Students from Guildford’s Academy Of Contemporary Music (ACM) were recently treated to a masterclass from One Direction’s live bassist Sandy Beales.
The lecture covered everything you need to know about being a session musician and Sandy shared all the insider secrets that he has learnt along the way.
Sandy started off his musical career aged just 15 having been inspired by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist, Flea. Within a week of picking up the bass, Sandy found himself doing a gig with his very first band.
Having toured with One Direction for five years, alongside songwriting with Wheatus (who penned the hit ‘Teenage Dirtbag’), Sandy has made quite the career for himself within the music business. Now closing a chapter with the split of One Direction, Sandy will carry on touring and songwriting but also start teaching at ACM’s new campus, set to open in Clapham this September.
During the masterclass, Sandy told students that it was important to hone as many different skills as possible. He told them to learn electric bass, fretless bass, double bass and the latest trend in pop, synth bass. He spoke of the importance to understand the business inside out and that having a career in music was 95% of the time not performing.
One of the top pieces of advice Sandy shared during the session was to learn audition tracks inside out. He revealed a common trick by employers was to send musicians a track to learn with vocals and then to take the vocal line off during the audition. Other tips included always having the best gear and regularly checking it, and the importance of good timekeeping.
Bringing his entire stadium rig to the session, it was clear that Sandy had taken a lot of care and preparation over the masterclass. Throughout the class, it became very obvious that he was extremely humbled and passionate about passing his knowledge on to the next generation. Towards the end of the masterclass Sandy even allowed students to have a go at playing his equipment. Students took it in turns to perform Katy Perry’s ‘California Girls’ to a live backing track with counts. Sandy appeared to be quite taken aback by the talent of the students who all picked up the piece within seconds and added their own spin to it.
The class drew to a close with a Q and A session with students asking questions ranging from when he is playing live next to how to play ghost notes on the bass synth (his answer – play the keys really lightly). The students thoroughly enjoyed the class and Sandy stayed back late to make sure every question was answered.
Sandy’s top piece of advice to students was…
“Gig, gig all the time, do as much gigging as you can, meet as many people as you can, just make all your contacts, say yes to everything, just get out there and gig. Be there, be punctual, be reliable, make sure people can know your name and be like oh yeah that guy is great he’s doing a really good job. No matter what you do, do a good job, even if it’s the smallest gig in the world – just do a good job.”
If you want to be a session musician to the stars, book onto a campus tour now: http://www.acm.ac.uk/open-