Band of Brothers

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A band is like a ship: it needs energy, direction, skills and human resources. Long story short, a band needs to be managed. About management in a band; the problem always comes from legitimacy issues. Unless a band is fortunate enough to have a good manager (we will talk further in the book about evil managers), bandmates might have to manage the band themselves which can get them thinking that their vision will always prevail.

Let me guess: you think good relationships and friendship are enough to do so? Sorry to disappoint you but you are dead wrong. When you build up a band from scratch with friends, you will perhaps be a natural leader but unfortunately, you won’t have any legitimacy whatsoever to make strong decisions without hours of exhausting negotiation, verbal fights and background phone calls.

After all, who are you to give orders? Who said you were the boss? If I was a company employee and at the same time playing guitar in your band, I wouldn’t accept you as my boss. First of all because I would already have a boss at work and I wouldn’t want another one, especially with such a recreational activity. Second of all, as I would already be frustrated from work, I would also like to be the band’s boss just to see my decisions accepted and see them actually implemented. That’s why professional orchestras are less concerned by these kind of issues. Who is the boss? The conductor. You don’t agree? Fine by him. You are fired.

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This is partly a fun chapter. Do you remember some of my words? Music has to be fun too. So for your entertainment, here are a few musicians’ excuses I’ve become allergic to– I now sneeze whenever I hear one of them.I bet you know some as they have haunted rehearsal rooms and studios since the begining of the world.

I don’t know what I have to play because I have personal issues: This is my favorite one. Some musicians that don’t want to hear about music also being a serious thing, always find a good reason for not having learned or worked their part out. They find any possible excuse to avoid the fact that they’re lazy or have very small ambitions; both in most cases. First: we all have issues. Children, bills to pay, divorce to go through, toxic friends to manage, parents’ illness, relatives’ death. Whatever. And second of all: when you’re really motivated to play good music, you overcome daily issues and take at least fifteen minutes a week to listen to the songs you will be playing. If you create original songs maybe you could bring two or three new ideas to the next rehearsal. Music is  an art and, for some mystical reasons I don’t really understand, some musicians think they don’t have to be serious. They forget their scores, their instrument, their cable … just out of the fact that for them, music is just about drinking beers, smoking strange cigarettes, having friends,so on and so forth. “Hey bro, keep it cool, we’re not at work, relax” is a common one I’ve heard. 

Practicing technique isn’t worth it : I lied earlier on. This is definitely my favorite musician’s excuse. Musicians who don’t want to work on technique will always say that technique sucks because ”only feeling is important”, which means that they probably think it’s impossible to play a very-fast-tempo-and-powerful ascending scale with feeling, heart, passion and emotion. I can’t imagine what Mozart, Bach or Vivaldi would think if they could hear such a wonderful pack of lies. Truth is that if some musicians despise technique, it’s just because they can’t master it. They pretend it’s a choice when it’s definitely not. Can you imagine Freddy Mercury or Luciano Pavarotti saying “I have a hell of a voice, but I’d rather sing spoken and intimate songs”. Of course, feelings and emotions don’t rely on technique but technique doesn’t prevent emotions and feelings from popping out. As a matter of fact, some very lousy musicians can play very lousy pentatonic scales at a slow tempo. Trust me: people who crititize technique would play like virtuosos if they really could. Unfortunately, they can’t.