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Playing with other musicians


For those of you that have a committed band with musicians around the same level as you, how long did it take to get that put together? I feel this is the next step for me to improve as a musician and guitar player. I've had many great teachers and I still continue to take lessons. Most of my former music teachers and my current one have told me I need to get a group of people together and start a band or jam and it would help me progress and motivate me even more.

I spend hours a day practicing and it's been 2 years now and I feel I need to put everything I've learned to a purpose. I would love to make music with others and perform, I struggle with finding committed musicians that are around the same level as me and have the same musical interests as me.


Yep...putting a band together and getting songs up to performance level is the best thing you can do for your musicianship. You work on your guitar skills in the practice room, but you work on being a musician with a band. And IMO if you want to be a lifer, you have to be a musician, not just a guitarist.

I am fortunate to have played with a lot of the same guys for many years. It can be tough to find the right ones. And I'd say that personal vibes are at least as important as musical skills, when picking people to play with. So stay away from divas, addicts, and assholes, and just keep looking.


My advice would be to do this: first, just find some people who want to play FOR FUN.

Make sure that's at the forefront.

Many people out there are looking to become rock stars or the next big thing. Many are expecting to gig. Unless everyone in the band is in the same mindset, that's typically a recipe for disaster.

Instead, try to find some people interested in the same music as you and get together and play. Could be just you and another guitarist, or you and a bassist, or you and a drummer. If you can make a band, great. Make it a low pressure, FUN thing at first. If things start moving towards finding other members, or getting gigs, etc. great. But you need to make sure everyone is in it to make music and learn from each other. Lephty's advice above is spot on. Avoid those types of people otherwise you'll waste a lot of time just learning how much of a pain it is as opposed to how rewarding it can be (and there is a lot of hard work involved in being in a serious band and it can be tough finding the right people).


For those of you that have a committed band with musicians around the same level as you, how long did it take to get that put together?
For me, it was like joining a teen gang. My mates asked me to join their band before I could actually play anything: they needed someone to play an easy bass instrument, I was the nearest guy around, and I could learn on the job. (I taught myself guitar at the same time, and I was gigging with them within 10 months.)

Like steve says, the whole idea is to have fun with a bunch of friends. It's more important that you get on as people than being any good as a player. Music - before it becomes any kind of career or form of self-expression - is a kind of social activity: you're bonding and communicating with others, using this strange primal language of sound. If it's not that, then it doesn't matter how technically good you get, or how much money you can earn from it (or how many chicks you attract...), it will never be satisfying.
The fact we use the word "play" for music is critical. It's not "work", it doesn't even have to be "art" in any form.

I understand that it can be hard to meet the right people - unless you're lucky like I was (my closest friends just happened to be musicians). Why not ask your teacher (or any previous teachers) if they know other students of theirs in the same position, that you might get on with? Are there any open mics or jam sessions near you?
Remember the idea is not to be a hard-nosed professional about it - you're not looking for musicians first and foremost; you're looking for guys (or girls) you can hang out with, that just happen to be musicians too. So going to an open mic doesn't mean (straight away) getting up and showing off what you can do, nor does it mean checking who plays best (although both those things matter). It's about getting into conversation with others there. (Having said that, playing a tune or two is the best way to break the ice.)
It can be a tricky balance to strike. If you meet someone who seems like a great guy, you have a load of laughs with him - and then find out he's a crap player, well it's hard then to backtrack. IOW, get to know people first, get friendly, but don't ask them to join or form a band with you until you hear them play. (You can still have friends who aren't in your band!) Likewise, don't ask the first good player you see to join your band until you've had a few chats with him and get the feeling you could get on as friends.
Don't worry too much about musical tastes. If you get on with someone easily, and they're roughly your age, you'll probably find you share some musical tastes anyway - although you might have to broaden yours a little. Don't wait for someone who likes the exact same list of bands you do. The idea is to play together - that's the only desire you have to share. If it doesn't work out, no problem - it's still an important experience. (You may find yourself going to jam sessions for weeks, even months, before any suitable bandmates turn up - no matter, because all of that is good musical experience; you will be growing as a musician, even if a band never comes out of it. Your goals may well change, and you should let them.)


I was in high school and had played for about a year (I had played other instruments before, though and was pretty serious about playing/practicing). After about 3 or more years (averaging 6 hours a night), I started playing lead in a band. This was before the days of kijiji (like Craiglist in the US) so finding a band was a lot harder!

You learn so much playing in a band...not just your actual guitar playing but handling louder volumes, interacting with other musicians, etc. Good luck!!

Jo-Jo Beans

My band is a bunch of my old high school buddies. We were all in jazz band class together and enjoyed hanging out in the rhythm section. We got together as a jazz combo for a single song at a summer talent show before my senior year after my mom pushed me to do it (ha ha). But a guy at the talent show came up to us after and said he just opened a restaurant and wanted to book us for a regular gig. So we had to get our sh** together really fast in order to learn enough stuff to play a 4-hour jazz gig, and we spent the next few years playing really regularly at his place and at other venues around our hometown valley.

We became good "musicians" together by working on jazz changes and trying to listen and respond to each others' playing and by bouncing music theory off of each other and trying frantically to learn enough charts to fill an evening. And there were a fair few bumps and mess-ups along the way. We were hilarious when gigging - we'd lose the form in the middle of someone's solo, or somebody would repeat something accidentally that we'd have to jump on, or we'd realize that everybody at the venue had gotten up to dance and we'd have to extend the song in the middle of performing it to keep them grooving. We slowly improved and became better and better, and the crappy stuff was fewer and farther between.

It was an awesome ride to becoming a gigging musician with those guys. Then we all studied music at the same college together for a year. After that, we all changed our majors and went our separate ways for a few years, but we got back together recently and switched from jazz to blues rock, and I moved over from keys to guitar/vocals. I enjoy jamming and gigging with those guys because I trust them, I've played with them for years and years, we're friends outside of just the band, and we know each others' styles of playing, weaknesses, musical tastes and preferences, etc. We gel really well together and it's just super fun to hang out and make loud music.


Ive always had a friend or aquaintance to jam with.

A band is a little harder to organize but its possible. Just have fun with it.

I will say that new musicians will stand around staring at the floor or noodling, unless you have a list of songs everyone kinda knows.

Without that list it can be frustrating.


Playing with others is where it is at! Whether it is just for fun or to gig. Nothing will make you improve faster. I dont even see the point of learning and practicing all the time if you are not applying it to real musical situations. After taking a few years off of playing with others i got back into it a few years ago and my playing and song writting skills has improved what feels like 100 percent.


If you've never played in a band before, hit up some jams/open mics at bars in town. Watch carefully, and go talk to people whose style you like.

My lead guitarist is my best friend, one other guy we got on kijiji, and the last guy had seen us play as a three piece and we invited him to join. My lead guitarist and I started out completely from scratch in a new city and we got something going so you can, too.


If you've never played in a band before, hit up some jams/open mics at bars in town. Watch carefully, and go talk to people whose style you like.
This is right. Go to open mics, music stores and start talking with people. Craigslist is another great place to find people. I am sure there are plenty of people in your town playing the music you are into, but you just have to find them.

dewey decibel

This IMO is the real advantage to going to a music school- it puts you in a position to play with others pretty much every day. Besides that, I agree in that you should just look for guys to have fun with. I'd take it further and say just find guys that dig the same kinda music you do and go from there. If you wanna be a metal player going to the blues jam probably won't help.

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