Bandvista Blog


“You Must Have It So Easy!” - The Challenges of Music School

Attending music school is often met with exclamations of “Oh wow, your courseload must be so light” or “It must be so easy getting to study something you love.” And while certainly it is a rewarding experience to study music for lots of reasons, an easy thing it is not. The object here isn't to discourage people from attending music school. It's a tough furrow to plow, to be sure, but it is also extremely fulfilling for those who have their head screwed firmly in place. The point here, rather, is to talk about some of the most difficult parts of music school so that next time you hear one of these statements, you can just direct them to this blog and watch them blink in disbelief as they ponder things they've never known about attending music school. Here are five huge challenges music school.

A Heavier Courseload

Students attending school for a degree in music always have a heavier than average courseload than other majors. The average university student will take five courses a semester; music majors typically take seven or eight. Because music degrees are so highly specialized, in addition to general education classes music majors have to take a lot of specialty classes each semester, from private lessons to performance concentration master classes.

Hours of Practice

Music majors don't just get out of class and go home to do their homework; in addition to all the essays, papers, and quizzes to be completed in gen ed classes, they also have to practice for hours to learn and master their solo material, ensemble material, and any music for instrumental technique classes they are taking. This effectively doubles the amount of time they have to spend on work outside the classroom in comparison with other majors.


Juries are scored musical examinations in which music majors perform on their main instrument and are graded by a jury board of professors, which will typically include their private instructor, the head of their internal department and sometimes the dean of the school. Juries are incredibly high pressure – because if a music major bombs their juries, they can be placed on academic probation or even removed from their degree program. Juries are in addition to all the other examinations students have to take each semester, and often times are assigned in advance – which usually results in music students having to negotiate exam times with other instructors, since jury times can almost never be altered.

More Credits Per Degree

Lots of music classes offer fewer than the standard three credits per course. Private lessons are often just two credits; ensembles, like chorus or orchestra, can be as little as half a credit. This translates into students having to take more classes overall than other majors, as mentioned earlier; and on average, music students usually wind up with more than the requisite hundred and twenty credits for their undergraduate degree.

Lots Less Time

All the work music majors have to do winds up resulting in a lot less time for activities outside their studies. One of the reasons music majors seem like such an insular group is that other music majors understand very well the pressures of a music degree program, and won't take it personally when one of their friends or the person they're dating says, “Can't, I've got rehearsal” or “I want to but I really have to practice/do my theory homework/etc.” Music majors experience burnout regularly because they have so little downtime – going for a music degree is not for the faint of heart, and some music students have to take routine time off from school to recover.

Music school is an immense challenge, personally, academically, and professionally. So the next time you hear someone say to a music student, “You must have it so easy!”, you'll know that they're wrong – and you can correct their assumption.


5 Guitars for Beginners

If you're just starting out with guitar – either acoustic or electric – the choices you'll find in any music store can be overwhelming. But there are a few guitars that stand out as good choices for beginning students in guitar – a blend of quality and simplicity. Here are five guitars for beginners.

Gibson Maestro Acoustic

One of the least expensive acoustic guitars on the market, the Gibson Maestro nevertheless boasts good quality and sound for the price. With beautiful curves and a tremendous dynamic range, the Maestro Acoustic boasts a rosewood fingerboard and a spruce veneer, and can often be bundled with a gig bag, picks, shoulder strap, and spare strings for a nice bit of savings.

Fender Stratocaster

In the mid-range for pricing, the Fender Stratocaster is one of the best-known electric guitars of modern rock and roll and is seen in the hands of students and professionals alike. An excellent choice for guitar students who plan to enter the professional arena after an appropriate amount of instruction, the Stratocaster boasts a classic rock and roll sound at home with every genre from metal to alternative rock.

Squier Strat

Ideal for both student and hobbyist, the Squier Strat is one of the most inexpensive electric guitars available. With limited capability but decent sound, the Squier Strat is often sold as part of a bundle intended for the beginner, with a gig bag, amp, picks, and strap included. While some professionals might disdain the Strat for its lesser versatility, it is nevertheless a great choice for both students and those on a tight budget.

