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Ready to play piano in a band?


cantstoplt021

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I've been playing piano for a couple years now and I'm looking to get my playing to the next level. I know from personal experience that playing in bands and gigging takes your skills to a whole new level. I'm curious if I'm ready to start playing with groups. I feel like I can learn things on piano, but I can't sit down and play it like I can with guitar, bass or drums. Here's a demo I did that consists of a bunch of random things I know how to play. There's some Bach, jazz heads, random songs, etc. It's all over the map. Not my best playing ever, but you get the idea.

 

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What kind of band? This has a bearing on what I think is the most important tonal and touch approach.

 

Do you play any other instruments? Just curious of your musical frame of reference. This has bearing on what I think is the most important thing surviving a band situation.

 

The Chops are fine. There are many levels of bands. There is a band out there for everyone. When I was in 6th grade my friends and I started bands. If you only played half as good as you do you could still play with others.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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You're fine. Learn some chords and join a rock band. For the first few months, you will probably spend more time developing your ear (don't play so much; learn to listen) than you will working on your chops.

 

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Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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Yes, you are.

You will make mistakes. The first band might fire you. It could be a disaster.

 

And you will learn. It will be fun. You will get better. The best way to learn to play with a group is to play with a group. Its a good idea if they are just slightly more advanced than you are, but that could be too tricky at first.

Round these parts we play all three kinds of music! Salsa, Cumbia AND Merengue
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Well how long have you played? Sounds like more than a couple of years. Playing with groups takes an entirely different set of instincts that you won't get playing by yourself. A lot of musicians run into problems when they get with bands and can't fit in....happens all the time. There is a lot of learning that comes with sweating it out in the trenches, an art that is getting lost as time goes on. I would encourage you to go in and jump feet first into it, you will have to learn your space. There is no other way then to meet musicians and play.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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Just a few basics to consider when playing keys in a band, as opposed to solo playing...

 

- Don't overplay. Give the tune just what it needs. This may mean NOT PLAYING ALL OF THE TIME. Give the song room to breathe.

 

- Except for certain passages that may require the sounding resonance of a low piano note, MOSTLY LAY OFF THE BASS NOTES. That will be the bass player's job... and you may upset the bass player and the rest of the band if you do that a lot.

 

- Rehearse the tunes well in advance of the audition. Know what sounds are needed (if not just piano) and make sure your keyboard(s) have those sounds.

 

For stuff like basic blues bands, it's a lot more about FEEL and IMPROV ABILITY than about strict "rehearse and repeat". Those types of situations will help you become a more natural player, going with the flow of the music, rather than hunkered down over your keyboard trying to get every note right.

 

As with all things, excellence comes after experience. Go in and get your feet wet, it will never happen any other way.

 

 

Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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Youre always ready to play in a band. When you are a beginner youre ready to play in a beginner band. When you get better , if your beginner band hasnt also gotten better, your ready to find a better band. And so on. If youre a band player like me, your progress is always incomplete if you arent playing in a band context.

FunMachine.

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Definitely take the plunge. You'll learn alot, have a ton of fun. Assuming you're playing with people that are pretty nice, and you do the practice work prior to rehearsal, you will grow in ways that you cannot envision yet. I love it, and my wife had to bug me for three months straight about 10 years ago to go play with a guy in the neighborhood. I kept telling her that I wasn't good enough, and she said he seems like a nice guy,go have some fun. Who knew I would be loving it like I do. Enjoy the adventure!
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Yes, it sounds like you're ready - but don't kid yourself, anyone who can peck out a simple melody and a triad can find a band these days. My eye instead caught your reference to motives. There are lots of reasons to join a band:

 

1) I just love this kind of music and I get off playing it

2) I want to get better as a player and this will bring me new challenges to master

3) chicks

4) money

5) fame

 

In my experience, #3 - great if you can get it, but poor reason to play. #4 - good luck on that, there are far easier ways to earn the same level of income, #5 - nope.

