Having been in many schools bands (many years ago!) I often reminisce on those fun days. Having gone on to work in the music industry as a producer, sound engineer and composer I see these initial beginnings as important in sparking early ambitions. I also look back critically at how I could of made more of these initial experiments. If you’re a musician starting out here are some tips to make the most of the school environment, they will help you develop as an artist and help learn valuable skills.
Make use of school resources
If you’re lucky enough to have a music department at your school make sure to make the most of this resource. Having access to instruments and technology allows you to learn and grow as a musician. Learning different instruments expands your view of what is possible when it comes to producing and making music. Even if you yourself can’t play a single instrument you can use the computer to make music. This combined with all the different sound sources in the music department provide you with a wide palette to work with.
Create original band compositions
When I was in school the trend was to cover other artists songs. I always regretted not creating more original compositions. When in school you have access to a wide variety of musicians. It’s always a good idea to find out what other musicians are interested in experimenting and what instruments they play. Certain musicians might not have considered joining a band, maybe coming from a classical background. You can assume the roll of the producer and assemble an orchestra and experiment with the different compositions, arrangements, and group setups. Treat it as a co-operative, and work on each others compositions and performances.
Create solo work
As well as group ensembles why not work on solo projects. If you have access to a computer and software such as Music Maker, Samplitude Pro X, or Music Studio, you can do complete songs in the computer. Another common technique amongst song writers is to do a demo in the PC, then afterwards replace the parts with different instrumentation. This can by very exciting and is a great opportunity to experiment and learn different instruments work together and how to build timbres and do sound design. Then you can record all this back into the PC and work on your production skills.
Create radio plays & musicals
Just because you have access to technology, musicians, and instruments it doesn’t mean that you should only focus on band projects. Radio plays, though not produced as much as they once were are were are a great opportunity to create sound effects, and atmospheric music. Anyone who has an interest in entering into the film industry would do well to try your skills in this area. Every school has musicals, this is the perfect opportunity to try more advanced orchestration and combing lots of different instruments and musical effects. Again, an essential skill for those interested in entering the field of film, radio, or TV production. These skills can also be applied to videos. If your school has access to video production equipment you can combine sound and video, these can be experimental short films, plays, funny clips, whatever. Fun can be had and experience gained.
Organise lunchtime concerts
Practising, working on your craft, production skills these are all useful tools. But there is an area that greatly enhances your development as a musician, live performance. Schools often have a concert hall or space where performances can be given. These can be at lunchtime when you’ll have an audience looking to be entertained! This can be a great chance for bands to network and discuss musical collaborations too. These are essential skills for any performer looking to develop their craft.