Seagull S6

A mid-ranged acoustic guitar, the Seagull S6 is another guitar ideally suited to students who intend to transition to professional practice later on. With good tonal quality and solid construction, the S6 is the recipient of several awards for sound quality and craftspersonship, and includes plug-ins for amplification and a built-in tuner.

Epiphone Les Paul Standard

Another mid-priced guitar, the Epiphone Les Paul Standard electric guitar is one of the best-known models in the guitar world. With solid construction, clear sound, and a gorgeous body, the Les Paul Standard is just that – a standard among guitarists and students of guitar alike.

Regardless of what you want to do with guitar – whether you want to take it up as a hobby or become the second incarnation of Jack Black – one of these instruments is likely to suit the direction you intend to take for many years to come.


5 Best Free (or cheap) DAWs

If you produce electronic music, record, or do anything else that involves a digital audio workstation, you'll already know the big names in this industry. But for musicians who might have a tight (or nonexistent) budget, affording one of those big-name DAWs can be a challenge. If you're looking for an inexpensive – or even free – DAW, check out these five awesome free or cheap DAWs.

Acid Pro Xpress

Acid Pro Xpress, produced by Sony, is a fantastically comprehensive digital audio workstation that permits ten tracks per project and basic mixing capability. Free to download, Acid Pro Xpress can be easily upgraded to a fuller version of the award-winning music creation platform – but if you're looking to save cash, upgrade to an earlier edition of Acid Pro to get tons of tracks per project, sound effects, and even more mixing tools.


One of the original freeware DAWs, Audacity is simple but effective if you're doing basic audio editing. However, if you push Audacity to its limit – and you have a decent processor – you can turn Audacity into a decent powerhouse, with the capability of pushing out semi-professional sounding tracks. For musicians who are just starting out, Audacity is a perfect beginning DAW for setting up demo tracks for online distribution.


Giada is a totally free open-sourced DAW that functions wonderfully as a loop and drum sequencer, MIDI trigger, and live sampler. Created especially for live musicians and DJs, Giada is a powerful program whose minimalistic interface might fool the unwary. Well worth the learning curve, Giada is an excellent alternative to high-priced software programs of its type – and if you love it, you can donate to support further development.


Available exclusively to Mac OSX users, Garageband is a highly capable DAW, jam-packed with a ton of recording, editing, and post-production tools. With up to two hundred and fifty tracks per project, this awesome professional-grade DAW is free to OSX users – and rumors of a Linux simulator for the software are floating about, too.


Originally a Linux-only DAW, Rosegarden is now available on Windows machines as well. Open-sourced and free, Rosegarden serves as a highly capable DAW and MIDI sequencer, and is well worth the learning curve that comes along with it. Robust and packed with tools, Rosegarden is among the best free open-source digital audio workstations on the market.

Whether you're on a budget or just love to support independent and open-source projects, each of these digital audio workstations is worth checking out – not to mention utilizing for your next album or live music project!

When A Show Goes wrong – 5 Tips for Handling It

Every musician, no matter how experienced, has bad gigs from time to time. It's an inevitability, and while it's always a stressful experience, having a show go wrong can be handled with professionalism and grace. Here are five tips for when a show goes wrong – and how you can save the day.

Stay Calm

When something goes wrong at a show, it's a totally natural response to feel panic and even fear. It can be especially palpable if it's your first show, or it's in the middle of a tour. If something goes wrong, take a minute to focus yourself, take some deep breaths, and get centered. Staying calm will help you from both a social and a pragmatic standpoint – you won't have any fans or other professionals witness you having a full-blown freakout, and if you're calm, you'll be better equipped to solve whatever the problem is.

Focus On Solutions

Don't spend time arguing over whose fault it is or how it happened – focus on fixing it. Whether it's a blown drumhead or a technical issue, focus your efforts on solving the problem. Argument and speculation won't help you fix the problem, and it will cost you precious time in a live environment. Your only speculation should be about possible fixes for whatever's wrong.

