A Day In The Life Of A Band Leader – Richard Bushby
Author: Mark RobinsonBand Leader, Richard Bushby, runs us through an ordinary morning in an extraordinary job.
Whenever people ask me what I do for a living, I always struggle to come up with a satisfactory answer. The factual, clinical approach (I work for a company that delivers peripatetic whole-band music lessons in a bunch of different primary schools) can leave people with an unclear impression of what I actually do and sounds a bit… clinical. The show-offy approach (I’m Jack Black in School of Rock!!) does sound more fun, but is somewhat hazy on the details.
So, with that in mind, I thought I’d give an hour-by-hour breakdown of what my job actually entails for anyone who might be interested. Enjoy…
8:00 Arrive at school, load in and set up equipment.
8:32 Make a cup of tea.
8:34 Try and nail a version of Hall of Fame on the keyboard.
8:43 Have another crack at doing quick doubles on the bass drum, triplet fills and anything else that makes me seem like a better drummer than I actually am.
8:52 Realise my tea has gone cold.
8:54 Make another cup of tea.
9:00 The first band arrives. It’s their second practice on Hammer to Fall by Queen and Max, one of the guitarists, has bounded in to tell me how he’s nailed his guitar part.
9:02 He plays me said guitar part at about 1000bpm with no gaps.
9:09 Max has learned to slow his part down a bit and listen to the rest of the band and it’s sounding pretty great. He’s been wanting to do a Queen song for ages and I think this is blowing his mind a little bit. But in a good way.
9:14 Evie, the bass player who started learning the previous week, timidly puts her hand up and says she’s ready for a harder part.
9:15 Max enthusiastically shows Evie how to play his part.
9:16 I translate what Max has said and Evie seems confident that she can play it.
9:24 Evie nails her part, everyone else gets theirs and Max almost literally bounces off the walls. He immediately lists seven other Queen songs he thinks we should learn, but seems happy with my suggestion that we should maybe learn one at a time.
9:30 The second band arrives. Even though some of the group were… less than convinced about the idea of playing a Foo Fighters song the previous week, most of them have grown to like it after living with the song for a week.
9:37 Singer and avid Little Mix fan Maisy (the most reluctant of the group to try a rock song) has not only learned the words to Learn to Fly but is also putting her own little inflections and vocal acrobatics on the chorus. This makes me very happy. Her pitching on the chorus ending is not quite perfect but you can tell she’ll get there with a bit of help.
9:51 This band has always had issues with timing and, although they occasionally need some guidance, they are now actively listening to each other and can confidently identify where the beat is and where they need to be playing. There is definite hope for the future and confidence levels are high. Which is nice.
10:00 The third band comes in. Currently without a singer (but, if Connor is to be believed, aggressively recruiting their friends for the role) I’ve decided to spend a couple of weeks teaching them some more general skills.
10:06 Connor, although he has recently bought a guitar and is super keen, hasn’t quite nailed the D and G chords I showed him just yet. Daisy, the drummer, is struggling with the concept of bass drum independence and the rest of the band are new to Rocksteady and are not quite used to playing with others yet. So we decide to have a jam around the chords of D and G.
10:11 After a while, the jam begins to sound same-y and there’s a risk of some of the band getting bored. Then, for reasons known only to myself, I grab the microphone and start improvising the cheesiest power ballad vocals the world has ever known.
10:13 “You’re All About Love” is born.
10:15 Apparently, according to rules that exist only in my head, You’re All About Love is a song which requires a monologue…
10:18 The monologue enters its third minute with Connor, now so confident on his D and G chords, that he feels he can interject my monologue, Parklife-style, with a shout of “You’re All About Love”.
10:22 You’re All About Love comes to an end.
10:24 Keyboard player Grace tries to convince me we should release You’re All About Love as a single. I say I’ll think about it.
10:30 Band number four comes in. They are learning King by Years and Years and, if the volume of singing when I put the original track on last week is anything to go by, they are all pretty keen.
10:42 Drummer Zach is pretty capable on his instrument and has a great sense of timing but has some pretty major issues with confidence. I try to give him a part that’s a little out of his comfort zone and, after trying and not quite getting it, he begins to cry.
10:43 I ask the rest of the band to play through the parts we did last week and explain to Zach how no one gets everything right first time and how important it is to try.
10:45 I help break it down into easier bits and give him a moment to practice with the volume down while I talk to the keyboard players.
10:48 Zach has nailed his part.
10:51 Zach asks for a trickier part. The one he mastered three minutes ago is now “too easy.”
11:00 The final slot of the morning was filled by last year’s year 6s so, after having words with the year 3 teacher the previous week, I take six year 3 kids out of their class to have a go at being in a rock band.
11:04 I show the kids what all the instruments can do and they seem impressed by my version of Hall of Fame on the keyboard and triplet fills on the drums (Mwah ha haaaa….)
11:19 After a few exercises in timing and listening, the band play an endearingly-sketchy-but-nonetheless-recognisable version of Roar by Katy Perry. Izzy, the guitarist of the newly formed (and named) Electric Blue Lightning Pizza Dogs claims that the guitar she has been playing is hers and that no one else is ever allowed to play it. I think she liked it.
11:30 Pack up and onto school number two…
We are on the lookout for more people to join our team. If this sounds like a good morning to you visit our careers page to find out more.