Advice on Learning 7 Hours of Music

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
this was me 5 years ago with my country/blues/rockabilly band...until then, I had actively avoided country and blues b/c they bore me to death. I do like rockabilly tho.

So I had to learn around 150 songs that to me all sounded exactly the same. I immediately made a Spotify list of all of the songs, and started my own "set list" with notes for every song...mostly just structural notes. I also play bass, so I made references to the chord changes and keys as well, so that I could watch/listen to what the bass player is doing.

So as we would rehearse and form a set list, I would make my own out of my master notes list, and then print that out for my self. It really helped me start to seperate many of the songs, especially the ones with lots of starts and stops; I also note which ones are train beats, 6/8 shuffles etc...

I would then play along with the playlist and set list in "mock run throughs" of the show

5 years later, it is much easier for me to learn new songs b/c I have soaked in all fo the basic phrase, and organization tricks that are used in those styles.

my biggest issue still is that the leader will sometimes change a song phrase structure in the middle of the song...while we are playing. So we all have to really be on our toes;

once you get a system down, and familiarize your self with the genre/style orchestration and phrase tendencies, you should be fine.

ALSO...don't think of it as 7 hours of music...break it down into smaller sets maybe by genre, speed, beat style etc...that way it becomes more like "files" of songs in a cabinet, and you just pull out the files you need...
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Write the tempo and feel of each song, eg Relaxed Shuffle, Driving Rock, Straight Rock, Ballad, Fast Snare Shuffle.

Write down who starts the song. If its everyone, write “1 2 3 4”.
Write down how it ends eg Last Line x3 then Tag, Rall... and hold, Sudden Stop 1 & 2 &//

Also note any important stops, eg “2 Stops at end of Chorus”

If there’s a special beat for that song, try and notate the bass & snare pattern.

Here’s an example...4B0EE626-9603-4D9D-9656-D559170D5B9B.jpeg
 

iCe

Senior Member
Congrats on the new found gig. When confronted with an array of unfamiliar material, I commit myself to extended listening sessions before I even start practicing to tracks. Once I've internalized the grooves, structures, and dynamics of songs, I can sit down and play them with ease. It's all about knowing your drum parts as though they're second nature. For me, that comes from auditory mastery.
This works for me as well. For the songs that i struggle with, i use a cheat sheet in the most basic form: i write down the structure of the song with notes and/or references on the parts i keep forgetting. Or maybe just one part of the song i keep forgetting a note that says something like "break after chorus/2 counts/2 bar tom fill". Probably doesn't make any sense to someone else, but i know what i mean and it's just a great reminder.

Just remembered that when i was asked a few years ago to fill in for a gig i listened to all songs and made a cheat sheet for almost all songs. Was maybe 45 mins of music to learn (and some song i knew already), but still only had 2 weeks and one session with the band to get to learn them. Got me prepared enough to do the gig almost flawlessly :)
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Congrats on the gigs.

I'm in the listening camp. I'm lucky in that I can remember arrangements quickly for pop songs. Learn the words of the songs too, it helps to give you cues.

I hope you're getting a kings ransom for a 4 hour set, That's brutal! I've stopped doing 3 hour sets because they drain you mentally and physically, and that's before the big drive home!
 

Cmdr. Ross

Silver Member
Congratulations, and welcome to the big leagues! You have a big opportunity here!

You won’t have to “read music”, but you will need to count, and put pencil to paper. It’ll take you between 5 and 15 minutes to chart an average song (2 or 3 listens), but then you’ll be able to accurately play it, without relying on cues from the band. You’ll probably make fewer mistakes than others in the band. Needless to say, it takes a lot of work, but it feels fantastic to kill it on a gig, the first time you play with a new band. And other musicians will notice, too.
This.
Do basic charts of each song & have it at the ready. If I've learned anything being a hired gun, its charting & playing through the setlist ad nausium.
Then come gig night, you'll not only have the songs in your head to add to the fun factor, but you'll have your notes to help out if you get stuck.

