Finding the Right Musicians

It’s a sad fact, but the best musicians are not always the right ones for your project. You may like the drummer’s playing from such-and-such band, but before committing to have them on a gig, make sure that their professionalism lives up to their chops. Someone who seems very invested in your music may or may not have the experience to come up with appropriate parts. So how do you know who will do your music justice and won’t waste your time?

This drummer's on the wrong gig.

Seek out recommendations. I wouldn’t hire someone to paint my house before checking with a referral. If you don’t have the personal experience working with someone, it’s always good to ask for others’ opinions. Friends, colleagues, and other members of your band will be eager to recommend someone with whom they’ve had great experiences working before.

Once you’ve got a lineup for the band, taking into account your budget and the size and aims of the gig, make sure that they have what they need to know your music inside out. Don’t send too much, or too little.

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Why Keep Doing What You Love?

We’ve met lots of kids here on our travels through Latin America: kids fortunate enough to learn English in American schools and visit family in the US, other kids who have never left their hometown. We’ve seen kids 8- to 12-years-old working on construction on a poorly maintained mountain highway.

Clinton Curtis and Gray Reinhard pose with local children after our concert in Danli, Honduras

Last night, before our open-air concert in Danlí, Honduras, some disheveled-looking kids asked me for change. I apologized, but as I asked them about their town, their home, their expressions changed from miserly to curious. It was as if they had never before met an American who wanted to know about their lives. They asked about the band, about the kinds of music we play, about who we are and where we come from.

There are times when my practical nature questions the value of encouraging others to pursue artistic pastimes. For as many who are fortunate enough to carve out careers in what we love to do, there are countless more who flounder. If it’s so hard to make a living playing music with all the opportunities available to us in New York, is it right to encourage a child in a developing country to pursue their passion when it may frustrate their ability to build a stable life and family?

Students at La Casa De Cultura, Danli

But somehow, meeting these Latin American kids with (often, though not always) less opportunities than I’ve had gives the phrase and sentiment “keep doing what you love” new resonance. Why is it worth shooting for, no matter what your background? Because it’s difficult. Because not everyone gets to do what they love. But because some of us can, and because when we lead lives enriched by our passions, we can share and exchange that wealth with everyone else we can reach.

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

Preparing Songs for Your Band

How can you as a musician or artist be heard above the static? How can you distinguish yourself so that you are the one that gets remembered, that gets the call for the next gig and the gig after that?
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Artists: How to Effectively Prepare a Band

There’s no one way to get your band together. Miles Davis, James Brown and The Beatles, for example, all had notoriously different ways of running their bands, of working together (or not working together), and all made excellent music.

The harder it is for your band to listen to your songs, the less likely they are to know them!

There are, however, several principles to follow that will ensure that everyone takes your music seriously and that result in a much tighter musical unit.

Preparing Songs for Your Band
Send a single demo of every song. Make sure that the demo is listenable, easy on the ears, and representative of how you want the song to sound. YouTube and other streaming media are a no-go– if your band is able to get it to work, they’ll likely only get to hear it once. Read more

MoMath = MoLearning

What the Museum of Math Can Teach Us About the Live Experience  by Lindsay of @karmeck360

 The Museum of Mathematics, North America’s first museum devoted to mathematics opened in December at the top of Madison Square Park (the patch of green to the west of Shake Shack, to the east of Eataly).  MoMath, as it has been christened, is attracting attention for its unique spin on subject matter not known for glitzy presentation.

At MoMath, complex principles of geometry are not scratched onto chalkboards or muttered incoherently by foreign teaching assistants, but rather presented as a vibrant, hands-on experience. Almost every exhibit can be manipulated, mounted, and made to come alive in some manner.

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Respecting People’s Time

People often ask what it takes to be a working musician in New York City. How can you as a musician or artist be heard above the static? How can you distinguish yourself so that you are the one that gets remembered, that gets the call for the next gig and the gig after that?
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Respecting People’s Time
There’s nothing more important than showing your coworkers, collaborators and friends that you respect their time. The nature of the music industry usually requires that people invest all of their free time in several projects: if you’re not performing, you’re preparing for a gig. If you’re not creating new music, you’re promoting the music you’ve made. If you’re not booking a gig, you’re working on marketing. The vast majority of musicians need to play with numerous artists and/or work numerous jobs to make ends meet and get to do what they love.