Don't Get Confrontational

Even if it's obvious that an issue is a particular person's fault, don't get confrontational with them. Include them in the process of helping to solve the problem, whether it's one of your bandmates or the audio tech assigned to your event. If you handle things professionally, they will usually be much more on board with enthusiastically collaborating to solve the issue, and it's likely that they'll apologize for the mistake, too. Confronting them will put them on the defensive and make them less willing to help – and you might not get an apology, either.

Ask How You Can Help

If you're not personally handling the issue at hand, ask the person or people who are how you can help. If there's nothing you can do to assist, just stand back and let them work through the solution process; but if they ask you to do something that you are able to do, do so without complaint or delay. Helping will hasten the process of solving the problem; but even if you can't help, the person whom you offered to help will probably be better disposed towards you and may work harder to solve the problem quickly.

Follow Up

Sometimes it is appropriate to follow up with the venue or promoter – for better or for worse. If you were faced with an issue that was resolved quickly and professionally, give props to the problem solver. If your show was a complete disaster due to lack of professionalism or skill, that is also something the venue or promoter should know about. Be courteous and professional with your follow-up, but be honest – the venue may need better staff, and if you want to play there again, that will help you too.

There is always potential for something to go wrong at a show, whether a minor issue or a legitimate disaster. However, these tips will not only help you weather things better, they'll help you build a good reputation as a helpful and reasonable person and a musician who is easy to work with – and those sorts of musicians are favorites among venues and promoters alike!

10 Steps to Better Music Marketing

Much to the chagrin of most musicians, marketing often takes up almost as much time as the creative process itself. For musicians who aren't on a major label and don't have access to a dedicated marketing team, marketing management is a vital skill to develop. But marketing your music doesn't have to be a headache-inducing endeavor – there are lots of ways to streamline the process and make it easier to get your work in front of people who want to hear it. Check out these ten steps to better music marketing.

Know Your Core Demographic

Knowing who you're marketing to is key. Know the kinds of people that listen to your genre(s) of music – where they go, what they do, what they like, where they're from. Knowing your audience will help you better target your marketing – and in turn will help you sell more music and book more shows.

Choose a Platform 

Social media marketing has become an incredibly important part of selling and promoting just about anything, and choosing a social media management platform can help you streamline and manage your social media posts – not to mention save you lots of time. Take a little time to research relevant social media platforms as well as available platforms for social media management, and choose carefully in accordance with your needs and budget.

Occasionally Review Analytics

Analytics show you how frequently your social media posts are viewed and which ones are performing the best. Reviewing social media analytics will help you get better at marketing by showing you what kind of posts are performing bests and even which times of day your posts tend to do well.

What's Paying Off? 

Do your video posts perform well? What about pictures and text posts? Good marketing generally translates into sales and opportunities, so pay close attention to what's getting the most responses, particularly to would-be music buyers and promoters.

Regularly Release New Material

While some bands go years between albums, you should at least occasionally show your audience what you're working on. Post some audio tracks you're working on, photos from the studio, or pics of your new instrumental setup – anything that gives your audience the inside track on your process is good to share.

Engage With Your Audience 

If you get comments or messages, don't ignore them – respond to them as much as you possibly can. If you get a lot of these – and we'll talk about this next – gather up common questions and comments and address them in Q+A sessions, whether you do static videos or livestreams. An audience that feels listened to is going to keep listening.


Q+A sessions can be lots of fun for your audience. Whether you do one a month or one a year, bands with engaged followings usually get a great response to them. As mentioned before, collect questions via comments or messages, and encourage fans to view the Q+A sessions or participate in the livestream. Livestreams are becoming super popular among creators, so see if it works for you.

Post Shareable Content

The best marketing relies on people discussing what you're doing with one another. By posting highly shareable content – especially videos and photos – you're more likely to get post shares and video clicks, and, ultimately, more fans.

Regular Posts

Making regular posts across social media platforms and blogging sites is one of the best ways to keep people regularly engaged. Posts daily or every few days are a great bet, and this is one area you can use your analytics data – see when the most people are viewing posts and schedule them via your SM management platform for around those times.

