How to Perform Great Cover Songs

How to perform a great cover songCover Songs

Many of our musician students at Scottsdale Music Academy start to play instruments to try to learn their favorite cover songs. As soon as our instructors give the student enough knowledge on an instrument to know the basics, then it seems it’s only a matter of days before the student is plucking out bass notes or guitar chords for a favorite tune.

Learning and performing cover songs is a quick and easy way to get a group of people together to play music. You might play bass in Phoenix, while your friend is taking guitar lessons in Scottsdale. If your tastes align with the other musician’s musical taste, then it’s easy to pick out a known song to start to learn.

Covers Are A Staple

Many famous bands got their chops playing cover songs. The early Beatles played for several years in small German rock clubs playing Little Richard and Gene Vincent covers, for example.

Bands all over the Phoenix-Scottsdale area pepper their setlists with cover songs. This happens either because they are a dedicated cover band, or pure enjoyment for the song. Sometimes a band wants to show its depth of knowledge in a certain musical genre and pick out a little-known cover. That can work for some bands and their audience, but generally most starting musicians will want to play well-known cover songs.

Key tips for a great cover song:

  • Pick a song that’s generally liked – Your group will enjoy the experience of learning and playing the cover song if it’s one that’s generally liked by your friends and fans. Part of the trick of being in a cover band is bringing the audience back to a particular time and place, and reminding them of good feelings. That’s what makes a successful cover band. Unless your audience is made up of hardcore angry punk or metal fans, you are well advised to steer clear of noisy, angry or off-putting cover versions.
  • Pick a song that’s at least known to a majority of the audience – What’s the point of taking time to choose, learn and play a particular cover song that’s hardly known? Cover songs are meant to win over your audience, and that means aligning your interests with the audience. If your fans love classic rock, and you’re playing an obscure New Wave song, then your performance will probably fall on deaf ears.
  • Play the cover with joy! If you’re going to play a particular cover, show your audience that you mean it! Play it with power and passion! Hopefully, you’re already playing all of your songs with intensity and joy, but really dial it up for the cover to connect with your audience.


Certainly, it may take some lessons to get you ready to learn some professional songs. But with a little luck and a lot of practice taking guitar lessons in Scottsdale, you’ll be on your way to having a grab bag of fun and memorable cover songs for your band!

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