Classical Percussionist and I Can't Get Band Gigs

by Sabrina
(Germany)

I was feeling low and surfing the internet when I came upon your site after I googled "why are some musicians more successful than others?"

It's great to know you give tips to musicians!

Some people get invited to festivals and concerts, while I (classical percussionist) practice hard and am good at what I do but never seem to get invited to "big" gigs. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks for your time...! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


Andrew Answers:

Sabrina,

The first thing that comes to mind is, "Which percussion instruments do you play"?

I'm saying this because there would be a big difference between a percussionist who plays Marimbas, and one who plays the timpani.

But assuming that you play most of the classical percussion instruments, we can start with the area that you are in.

If you live in a smaller town, then getting gigs is going to be tougher (although not impossible that is for sure).

I would start by looking through any local schools that are around you. I know sometimes high schools will have a sort of "Community Band" that often is open to anyone to join.

If you are sporting an awesome instrument such as Marimba's, then you will have a great venue to start learning and playing with a band.

Now if you are planning on playing a solo act, it is possible that you could find a local band event and sneak your solo act in between the other bands.

Many bands will often rent out some of the local halls. If there is a rotary club in your city, they often will rent out their halls. As well; Old Age Pensioners (OAP) halls will often rent their halls out for cheap too, and I know in my city you can find a local show there every second week.

These halls generally run from $20-40 an hour, so a 5 or 6 hour night only costs the band $150-200 (Which can usually be recouped by charging $5 at the door).

These types of venues are generally the best to meet other bands. If there is any sort of "Avante-Gardness" about the bands, you will find they are generally ecstatic to hear about a classical musician who is more in their vein of music (Mainly because more "rock" bands don't have near the discipline that a classical musician will have, so they'll be incredibly jealous.)

If you can't get a slot in between bands, you can always ask around to the bands and see if they are looking to add in extra members. Having someone with your skills can always add a very unique dynamic to these types of bands, so any band with creative integrity will likely at least give it a serious thought.

I realize that the niche you have chosen is somewhat difficult to market if you are trying to play outside of the "orchestral" vein of music.

Just focus on your networking skills, as meeting new people is what is going to make the difference in whether you have a band to play with, or not.

For example, my band just found a new drummer last week simply because one of our fans (That we networked with on Facebook) gave us a suggestion for a friend of hers.

It worked out really good because she had already seen our shows, and she knew that he was the type of drummer that would fit our style.

Never discount the networking.

Hope that answer works for you!

-Andrew

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