Rock-and-Roll for the Soul
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Dig deep, live better. Those four words encompass Band Aid Rock Summer Camps’ desire to inspire kids by exposing them to music and creativity.
“Passing along music to anyone is feeding their soul and their connection with something higher,” said Band Aid founder James Mays. “I feel really honored to be able to do that.”
After two decades as a professional musician and nearly a decade working in music education, Mays founded Band Aid School of Music in 2009. Six years later, kids not only attend during the school year but can also experience one to two exciting weeks in the summer.
“What’s unique about our summer camp is the immersion into the music,” said Mays. “Now, my own son goes through the camp. To see it from the perspective of a parent – I was shocked by how much progress my son made!”
Older kids spend two weeks perfecting their musical skills while younger children at the Little Rock Star camps have abridged sessions that expose them to the exciting world of music. Both camps are filled with professional musical staff members who expose students to all parts of the music industry.
“Our whole school is based on giving the students the skills to be in bands,” said Mays. “Experiencing what it’s like to play together in a band and all the ins and outs of that like writing songs and promoting their music.”
After training the youth band that was voted Best Teenage Band in the United States, there’s no double that Band Aid School of Music knows what it takes to create an amazing band.
“The level of education someone gets at Band Aid School of Music is the highest in the United States,” said Mays. The camp lives up to that standard by providing an incredible learning environment.
Collaborating in small groups lead by expert staff challenges kids to work together and create a unified vision for their summer band. The camp’s average 4:1 student to teacher ratio ensures that every student has the special attention they need to excel at their craft. Mays explained that staff members are selected both on their musical experience and their mentorship ability.
“We make sure we’re putting the students in a situation where they’re able to thrive,” said Mays. “The goal is to see a student come to life doing something that’s completely liberating – where they understand that they can be inovative, think outside the box and create what they want in life. They’re empowered to unlock the potential inside themselves.”
This summer, Band Aid has camps available for “Beginners”, “Rock Stars”, “Little Rock Stars” and “Little Mozarts”. There’s a camp that suits your child no matter their age or musical skill level.
“It’s just a blast,” said Mays. “They really are having a lot of fun and coming out of the camp with smiles on their face.”
These tips for gigging gave my a good laugh and a lot of wisdom from a master. Enjoy
Ever wonder why those who study music seem to be more successful?
For decades, educators, scientists, and researchers have observed that students who pick up musical instruments tend to excel in academics—taking the lead in measures of vocabulary, reading, and non-verbal reasoning and attention skills, just to name a few. But why musical training conferred such an advantage remained a bit of a mystery. Until now.
Wanna find out what drumsticks work best for you and the sound you want? Wes Armstrong has a few easy tips for you.
When you walk into the drum department at your local music store, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. They probably have all sorts of lights, giant displays, some kind of drum video playing over the PA, not to mention all the kids banging on the kits that are for “demo use only.” If you’re just starting out as a drummer, the most important thing you can do is experiment and find what you like. Go to your local music store and poke around a bit. There are a lot of factors that go into shaping your signature sound as a drummer. The first and most basic step may also be the one that’s the most overlooked, stick choice.
There are a million and a half drumstick companies, and they all want your business. The first thing to think about is drumstick size. Most companies size their sticks using some combination of numbers and letters. In general, the lower the number is the thicker the stick will be. For example, a ProMark 3A stick will be thicker than a ProMark 7A. What kind of music are you playing? If Jazz, you’ll want a thinner stick. Think 7A and up. If you’re playing Rock or Funk, you may want a thicker stick for a “beefier” sound. Think 3A-5B. The middle road is generally a 5A or a 5B.
The next step is manufactures. There are new companies starting every day. The industry standard is Vic Firth. You can’t go wrong using their drumsticks, that being said, you should explore the market. You may find, as I did, that you end up breaking most every pair of Vic Firth sticks you own. Eventually, I ended up using ProMark sticks. I love the way they feel, they’re made in Texas, and they don’t break on me. Some other companies I recommend checking out are: Vater, Regal Tip, Zildjian, and Innovative Percussion. Those are the “industry standards” but explore newer companies as well, SilverFox Percussion, 3Drumsticks, etc..
Once you’ve found your favorite manufacturer and drumstick size, now you can think about stick finish, stick length, bead type, and “signature sticks.” Each of these companies are going to have a multitude of customizations and other choices for you to explore. It may take you a couple of years to figure out what sticks you like but after a certain point in your development, drumming comes down to feel and there’s nothing you’ll notice more than the sticks in your hand.
or read 15 gig bag essentials right here… Thanks Fender!
Gig bags—those bastions of convenience for the working musician—have undergone something of a renaissance in the past decade or so. They’re cooler looking, tougher and more utilitarian than ever before, as attested by all manner of water-resistant fabrics, comfortably padded shoulder straps and the part we love best: all those cool pockets.
Even a modest gig bag of today has room for several other accoutrements besides the instrument it was designed to transport, so we’ve compiled a list of 15 Other Things You Really Should Have in Your Gig Bag (besides the guitar):
1. Strings. Most important. Don’t be the guy who didn’t have a spare set of strings when one broke halfway through the first set.
2. String winder. And don’t be the guy who had a spare string but took half an hour to replace it.
3. A tuner. A small digital one will suffice. There is absolutely no reason in this enlightened technological age to say things like, “Hey, would you give me an E?”
4. Another strap. In case you forget your usual one for some strange reason. Or if it breaks. Or if another guy in your band forgot his. It’s inevitable.