Don't Overpost 

While daily posts are probably just fine, a dozen posts a day will probably drive people away. It's a crowded marketplace, to be sure, but don't be the screaming harpy. Keep your posts regular but not overfrequent, and keep them on point.

Most musicians don't want to spend their time on marketing, but it's especially important for indie artists of all stripes to gain knowledge of this area. Knowing how to market means you might not have to do it yourself for too long – because getting your music in front of the right people is the path to every musician's success

3 Steps to Choosing a Good Band Manager

Having a good band manager is a key ingredient to the long-term success of professional musicians. Band managers assist musical talent in handling the business side of their careers, and help to promote their music, secure shows, and book tours. They also handle scheduling for non-performance events, like meet and greets, signings, and label interviews.

Choosing a good band manager can be a challenge – but these three steps can help you with your search.

Ask Around

Musicians talk to each other – and a lot. Chances are if you're in the market for a band manager, some of your compatriots will have recommendations (or warnings). Start asking around, particularly within the scene of the genre you work in, if your fellow musicians or even DJs have recommendations for someone who can effectively manage your music career. Make a list of the names you hear and start making connections with them – this is the best way to see who may not only be a good fit professionally, but personality-wise as well.

Review Their Track History

An experienced band manager will have some successes to share regarding the acts they've managed in the past. If you see that the acts they've worked with have enjoyed steady success (even if it's slow), that is likely a combination of the band's dedication and their band manager's professional skill. If they've worked with a lot of acts that have dropped them in a year or less, or the acts they've managed have not really gone much beyond playing all local venues, it could mean that they're not the person you're looking for.

Stay Alert to Red Flags

If you hear more negatives than positives, pay close attention to what people are saying and why. In particular, be on the lookout for band managers who have been accused of taking payment from acts but not doing their job, taking total credit for the act's success, doing drugs on the job, or just straight-out lying to the acts they manage about things they're working on for them that never quite seem to materialize. If these are the kinds of reports you're getting, don't work with them – and warn other musicians against it, too.

All dedicated musicians take on a band manager at some point in their career, and it's important that you be selective about who you hire for this very important job – they will be responsible for helping you secure a large part of your income as a musician as well as representing you to labels, venues, and tour managers. These three steps will help you find the best fit for your career needs as a musician – and will help you foster a years-long association with your band manager that will benefit you both.


The Most Important Things to Consider When Buying Studio Monitors

When you are recording and mixing music, it is important to have access to a good set of studio monitors. Studios spend thousands of dollars on monitor speakers, but you can find excellent new and used monitors for under $200. If you are willing to spend a little more, you will find incredible sounding studio monitors for under $1000.

The final mix and Dynamic range

Good quality monitors bring so much to the final mix. Home studio engineers often get a little carried away when recording. They start adding many elements of fine detail to tracks only to lose those fine details in the final mix. The cause for fine details disappearing is often due to poor monitors.

If your monitor speakers are not powerful enough to deliver wide dynamic range elements of your music, it will become lost in the mix. This is often due to poor studio monitors. That part of your music is there. It is just that your ears can not hear it due to a weak dynamic range.

Speaker power is very important

The more power you have in your monitors, the better. This is not for volume, but to deliver a greater dynamic range in the songs you are mixing. You want as much "headroom" as possible. The higher the wattage, the greater the dynamic range. This means you have more to mix with.

When you have a monitor system that is powerful. It is important to learn that loud is not always best. Don't drive your speakers to full capacity, as you will experience elements of clipping and distortion.

If you are driving your monitors too hard, you will lose the more delicate elements of the track, and your mix will become dependant on the more dominant aspects of the track, making the final mix sound bass heavy or top heavy.

Room adjustment and EQ

Even in the budget ranges, studio monitors come with room controls. That is designed to help you tune your speakers to the acoustics of a room. More expensive monitors have automated digital processors to achieve the optimum sound from a particular environment.

