You auditioned for one of the top bands in your city. You worked your tail off and nailed the audition. You got the gig. Now what? Prepare yourself with these helpful tips for drummers from Memphis teacher Carter B.!
Once a student books a gig, so many teachers stop here in their preparations. While learning how to prepare for an audition is incredibly important, how to prepare yourself for the actual gig is just as important. After all, what good are all the audition skills you’ve learned if you don’t know how to roll with the life of a gigging drummer?
First, just because you’ve got the gig doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice the songs anymore. Take time to keep them fresh in your mind even outside of band practice time. Here are some more things to keep in mind:
- Make a mental or written checklist of all your gear so you know whether or not you have everything when you leave and when you’re packing up at the end of the night. This will help you make sure you do not leave anything behind!
- Know your gear better than anyone else. Know it better than your friends. Know it better than the other band’s drummer. Know it better than the guy who sold it to you. If something breaks mid-set (and it will, trust me), know how to fix it or get by without it. Remember, the show must go on!
- Have backups for the following things: sticks, pedal, snare, drum heads and drum key. It may seem like a lot of extra stuff to carry, but it’s a small price to pay for being prepared. All it takes is forgetting a crucial piece at a gig one time to learn this lesson. I showed up to a gig a few years ago without my snare and stick bag. No fun. Always have a backup.
- Be professional. In many cases, someone is paying you to be there. Act as you would like people to act if you were the one footing the bill. Be on time or early. Have a helpful and encouraging attitude. Do NOT get a big head – no gig is beneath you! Roll with the punches. Things hardly ever work out just like you pictured it. The monitors may not work or the club may not even have monitors! Deal with it. Adapt and overcome. You’re there to perform and entertain – not to complain.
- Nothing’s worse than having your bass drum creep forward during a song when you’re not playing on a carpet. You can’t count on every club, bar and church to have carpeted floors or have to a drum rug. Fortunately, there is a cheap solution. Most home repair stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc) sell 3’x5’ mats that work perfectly. You don’t need to have your whole kit on the mat, just your kick pedal and spurs, as well as your hi-hat stand. Take this mat to every gig.
- If you’re playing a venue that has a house kit or a festival with backline gear, don’t just assume everything’s going to be in perfect condition on the kit. Often this couldn’t be further from the truth. To combat this, always show up with all of your hardware, so you can substitute whatever you need on the kit. If you are happy with how the house kit is outfitted and can play it, rejoice! You’re one of the lucky ones!
Those are just a few things to remember when you’re on the gig. But it all boils down to this: make sure you are prepared, so you can do everything possible to play your best. Take these tips to heart and happy gigging!
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Carter B. teaches drums, music performance and music theory lessons to students of all ages in Memphis, TN. Carter’s specialties include rock/pop, worship, funk, jazz, latin, R&B, gospel, and fusion styles. He joined the TakeLessons team in August 2012. Learn more about Carter, or visit TakeLessons to search for a teacher near you!
Photo by PeterTea.