Band life is something I appreciate and love. However, it takes more time, effort and dedication than most people assume.
Live music events and house shows are popular with many here in Bloomington. Whether you go for the music, socializing or to play in a band, anyone can enjoy a show.
I have been on both sides of the stage — as a member playing and watching the audience’s heads bob up and down to the beat of the songs and as the head-bobbing audience member.
When I tell people I’m in a band, the reactions are usually the same. People often say, “Wow, that's so cool,” or “You’re lucky. I wish I could play a musical instrument.”
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People associate bands with how fun they seem live or online. They think of playing in front of people at house shows, restaurants and festivals. They think of their favorite musical artists and imagine being as popular and as respected as them.
It's important to realize, however, that being in a band isn’t always fun and games. It takes a lot of time, effort, hard work and creative thinking. No one is just “lucky” to be able to play an instrument. There are lots of factors that go into playing in bands.
“When someone comes to a show and just criticizes a set as ‘bad,’ it is diminishing the hours it took to prepare the set and doesn’t bring anything constructive to the table,” Robbie Egolf, a member of the bands Emily Spinach and Fear the Fisherman, said.
Shows take a lot of time and practice, and it’s important to acknowledge the level of commitment involved. In no way do I want this to come across as a complaint, but I hope it demonstrates the amount of work that goes into those house shows and music events you attend on the weekends.
Every week, the band I’m in: Emily Spinach, will rehearse at least twice for three to four hours at each rehearsal. If we have a show that week, we end up practicing four to five times. But on my own, I try to practice at least an hour or two every day, whether this is just running over the setlist, messing around with different bass lines, learning new covers or writing my own songs.
With classes in the morning and commitments like Music Industry Creatives and creating my own zines, my daily schedule is constantly packed. Even though I prefer a busy week over free time, I sometime struggle to stay motivated. However, by listening to others' music and working with talented musicians, I find the time and motivation to practice and get better.
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My love for music started during quarantine when I got bored and listened to CDs and records. I found an old guitar in the basement my dad won at an auction. Once I started learning how to play music, I began learning new cover songs each day.
My junior year of high school, I started taking guitar lessons at a music academy. I fell in love with the bass guitar after my instructor encouraged me to practice it so I could participate in a summer music camp. Before I knew it, I got a bass guitar, practiced for a week and was on stage playing with a band.
I love being in a band all my heart, but it is not as easy as many assume. It takes a lot of effort and can be frustrating. Band life is not for everyone, but it means a lot to me.
Although being in a band has moments for individualization with practicing songs and brainstorming for originals, it is mostly a team effort. You must work together to create songs and depend on each other for cues on timing. Even at shows, you are constantly feeding off each other's energy.
Being a part of a creative team provides support and lets you feel respected as a musician. Even still, it is not easy to share original songs and personal lyrics, as most songs are intimate pieces of our lives. You don’t always know how someone will react to the story you are about to share through your lyrics. But in a band, you know that the people around you will be open-minded, supportive and ready to create something through your ideas.
Kate Hutner (she/her) is a freshman studying journalism and minoring in marketing and fashion design.