There are two important things to consider with room adjustment controls. First, This is not a magic, miracle-working tool. If your room has an echo, it will always have an echo. Bad acoustics are bad acoustics. There is nothing you can do about it unless you start acoustically treating your studio space.

If your studio space has good acoustics, the adjustment controls will make your monitors sound amazing. You can tell the difference when a good set of monitors have been tuned to the room they are in.

On budget studio monitors do not expect much from the room adjustment controls. I find on some budget monitors the room adjustment controls can make a bad room sound worse, as the manufacturers have used cheap EQ controls. This is fine; I would rather see budget speaker manufacturers concentrate on the actual speakers and not the room EQ.

Amplification should always be a factor

You have found the perfect monitors. But what about the amplifier. Incredible speakers will not sound incredible unless you have an amplifier, that will do them justice. You do not have to spend the earth on an amplifier as you will probably have spent most of your budget on speakers.

You need an amplifier that is powerful. The same rules apply to amplifiers as to speakers. You need to consider the dynamic range The more power you have. The more of the dynamic range will be delivered to the speakers. Don't get caught up bi and tri amplification unless you have a big budget. Look for a good quality amplifier with more than enough power to drive your speakers.

Speaker placement

For optimum sound, you need to find your sweet spot. You monitor speakers should be placed at an angle, pointing at you. The speakers should be equal distance apart from each other. Your head should also be at an equal distance apart from the speakers.

In short, You head and the speakers need to be the same distance apart, forming a triangle. With the speakers angled towards your ears. This will create a sweet spot. The spot where the stereo is at its most perfect point. And the most accurate frequency response can be delivered.

No Class Act – Why Elitism Has No Place in Music

Music is a universal language. No matter what country you live in or what regional culture you are a part of, music is a way to communicate, express feelings, and signal calls to action all over the world. With music being such a universal concept, elitism in music makes for a totally bizarre and unacceptable practice.

This attitude is particularly prevalent in classical music, along with other more obscure genres. Music students as young as kindergarten will brag to one another about the cost of their instruments or lessons, and down other children who had to purchase less expensive instruments or borrow one from their school. This attitude – taught to young musicians from a very early age – persists well into adulthood, and even musicians who go on to successful careers in music still adopt a “adults versus children” attitude toward their peers, who may have not had access to more expensive instruments or training.

Among professionals, musicians are not chosen for their roles based on the quality of their instrument; they are chosen on the basis of ability and attitude, as with almost any other career. But rather than respecting the hard work of their peers – who very often had to work far harder to get where they are in the face of financial hardship – the opposite is very often true.

But elitism doesn't stop with classism. Elitism can be based on a number of other things, such as how extensive another musician's repertoire is, how wide a range of music they listen to, and their personal taste in music. Elitist musicians don't often stop to consider how exposure to the arts varies wildly from person to person, depending on background and culture, access to technology, and personal aesthetic. One of the most common forms of elitism is denouncing others for enjoying music that is considered highly accessible, like pop or minimalist composition.

The problem with this attitude is not that it's wrong to enjoy more obscure forms of music, or music that's inherently complex; the problem is with denouncing more traditional or accessible forms of music as being unworthy of the listener's time because it's “easy.” Musicians who throw proverbial stones at artists who enjoy or perform more accessible forms of music not only remove themselves from music they may genuinely enjoy (whether or not they admit it), but also dismiss the skills and hard work of musicians who choose to perform more accessible material.

Music as a universal art is meant to include anyone that wants to participate in it or perform it, and subsequently, elitism in music denotes a very particular kind of ego-stroking that has no place in any professional context. The idea that a musician who is well-off and can afford access to the best quality instruments in training - and whose musical taste is hallmarked by obscurity and complexity - is somehow better than other artists in light of these concepts is, frankly, ludicrous. Music as a field is not advanced by egotism or bullying – it is advanced by inclusion, mutual respect, and joint creativity.

So before sneering at a musician who pulls out a used instrument rather than a brand-new one, or tells you that they enjoy Britney Spears or Fall Out Boy, ask yourself, and your fellow musicians: “Does this serve our craft or our development as artists?” You will always find, regardless of context, that the answer is a resounding “No.”

