Hi, this is me, and I’ve been playing in various bands for ages. There are just so many skills I’ve learned while being in a band that I would like to share these with you.
The life skills you learn from being in a band are developed with experience and dealing with challenging situations. Without struggling and solving problems, these skills would be hard to achieve.
Being in a band is like having a full-time job, while you have a full-time job.Just kiddin’ 🙂
Let’s take a deeper look into all the life skills I’ve learned during my journey as an amateur to semi-professional musician.
Don’t miss The MEGA Starting a Band Checklist here, still for free!
Like every musician, we always want to see rapid progress in our musical careers. We find it hard to understand that the public needs time to get used to our music, and that your growth and popularity in the industry comes with consistent hard work, regular feedback and performance.
Understanding patience in life helped me to understand that in the real world, I only need to try my best each day and do as much as I can. The rest is often not in my control.
Being in a band, one quickly learns how it feels to be broke more often than you are used to. That leads to understanding how investments work. You invest money and time into a project that you firmly believe in, without the guarantee that you’ll have success.
It’s important for all people to have hobbies, but performing music live is surely a special type.
Except for equipment and travel money, you are also investing money in band practice spaces, and most importantly, your time.
I quickly learned to budget my finances and save enough money for emergencies. This is such an important skill to learn which I will forever be grateful for.
All starting bands will definitely get way more “no’s” than “yes’s”. But to stay motivated while doors are being shut in your face is a challenging thing to deal with.
The one thing I’ve learned here was that we were convinced of our product, and we only needed to find the one gatekeeper who would also be convinced of our music. With this mentality, we continued and often approached people more than once.
Sometimes people need a few days to get used to a new artist. After listening to a song a few times they will start to enjoy it and perhaps fall in love with it.
I wrote an article Why You Have a Hard Time Listening to New Music for a more detailed explanation.
I apply this type of persistence in my daily life by giving people time to get used to an idea or a concept. Often when I approach them a second time, they’ve gotten used to my original idea.
People don’t deal well with change and by taking it one step at a time people don’t feel like they’ve been thrown out of their comfort zones.
Balancing Expectations and Disappointments
It happens quite so often in the beginning phase of a band that you’ve invested plenty of time and money to reach your goals, only for the outcome to not be what you expected.
I remember recording our first demo. We thought this was the ticket for us to perform on the big stages and perhaps even get signed. But it was nothing like that. We did a good job of distributing it ourselves, but the outcome was sad and demotivating.
None of the popular venues contacted us and the ones that gave us a chance were either empty or we had to pay for using the sound, which is almost like taking a step backwards.
This taught me to work hard, but be patient for the reward. Sometimes the reward of the puzzle we are putting together only comes when the puzzle is completed and not when you hold one piece in your hand.
Getting to practice, carrying equipment around, and sacrificing special events and time with loved ones are only the tip of the iceberg when you think about what level of self-discipline it takes to make a band successful.
You have a group of individuals, all relying on each other for the success of the band and they all try to balance the band with their personal lives.
This is a great challenge. But of course, there are certain occasions that can’t be missed.
I use this self-discipline I’ve learned by being in a band to stay committed to a project until the work is completed.
Working as a unit proved too often to me that by working together as a team you reach your goals and successes faster.
This happens when the band members recognise each others’ strengths, but also support each other’s weaknesses. This is possible once the band is settled and there’s a sense of mutual respect within the group.
Working together in a team has helped me to focus on people’s strengths while being aware of my weaknesses. We are dependent on each other for support and we should reach out when we realise there’s an opportunity to help.
I wrote an in-depth article about Why Teamwork Is Golden In a Band where you’ll find more elements of teamwork in a band.
Being Adaptable and Flexible
Playing in a band, you quickly realise that things won’t always go according to your wishes. Agreed times will change, venues will change their offers on your arrival, you’ll get little to no space to work with in the backstage room, and you’ll need to deal with other musicians trying to negotiate their performance slot.
This is very normal in the music industry. Especially when you need to adjust your playlist while performing when the audience prefers a different sound.
I used this in my daily life to be flexible towards people who find change in their program hard to deal with. We’ll need to jump in and help where key personnel end up being sick.
The rule of thumb is to be flexible by keeping an eye on the bigger picture and to reach the main goal.
One of my weaknesses is also being too flexible, and I am still working on balancing it out. You shouldn’t end up pleasing people, but be accommodating towards reaching the goal not at the price of your own wellbeing.
Dealing With Change
Thinking on your feet and making quick decisions is not something everyone can do. Especially not when your decision has an effect on others.
This teaches us to deal with change better than normal people can. Musicians often pitch at a venue only to really see what they are dealing with. One can almost say that you deal with damage control at every performance.
The audience just arrives and enjoys the show without really knowing about all the effort and hard work being put in to make the show take place.
I still use my ability to deal well with change by breaking the process of change up into pieces for people having difficulty.
You develop the skill of breaking a challenging situation up into smaller pieces and looking at it from a different perspective without feeling overwhelmed.
I hope my boss likes me for it 😀
Dealing With Conflict
Bands often need to deal with conflict situations between the members, especially during the first 48 months when the vision and the mission of the band are being established.
We should learn to see conflict as a positive thing and try to take the best from it. People won’t clash if it isn’t important to them. As long as all the members make their decisions to the best of the band, one can not go wrong.
Sometimes it’s just really hard to swallow your pride and apologise. Even if you are not wrong. Talk it out and make sure that your band can continue in good vibes.
