Earned my pay playing music with teens today...


Gold Member
Let me explain: a church band I'm subbing in until they find more permanent musicians had their teen-led worship service today. I was the only drummer in the place, so I was it, so to speak. The only other person on stage over the age of about 17 were me and the lead guitar player my same age who also volunteered to help out.

Our usual line-up of musicians were either on vacation in some exotic destination, flying back to Scotland for business, or packing up their home to move to another state.

So it was just us two old guys and a bunch of teens. Pretty much all teenage girls except for one 15 year old boy on acoustic guitar who was sticking close to us old guys.

To make a real long and funny story short, this morning's rehearsal was interesting to say the least. Since teenage girls were involved, the ideas flowing were non-stop going in 14 different directions at the same time. Fortunately the lead guitar player and one of the girls' dads were providing direction and trying to rally these kids to stay focused, without taking over. It was supposed to be their time, so it was a delicate balancing act trying to provide mentoring and direction without being overly "take charge". I was in the drum booth soaking it all in and laughing. To be honest, I was glad I was only a "sideman" in this instance!

After running through the songs a few times it was obvious to both the lead and me that a solid kick would be needed at all times to keep the beat since this group tended to rush and drag. One half would be rushing, one half dragging. This came in handy on The City Harmonic's "Manifesto" on one particular verse.

All in all the band played well and the singers were "tight" (read here: "adequate", as in it wasn't a "train wreck"), so all was good. The teens got the credit they deserved and us "old guys" felt appreciated by the younger generation. Grin.
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Gold Member
Diva's tend to rush or drag and this is all due to the massive amount of vibrato they mistakenly employ in their quest to sound authentically prayerful and serious.

Which as any vocal coach worth his/her salt will tell you that in a group setting with lots of vocalists - vibrato should not be used. But no matter - as (young) Diva's seldom listen and what happens is a sickly sweet display of "talent" and "heartfelt emotionalism" rather than singing out and blending (the other rule is if you can't hear the people around you singing, you're singing too loud).

My solution has been (for quite a while now) to call the singers on the vibrato (which they rarely respond to).

So after a few bands and lots of frustration I figured out that that if I rush the beat just enough to keep them slightly out of breath and thereby cancelling out the vibrato with the need to keep oxygenated... suddenly they are complying to what is needed in a gaggle of singers. In other words it works! The sensationalism and overt emotionalism disappears with the lack of vibrato and they are singing with a full voice as they have to take in athletic volumes of air to keep pace.

Maybe it is a bit deceiving on my part but without this bit of trickery, wrangling the vocalist(s) would be like herding cats. Impossible.
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