Garage Band 101: Etiquette

Tips to make your Garage Band a success

Whether you have been in a garage band for several years or just a few days, it's a group effort, which isn't always easy. In years of playing, I've learned tips and tricks that all members of the Band should adopt to make it work and get along.

Here are some recommendations for garage band harmony:

  • Be on time for practice. You may be having a bad day, but your band mates are really excited to play.
  • Bring all the gear you need to sound as professional as possible. Buy quality equipment, and make sure it works.
  • Ask for advice or feedback on your equipment and your sound. Interact and share knowledge with each other. You can always learn something from another musician.
  • When someone is tuning their instrument, please stop playing and let them tune in quiet.
  • Whenever learning new music, it is a huge help for all band members to have the same recording of all the songs so they know exactly what the goal is. If one of you can play it well, record it for everyone else. Or if you are doing "covers" of classic hits, everyone should have the same recordings to learn from.
  • Each member should practice at home and be ready when rehearsal comes. Group rehearsal is to work out interaction, not learn individual parts.
  • If you do want to learn new music as a group during rehearsal without individual practice, then you must have the recorded music available for playback during practice. Having everyone remember exactly how a song goes, even a big hit, is rare.
  • Don't be an idiot. Everyone is together for one common purpose, to enjoy the gift of music and playing/singing. Don't pretend to be someone you’re not, or something other than one of the band.
  • Make sure all instrument sound levels are the same. Whether you want to play loud or soft, be sure everyone is at the same output levels. Everyone hates that one person whose amp is cranked up and overpowers the other musicians.
  • Try to keep all guitar and microphone and speaker cables away from power cords. This reduces chance of humming or buzzing through PA system.
  • You don't need to be a professional sound tech to have great sound, but you do need to spend some time learning and understanding your equipment. There are many different ways to hook-up amplifiers and speakers and effects, so take some time as a group and learn the basics. Ask other musicians how they set-up their live sound.
  • Share ideas and songs with your band mates. If you are working on cover tunes, make sure everyone likes the songs and has fun playing them. If you are writing original music, determine who is responsible for writing lyrics, who is writing melody, etc. And make sure everyone has an opinion on the final version.

There are many other tips and tricks so please share your experience and advice. Happy Jamming. Have fun, and practice, practice, practice!

Hello, how would you go about if you were the lead singer and you wrote all of the music but now your bassist writes a song....who sings it? He currently sings backup right now, but does that mean he should sing the song?
It's important to have as few power struggles as possible. The key thoughts that I go through when having another person sing is 1. make sure the whole band agrees (if the bassist doesn't like it... that's tough. I'm sure there are songs you write that not everyone likes) , 2. can the person sing? 3. does the song from another writer mesh with the band's style. The last thing I would like to add is that every member of the band NEEDS to enjoy every song played. If there is a particular song that even one member isn't in to, it should be taken into serious consideration to change or remove the song altogether. Also, be sure that you like all the songs you play at first ... if the audience gets hooked on one then you'll likely be playing it all the time if you want your band to be successful. -Huck
Practice Amp
I know it sounds less than democratic, but if everyone knows their role a band has a much better shot and that means having a main songwriter or songwriting team. Including other peoples music just to keep things democratic generally means a drop in standards, unless you have McCartney and Lennon with a Harrison also contributing.