Posted by: D.A.S. Chicago | May 3, 2011

How to Become a Rock Star

I think most of us, at one point or another in our lives, have sung into the handle of a hair brush or played air guitar when no one was looking. Come on, admit it. The allure of the rock star lifestyle is pretty awesome. So why haven’t you followed your dreams? Sure, it can be tough at times. Take it from me, somebody who has had to carry a 150 pound bass cabinet up three flights of stairs more times than I want to admit to my aching back. Still, being up on stage while performing in front of hundreds of screaming fans is well worth it. Getting started can be the hardest part, so I’m going to tell you right now what it takes to begin the journey toward rock stardom.
The first thing that should be done on a journey towards becoming a rock star is to listen to music. Lots and lots of music. This is almost like doing homework for a musician, but it shouldn’t be thought of as work. Listen to what you enjoy. Listen to artists who are inspiring, who bring out your emotions, and who take your breath away. This will get you in the right creative and inspirational frame of mind from the start.Next, decide which instrument you want to play. In rock music, the three essential instruments are guitar, bass, and drums. Some bands include keyboards, saxophone, harmonica, and even an accordion. While you can pick any instrument, it’s a lot easier to find a place in the musical world if you start with one of the first three. These are the in demand positions. If you’re not sure which you want to pick up, then go into a local music store and try them all. Be sure to ask a sales associate for help first if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That leads into the next step, buying an instrument. No matter where you go for this, it is important to do research online before buying anything. One great site to do research on instruments is Harmony Central. They have a huge review section and lots of information under their musician forums. I would advise that you stay away from chain stores like Sam Ash or Guitar Center. I’ve noticed that the sales people at these type of stores are not always knowledgeable about the products they sell, and their main focus is to get commission on the sale. I was in one of these stores looking at high end bass guitars and was approached by a salesman. I told him that I eventually wanted to buy a nice bass when I had more money and he immediately went into a sales pitch for one of their budget basses. I told him I wasn’t interested but he wouldn’t let up. I had to leave the store just to get away from him. If you go into a small, mom and pop type independent music store you will always get great service. One place I like to go is Players Guitars in the southern suburb of Worth. Everybody who works there is a professional. They’ll help you in any way if you need it, but don’t pester you if you don’t. Another good place to look for instruments is on Craigslist. If you have a friend who’s a musician, then bring them with. Having an experienced companion with you can be valuable so you don’t buy a piece of junk or get ripped off. Getting a good quality instrument will build your confidence and make it so that you have one less thing to worry about while performing.

So you’ve got an instrument. Now what? It’s time to start practicing. The Internet is filled with information and lessons. Search on Google and you can find tabs on any song you could ever want to play. Or you can search on YouTube and find thousands of video lessons. Another option would be to stop by one of those local music stores again and find out if they offer private lessons. Once you get going, don’t stop. Don’t keep playing the same basic chords. Learning music is all about getting out of your comfort zone. Whatever you do, keep practicing and don’t ever stop.

Now that you have your instrument and have a good idea of how to play, it’s time to find a band to jam with. Ask around and see if anyone you know of is a musician. If so, ask if they want to jam sometime. Most musicians jump at the chance to play with someone new. Playing with others is a relaxing, social experience and will make you think about musicfrom different perspectives. If you can’t find anyone you know then go on the musicians section of Craigslist. Here you’ll find a ton of musicians, ranging from those just starting out to seasoned veterans. My band found both of our guitarists this way. Respond to some adds, or put up one of your own.

This is where I leave you. If you’ve made it this far, fantastic! You’ll find that playing in a band, as well as on your own, has many benefits. You’ll find that life is much more enjoyable! Eventually, once you start playing gigs, you’ll learn that performing live in front of people is one of the most exciting things you can do in life.

Photo by Jose Calvo

By John Leonard – DASChicago

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