Do I Need Charts For My Band?

This is an important question to ask, because effective charts can cut down rehearsal time, but ineffective charts can do the opposite.

Sheet Music: Helpful or Harmful?

In a typical rock/pop/singer-songwriter context, professional musicians will be accustomed to transcribing songs from a track or demo and making their own charts, notating exactly what they need to know, which varies from instrument to instrument. I also find that making my own charts helps me to memorize songs, so that later I can get my head out of them and look like (less) of a tool onstage.

That said, there are a few good reasons to have professional charts prepared:

If you are playing particularly complex music, with dense harmony or specific (and varied) parts that you want the band to play, charts can be very effective and save hours of uncertainty in the rehearsal room.

If you are short on rehearsal time, and don’t mind your band reading music on stage, professionally prepared charts can be very effective, as everyone will be looking at the same information and there’s no chance for cross-talk or alternate interpretations of the same chord.

If you feel that charts will be helpful, but are unsure how to make them yourself, don’t be afraid to ask someone else to do so. You can ask a member of your band who is most familiar with your music to determine and prepare what is necessary for the others, and/or to serve as Musical Director (MD). That way, you can focus on what you do best as a performer, and can give effective musical input without having to micromanage or worry about the tiniest details.

When do you like (or not like) to use sheet music? When you read music, what do you prefer to see? Add your comments below, along with anything else you’d like to see on this blog!

Next week, we’ll look at ways of communicating to a band what you want (and don’t want) to hear– and bringing out the best in their musicianship. If you enjoy these posts, don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss one!

Other posts in this series:
Finding the Right Musicians
Preparing Songs For Your Band
How do I tell the band what I want?
Scheduling Rehearsals
Maintaining a Good Vibe

Justin Goldner is a bassist, guitarist, producer, songwriter, language junkie and lover of culture in all its manifestations. Follow him on Twitter @JusBass.

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