The perfectionist

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I think the high standards I set for myself are alienating me from other musicians somewhat.

During the week I practice with a click, play to music, backing tracks, solo etc, I am self critical and mostly in a productive way (because I do think I'm seeing gradual improvement). And I'm often disappointed when I play with musicians, not because I expect them to be perfect, I just think they could take a bit more pride. I think I'm starting to see that two musicians can gel together moreso than one musician can gel with a recording, but the average bass player/guitarist just doesn't put a great deal of effort into their timing or feel.

I'm not going to quit any of the projects I'm in unless I have some superior alternatives, so I guess my only choices are to accept things as they are and drop some friendly hints.

And before anyone takes a stab and says they prefer the warts - I don't think a human can be perfect, so there's no shame in striving for it and getting close, while still sounding a little imperfect.

Can anyone relate with this?
 

alparrott

Platinum Member
I think the high standards I set for myself are alienating me from other musicians somewhat.

During the week I practice with a click, play to music, backing tracks, solo etc, I am self critical and mostly in a productive way (because I do think I'm seeing gradual improvement). And I'm often disappointed when I play with musicians, not because I expect them to be perfect, I just think they could take a bit more pride. I think I'm starting to see that two musicians can gel together moreso than one musician can gel with a recording, but the average bass player/guitarist just doesn't put a great deal of effort into their timing or feel.

I'm not going to quit any of the projects I'm in unless I have some superior alternatives, so I guess my only choices are to accept things as they are and drop some friendly hints.

And before anyone takes a stab and says they prefer the warts - I don't think a human can be perfect, so there's no shame in striving for it and getting close, while still sounding a little imperfect.

Can anyone relate with this?
Both sides of it, actually. I do think that a band with serious aspirations needs to have its sh!t together and work on the lumpy bits with the intent of being as good as possible. But the "serious aspirations" part needs to be both a shared goal of all the band members, and tempered with a bit of realism.

There are guitarists, bassists, and singers out there who are actually willing to do what needs to be done to have a superior product; they want to make records, they want to do great gigs, and they want to move on to the bigger markets and get noticed. And they are willing to put in the time required. In a band like this, the less committed, less perfectionist musician does not fit and maybe should be asked to tighten up or ship out.

Some folks are just happy playing top forty or country two-step or what have you in the same three watering holes week after week for $50 a night, and that perfectly addresses their aspirations. In this band, the perfectionist player is the anomaly, and will just annoy the hell out of everyone until they find another guy who just wants to rock out with his jock out and doesn't care if the timing's a little wonky. Then the nitpicker sees a promo for a gig that he wasn't told about, and cue messy soap opera band split.

The trick going in as a band is to have a really clear shared vision of what the objective is, and to make sure that in neither case are you the nail that sticks out. The first band is probably more your fit, from the sound of it; the second band, not so much.

Case in point: The guitarist for a local blues band that I know of basically broke the band by insisting on too much perfection for the types of gigs and market in our town. It was all blues covers and small venues, but he was insisting on twice-weekly, three-hour, cannot-miss rehearsals and absolute commitment to nailing your parts, ahead of jobs or families or what have you. They ran through five drummers and two bass players, until the singer had to miss a couple of practices and he went on some sort of long Facebook rant and shut the whole thing down. He's not even welcome at the biweekly blues jam any more. I subbed for them a few times and had a decent experience, but I politely declined a permanent spot on the roster. Glad of that.
 
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larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I think the high standards I set for myself are alienating me from other musicians somewhat.

During the week I practice with a click, play to music, backing tracks, solo etc, I am self critical and mostly in a productive way (because I do think I'm seeing gradual improvement). And I'm often disappointed when I play with musicians, not because I expect them to be perfect, I just think they could take a bit more pride. I think I'm starting to see that two musicians can gel together moreso than one musician can gel with a recording, but the average bass player/guitarist just doesn't put a great deal of effort into their timing or feel.

I'm not going to quit any of the projects I'm in unless I have some superior alternatives, so I guess my only choices are to accept things as they are and drop some friendly hints.

And before anyone takes a stab and says they prefer the warts - I don't think a human can be perfect, so there's no shame in striving for it and getting close, while still sounding a little imperfect.