 

Between #1 and #2, you'll go farther if you focus on #1. Find music you love to play and immerse yourself in it. #2 will naturally happen, but you'll be stretched more by learning how to play with and get along with other musicians in an ensemble than specific, narrow musical growth challenges. #2 as a main focus can end up narcissistic and selfishly self-serving - which is the antithesis of what a good band is about.

 

As others have asked...what kind of music lights you up? The only way a beginner learns how to properly play a genre in a band is by listening to what folks playing the genuine article play. The best band musicians have immersed themselves into the tunes - they know every note, how every sound was produced, can whistle every bass line, guitar solo, keyboard line, etc. Whatever music you've soaked your ears in for the last several years - yeah, go for that kind of band.

..
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Have you seen his abs??

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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In about 90 minutes I may disappear for a few days again. Getting ready to head out.

 

But this is the $10,000 question.

....

 

As others have asked...what kind of music lights you up?

...

 

Two things.

 

1) If you played in a lot of the bands I played in your piano sound won't work. It sits too much in the lower mids and will get buried. Tell these guys what you want to play and they will tell you how to EQ your pianos. Good chance you may have to sacrifice some fine dynamics in favor of compression. Dynamics get lost in a lot of guitar based music anyway .... it just gets buried.

 

2) Surviving over the long haul in bands is about pattern recognition. What patterns depend on the genres. I played Sunday behind a band I had never heard before on a bunch of material I was not giving before hand. It was pretty easy because the vast majority of the chord changes I played a thousand times before. More songs you learn more patterns get stored in your brain. More tunes you learn over time more automatic you will hear the changes. This aint hard. If I can do it anyone can.

 

You will get a ton of mileage out of:

1) I-IV-V combinations

2) Then someday you will do a I-IV-V based tune with II-V change in it so you add that change into your memory banks. Next time you hear that change in a song you will already know it.

3) I-vi-IV-V. I have played "Stand By Me" probably under a thousand different titles from 3 different genres. After you play that pattern and you hear the pattern again you will know it.

4) Soloing - Major and Minor pentatonic scales and 6 tone blues scales in all keys are good to know. You can play the I scales over the IV chord and it sounds cool.

5) Soloing II - If you get the I correct then other notes are often irrelevant. Anything can be a passing tone if you get the I right. Rhythm is king. A piano is a collection of 88 drums. 7 out of 12 notes are tonal! The odds are you will hit a good one if not go chromatic and make it a passing tone.

 

etc..... Learning music by ear is just pattern recognition. Eventually you will know all the common combinations. There are only 12 notes.

 

I spewed a bunch of junk but this is all easy stuff and you may have this all down cold. Tell these dudes what music turns you on and they will tell where to start. There are a bunch of "Players" here. What I write doesn't always make sense but these gentlemen can translate anything that is worth doing so. Most of what I posted may be crap but I has worked for me.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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[CNQ thinks Tim must have additional skill sets to playing keys. Either that or I'm doing it wrong.]

Have you seen his abs??

 

One immutable truth I have learned in my advancing age: great abs does not equate to chicks. No matter what Men's Health magazine tells you.*

 

If anyone has seen my abs in the last 1.5 years, please let me know. I've misplaced them from about 2 years ago (the avatar pic is 3-4 years old I think) and they haven't been seen since. Not been an issue with ladies.

 

How do KB players get "#3: chicks" is the same answer as how do "#47: guitar players" or "#143: singers" get chicks. Knowing you're the smartest, funniest, kindest, most high value guy in the joint who brings the most to the table...before you walk in. Let that inform how one dresses, walks, talks and carries oneself.

 

* What Men's Health doesn't tell you is quality females are highly skeptical of dudes who have chiseled physiques as LTR material. Fun to look at, fun for a dalliance, but seldom for serious relationship. They correctly presume that dude's narcissistic @ss won't have room in his life to invest in a real relationship that doesn't include his mirror.

