Tips for Playing in a Bluegrass Band

Learning to play a bluegrass instrument is great fun. You can learn a multitude of songs, play along with your favorite recordings, and start to develop your own style of play. Practicing alone is rewarding, but playing with other pickers is where the joy really begins. Bluegrass music is all about getting together with friends and family to play and enjoy the music that you love, so here are some tips for playing in a bluegrass band to get you started.

  1. Learn the Structures

For banjo pickers in particular, it can be tempting to focus only on the leads and melody lines of your favorite songs. But it’s also important that you support the other musicians with “backup” chords when they play lead.  Everyone gets a turn showing off!  Even better is committing all of the song structures to memory, so that you know what the chord changes are and when to change them.  You’ll also want to learn to play with a capo, so you can play in other keys.  It’s actually easier than it might seem.

  1. Develop Timing

You can know every single note, chord, key variation, and lead line for the bluegrass standards, but without the right timing, it will never sound right. You’ve probably heard bands where the rhythm falls apart in the middle of a song. It can be painful to the ear. Every member of a bluegrass band is important to the timing of the music, so even if it means practicing with a metronome on your own, perfect your timing.

  1. Expand your Skills

There are lots of tips for playing in a bluegrass band, and you’ll discover many during your lifelong musical journey. While you don’t need to become an expert mandolin player, becoming familiar with it and the other instruments of the band will help you to play better with them. You should also be able to sing, either leads or harmonies. Your band will be better for it.

Remember that offers a complete set of training options, to help you continue to learn on your own and always keep improving.

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