Can anyone relate with this?
In spades. High standards in music...I wish more people would have them. It's good to have at least one person in every band who upholds high standards. It does have a positive effect, provided they aren't nazi-ish about them. I understand the frustration. Don't let that deter you. The better you get, the better players you will attract. A conscientious drummer with high standards who rehearses themselves and executes well...that's a rare and beautiful thing. You're a musically conscientious guy. Keep up the good work Dre. Having realistic high standards is a great thing in today's world. The standards aren't high enough IMO. Someone has to toe the line. (tow the line? not sure which one is correct) I admire your attitude. As far as the others being alienated...I'm not sure what to say about that. It's their issue. They need you to show them the way by example.
 

Drumlove65

Senior Member
I'm with Duck Tape...If someone is committed to their instrument and practice from the ground up beginning with rudiments practice, playing with music to develop timing etc should go all the way. Why do we start banging on pots and pans as kids if we weren't dreaming about emulating our childhood heroes whomever they may be? Yeah I know luck has a lot to do with "making it" but IMHO there is no substitute for disciplined self-improvement.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Both sides of it, actually. I do think that a band with serious aspirations needs to have its sh!t together and work on the lumpy bits with the intent of being as good as possible. But the "serious aspirations" part needs to be both a shared goal of all the band members, and tempered with a bit of realism.

There are guitarists, bassists, and singers out there who are actually willing to do what needs to be done to have a superior product; they want to make records, they want to do great gigs, and they want to move on to the bigger markets and get noticed. And they are willing to put in the time required. In a band like this, the less committed, less perfectionist musician does not fit and maybe should be asked to tighten up or ship out.

Some folks are just happy playing top forty or country two-step or what have you in the same three watering holes week after week for $50 a night, and that perfectly addresses their aspirations. In this band, the perfectionist player is the anomaly, and will just annoy the hell out of everyone until they find another guy who just wants to rock out with his jock out and doesn't care if the timing's a little wonky. Then the nitpicker sees a promo for a gig that he wasn't told about, and cue messy soap opera band split.

The trick going in as a band is to have a really clear shared vision of what the objective is, and to make sure that in neither case are you the nail that sticks out. The first band is probably more your fit, from the sound of it; the second band, not so much.

Case in point: The guitarist for a local blues band that I know of basically broke the band by insisting on too much perfection for the types of gigs and market in our town. It was all blues covers and small venues, but he was insisting on twice-weekly, three-hour, cannot-miss rehearsals and absolute commitment to nailing your parts, ahead of jobs or families or what have you. They ran through five drummers and two bass players, until the singer had to miss a couple of practices and he went on some sort of long Facebook rant and shut the whole thing down. He's not even welcome at the biweekly blues jam any more. I subbed for them a few times and had a decent experience, but I politely declined a permanent spot on the roster. Glad of that.
Super balanced post, & apart from agreeing totally with Larry too, I have nothing to add, other than I wish I had your practice dedication (& time to do it :(
 

octatonic

Senior Member
The quest for perfection has to be tempered with the realisation that you have good days and bad days, that you are setting yourself a lifelong goal & that you are climbing a never-ending mountain.

The biggest problem I see with people is when their quest for perfection paralyses their 'now'.

If you aren't enjoying the process then that is the biggest issue to tackle.

The other side of the coin is when people explain laziness away with the excuse of being a 'feel' player, or disparage those that are putting in the work.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
Guilty as charged. I will work on a song until I have mastery of it if I'm going to perform it live. My process goes something like this:
Listen to song 5-6 times picking out kick drum and basic beat in my head
Chart drum parts
Practice song and play through "rough" sometimes semi-rough
Practice song until memorized or can read chart throughout without thinking.
This can take 10-20 run throughs until I'm happy with it
I've had other drummers tell me I'm crazy to practice so much BUT, when I sit down to do the song I've GOT it nailed.
I worked on "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder until I had his nuances down pat. I played it at a gig and had two people tell me they'd never heard such a good rendition on drums. Mission accomplished.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I think the high standards I set for myself are alienating me from other musicians somewhat.
The word you're looking for is separating, and that's a good thing. If the players around you don't embrace the same high standards, you're better off without them compromising your ethic.

