If you’ve ever played an instrument before, even for just a few weeks, then you’ve probably wanted to start a band.
Even band geeks like myself who played trumpet wanted to find a way into a band. And college is the perfect time to make some musical friends who share your taste.
Starting a band in college isn’t just about making original music, it’s also about finding like-minded people who will hopefully continue to be your friends for a long time, even outside of the realm of music and performance.
In this article, we’ll talk about how to start a band in college, including how to get your career started once you’ve written some fully fledged songs.
Picking Your Instrument
If you only play one instrument, then this step may seem a bit silly. But many contemporary musicians are multi-instrumentalists.
It’s pretty common for musicians to master one instrument and then move onto the next one. And when it comes to forming your own band, this can muddy the waters a bit.
Ask yourself which instrument you play best, and, more importantly, which instrument you find it easy to write with.
For example, the famous singer-songwriter Bob Dylan could play guitar, harmonica, sing, and play a bit of piano as well.
But that didn’t mean that he could write on all of these instruments. In fact, in interviews, he said that he found it very difficult to write songs on the guitar, despite the fact that he most often performed on guitar.
He preferred to write using a piano. It just made things a bit easier and encouraged him to keep writing.
Never underestimate the power of feeling motivated to write new music.
And sure, you may need to switch instruments based on the skills of your bandmates, but all that can be sorted out later.
Work on Some Ideas By Yourself
This is an important step for anyone looking to make music. You shouldn’t wait until you’ve formed a band to start working on some musical ideas.
You don’t necessarily have to decide on what genre you’d like to work within, but it can be a huge help to get started on some of your own musical ideas.
That way, once you do have a band in the room and they’re ready to practice, you’ll be able to throw a melody into the mix, giving everyone an easy starting point.
Waiting to form a band to write music can also end up being an easy excuse to get yourself out of the work of writing music in the first place.
It can be tough work, and putting that work off until some future time is just a form of procrastination.
Post a Flyer
Now we’re getting to the actual work of putting together a band in college. Making a flyer advertising a need for band members is definitely an old-fashioned method, but it’s one that works wonders in a college setting.
Let’s say you weren’t in college at the moment, just living your life in the outside world. In this setting, posting a flyer asking for band members may not be very effective.
You’d really have to find great places to post the flyer and hope that people would reach out to you.
But in college, everyone is spending their time in the same centralized areas, meaning they’re more likely to see your flyer in the first place.
College is also a time when many people feel more comfortable with their social standing. People find their own friend groups to spend their time with, and as a result, they’re more likely to look for even more people who share their interests.
If you don’t want to post your phone number to a public flyer, then you may want to simply include an email address on the flyer instead.
Then all you need to do is sort through any emails you receive and decide whether you’d like to reach out to any of these folks.
Join On-Campus Music Groups
If you’re having trouble finding other people on campus who share your love of music or a specific genre of music, then you can try joining music-related groups on campus.
These days, campus groups can be formed around just about any interest or hobby. Chances are there are already music-centric groups at your college, even if your school doesn’t offer a music major.
Working for a campus radio station, for example, can be a great way to find other students who enjoy music and also maybe play instruments.
Some colleges even have music listening groups that do just that. Joining such a group would require very little commitment and would give you a chance to talk about the kind of music you love the most.
Hold Jam Sessions
Once you have a few different potential band members, it’s important to spend some time with them before taking them in as permanent members.
Having regular jam sessions is the perfect way to find out whether you gel with certain people and their musical styles.
Get together with just a few friends in a dorm room or common room and play music together. It’s really that simple.
You’ll quickly get a much better sense of each person’s skill level and the kind of musical cliches they tend to fall into.
During the jams, try to dedicate some thought to which of these musicians you think you’d work well with.
Does one person seem more like a songwriter than some of the others? Does one person have a significant ego that could get in the way of the music?
These are all important factors to consider before joining a band with someone.
If you’re looking to spice up your sound, try adding some inventive effects pedals.
Play Nearby Open Mics
Once you have a few band members, enough to execute your musical vision, then it’s time to start writing songs.
This can be a lengthy process, but how much time you spend on writing and refining songs is ultimately up to you.
It’s also a good idea to work out some covers of popular songs that you all like.
This will all be helpful preparation for actually performing in front of others, and at first, that will probably mean playing open mics around town.
Look for bars or cafes that offer regular open mics and find out what you’ll need to do to get on the list.
It can also be helpful to simply attend a few different open mics to get a better sense of what style musicians tends to bring to the table.