I use the experience gained by continuing to treat people with love and understanding. Sometimes a change of perspective is healthy and I know I am not always right.
We all just want to be treated with love, kindness and respect and this usually establishes the needed trust for open communication which is the bridge to finding constructive solutions.
You will feel the responsibility for your band by practising your pieces, gaining other skills, and being punctual.
You have people like your bandmates and fans relying on you that you can’t let down, and that is the discipline that will get you up and ready for your practices and performances.
This includes being there when people need you the most. Spending time with your fans and audience is key to your success as a musician and it proves your presence as a participating member of the industry.
The picture below was after a concert where we took the time to sign autographs and take pictures with our fans in our journey to making a name for ourselves.
This post was written and posted by De Wet from startingmyband.com on 24.09.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.
A good communicator can discuss a challenging topic with calmness, sensitivity and authority. We often need to remind ourselves how we would like to be addressed during stressful situations.
It is often easier to be polite and kind when we experience a relaxed and friendly environment, but as soon as things get stressed up, we don’t always think about how the words come out of our mouths.
It’s these situations that make people want to be around us or not.
I’ve learned to stay calm and friendly during times when we’ve forgotten important gear, or when we need to say no to certain shows where we’ve not been treated well previously.
This still helps me to stay calm and kind when others are rushed, hectic and thinking irrational. I’ve found that my mind stays clearer to solve these issues and to find solutions for damage control.
Interacting with people in a respectful manner is a skill that not many people have. By playing in a band you learn how to be friendly and courageous at the same time.
You learn to be humble and friendly to those above you and those looking up to you. That is what will make you a star.
Being charming, clever and witty comes with plenty of practice, and as a musician, you constantly encounter social situations to practice your social skills.
As a musician, you learn to do a few things at the same time. The simplest is probably to play your instrument and sing at the same time, or keep the beat and lead on a piano. Also, drumming challenges your brain to keep both hands busy at the same time.
Outside of my band, this has taught me to work on various projects at the same time.
I’ve also learned to manage and operate a group of people all at the same time even while individualizing their tasks for them simultaneously.
Being able to commit is a skill that many people don’t have anymore, but being in a band teaches you to hang around and commit for a certain period.
I always recommend band members to join new bands for 3-6 months as a trial period to see if the puzzle fits both parties. This is a perfect window for the participants to get used to each other and build chemistry between them.
After the 3-6 month period, we often extend the commitment to 24 months to see if the goals are met by both parties.
There’s more value in committing to one project for the long term than always seeking the golden egg with various bands.De Wet Kruger
Often, we don’t want to be too serious about these commitments, and it’s totally okay if you’re just going for it for the fun of it. At least stay loyal and committed once you make your choice to join a band.
I’ve learned to commit to a group of band members where we worked on our weaknesses and relied on each other’s strengths. These guys will always be my brothers!
Being in a band is very time-consuming. Performances affect your whole day or even your whole week if we include practices and communication.
You learn when to be productive and spend time with your loved ones. You soon realise that the busier you are, the more things you get done.
I still use the skill of managing time to know that I need to break my bigger projects up into smaller chunks and commit to a short piece of work until it’s completed.
I’ve taken part in plenty of Battle of the Bands or other music competitions where I’ve learned to go in with a clear heart and just give my best. There can only be one winner and it’s very often a band that’s only musically strong and mostly for the wider general market.
Understanding that there will always be a band better than you is not only humbling but also makes me appreciate every opportunity we get.
I often remind myself after losing that it’s only the opinion of a small hand of people and not the whole world. This motivates us to keep believing and working harder to please our fans and the people who love our music the way we practice it.
There are plenty of reasons to keep taking part in music competitions. Don’t miss my article about Music Competition Participation: The Pros and Cons for more info!
Reflecting is a big part of an artist’s progress. You learn to experiment with new ideas because without trying new things out you’ll never know what works well on stage.
After concerts, I kept focussing on what the audience loved and where the climaxes were reached during the performance. Then we keep doing what worked well and leave out what has not worked.
You also realise that certain parts of your set work better for certain audience groups.
In my daily life, I use the skill of being reflective to keep improving my work rate and quality of work. Doing things a little differently in the future and feeling like you can only improve and become better is an underestimated skill.
Many people don’t look back and they just continue to make the same mistakes instead of thinking about what can be improved on.
During each show, you stand in front of an audience that you need to entertain. This made me used to speaking in front of people, no matter their age, education or authority. You learn to talk about a topic instead of memorising sentences word by word.
I am now comfortable in front of people to explain a concept, deliver a speech or present a new product to people.
When you are in a band, you learn to make decisions by placing the heart of the cause at the centre. That means that your decision-making is around the wellness of the band.
You also learn to take care of your bandmates and manage their wellness and workload.
This experience is unique because you comfortably slide into taking over some aspects of management and leadership without pressure to succeed.
I take this experience into my day job where I tend to manage and motivate my team members in a subtle, pressure-free manner.
The key here is to play to the strengths of your band members and take the authority to reach out and organise events that will take your band forward.
If you are into artist management or would like some more info on what is expected of you, check out my articles here:
- When is it Time to Find a Manager for Your Band?
- What Makes a Good Artist Manager?
- How To Become a Music Manager
- 9 MUST KNOW Realities of Being an Artist Manager
I hope you received the insight that you were looking for!
Until next time, Rock On!