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Is using notes OK in an audition?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Bassamatic, Feb 13, 2014.

  1. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    I had a very good audition last week with a local Blues-oriented band. They gave me a list of 5 tunes to learn over a few days.

    I found the tunes, downloaded them, and created lead sheets (Words and chords) to better help me learn the songs, and brought them to the audition, occasionally glancing at them. I also made some notes on them for their special breaks, intros, etc.

    We all seemed to click and had a great time. Then they asked me to play 2 more songs off the cuff.

    Days roll by - No response.

    When asked, the BL said that they were put off by my using the notes at the audition, and expected that I should have put in the time to learn all the songs by memory.

    Is this a realistic expectation?

    Thanks for your input.
  2. Twobass


    Aug 12, 2009
    How hard were the songs? If you had notes for all of the songs then I can see how that would be a problem. I'm pretty sure that those two songs were not "off the cuff". They probably do that for every audition.
  3. Joebarnes


    Oct 4, 2011
    Surrey, BC
    Depends on the band. I try to have the audition songs down cold when I'm going in, but I've gotten the job using notes as well, but I would glance at my notes and then put them away when playing the song.

    Sometimes people just aren't jiving and they find the easiest "reason" you didn't get the job.

    Sometimes the person who is telling you no, actually wanted you but was out voted.

    Sometimes you kick, Sometimes you get kicked.
  4. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I think it's stupid on their part. I have done this in the past as well. As long as you nailed the songs..who cares? One reason it was smart to do what you did is allot of bands change keys, leads, intros etc. To be able to jot those down is great when you are new.

    I would out on a limb here and say they did you a favor by passing on you. They sound like alot of musicians I knew..ego centered and we are better than we really are types.
  5. Timmah

    Timmah Supporting Member

    May 19, 2011
    I would say it depends- if you had three days or less to learn the songs, I'd say it's acceptable, but if you had time to work I would be put off too. Regardless, assure the bandleader that you're willing to stop using notes if he feels it's unprofessional etc.
  6. It wouldn't bother me if someone used notes. To me it would be more important that they play it right, and if they needed something to help them along, I wouldn't see it as a big deal. Also, if they took the time to chart stuff out, make notes, write lyrics, etc., it would tell me that they are serious about doing it well. I don't know. It seems the majority of people here don't agree with this way of thinking, though.
  7. bunkaroo


    Apr 25, 2003
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    My opinion is you should not use notes on an audition.

    You're making a first impression at an audition. If that impression includes referencing notes while playing, I can see why they'd feel like that's a negative. They may feel like you'll always be using notes, and who can blame them really? How would they know if that wouldn't be the case?

    I've auditioned many people over the years for various roles, and the one thing that always gets me is those guys who come into an audition without having their stuff down and then say something like "I'll have it for next time for sure". Um, no, you won't, because there is no "next time" if you can't come to an audition prepared the first time. I'm not saying OP falls into this category, but it could certainly appear that way to the band.

    My personally philosophy on auditions is come in knowing more than they expect you to know and be ready for anything. When I auditioned for my current band, I came in ready to play songs they hadn't even played together yet. But I knew I was ready if they were.
  8. Pokerdweebz


    Oct 26, 2012
    Lititz, PA
    I would have no problem with someone bringing notes to an audition, but I also have no problem with someone having notes at gigs (cover band gigs that is). I've gigged with notes on a music stand that I occasionally looked at (or a lot for a couple new songs we didn't rehearse). The audience didn't care, we were invited back with a raise that we didn't ask for. Your opinions may differ and YMMV......
  9. I have always brought notes to auditions. Like ole boy up top said, you glance at your page and the play the tune.

    I don't bust out the sheet music holder I stole from Jr High (still got it, go funk yourself Mr. Maiden) and layout charts to stare at during the entire audition but yes I always bring a cheat sheet. I've developed my own shorthand that really only I understand.

    It shows that you took the time to write it down and you wanna get it right. Even if you need a lil help. No shame in that game. None at all.

