There are a lot of skills that go into leading an open band. For example:
- Paying attention to the dancers and giving directions to the band to adjust to better give the dancers what they need.
- Thinking about how to vary the tune and accompaniment to keep the music interesting.
- Using alternate rhythms and chords to build energy for dancing.
- Listening to the overall sound of the band and figuring out what needs to change for it to sound as good as possible.
- Thinking about what the strengths of the group are as musicians and how best to feature those strengths.
These skills are essential for band leaders, but they're also very useful in playing for dancing in general. In fact, they're some of the skills musicians coming from other backgrounds (classical, folk, session, ...) most often benefit from practicing.
So: if you're interested in working on band leading skills, BIDA's going to be hosting two events where you can get practice:
- On the evening of Wednesday 11/15 I'll be hosting a workshop on band leading. We'll plan to play a bunch of sets, and take turns directing the group. Here's your chance to try calling chords, holding up signs, and giving directions in a relaxed environment where there aren't any dancers to confuse if it doesn't work out. Details on facebook; write to email@example.com for the address.
- On Sunday 12/3rd we'll be having one of our regular open band dances, but instead of bringing in a band leader we'll take turns leading. It can be a bit scary arranging on the fly in front of a hundred dancers, but it's also incredibly valuable practice: you don't really know how an idea feels until you've tried it with a real hall. No need to RSVP for this one, but write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want me to make sure to hold you a slot.