Congrats & good luck, man!
 

motojosh

Member

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Write the tempo and feel of each song, eg Relaxed Shuffle, Driving Rock, Straight Rock, Ballad, Fast Snare Shuffle.

Write down who starts the song. If its everyone, write “1 2 3 4”.
Write down how it ends eg Last Line x3 then Tag, Rall... and hold, Sudden Stop 1 & 2 &//

Also note any important stops, eg “2 Stops at end of Chorus”

If there’s a special beat for that song, try and notate the bass & snare pattern.

Here’s an example...View attachment 106389

how did you make this? I want!!!
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
how did you make this? I want!!!
Its a table in Word. For my first gig with this band I printed the words then pencilled in the drum beats for each song onto the printout.
Then they asked me to do more gigs, so I used Sibelius First (freeware) to notate some beats then used a snipping tool to copy these into Word. This takes some time at first, but now every time the band rearranges the setlist I can copy and paste rather than writing it all by hand again.

Here’s a different format for another band. (I’ve filled in for five bands this year, plus three regular bands, so these notes really help.)AFF278F8-A460-479A-A097-78928A804A6E.jpeg
 

Frank

Gold Member
I think you already have the advice you need. I wouldn't recommend any activity down to the drum notation level. Just the cheat sheet level that you described.

Keep the music playing every possible moment of life.
One opportunity not to miss - if you do any commuting, bring your music with you.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Its a table in Word. For my first gig with this band I printed the words then pencilled in the drum beats for each song onto the printout.
Then they asked me to do more gigs, so I used Sibelius First (freeware) to notate some beats then used a snipping tool to copy these into Word. This takes some time at first, but now every time the band rearranges the setlist I can copy and paste rather than writing it all by hand again.

Here’s a different format for another band. (I’ve filled in for five bands this year, plus three regular bands, so these notes really help.)View attachment 106448

I like the second format above, and you answered the notation question - Sibaleus. I am a Finale guy, so I can use that...do you just export the notation to a pdf then drag into word? I just need to know how you get it into Word
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I like the second format above, and you answered the notation question - Sibaleus. I am a Finale guy, so I can use that...do you just export the notation to a pdf then drag into word? I just need to know how you get it into Word
Don’t save to pdf, just draw a tiny box around one bar of music, copy as a graphic then paste into Word. In the freeware version of Sibelius I use a Snipping Tool to select and copy a tiny part of the screen.
 
I like the second format above, and you answered the notation question - Sibaleus. I am a Finale guy, so I can use that...do you just export the notation to a pdf then drag into word? I just need to know how you get it into Word
Windows 10 includes the "snipping tool", so no extra software needed. :) Of course you could do a regular screenshot ("print" on the keyboard, then paste into a graphics software) if you use a different OS.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Windows 10 includes the "snipping tool", so no extra software needed. :) Of course you could do a regular screenshot ("print" on the keyboard, then paste into a graphics software) if you use a different OS.
Windows 10 includes the "snipping tool", so no extra software needed. :) Of course you could do a regular screenshot ("print" on the keyboard, then paste into a graphics software) if you use a different OS.
The reason not to do a regular screenshot is that we only need 1% of the screen, so there’s a massive amount of cropping, and you end up with massive file sizes. The Snipping Tool takes a screenshot of a small selected area, so it’s much easier to handle.
 
Well, I know what the snipping tool does and that is the more convenient option - I just wanted to include the alternative if you don't have such a program. Of course cropping in MS Paint (or whatever graphics program) takes a few extra seconds, but I don't see a problem with the file size. It's just 2 or 3 MB in the clipboard when taking a screenshot.
 

Living Dead Drummer

Platinum Member
Write charts, 5 songs per day. Each day work on the songs you've charted, and chart the next 5. By day 3 You'll have 15 songs under your belt. Don't worry about memorizing any of it. The more you read your charts while playing the songs the easier this will get.
I don't frequently do cover gigs, only for friends once in a while as favors. Charting is the only reason I can juggle 10 bands at a time, or say yes to last min jobs, often without a single rehearsal.
 
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