5 Ways Music Can Aid a Community

Music is a powerful force to bring people together. And like most such forces, it operates in a number of ways to unify people. Music can comfort people in despair. It can give of itself to save lives. It can bring many together under a common banner to better the world. Here are five ways music can aid a community.


Chances are you've either been to a fundraising concert or heard about one happening in your town. Concerts are organized for all manner of purposes, from helping to pay for a child's cancer treatment to paying for new water systems in townships. Whole music festivals are organized around charity for various causes, whether it's to improve the educational system or help a hospital improve their infrastructure.

Lifting Spirits

Music, among its many functions, has the ability to lift people up in times of distress or despair. A lot of studies have taken place on music's effect on the human psyche, and just about every study has found that music makes us feel better. It helps us process emotions, and it helps to comfort us when we are down, angry, depressed or grieving. This is among the reasons live music is so popular – experiencing that lifting of spirits around others experiencing the same thing intensifies it.

Spreading Awareness

Music has the power to create awareness of lots of things, from political and social issues to global health issues and food shortages. Helping to increase awareness of an issue, particularly on the local level, is one of the many things music can do to draw people together to solve a problem.


Sometimes, music festivals and concerts are aimed at getting people fired up – they serve as calls to action. Whether it's directed at getting people out to vote or encouraging people to help clean up the city streets, music can motivate people to make their communities a better place.

Creating Bonds and Friendships

Almost everyone who goes to shows has friends that they've made through the power of music. Bonding together over something you really love can create intense friendships – ones that may last a lifetime. It can help musicians create professional connections, too – some of which can be life-changing. Music is a unifying force on a number of fronts, and that power shows in its communities.

Music represents one of the most potent ways in which people can come together for the common good. If you're a musician, you can help harness this power to better your community – and the world.

Beyond Performance: 5 Jobs for Musicians

Being a musician doesn't just mean jumping around a stage every night. The field of music is a vast and many-faceted one, and numerous opportunities exist for musicians of every stripe, skill set, and personality type. If performance isn't particularly your style, here are five jobs for musicians beyond performance.

Music Therapist

If you love the idea of healing with music, this may well be the profession for you. The field of music therapy is growing rapidly, and institutions from hospitals to schools for disabled children have music therapists on their payroll. This job requires a minimum of a master's degree in music therapy, but also represents one of the best-paid professions in music.

Session Producer

Session work is often the bread and butter of working musicians, and the role of the session producer can be an especially lucrative one. Session producers oversee the organizing of session musicians and scheduling of studio time, and frequently have more than just a hand in the creative aspect of managing instrumentation, writing, and producing. Session producers may have degrees in music with a variety of specializations including performance, audio production, or composition, but many also have risen through independent study.


If the idea of writing songs for some of the biggest names in music while sipping coffee in your pajamas out on the balcony appeals to you, this job might be for you. Songwriters are often commissioned by studios and record companies to write music for and with performing artists – and while they might be required to spend time in the office at least from time to time, a lot of that work can be done from home. If writing music is your first love – especially if you have a composition degree or music songwriting certificate – this may be a great path to stroll down.

Private Instructor

The role of the private instructor is perfect for those who have a passion for teaching, but are perhaps less enthusiastic about doing it in a classroom of thirty. Private instructors typically must have at least a bachelor's degree in music or music education, but not always – instructors may qualify to teach at a music studio or store with sufficient experience of one or more instruments. Private instructors are typically fairly well-paid, particularly if they remain with the same studio or shop for many years.


Promoters are often working musicians or DJs themselves, and spend a lot of time behind the scenes helping to market other musicians, organizing shows and tours, or booking interviews. If show organization and marketing are passions of yours – especially if you did a music degree with a minor in marketing or business – the position of promoter may be one you'll want to chase, particularly with well-known music or media production companies.

Not all musicians are destined for arena tours – and not all musicians want the rock star life. Each of these jobs represent important roles within the music industry that the more introverted musician may find incredibly fulfilling.

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