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Diplomatic way of telling the band to learn the songs better?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by jakelly, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    I had to send this email to my band. It seemed to do the trick.

    What happened tonight? A lot of things did not sound good. I'm not gonna go into specifics but we need to step it up a notch. You all have talent. I'm not questioning that. But how bad do you want it? If you can't put in the work, that's ok, tell me. But come knowing your stuff, including songs we haven't performed in a few weeks. Work extra hard this week and get everything down or tell me you can't do this. I want you all to stay, but you need to work. If we learned a song, that doens't mean you don't practice it anymore on your own. I will never tell you what songs we are doing at practice because you should have them all down cold. You are going to see me be nitpicky. I'm not trying to be mean, but I've been out there. I've been told we were the best band that someone has ever heard and I've been told by a bar owner not to come back next weekend because we sucked so bad. Right now we are closer to the latter. But I know we can all
    change that if we work harder. If I need to only add 3 songs a week, tell me and that's what I'll do. Starting next week if a song sounds like crap we are either going to s**tcan it or not move on until its fixed. I think the talent is in this band to become one of the top bands in the area, but we all have to work at it.
  2. jakelly


    Nov 8, 2009
    Trouble might have been the wrong word. I don't want to come off as being a malcontent, whiner, etc.

    I guess I am a founding member. LOL It was only the drummer and I in the beginning. We've added a lead guitarist and a singer. We had rehearsal today. We worked out some songs. So maybe its getting better. Maybe I am worrying too much, because we have these gigs looming.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Retired Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    "Look. If we want to suck less, we're going to have to spend some time working on the details of these songs. That's what separates the wanna-be's from the semi-pros."
  4. Sgt. Rock

    Sgt. Rock

    Apr 10, 2010
    Yes. And part of "learning songs" is just that, learning SONGS. NOT just learning your individual part. I try to absorb every part and its contribution to the overall song and I'm up front about pointing out when my bandmates aren't pulling their weight and how to fix it.

    I have been in situations with players who were unable to cover material to my liking (i.e. it sounds to my ears like an ad hoc "arrangement" instead of a true cover). Instead of saying to the rhythm guitarist "You're playing it wrong," I will play his part on the bass to show him what it should sound like. If the drummer is getting the feel wrong I will thump/slap ghost notes on my strings to simulate his kit and emphasize the nuances I want him to play, or explain it verbally ("do a 'James Brown' snare hit on the 'and' of four"). Or something like that.

    Communication is key to getting everyone to improve. But it does no good to point out that your bandmates are screwing up unless you can play your part better than they can play theirs. Otherwise it's going to turn into "Why should I listen to you? You can't get the bass part right!"
  5. Charts. That's what I use. It can be anything from a full score to a jotted-down list A to A to B to A to E to D to A. Or use the number system I to IV to V, and so on. If they say they want to do their own arrangement, sit down and write it down. Otherwise, that "arrangement" might just be an excuse for not really learning the song. If there is a good reason to change a song (key change for the singer is a great reason), go ahead and change it, then WRITE IT DOWN. I left a band and went to see them play after I'd left and noticed they were playing a new song wrong, I mean with a change completely different from any version I'd ever heard, and it was NOT an improvement. I e-mailed one of the guys to ask if they knew they were doing it differently. They had no clue; to be fair, they've since corrected it. In my experience, "new arrangements" are rarely well-thought changes to a song, but rather an excuse to "jam" instead of learning the simple idea that audiences want to hear a cover band COVER a song.

    I know a bass player who walked up to the guitarist who was noodling at practice, grabbed the neck of his guitar and said, "We practice at home. Be ready next time." He was.
  6. jp58


    Dec 9, 2009
    Well as for the people I jam with, I'm not in a band, more of a loose association that plays together for specific events and often players come and go as needed, we are expected to know what the group is playing when we get to rehearsal/practice. If its a jam day, we all try and learn a few of the songs everyone else wants to play so everything moves forward productively and fair.

    You could tell them that you'de like to take it a little more seriously and ask if they'de do the same.
  7. Bottom line is: If you're not happy with the way things are going, chances are, you're not going to be in the future with these guys/gals.
  8. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Videotape rehearsal and watch it.

    The warts will stick out, and that should make everyone work harder.
  9. Rowdy


    Jul 17, 2009
    I had similar problems with my drummer. When we "jammed" in the garage, it didn't matter what we played or how we played it. It was for fun. When they decided they wanted to "gig", things had to change.

    The drummer had a bad habit of using the same double beat on the kick drum for EVERY song we played. I tried to tell him this had to go and he said "that is my style". (it was god awful listening to the same beat over and over I tell ya)

    It wasn't until I recorded the rehearsals and made him listen to them that he finally realized he had to change. It's easy to gloss over 'what's wrong' with your songs as your playing them. But when you have to listen to your mistakes OVER and OVER they become very large!

    RECORD the rehearsals. There is no better tool!
  10. jhan

    jhan Guest

    + 1,000,000,000

    It won't work any other way. Your bandmates are just lazy.

  11. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    We used to have a guitar player that would half-ass learn stuff. Just little things, like if there was E7 or a E9 he'd just play a plain old E. Sometimes it was close enough for jazz and sometimes the other guitar player would try to straighten him out. Did I mention we used to have this guitar player?
  12. ::::BASSIST::::

    ::::BASSIST:::: Progress Not Perfection.

    Sep 2, 2004
    Vancouver, BC Canada
    People have to be intrinsically motivated. If they are not, you are wasting your time. :atoz:

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