Bermuda
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
Yes! Practice until I'm solid on tunes we play. 20, 50, 100 times. I don't care, because I'm the least skilled in my band. With a Ph.D. Pianist/keyboardist, a Berklee grad on guitar, and a bassist with 30 years of live playing & singing, I work to stay in the band. I also confess my weaknesses and guess what? They help me with great advice on how to approach a tune. geez. Every rehearsal is like a fun music class. Much better than anything I had in school or college.

And the kicker: we play out only one or twice a month, at most. We get invited to local music fests and event gigs, and play in a club/bar if we feel the desire (and only the 8–10pm time slot).

With these guys, it's about the music and how good it feels to play it. So, yeah, I work at nailing my parts.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
The quest for perfection has to be tempered with the realisation that you have good days and bad days, that you are setting yourself a lifelong goal & that you are climbing a never-ending mountain.

The biggest problem I see with people is when their quest for perfection paralyses their 'now'.

If you aren't enjoying the process then that is the biggest issue to tackle.

The other side of the coin is when people explain laziness away with the excuse of being a 'feel' player, or disparage those that are putting in the work.
/\ This.

Its music, its an art form. Try to enjoy the fact you are making music with others. If that is not enough then you must need to move up to playing with Pro musicians only. I have no idea what level of band you play with at the moment but if all you get is frustration it is counter productive. You are supposed to enjoy playing, not just beating yourself up constantly about being better and better. Live in the moment now and again and realise that some musicians just do it for fun.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
You want perfectionism? Orchestral players spend thousands of hours perfecting 30 seconds of music. Some of the most important excerpts get thousands of hours of practice by the time you win an orchestra job (if you ever do--99% of players never get one), and the longest excerpts are usually no more than 30 seconds.

I got out of the audition circuit in my mid-20s, but even so, I had spent probably close to a thousand hours or more on the biggest xylophone excerpt by then.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Super balanced post, & apart from agreeing totally with Larry too, I have nothing to add, other than I wish I had your practice dedication (& time to do it :(
I agree, Andy.

Killer post, Al.

Logically, not everyone in a non-pro band will be equally tight but ideally they'll all be in the same ballpark.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Well the professional attitude and desire for "perfection" are really inspiring to others too. One of the posters, I think Tony, responded to another post saying "try to play with people/players better than you" which is great advice and true as it drives you to higher standards and wanting to work hard to not be the weak link in a group. I had that experience hooking up with a orchestra conductor-I helped with percussion toys (I can read music with effort) and played kit. It was a civic orchestra but had retired symphony orchestra players and some really good non-professionals and just a few weak players (like "me") so their standards were high. He also created offshoot groups like a Big Band and small jazz group that created lots of gigs-which man I was way out of my league with some of these gigs. Eventually many of the orchestra "accepted me" and even a few compliments-I did this and "held my own" for about 5 years and it was a great experience. However sadly left to my own device I'm not a disciplined player at all and don't like always playing a song exactly the same way and seem driven to leave no spaces or overplay a song. I like to "experiment" too much. It seems my greatest battle is with myself.
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I think the high standards I set for myself are alienating me from other musicians somewhat.
I think this is normal. As you get better, you tend to separate yourself from the people that you started with, that aren't improving.

It's the same with any job/skill/trade/friendship. I hung out with some real stoners in High School, and then we started hanging out less and less as I became more ambitious, and more focused on what I wanted to do.

Now, when I see them, I have the same reaction you had with the other musicians... I feel like they are just going through the motions in life and not "giving their all" at anything.

Music is no different, eventually you reach the point where you are on a different level, and you leave the people that you started with behind.

When I first started playing jazz, I had hooked up with a stride/ragtime player and we had a good run a of gigs for several years. He was way better than me at first, and I was happy to keep up. After a few years, I was starting to get better, and started branching out to more complex and free styles of jazz. Meanwhile the piano player was stagnant. Granted he was an EPIC alcoholic, so when he wasn't playing, he was getting black out drunk. He was one of those child prodigies that could sight read Chopin and Rachmaninoff by 18, and then he peaked... My playing now, is light years ahead of what I was able to do back then, and I've found new players to challenge me.

With everything in life, there are those of us who keep up the momentum and strive to get better, and those who are content to be good enough. As long as you keep trying to challenge yourself, you'll run into situations where you leave some of these players behind, and that's a good thing.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
I think this is normal. As you get better, you tend to separate yourself from the people that you started with, that aren't improving.