5. Another cord. The day will come when you hear the maddeningly annoying crackle of a bad cable. Be ready for it.
6. Picks. These are always disappearing; probably to the same mysterious void your other sock went.
7. A pen and paper. Indispensable for everything—signing merch, making set lists, labeling the soundboard, getting numbers, emergency tracheotomies, etc. For set lists, notes, song charts, on-the-spot lyrical inspiration and myriad other uses. They say Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope. On the way to the gig.
8. Tape. Duct tape or black gaffer tape, for which there are so many uses that we won’t even attempt to start listing them all.
9. Power strip. When you show up at the gig, count on there not being enough outlets.
10. Nine-volt batteries. Not every rehearsal or gig is near a convenience store. A must-have spare for effects pedals and active instruments.
11. Ground lift. Spend the buck-fifty and get the little adaptor that will reduce hum, accommodate ancient two-prong outlets and occasionally save you from being zapped by your mic.
12. Flashlight. Just a little one, small enough to hold between clenched teeth. Indispensable at bars, most of which are monuments to inadequate lighting. When setting up and adjusting your gear, it helps if you can actually see your gear.
13. Business cards. You really should have these anyway if you’re working consistently. But you still need the pen.
14. Ibuprofen. Be prepared. Aches and pains happen, especially when you are carting around gear.
15. Tool Kit. Bring along a tool kit so you are prepared to make minor adjustments as needed.
- Make music you can headbang to:
It’s difficult to headbang to some types of music, so make some tunes that really make you want to throw in a headbang every once in a while.
- Determine which parts of the song you can headbang to:
Sometimes launching into a wicked headbang right as the song starts with a gentle acoustic guitar part doesn’t come across as an effective headbang. Make sure you know when the energy level is going to drop into awesome-land, and reserve your headbangs for then.
- Get in the “headbang stance” right before the part in the song:
I can’t tell you how many times headbanging made me want to fall over on my face on stage. I’ve launched my head at incorrect angles with incorrect leg stances, and I’ve gone as far as hitting my forehead very hard on my keyboard stand mid-headbang due to a bad stance. Put one foot forward, and one foot back so you can go back and forth with balance, and make sure to headbang in bursts, not constant, because you steadily get more and more dizzy as the headbang persists.
- Lean back:
To really set off the first headbang of a headbang burst, you have to get a solid, well-timed, giant headbang in on the first down beat. Right before the moment of headbang hits, lean back, and coil up that potential headbang energy.
- Whip forward but never straight down (that’s the key to not injuring your neck):
Once you’ve let loose, make sure you never headbang straight forward, and always headbang in a ‘J’ pattern. Whip your hair down and right, or down and left. The ‘J’ pattern seems to not stress the neck and spine, whereas the straight-down headbang seems to stretch the spine in a painful manner.
- Think of your hair, not your head:
Use the momentum of your hair to make the headbang epic. If you’re just shaking your head, then your hair might look like a big ball of messy crazy hair, but if you’re swinging your hair around, you can do all sorts of cool designs like figure eights, helicopters, etc.Happy headbanging!-A.J. Vincent
1. Get to the show on time – getting to the show on time makes everything flow better, and it starts everything off well for the night between you and the venue staff. Go say hey to everybody at the venue when you arrive, then…
2. Get the plan for the night from the venue staff – it’s great to know and plan ahead of time if you’re going to sound-check or line-check before the show, and if you are immediately loading to the stage when you arrive, or if you will be loading to the stage right before your set. Be prepared!
3. Know your gear – when the sound engineer asks any questions about how to mic your amps, or when you’re asked how many “lines” does the band have, you should have the answer immediately, because you’ve thought it out already (especially if you have less than 10 minutes before your set starts, and you need all the time you can get to set up before you play). Sound engineers generally appreciate you taking the least time possible when setting up and tearing down the stage. Every second counts!
4. Don’t break things – although rocking out on stage is awesome, and crazy things naturally happen on stage, try your very hardest not to break the microphones (anywhere on stage), don’t break the stands, don’t step on the cables going into the monitors, and just generally try to never break anything at the venue. You can always scope out spots to stand when you’re rocking out that are safe and stable before your show, so when you go for a crazy solo, you don’t wind up crushing something important. Sound engineers treat their equipment like musicians treat their instruments – with detailed care and concern.
5. Work with the sound engineer on solving problems, and don’t ever get an attitude – good sound engineers will quickly fix a problem when it arises, and bad sound engineers will leave the board for any random reason, and if a problem arises, you can’t find them. Strive to work with focused sound engineers. If a sound engineer isn’t doing something to your specification (like the monitors being the wrong volume, the engineer forgot to check something, or something sounds very wrong), do not get frustrated and show a disgust for how things are not perfect. Simply let the engineer know the problem, and work together to fix it, and do anything that can help fix the problem the fastest. I have seen bands express impatience/disgust towards engineers and engineering issues many times, and you just have to work with everyone on any problem with a positive attitude to get things done.
6. Play really hard – sound engineers like watching something exciting and new. They see a lot of bands, and when you get them stoked about your sound, they get really into making it sound awesome.
7. Thank everybody on the way out – make sure that when you’re packing up, other bands are packing up, the engineer(s) are packing up, and everyone is tired… make sure to thank everyone for working so hard all night to make it happen. People really appreciate it, and it takes a lot of people to pull off a show, so let everyone know you appreciate all the effort.
I recently received a frustrated email from a parent of a 10 yr old piano student, who needed help encouraging her daughter to practice piano. This was my response, I hope you find it helpful in encouraging your child to practice. – James Mays – Band Aid School of Music Director