    Sounds like your going out of your way to get it right. Good for you. Not getting this position may be a blessing in disguise. Keep ya head up. It will come and when it does tell'm Kenny sent ya!!
  10. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Depends on the gig, but for a Blues gig, no. The Blues is an improvisational genre, and it's more important to mesh with the players, know the lingo, and follow the cues than play the song note-for-note. What I'd be looking for as a BL for a Blues band is someone where I can say, "Downtown shuffle in E. Quick change to the 4, watch me for the stops. 1-2-3-4". Most songs follow the same chord structure, and the drummer will give you the feel. If you're familiar with the style, you shouldn't need notes.

    But, I have done auditions with notes before. Here's what I do: I will chart out the band's entire song list, and bring it to the audition. I'll let them call out whatever songs they want, and I'll do them from my charts. They see that I am prepared to do a show, and even if they don't go with me, they know that I'll available to sub and I have their material ready.
  11. It depends. If the band uses music stands (Ipads) in the pit/on stage, then sheet music/charts are okay - however, if the band is a visual type act that doesn't use charts, then it would probably be best to memorize the material - in fact, if you really want the job - "play it like you own it".

    Yep, you shouldn't need charts for 5 blues songs.
  12. i've never been to a gig at the vanguard where most of the band diddn't have something to read for most of the gig..

    lead sheets are no crime.
  13. Now that I think about it I gotta second response. I've actually used notes during a gig.

    I've pretty much been in original bands my whole life but there were a few cover bands in there. When Jerry Evans realized I cud sing he was like "hey your gonna sing two or three tunes ina row to let my voice rest cuz here n there. we played looong sets for a rodeo circuit in the Arklatex.

    So anyways, during that rehearsal, I was like hey just lemme play n sing 145 tunes. That just kinda comes natural. so I post up to rock out Gimme 3 Steps (I'm from the south so I know every Skynrd tune ever written) and the words just were not there. I was blank thinkin how the hell does this song begin?

    Then it hit me. I sing these songs with the radio but the radio wasn't on. So we wrote out the first five words of the verses to get me going and that was it.

    I wud tape that page with lead in words to Johnny B Good, Roadhouse Blues, Gimme 3 steps and insert 145 blues tune here on my monitor right next to my set list.

    That got me thru. Ya know, coming to this site reminds me of ship that happen years ago that I'd forgotten.

    Thank you OP.
  14. Over the years I've seen many notes on floor monitors with just the first few words of a verse . . . . lol. :D
  15. GlennW


    Sep 6, 2006
    The BL just used that as a reason. It's BS, just a fake reason.

    That facts that you took the trouble to prepare, took the trouble to make notes, played the stuff without screwing up, proves you put in some time. It's not like you were in the band and playing those songs at a gig, and even if it was plenty of musicians use sheet music, lyric sheets, etc.

  16. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    Response is in order regardless. Sound like a bunch of twerps.
  17. I think it depends, even for a blues gig. For example, do they want you to jam to a tune, or play it exact? I can play Pride and Joy two ways, jamming around the changes or exactly as it was recorded. I don't need notes for the first way, but probably would for the second.
  18. Eric_71

    Eric_71 Supporting Member

    Jul 22, 2011
    I agree with all of this, including the fact that they did you a favor. I wouldn't frown on notes as long as the player was somewhat organized and comfortable and knew the music. I guess it depends on the guys, but I think it's pretty unreasonable to be put off by some notes.
  19. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I would never use notes to play a five song audition with a blues band.

    Well, I would probably never use notes, period.

    If someone brought them to an audition for us? I don't know that I would hold that against them.
  20. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    It really depends on the situation, for a blues band I would say no it is not appropriate.

    I play in a prog band and when we ran into a situation where we needed a drummer on short notice, as in a week; our usual fill-in is a pro (has his own signature drum set) but he had obligations and recommend one of his students to us. The guy came in with charts, hell he even brought those charts on stage the night of the gig. I never complained once because the guy managed to learn a dozen songs with multiple tempo and timing changes within some songs. Most of the crowd never noticed either, the ones that commented on his notes were still floored by him learning the material so fast.