 

Not immediate help for the OP's present question, but since you guys brought it up...

 

Tim

..
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Being a Sith Lord is boring. I've only been with one woman. I've known my wife since 4th grade. We didn't get married till much later though. I did have a couple of women over the last 35 years decide to pursue me ....

 

There was a woman that worked at a company I had used to work for and she had gotten divorced. I was nice to her in a conversation at a gig once and she kind of went crazy and thought I was on the open market. Scared the Hell out of me and I told my wife and she thought it was funny. She always trusted me..... or didn't care. LOL

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Music is like sex: it's so much more fun when you do it with other people.

 

It's one thing to sound good playing by yourself, it's another thing entirely to sound good in the context of a band.

 

As others have said, a completely different set of skills and priorities.

 

There's only one way to learn how to play in a band: get started.

 

Have fun and enjoy the ride!

 

 

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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Being a Sith Lord is boring. I've only been with one woman...She always trusted me..... or didn't care. LOL

 

Dude, you cannot put a price on being able to say that. CEB for the win.

 

On a related note, I prefer my coffee strong and black...just like my Sith Lords.

..
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I've been playing piano for a couple years now and I'm looking to get my playing to the next level.

 

Deadlines for learning new songs and albums will catapult your playing to the next level. It's good pressure. Plus there's the conscientious pressure to not let the band down.

 

Budget your money well for the equipment that you will need (want).

 

Being in a band is not profitable, but it's boatloads of fun. And when you get to be my age you'll have great stories to tell.

Steve Coscia

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[CNQ thinks Tim must have additional skill sets to playing keys. Either that or I'm doing it wrong.]

 

How do KB players get "#3: chicks" is the same answer as how do "#47: guitar players" or "#143: singers" get chicks. Knowing you're the smartest, funniest, kindest, most high value guy in the joint who brings the most to the table...before you walk in. Let that inform how one dresses, walks, talks and carries oneself.

 

Tim

 

I KNEW you had additional skill sets to playing keys!

 

I should add that my comment was meant in a light hearted fashion. I'm happily married!

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Here's a correlary to your decision from my life. Back in the 60s to early 70s I studied piano as a kid. About 6 yrs or so, i was ok but no impressario. Teaching content was strictly classical with occasional ancient jazz or blues sheet I cold not relate to at all. I was turning into a lil rocker as the 70s got going, becoming a teenager, and i quit lessons and playing.

 

Fastforward another 8-10 or so years. My best friends from the hood are in a band, its getting better and they are popular. i hang out with them all the time, its alot of fun. They decide they want to add a keyboardist and offer a $100 reward for someone to find him/her.

 

I tell them i can find them a keyboardist for $100, they say great who, and I say me. And I go down to GC and buy my first keys, Roland JX-3P, and i'm in the band. I couldn't play any of the technical things I could play 10 yrs earlier but I loved rock, and I could do chords, simple riffs, and they thought it was awesome. I got better faster than they wanted better, it was all good. I loved it, it literally changed my self perception of who I see myself as. We were tearing it up, having a blast, having ZERO problem with Tim's #3 question, they were chasing us down.

 

Alas we didn't get signed, the party became more than the music, i almost flunked out of college ... and i decided a break was what I had to do to "save my life".

 

Fast forward again 25 yrs, the old gang all chat by email and decide to play a reunion. Dredge up the vintage set list and re-learn our old originals ... we book a venue in town and spread the word. 300 SRO, another 300 that can't get in outside, ... and I'm hooked again. Been playing now for going on 5 yrs, strictly weekend (occasional weeknight) warrior, but having a blast. I'm way better now than the 80s, mostly because I've taken on more challenges and im very sober now. And i've gone from being unsure I was even good enough to play in a band, to now bands call me regularly asking if I'm interested in their project. And I still know im only a certain level of good, and nothing like REAL keyboard wizards I look up to (many on this thread).