So if you show them that you respect their time, they will respect yours. How can you indicate to people that their time is valuable to you?

Show up on time. If, as a musician, you show up late to a rehearsal, not only do you waste the artist’s time (and possibly money)– you waste the time of every other musician in the band. If, however, others see that you are prompt and efficient, you will stand out and are likely to be on everyone’s list for the next gig.
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American Music Abroad Tour: Merengue in Santo Domingo

This month I’m on tour in Central and South America with the Clinton Curtis Band, through a very special program called American Music Abroad. Organized by American Voices and the U.S. embassies in each country, they send numerous American musical groups around the world to perform and engage in cultural exchanges.

Colonial Zone, Santo Domingo

We just finished a week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic filled with several concerts for absolutely outstanding audiences. We also had the chance to give several master classes for Dominican students, which has been one of the most rewarding parts of our tour so far. It’s as if we have the opportunity to rectify every sub-par educational experience we had in childhood, and the responsibility to pass on every positive educational experience from which we benefited to the next generation.

Moreover, we’ve met tons of incredibly talented kids who are eager to share their own talents and cultural background with us. Yesterday after our master class at UASD in Santo Domingo, music students showed us some traditional merengue rhythms.

Learning New Skills for the Gig

People often ask what it takes to be a working musician or artist in New York City. How can you as a musician or artist be heard above the static? How can you distinguish yourself so that you are the one that gets remembered, that gets the call for the next gig and the gig after that?
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Sometimes, a gig may come up that requires you to do something outside your comfort zone– it could be playing a style you’re not familiar with, arranging vocal parts, or learning new software. These are the best opportunities to gain new experience and develop additional skills that you can turn into further gigs in the future.

You’re a guitar player and a gig needs a banjo double? Now’s as good a time as ever to invest in an inexpensive banjo and learn the ropes. You’ll make the investment back in the gigs you’ll gain with this new skill in the future. (You’d be surprised…or maybe not… at how many artists don’t know a banjo player).

Learning new instruments or software can be daunting, but taking a challenging gig can be a great opportunity to develop new skills.


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What this Musician learned from FOOTBALL. What?!?

Hey y’all! It’s Morgan of #karmeck360. My brother is seriously so impressed right now. He dreamed about having a “cool” brother who could “talk shop.” He could drool about fantasy football. He could watch ESPN with a cold one. He could play Football with and do cool brotherly things!

 

…………….… instead he got me


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Being Over-Prepared: Tips for Artists & Bandleaders

How can you as a musician or artist be heard above the static? How can you distinguish yourself so that you are the one that gets remembered, that gets the call for the next gig and the gig after that?

When you walk into the rehearsal room or recording studio, you will want to make an immediate impression– of professionalism, of precision, of creativity– of all that it is that you do and that you do it well. If you walk in unprepared, there’s simply no way that you can be at the top of your game.
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Continued from Being Over-Prepared: Tips for Musicians & Singers


Tips for Artists/Bandleaders
If you are an artist or bandleader, have everything on hand that you may need to prepare for the show, and make sure your musicians have them in enough time to prepare adequately: a setlist, listenable demos, appropriate charts, and any ideas that you may want them to realize. Send them mp3s– preferably not flooding their gmail inbox. If the musicians can listen to the tunes on the go, they will get to know them better. If the band needs to learn the songs by streaming them from YouTube or another site, they won’t be able to distinguish the parts as clearly and won’t be able to hear the songs as frequently. My favorite way to send and receive tunes is with Dropbox, Sugarsync, or any other platform that lets you send a link to the downloadable mp3. The fewer intermediate steps that stand between a musician and the music they need to learn, the better they will know the music.
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Being Over-Prepared: Tips for Musicians & Singers

How can you as a musician or artist be heard above the static? How can you distinguish yourself so that you are the one that gets remembered, that gets the call for the next gig and the gig after that?
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

When you walk into the rehearsal room or recording studio, you will want to make an immediate impression– of professionalism, of precision, of creativity– of all that it is that you do and that you do it well. If you walk in unprepared, there’s simply no way that you can be at the top of your game.

The fix is simple: be over-prepared. Learn everything ahead of time. If you’re a sideman, know every note of your part. Have it charted out. I find that making your own charts helps to memorize songs, as I can later visualize the form in my head. The more time that you take to learn tunes and develop a personal and effective way of notating what you need to know, the more efficiently you’ll be able to learn them.
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