How to Become a Bard

They are a special breed with songs in their hearts and wings on their feet. They seek adventure, romance and the burning desire to inspire all that wish to listen. I’m talking of course about the bards, flamboyant heroes of a bygone age, ready to fight evil with the power of music. You might have wondered what it would take to become a bard. Is it difficult? How much musical skill would you really require? Fear not, brave soul, it’s much easier than you might have imagined. As long as you have the power of music in your soul you are already well on your way to becoming a bard. Adventure awaits you!

What are the basics to being a Bard?

Old time woodcut of Bard playing hornA minimal amount of proficiency is required with your chosen instrument. If you’re already skilled then you’re already ready! If not then a few months to a year of practice is required to hit those truly inspirational notes. Combat skills can be developed on the road.

Degrees & Licenses

  • Registration with adventuring and bards guilds may be required, dependant on region.
  • Travel permits may be required in certain kingdoms.

Job Availability
Bards are always in high demand.

Income
Varied. Pickpocketing can be a great way to supplement your daily earnings.

Perks

  • Grand aventure.
  • Fantastic clothing options.
  • Be the life of any party.

Learn an Instrument to be a Bard

Old time woodcut of Bard playing luteFirst and foremost you’re going to need to learn an instrument to become a bard. Your power comes from your ability to inspire through the magic of music. There are a wealth of options available to you when choosing an instrument though some are better than others. After you’ve gained some proficiency with an instrument you’re basically ready to go.

  • Flutes / Harmonica – Light and easy to transport, flutes are a great choice for any bard. Once you have the basics down you can play a wide variety of flute and flute like instruments. Good bards often carry a collection of flutes with them to be ready for any situation.
  • Lute / Guitar – The lute, the most iconic bard instrument, is a great instrument with some drawbacks. It’s broad musical range makes it useful in any situation and with pairs well with other instruments. However, it’s delicate and requires constant maintenance. Replacing strings will be your greatest challenge as they will be hard to come by. In addition they are easily damaged during travel unless you have a durable case to store it in.
  • Harps – The harp shares many of the benefits and challenges of the lute. A traveling harp is still a sizeable instrument and has many more strings that can break. If you are traveling by foot the harp isn’t a good choice.
  • Percussion – Percussion instruments are a great choice if you plan on joining a traveling group of other bards. There is a wide variety of light, easily transportable percussion instruments that are easy to learn.

Find a Party to Bard Out

There’s more to becoming a bard than just playing an instrument. You’ll need to learn to inspire people and work together in a group. This is best learned by frequenting taverns, pubs and anywhere else there is a party in need of music. Observe other bards and learn from them. Bards will always welcome you to play along but don’t expect a cut of their tips. If you make the right connections you could be asked to join a troupe. This is a fantastic opportunity for any novice bard.

Expand Your Bard Skills

Old time woodcut of Bard playing fluteA truly successful bard will have a broad range of talents developed over years of adventuring. To become a well rounded bard, develop your acting skills to inflate your presence on and off the stage. Learn the arts of persuasion and conversation. Tavern owners will always try to stiff you when they can and a sharp tongue is required to negotiate fair payment.

Magic tricks are also a great way to earn more money and also help you on your journey. Becoming a bard is all about living life on your terms and sometimes that can lead to some hungry nights. I’m not going to promote breaking the law but some sleight of hand tricks can mean the difference between a full belly and an empty one. Plus, nothing impresses the damsels like a rose magically plucked from the ether.

In addition, learn the dramatic arts to spice up your act and any other performance skills. Juggling, tumbling and dance are all fantastic abilities to help you become a better bard.

Develop Your Own Bard Style

If you want to become a bard of renown then you’re going to to have to develop your own unique style. Standing out in a crowd is what’s is all about and you can achieve this a few ways.

  • Show off with some fancy clothing – Whether you’re on stage or on the street, flashy threads will get you noticed and get the rabble interested. Don’t go with the flow however, put together an outfit that defines you and your music.
  • Grooming – It can be hard when you’re out on the road to practice a regular grooming regimen. Wash as often as possible but look into alternatives that will reduce your need for expensive soaps and shampoos. Dreadlocks or a shaved head work great for keeping your hair in order. Facial hair can be easily shaped and styled with wax to keep it looking spiffy. Don’t forget about that all important perfume or cologne but use just enough to hide the fact it’s been some time since your last bath.
  • Showmanship – Develop your act and keep it fresh. Nothing perks up a crowd and loosens their tipping fingers more than a mesmerizing show. Keep them laughing and they won’t notice when their purse is a bit lighter. Become a truly great bard by always thinking about how you can make your act better. Never rest on your laurels.

The Modern Bard?

Old time woodcut of Bard playing trumpetIt’s great to daydream about traveling a long forgotten kingdom with only your wits and talent to keep you alive. There’s no chance you could actually do that in real life. Right? Well…yes. Yes you can. Becoming a modern bard is difficult but possible.

Renaissance faires are common across the country and all over the world. In addition there are fantasy role-playing conventions, folk music festivals and art fairs that are great places to practice the bardic arts. Performers of all kinds make a modest but adventurous living traveling to events and working for tips. If you become a bard act that gains some notoriety you can actually start to get booked at events for real money. These bards are often musical comedy acts but there are other types of performers as well.

If you develop a truly great act you can peddle it to more traditional venues as well. Live music is becoming more and more rare in clubs and bars. Comedy acts are always in high demand and gigs for folky, traditional music are always available at coffee shops. You might not get away with puffed pantaloons and feathered caps but it’s one way to become a modern bard.

Bard Resources

The Complete Bard’s Handbook

This guide is a great resource to getting the basics of the bardic ways. It’s an old role-playing guidebook but it contains some fantastic information that can help you become a real life bard. Check it out here on Amazon.

Lute Music for Witches and Alchemists

Yes, this is an actual CD you can buy. Get inspired for your future becoming a bard by listening to some honest to goodness lute tracks for practitioners of the dark arts. “>Buy the CD here and start summoning some lute-tastic jams!