 

The answer is you can do it, your chops are fine for starting out. The key to being successful in a band are the same for everything in life:

 

- do your homework, show up prepared. Know your parts, have your sounds ready

- be nice to people. Work with them, its not all about us

- show up on time.

- have the right tools for your job (e.g. Gear)

 

You don't have to be a wicked good soloist to join a band. I wasnt. I'm still not. There are bands that need that level of technical sklll, and it will drive you to improve as you are already filling their need and having fun. Piano can be isolated but other sounds like synth, strings, etc., slide into the mix and fill the lush sound of the overall band with very little skill. You'll learn that alot of songs are "too easy", you're tempted to start adding to keep busy - don't. Let it roll, do your part, the sum is more than the parts.

 

Be fearless, believe in yourself. The best advice by far is seek out the music that lights you up. Being in a band can turn into a grind, its not all fun but the fun parts are a high. To pull you through the lulls and motivate you to do work required, you need to like what you're doing. I no longer even discuss projects where the music doesn't light me up. I'm flattered and thank them for consideration but if its not for me, i'm just wasting their time and will let them down.

 

Edit/add. They never paid me that $100. And yeah, i still remind them lol

The baiting I do is purely for entertainment value. Please feel free to ignore it.
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When you are a beginner youre ready to play in a beginner band.

 

Yes and no.

 

I can't possibly stress this enough: Play with the highest level of players that will have you around with them.

 

Nothing will stunt your growth more than playing for any more than a short time in a beginner band. There is just so much to learn about the magical interactions of players in a band with regards to sonic and temporal space, and each person in a band having their own job to fulfil that can't be learned when your guitarists are always playing the same 'chika chika' rhythm for every song throughout. And, trust me, if your growth is stunted, so soon will be your enjoyment.

 

I was playing with a group like that for about eight months my first year into having started playing in bands. I started to tire of it really quickly and felt that I had stagnated at the most base of levels. But then, when other musicians would occasionally sub for an absentee, they would invite me to play with their regular bands and the difference was night and day. While I may have been the weakest link in the chain, the experience was ear opening and not only motivated me to get better, it also taught me about dynamics and my role as a keyboardist.

 

If the only people you can play with are beginners, so be it; there is really no choice, but I would really strive to play with better musicians than you even if you are afraid of not being good enough.

 

The key to being successful in a band are the same for everything in life:

 

- do your homework, show up prepared. Know your parts, have your sounds ready

- be nice to people. Work with them, its not all about us

- show up on time.

- have the right tools for your job (e.g. Gear)

 

+1000

 

I firmly believe that there are two possibly equal facets to playing in a band: musical chops and personality. You would be surprised how easy it is to compensate for a lack of the former with an abundance of the latter.

 

I'm a mediocre player (well, at least that's my self-assessment relative to where I'd like to be) but I always strive to do those things on MotiDave's list. I'm sure it's as a result of that that I have been asked back to play with every band I've ever sat in with, and I've been sniped by several subs for their own bands.

 

Remember: keyboardists are much rarer than you would think. It's not like there are 30 guys lining up to replace you, even if you're not completely up to snuff.

 

Have fun!

 

 

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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I would really strive to play with better musicians than you even if you are afraid of not being good enough.

 

And don't worry if you are not good enough. The vast majority of non-fulltime musicians will happy with a good guy who is fun to be around, is always as prepared as possible, and shows constant improvement. We have all been there. What we don't like is lazy people who don't spend any time in the woodshed when they need to.

Hammond: L111, M100, M3, BC, CV, Franken CV, A100, D152, C3, B3

Leslie: 710, 760, 51C, 147, 145, 122, 22H, 31H

Yamaha: CP4, DGX-620, DX7II-FD-E!, PF85, DX9

Roland: VR-09, RD-800

 

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