I received an email this evening on my BusanKevin You Tube channel that inspired this post. Someone who is interested in moving to South Korea asked me about teaching and also asked me about how they would find a wind band/group they could play with when they come to Korea. I unfortunately do not know about wind groups since I am a drummer and only played with rock/funk bands during my time in Korea. I suppose some of the key points I', going to make will carry over to any musical genre!
The key to meeting other foreign or indigenous musicians in either Korea or Japan is simple; NETWORKING. The same way I was able to get many subscribers on You Tube is the same way I was able to become a member of several bands during my time in Korea. I got out there and met people. Online we use text, Twitter, You Tube and Facebook. These are of course useful ways to meet folks in Seoul, Busan, Tokyo or Osaka in 2011, but at the end of the day, if you are a musician, I think you really need to get out to the places musicians play and meet them!
What you need to do is find out where musicians hang out. Where do they tend to be? Bars and clubs! Now that might be a bit of a problem if you aren't a big drinkers, but you can always bring a cup of Starbucks into a bar in korea and Japan.
Here is a picture of me playing in a club in Busan, South korea a few years ago.
If you are not sure how to find these places you can take a few approaches. First, if you are a teacher at a fairly big school, many of your coworkers have probably been there for some time. They already have a great deal of local knowledge and some of them will definitely be able to tell you/show you the bars that tend to have live music. OPEN MIC NIGHTS ARE KEY! Once you find out about these places you need to go. Not just once or twice, but often. You also have to be social and get to know the other folks there. Get to know the MC of the Open Mic night. I played in bands in Ilsan (north of Seoul) and in Busan, and this is how I did it! Hang out, chat with all the other folks just like you there and get to know them.
Another picture of KEVIN knockin the skins in Korea!
Bring your instrument with you when you go. You may just want to scout the first one out, but after that, always pack heat! There are often such eclectic groups of artists at these open mics that even if you play the panflute, someone may call you up on stage for a jam.
Long story short, if you are are a musician who has come to Korea or Japan to teach and you'd like to play music, you must network. Find some websites like Busan Haps (if you are in Busan) that might point you in the right direction. Get out of your house and meet people.
As for now, I am currently out of the music scene. The combination of a 6 month old son and an intense work schedule simply don't allow for a late-night lifestyle. In time though, I plan to get back into the mix again. I do miss my drums!
Have fun and good luck!