If you want to get more music gigs – then you need to always be prepared and act professional to stay in demand for quality well paying gigs. Recently, I have been surprised that some of my colleagues are not well prepared or always act professional at rehearsals and performances. These are older musicians who should know better. Consequently, I won’t be booking or recommending them anytime soon. So I thought I would share some tips for drum-set players (musicians) wanting to keep getting booked for gigs. Especially professional paying gigs.
For almost all of my gigs, I receive the music or set list in advance of the first rehearsal or show. Sometimes it comes in hard copy or more often as a PDF file that I print out or load on my iPad and use the forScore app.
Listen to Recordings and Mark the Music
Listen to recordings and watch videos of performances to get familiar with the music. This is especially important since drum-set charts are generally sketches that require musical interpretation. Everything is available online. If you can’t find it free on Youtube, spend a couple of bucks and download a commercial recording. Mark up the music. Highlight any repeats. Establish tempos with a metronome. Note dynamics and label musical form such as verses, choruses, etc. Make any necessary cuts. Know what to expect before the first rehearsal. You may also want to see: Understand Music Form
Set Up and Practice
First thing I do is make a list of all the equipment I will need. I will map out how it needs to be arranged. Then I set it up and practice. I always devote a portion of my practice time to the actual music I will be rehearsing or performing. Focus on musical sound and technique. Experiment and select the right equipment, sticks and mallets to fit the music. You may also want to see: How to Play Drum Set Softer
I recommend getting to each gig a minimum of 30 minutes early. Allow plenty of time to be set up and ready to start prior to when the rehearsal or performance is scheduled. When I arrive early, I usually can stake my claim to the available set up space. I use a 4′ x 6′ rug to set up on. I always start by asking the stage manager or director exactly where they want me to place my rug. It gives them a visual idea of how much space I will need. Then the understanding is that the rug will NOT be moving.
Stay Focused and On Task
Remember that you are at a music rehearsal. It is not a cocktail party or class reunion. You should always be courteous, gracious and polite to everyone you encounter. Save your funny stories and reminiscing for the break or after rehearsal. Now there will be times when other musicians or even the conductor will lose focus and waste rehearsal time with excessive talk. Let it go! Just do not make things worse by chiming in with additional comments.
Always listen to the conductor or music director. They should never have to repeat the measure or rehearsal letter that they want to rehearse. In musical theater let the MD be the one to talk to the director, choreographer, sound technician, etc. Stay out of it. If you don’t understand what the conductor is specifically asking you to do, then ask for clarification. But never challenge or disagree with the conductor during a rehearsal. Especially in front of other musicians.
Always Say “Yes”
The famous studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco said that there are four reasons to take a gig: For the money – For the connections – For the experience – or For the fun. You never know which gig will be your big break. That last minute call for a sub could change your career. Always say “Yes” – Until you are too busy to say “Yes”. You sometimes have to play certain gigs to get more music gigs.
As I frequently tell my students: “You can not always be the most talented. But you can always be the most prepared.” That advice has served me well over the years. Be Prepared – Professional – In Demand.
You may also want to see: Be a Professional Musician