Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Northern California
Re: What do you look for when starting/joining a band?
I think a somewhat shared goal is important if you expect the band to do more than an open mic or local gigs. That being said, getting with musicians with vastly different tastes can be a great learning experience, and not so painful if we are just talking open mics and local gigs.
I have learned a lot from a jazz orchestra (who has a goal of playing publicly) but got just enough expansion in music ideas by just being in their practice band every now and then. I was one of the "rock" musicians who jammed with them but probably held them back. Of course the best members were those who wanted to be professional jazz musicians and were the high school students looking into majoring in music or the occasional music major from college. But the older students like me just wanted to learn small amounts and had no goal of making it that good since we have to work, pay bills, and put those kids through school in many cases. Unlike the jazz students, we don't have to fashion compositions in different keys and different instruments and write out horn sections. That latter though is usually what makes the difference between amateur and professional. Our very own Steve Vai learned all about horn sections and he's a guitarist which may shock us. However, any jazz musician has to delve deep into horns and all types of music theory to make it work.
The non-traditional musicians like me kind of held the band back usually being unable to sight read well, and being totally unable to transpose in a musical form that had lead sheets not only in C, but in Eb and Bb favoring the horns that make up the juicy parts in most jazz pieces.
The whole experience of working with "real" musicians made me a lot better, even when there wasn't a shared goal. It's like tennis where I only improved when I played with those better than me. I do have long term goal of bettering sight reading and plan on trumpet some time down the line. The only jazz guitarists I personally know who are any good play some sort of trumpet, flute, or sax and knows how they all fit together.