Coffeehouse is a monthly gathering of students organized by Student Senate that includes skits, comedy, poetry, and live music. Any student can sign up to perform and are given time for one or two songs. Many students enjoy this outlet and are content playing at coffeehouses but have no interest in other opportunities.
If a band forms out of coffeehouse performances, or a student is a member of a local band, another opportunity is the annual Battle of the Bands in which 5 finalists are given 20 minutes to perform. These finalists are chosen by a student vote and a panel of judges. Usually there are 10 – 12 entries and some bands enter multiple years in a row and have to work hard to gain a finalist spot. This work is just a taste of the practice and skill needed to gain fans. Some bands work hard to craft a 20 minute set that they can show off to their friends and family under professional lights with professional sound and the memories, a few pictures and video is enough. The winner, as chosen by a panel of professional judges, is sent to a provincial competition with bands from other universities. The Arkells represented McMaster at this competition several years ago.
If bands seek to play outside of the context of Redeemer, Student Life can provide some contacts into the local Hamilton music scene as well as advice on which opportunities may or may not be beneficial to the band. If bands seek to hone their skills on campus, then Student Life can work closely with them in organizing concerts in the Rec Centre or in the Black Box. These two venues are excellent places where 25 – 100 people can gather for a live music experience.
Along the way Redeemer doesn’t encourage or discourage students to pursue popular music as a career. Redeemer does however give the facts about the current state of the music industry by having students rub shoulders with alumni and local professionals who are willing to share their experiences. For example, today’s professional musician has to be flexible and his or her experience usually involves teaching lessons, performing in cover bands, writing music for television, and a multitude of other music-related jobs. By also bringing in touring acts, students can see the variety of jobs available in the music industry: from promoter, to tour manager, to sound technician, to publicist. And by engaging in the tough conversations, students will be challenged to pursue whatever career they choose from a Christian perspective.
So what should you do if you are coming to Redeemer with an itch to play music? Start by signing up to do a song at coffeehouse and see how you like it. If coffeehouse goes well, try looking for some other musicians and begin jamming in your dorm’s basement. Play with as many different people as you can and in just as many different styles. In my experience, bands formed at Redeemer aren’t usually the ones that succeed professionally… but the experience of being in a band at Redeemer is very helpful for the future bands in which you might be a member. And if at some point you realize that your itch has been satisfied and you no longer want to pursue music, we are glad you could make that discovery and still have fun doing it.
Fun events involving live music in September:
September 4th Folk Concert featuring Scott Orr and Miniver Sail
The City Harmonic with special guests Jennifer Budd and Eric Brandon (The drummer of TCH is alumni and Jennifer is a current student).
Looking for new music? Check out some of these out these bands involving current and former Redeemer students. If you know of other interesting music acts involving Redeemer students or alumni, email email@example.com
Ash & Bloom
The City Harmonic
The Good Hunters
Timid the Brave