Recently indie bands like the Lumineers and Arcade Fire have topped college charts with their unique, genre-crossing sounds. String players in both groups help them to stand out and really make a mark in today’s cluttered music scene.
If you’re interested in playing a violin in a band, with just a few easy steps you can get started. Follow along and you’ll be on stage in no time!
How to Join a Band
If you’re already confident in your violin skills, you’ll want to either find an established band or form your own band. Figure out what kind of music you like and what you’d like your band to sound like. This will help you define your goals and search for a band.
Go to local shows to meet other musicians who make the kind of music you like and support them. You can always ask bands you like if they’re interested in jamming with a violinist to see what you can add to their sound. You should also keep your eyes open for postings on Craigslist and other sites where people might post if they’re looking for bandmates.
When you’re auditioning to join an established band, ask them if they can send you charts for a few of their most popular songs. Rock bands might give you less detailed charts than what you are used to, so feel free to ask questions and get comfortable communicating about music in new ways. You might only have a list of chords that the guitar player is playing to work from, so improvising is key!
Want to start your own band? That’s great too! Ask your friends if they want to play with you or if they know any other musicians who would like to play. You can also take your search online. If you do post online looking for other musicians, be sure that your ad is clear and specific. You wouldn’t want to waste someone’s time auditioning if they’re obviously not going to be a good fit for your band.
Tips for Playing a Violin in a Band
Once you’ve found other musicians to play with, make sure that you’re able to dedicate time to band practices and performances. Most bands practice once or twice weekly. Depending on where you’re located, you might have gigs every weekend or just once every couple of months. Be dedicated and take your band seriously if you want to do well.
Additionally, make sure that you have all the violin equipment you’ll need for live performances. Depending on the noise level in your band, you might be able to simply mic your violin on-stage and play. If your band is a bit louder, springing for an electric violin and an amp will be the best solution to ensure you are heard.
Musically, there are lots of things you can do with your violin to add a whole new layer to a band’s sound. The violin can repeat the song’s melody as a solo instrument, echo the back-up vocals, or add musical fills between phrases. Keep in mind that you don’t have to be playing every second of every song. Sometimes a violinist makes the most impact by only playing on important, dynamic parts of a song.
Listen to a lot of music that features violinists for inspiration. A couple of our favorite contemporary violinists are Lindsey Stirling and Owen Pallett, but there are many other great artists making interesting and creative new music on the violin.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with looping, effects pedals, and other new technology as it emerges. Be curious about what equipment your bandmates are using and always ask them for feedback on your sound.
The most important thing to remember is that playing in a band should be fun! After all, you got into making music because you like it and you want to have a good time. Be friends with your bandmates and take time to do things together, whether that means having a pizza after practice or listening to records together. When you perform, your audience can tell if you’re having fun, and this helps them to have a great time too!
Photo by goto10