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I've been pondering joining a band for some time now, but I usually get stalled at deciding whether or not I should spend more time learning to play first. I don't want to go through potential embarrassment of being told that I completely suck.

Is there a particular set of skills that you'd say is required before one considers joining a band? I.e. playing common chords, scales, knowledge of notes of the neck, etc. Is being able to compose new melodies important, or is it possible for a new player to get by for a while with someone else working out the arrangements?

I feel like as a fairly new player I'm not yet up for playing covers (I can usually get the rhythm down, but solos? Forget it.) and yet also not that good at creating my own stuff. Does that mean I'm doomed to play by myself for the foreseeable future?

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Do you have jamming buddies? That's usually a good starting point... –  Jimi Oke Jan 14 '11 at 0:46

5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Is there a particular set of skills that you'd say is required before one considers joining a band?

Not really. Look for other players at about your own skill level. If you are taking classes, perhaps your teacher can advise you of others looking to play together. If you are reasonably comfortable playing in front of others, you should do reasonably well. I don't consider myself a beginner, but due to an abusive ex, I don't play in front of others. Older students tend to be far more critical of their own abilities, so the "tell me I suck" concern is something a teenager won't have. I am quite comfortable standing in front of a group of strangers and giving a presentation/speech (I've even run for elected office), but put an instrument in my hands in front of even close friends and I choke.

Is being able to compose new melodies important, or is it possible for a new player to get by for a while with someone else working out the arrangements?

This totally depends on the group. I've seen some bands that played in bars who had players of widely different skill levels together in the same band. One could tell the guitarists who were classically trained, as their skills were a lot higher than others. In some of the groups, most of the music was written by one of the players. For an example, look at the early Indigo Girls albums, compare and contrast the songs written by Emily (complex and deep meaning) vs Amy (simple).

Finally, if you are looking to play in bands, you may want to pursue bass (guitar) as those players are a lot less common. Bassists are far more rare and hard to come by.

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Methinks it's all about passion. One must one want to play, not just play in a band. If one doesn't love the bass, I wouldn't recommend picking it up simply for the sake of playing in a band. In music, passion is everything. You won't stake out much for something you don't love. Except, well, playing on a band is more important that what one plays... –  Jimi Oke Jan 14 '11 at 1:30

All a band requires is a couple of people that enjoy playing their instruments and playing them with each other.

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Joining a band should not be a question of your abilities. Sure, those are important, but the most important factor is your passion for playing with other people. If this is something that drives you or makes you go insane at the very thought of it, then look for a band without delay. Or form yours. You only really get better when you have to perform.

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I agree with Tangurena's answer.

I would add that if you aren't sure about your skills at the moment, find one or two people you can jam with that are better than you.

I've found that playing with people better than me forces me you get better faster than just playing on my own.

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+1 for the suggestion of playing with others that are "better" than you. –  Andy Jan 17 '11 at 23:57

Do both. There isn't a minimum required skill set to play in a band. When I started playing in a band, I could barely follow a song. But I kept practicing on my own. A couple years later we recorded a fairly good album, nothing out of the ordinary for most people, but something I personally I'm very proud of.

It is very important to practice on you own, so you polish you skills and learn new things that the rest of the band don't need or don't want to learn. But it is equally important to play with someone because you will also improve a different set of skills that you just can't practice on your own.

If someone tell you that you suck, so what? Maybe that person doesn't even play nothing more than a plastic rock band guitar or maybe he does play, but at some point he had to suck as much as we all did :-)

Practice is the key, I used to come home from school, finished all my homework and duties and practiced until I fell asleep. Every day, I practiced like 6-8 hours until I got fairly good.

Finally, it is great to get with people of your same skills, so you learn together, but try also to play with someone better, so you will learn from them.

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