band - which one is right for you? Everyone is different so it's hard to say for sure, just beaware of the ups and downs of either choice. Focus on making good music and everything else has a way of working itself out.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

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