5 Tips For Prepping For A Tour

You get the call you’ve been working toward for years: a major artist wants you to go on tour with them. What do you do to get ready? Here are 5 tips for getting ready for the gig:

1. Get a detailed list of all your music and any charts available, then double check it.

I made the mistake of not double checking every track, and the artist I’m out with had live recordings I hadn’t learned (I learned the CD versions). Also, make sure to meticulously check your charts, and include notes on anything musically that’s going on.

2. Get Anytune practice software, and woodshed the songs.

I feel like I should have an endorsement deal with Anytune (I don’t), but they’re just that good. Anytune lets you slow down tempo without affecting pitch, create bookmarks for hard sections, and even has a “cycle” function which will speed up the tempo just slightly each time it repeats a section. It’s worth it’s weight in gold, and will help you efficiently practice your set.

3. Make notes of just trouble spots in all your songs, and just practice those spots.

I used the bookmarking feature in AnyTune, but you could also just make notes on your charts. Spending a lot of time on just the hard sections will help you use your time more efficiently.

4. Design your patches.

I like to use a basic piano/pad/organ for when I’m practicing, and I’ll make notes on patches on the chart itself. After I feel confident on the song, I’ll go back and start building my sounds from my notes.

For instance, I’ll make a note when I’m charting through the songs that my verse has a piano, and it switches to organ on the chorus. I’ll then design my first patch as piano, second as organ, etc. I then put them into a folder in MainStage or on my Nord Stage for each song.

5. Do a mock run through.

Set up all of your gear just as if you’re onstage, then play through all of your songs without any music or just a metronome. Try to simulate any things that might go wrong onstage, and try and correct them in real time. Prepping for the worst will help you be so much more relaxed when you first step onstage for sound check.

Did I miss something? Leave a comment for how you practice below.

7 Reasons Musicians Should Obsessively Track Expenses

I’ll be the first to confess: I’m pretty bad with numbers. Over the last few years my wife has been slowly prodding me toward better financial practices, including writing down all of my business expenses. I wasn’t sure it would be worth it, but after almost a year of tracking nearly every dollar we spend (I still screw up occasionally) it’s been amazing the results. Here are 7 things that tracking expenses helped: 

Guest Post: 7 Tips For Getting Hired In A Band

Guest Post: 7 Tips For Getting Hired In A Band

This week I'm excited to have my friend and fellow Nashville musician DJ Phillips write about what he looks for when hiring pro musicians for his cover band, The Downtown Band.

DJ is someone I admire not just for his quick wit, crazy guitar chops and robust business sense, but also for his uncanny ability to hire and retain top level music talent in a town where it's difficult to hire top talent. My first gig with the band was subbing in for their keyboardist who was currently on tour with Brett Eldridge, and most of the musicians in the group are playing or have played with major acts during their careers. With over 100+ top level musicians in rotation, I don't know anyone better at identifying and hiring successful musicians. 

4 Ways To Keep Your Head In the Game At A Show

If you’re playing a long set, it’s easy to zone out and miss an important part live. Here’s a few tricks to avoid making an embarrassing mistake live: 


1. Take notes beforehand. 


When I say take notes, I mean chart out every song, write notes for every transition, write in the notes for every solo you play, include which patches you need for each song, etc. It’s very hard to take too many notes, and mentally writing down what you need to focus on in each song will keep you attentive at the gig. 


2. Listen. 


I keep saying this in blogs because its so important: listen. Lock in as much as you can in the feel that the other band members are creating onstage, and blend in. Don’t go on autopilot with what you’re playing, or it will show. It’s easy to sonically get in the way of others when you stop listening to them. 


3. Finesse your dynamics, not your notes. 


By the time that you’re playing the gig, you’ve probably got all of your notes locked in. Rather than throwing off the other musicians in the group by switching your rhythms or notes, focusing on being subtle with your dynamics can keep you interested while locking in more tightly with the rest of the group. 


4. Use self talk.


Keep the running dialogue in your head pointed in productive directions, and make it laser focus on your own musicianship instead of pointing out faults in other players. Above all, stay positive about your performance. Say stuff to yourself like “I’ve got this” and “you’re doing great”. It sounds stupid, but it will make a big difference in your performance.