Band Coaching sessions can help bands make significant improvements in a short space of time. This post explains what to expect from a CME band coaching session and how it’s different from a traditional band skills workshop.
Diagnoses and actions
Our Band Coaching sessions offer a full day, intensive session for individual bands. A team of tutors discuss the aspirations and goals of the band with its members, followed by a diagnostic session during a band performance. Practical advice, based on what the band want, is then offered, such as getting the best sound from equipment, tuning drums, vocal techniques, performance skills, how to work with sound engineers, etc.
Sessions take place at Access to Music in Norwich with two or three tutors. Bands are encouraged to bring their own equipment (if they have it).
- Questionnaire – band members complete a questionnaire to identify what they want to achieve from the day and their goals for the band. The answers are discussed as a group.
- Play/perform – the band play a few songs in front of the tutors.
- Analysis – band members and tutors discuss the performance in detail, identifying any issues or things that the band would like to change or do differently.
- Sin list – band members and tutors draw up a ‘sin list’ of common annoying/destructive traits in band members. This is a fun and non-confrontational way of encouraging self-awareness. Examples on the list – ‘jaffing’ loudly while a band mate is trying to tune up, being late often, not listening to others’ ideas, etc.
- Specifics – band members split into smaller groups or one-to-one to work on specific issues identified in the analysis section, e.g, achieving the desired sound from an amplifier, dynamics, technical skills, performance skills.
- Final play/perform – once these changes have been nailed the band play again to demonstrate the improvements.
- Action plan – band members create a list of actions to continue progressing beyond the session
How is this different from a regular band skills workshop?
CME has long run band skills workshops (or rock schools) for young musicians, or children who have just started to learn instruments. These one or two day sessions are typically delivered with groups of eight to 16 young people, who have usually not met before. The aim of band skills workshops is to engage, motivate and help young people improve their confidence and self-esteem and gain a better understanding of teamwork, as well as develop musical skills. A final ‘performance’ is there to give a focus to the day and to celebrate achievement – but producing a polished song is not a necessary output – it’s the learning journey that’s important.Band Coaching sessions are for bands who have already written songs and started gigging. It’s an intensive learning experience that requires critical self-analysis and a willingness to take on new ideas.
CME tutor Paul Thompson says: “A Band Coaching session is a shortcut to learning essentials tips, which would normally take months or years of gigging and recording to find out. We point out common pitfalls and show them ways to avoid them. A common issue we’ve come across is a ‘muddy’ sound. So we look in detail at what space each players occupies in the sound spectrum and show them how to lose the muddy sound using the controls and EQs on their instruments and amps. It’s a straightforward and practical change that can quickly improve their sound.“Other aspects of the session are more sensitive – such as exploring relationships within the band, how they work together and how they can come to accept each other’s personalities or traits.“It’s important that it’s a positive experience so we take care not to push too far. We would only offer Band Coaching to bands who are ready for this next step.” So in conclusion, a Band Skills Workshop is a session which uses music making activities to engage, motivate and inspire; Band Coaching is a session designed to improve the sound and self-management of an existing band.