5 Steps to Better Show Prep for Keyboardists

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I think I hold the record for coming up with the least effective practice prep before shows. After failing at a ton of gigs, I’ve learned a few things about working up music. Here are 5 kernels of hard-earned wisdom: 


1. Learn the actual music, before programming the patch. This allows you to become more familiar with the music before worrying about how to program the patch, and will save you time by keeping you focused on learning the parts, not programming synths. 


2. Test your gear. Then test it again. There’s nothing worse than having a piece of equipment fail on you live. 


3. Take notes. It’s okay to walk into a practice with a few notes about the arrangement and important details about the music. If you’re playing rock, pop, or modern styles, just make sure you’ve memorized the notes by the time you hit the stage. 


4. Practice solos. So many musicians assume they’ll be able to nail solos in because they’re good at, well, soloing. That’s not good enough for most rock and pop shows, since the audience usually wants to hear the solo on the original, with a bit of your personal flair. 


5. Organize. If you’re making song-specific patches, make sure you organize them in the order of the setlist. When I’m playing big sets, I duplicate all of my patches and arrange the duplicates in alphabetical order, so if the bandleader decides to go off-set, I can recall the right preset by quickly looking through my list onstage.