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Old 08-08-2010, 03:38 PM
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BrewBillfold BrewBillfold is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 502
Default Re: Tactful corrections of band members

Well, for one, didn't he play that way from the beginning? If not, what precipitated the change?

If he didn't play that way from the beginning, it might be possible to approach what led to the change and turn that around . . . I don't know, it depends on what started it. (And if he played that way from the beginning, I have to wonder why you guys hired him (or joined the band, depending on who started it) in the first place.)

In either case, what might be a better idea is trying to compromise a bit the other way and having the whole band work on the more difficult, busy stuff--even if they do not need to. The idea isn't that it's all going to end up busier--it's that you're going to help him get his chops in shape so that if he's going to play that way anyway, it at least sounds good, then the rest of the band can eventually back off and be simpler if they want to be.

You'd need to coordinate this with the other band members ideally.

Let's say for example that he plays some complicated ostinato figure or run or whatever over something. Have the other members, including you, say, "I like what you're doing there; I'd like to do something similar or complementary to it, can you show it to me?" Then here's where the serious play-acting might have to come in: even if you can easily do it, act like you can not. Make him show it to you slowly, then gradually speed it up. If he's having timing problems as you speed it up, then have worse timing problems, and get everyone to count out the rhythm together. What you're doing is slyly helping him woodshed the part so that he can do it.

Also, by doing this, when he changes the part at the next practice, you can say, "Aw, man--I liked what we were doing together before there, why don't we do that instead?" He might still change parts, but if he does, just take the same approach again so at least his new part sounds good. If you do this enough, you're going to make him a better player , while always approaching it as complimenting and supporting him, so that you'll at least get to a point where you don't have to worry about what he's doing any longer.

He just might not agree with you guys that "less is more", it's better to keep things simple, etc.--I do not agree with that as a player, either. He also might not prefer to keep parts the same all the time--I definitely do NOT prefer that, for example. I prefer that people change parts, change the way they play songs regularly. I hate being in situations where others are uncomfortable with that, and I'd never be able to be in a Rush-like band where everyone is pretty much trying to get things note-per-note the same all the time. So depending on his preferences, you're probably not going to change his mind about that stuff if he doesn't agree with you.

So if you don't want to can him, and I can certainly understand that, then it's going to be just as much your responsibility to help him do what he's trying to do better, without making it seem like you're criticizing him, implying that you're better than him, more right than him about what the music should be like, etc.--all of those things put the person on the defensive instead. It's just as much your responsibility then to make it so that what he's doing better meshes with the music overall . . . that might involve just as much or even more compromise on the other musicians' parts to come up with something that works that kinda satisfies everyone involved.

Just thought I'd add this quickly: I once played with a keyboardist and singer who was like an R&B/funk/jazz Jim Morrison--including the acid-fueled unpredictability onstage. Sometimes it could be frustrating, because it could be hard to follow him and adapt to what he was playing and singing, but he also turned out some genius stuff. But the rest of the band approached it as needing to follow him and make it sound good based on what he was doing--there was no way he was going to take or consistently follow advice, structures, etc. from the rest of us.

It's also a bit like the Tout Mask Replica situation--the rest of the band had to figure out what the Captain was doing and follow him, making that the hinge of the music. There was no way they were going to get the Captain to play something more normal at that point. He just wasn't capable of it, for one.

Last edited by BrewBillfold; 08-09-2010 at 03:13 PM.
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