Students at BIMM Brighton were recently treated to a masterclass from Sandy Beales and Jon Shone who have worked as session musicians with some of the biggest names in the pop industry. Most notably, the pair are the touring rhythm-section for six-time Brit Award-winners One Direction, but their more recent sessions have been with hotly tipped Island Records signee JP Cooper.
Having performed together in some of the worlds biggest live music arenas, the pair gave an interactive masterclass on ‘Stadium Success’, showing students how to switch up their game with top practice tips, networking advice and inspirational insider knowledge ranging from how to be a successful candidate at auditions to managing nerves and maintaining good health during tours.
BIMM Brighton’s main live performance room was packed to capacity with eager listeners and the session kicked-off with both Jon (Drummer/Musical Director) and Sandy (Bassist) detailing their own routes into the industry – both started out at music colleges before securing auditions and venturing into the session world.
Sandy and Jon then instigated a quiz in-which they dispelled popular misconceptions about life as a successful session musician. Highlights from this portion of the class included discovering the most-desirable qualities of an employable musician, which included;
- Be social – Help out and be a valuable part of your whole team.
- Own your mistakes – No one knows everything, so admit when you’re wrong and always be learning.
- Know your gear. Learn how to get a good sound and set-up quickly.
- Look after your health, both mental and physical.
- Be punctual – “If you’re on time, you’re late!”
- Go the extra mile.
- Be aware of what you put on social media – “Don’t diss the competition, they could be your next gig!”
- Streamline your CV and have some good profile shots.
The pair also discussed the average daily pay-rates for a session musician in 2017 and also how many sick-days they were afforded in 325 shows across a 4.5 year touring period – the answer was none!
Finishing up the Q&A portion of the event, Sandy and Jon discussed practical and technical tips with the class such as how to use click tracks, techniques for controlling nerves, the importance of image and how to prepare for and deal with last-minute changes within live gig situations.
For the final half of the masterclass, a selection of students were invited up on stage to workshop a track on their respective instruments and adjust the arrangement for a large-scale performance. Employing similar techniques to the ones used in our Live Performance Workshop module, and under close direction from their masterclass hosts, the band succeeded in nailing a rocked-up version of Rihanna’s smash hit “We Found Love”.
Here’s what a couple of the students had to say on the experience.
Amy Shaw – BA Hons Professional Musicianship – Guitar
“It was really great having such an interactive setting and being able to ask questions whenever you wanted. And then getting up and having hands-on experience. I’ve never worked with a backing track before but it was really exciting.”
Daphne Koskeridou – BA Hons Professional Musicianship – Drums
“I’ve only played with a click-track once or twice and normally don’t like it because it detracts from the vibe of the stage. But, nowadays especially, pop bands tend to use them so you have to adapt yourself. It was really inspiring to have the guys here explaining it.”
Concluding the session, Jon and Sandy gave some final words of inspiration and advice on how to be a success in the music industry.
“No matter what your dreams or aspirations are in the music industry, you can 100% achieve them. I was in the exact same position that you are now. I started at a music college and went on to achieve every single thing I wanted to do by the time I was thirty. I ticked off the entire list and more.
Every single one of you can do the same. There’s not one thing that’s stopping you, and don’t ever believe there is! You’ve all got it in there, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication. You’re in the craziest industry in the world. There’s only one way to succeed in it and that’s by giving your all to it.”
“Hard work breeds luck. Be that person who does more than the person next to you, that’s the important bit.”
If you’re interested in coming to study at any of our campuses at BIMM or if you’d just like to learn more about our application process, then take a look at our application page.