It might seem strange to write about auditioning for another band on this site but actually, it was for an Americana originals artist touring Europe for 3 months! So a limited requirement but, needless to say, it would have been just the most exciting and amazing experience. But there was another reason for applying:
I am not a professional musician and do not have formal musical training. I, like thousands of other musicians (some of which are successful and famous) am self taught and have kind of muddled through. I think eventually you get to a stage in life where you either give up, stagnate or, like me, start thinking “yeah I’m pretty confident with the guitar now” so you then, at some stage or another, try playing with professional musicians.
A while ago I met a Dutch Bluegrass player and his brother on mandolin and we had a few jams; it was wonderful. But I couldn’t really keep up. And he talked about the music in a language of intervals, timings, keys, minors and majors. I didn’t really get it. However, I have a recording that I love here – I’m the moron on the guitar in the background messing it all up…
…and that’s when I realised that professional musicians are on another level in terms of ability, knowledge, experience and just general musicianship in every way! With my military aviation background I can make this analogy: it would be the equivalent of a civilian flying club pilot, with a license to only fly above 500′ in daytime, walking into the Squadron crewroom and expecting to mix it with day/night all weather, military combat ready aircrew! It’s a WHOLE different level.
So, back in 2016 I set about trying to raise my game – and part of this was to start seeing a mentor/teacher/coach -which is an invaluable thing – I started seeing Shaun Cosgrove of Guitar Tuition Somerset) (and I still do). To cut a long story short – I began to get glimpses of what you need to do to play at a professional standard. Furthermore, there are lot of professionally trained musicians out there! It’s surprising – the musicians that we know and hear about on the TV, radio and internet are just the tip of the music industry iceburg.
So, when I saw the advert to apply for an Americana band touring Europe in Aug/Sep 2019 I thought, why not! I made sure that I could actually fulfil the duties if I got the gig, I got the all-clear from my wife (amazingly – I think she took a gamble to humour me 🙂 and I auditioned. I had to play along to the songwriter’s specified track, and then also play it completely unaccompanied. Then I had to do a guitar solo demo over another track. To cut a long story short I didn’t get the gig. But I got some very encouraging feedback when has really buoyed me and motivated me to keep striving musically. Quotes below. And check out the songwriter here: tinymountainrecords.co.uk
“First of all we really liked your intro video, it was a nice additional effort and felt you were a really nice, genuine person that would be great to spend a lot of time with”
“The rhythm parts you sent in for the most part were good. Listening to it unaccompanied, your timing which you had criticized before was actually pretty steady and you also managed to refrain from bringing up the tempo in the first place which can be easily done on some of the slower songs.”
“In terms of being a useable player, getting the rhythm side of things down is just as important as the lead stuff and some people tend to forget that. We had guys apply with a degree in music who in terms of a rhythm player, didn’t take those things in to consideration as well as yourself.”
“I hope you don’t feel deterred in any way Chris, I think a massive well done for what you put across considering you don’t have a strictly musical background and for seizing an opportunity.”
As with all constructive criticism there was of course negative feedback, mainly with the details of the lead guitar solo that I auditioned. I’ll learn from that. But, in the context of reaching that “next level” – this has been such a useful exercise and will help me get there. As they say, you’ll never know unless you try. Thank you Joe Edwards.