It's the same with any job/skill/trade/friendship. I hung out with some real stoners in High School, and then we started hanging out less and less as I became more ambitious, and more focused on what I wanted to do.

Now, when I see them, I have the same reaction you had with the other musicians... I feel like they are just going through the motions in life and not "giving their all" at anything.
I agree. The issues I've had in bands (& no, I haven't gone through life surrounded by issues :) ) have generally been down to this and Anon La Ply's point about band members needing to be on the same page.
I'm nowhere near putting the amount of effort in that the OP does, but in my own way in my own little band I always strive to be as close to the front as possible at "the easy stuff", namely learning the songs, turning up on time, sticking to the set list etc. I am a bit obsessive/compulsive at times which I reign in, unfortunately the less organised those around me get, the more OCD my reactions become possibly to counter their actions which can then lead to frustration. I'm currently on a bit of a knife edge in the band I've been in for the last couple of years with other members doing "silly" things, fingers crossed we can resolve things, if not my side project might become my main band :-/
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I find that when I'm able to hold out and get into projects where I'm the lowest member on the rung, or even just middle of that pack, I tend to like playing more.

When you're the best player in the group, you're going to be a little bit default as far as who drives the really good playing and arranging. It'll feel like you're dragging them along a bit. If you're into it, that's fine, actually.

I think the important thing is to keep a sense of scale and perspective. In almost all bands, it's rare for everyone to be exactly at the same musicianship level. When you're at the top of the pack, remember that in your next project things might be flipped and you'll be the one holding everyone back while you perfect a section that all the others already nail.
 

Frosticles

Silver Member
I think that the standards of today are set way too high regarding technical ability, musical perfection. This doesn't guarantee a good band. It can almost be a bad thing.
To me, a band needs to gel together regardless of ability. You can have a member who has had zero musical teaching etc but could quite easily be the best song writer there is (look at history) musicians of no musical teachings tend to be more creative in their writing & style as their minds are free to do whatever sounds the best irrespective if it is deemed "musically correct"
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I find that when I'm able to hold out and get into projects where I'm the lowest member on the rung, or even just middle of that pack, I tend to like playing more.

When you're the best player in the group, you're going to be a little bit default as far as who drives the really good playing and arranging. It'll feel like you're dragging them along a bit. If you're into it, that's fine, actually.

I think the important thing is to keep a sense of scale and perspective. In almost all bands, it's rare for everyone to be exactly at the same musicianship level. When you're at the top of the pack, remember that in your next project things might be flipped and you'll be the one holding everyone back while you perfect a section that all the others already nail.


Spot on. A bit of humility can go a long way. If others are genuinely doing the best they can then fine. If they are not committed and are just messing about then find another band that is looking at your own level of commitment.

We cant all be musical prodigies or always have the time to do 8 hours of practice per day, jobs and families and life often gets in the way. Look for musicians that want to do what you are looking for, whatever level that may be.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
To me, a band needs to gel together regardless of ability. You can have a member who has had zero musical teaching etc but could quite easily be the best song writer there is (look at history) musicians of no musical teachings tend to be more creative in their writing & style as their minds are free to do whatever sounds the best irrespective if it is deemed "musically correct"
To many, it will sound like a cop out and a cliché, but in my experience, it's true.

Two of the best songwriters I've ever played with were absolutely atrocious musicians in any trained or theoretical sense. Don't ask them to run up and down any scales because they don't know what scales are and wouldn't have the dexterity to pull it off even if they did - but they can write clever songs that stick in your head for days.

I don't exactly know why that is, except to say that some people just prefer coming up with new and novel ideas and fashioning them into songs. For them, that kind of creativity is what motivates them to keep at it. For me, I've played with enough highly skilled players without a whit of an original musical idea to know which type I prefer to play with.

Sometimes it is a drag when you're feeling the pressure to hold it all together because others can't be bothered, but mostly it's just a recognition that everyone's strengths lie in different areas and nobody has every aspect of being a player completely locked down.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
Hats of to you, I wish more musicians would show the same amount of dedication for self improvement but your personal circumstances may allow for lots of time honing your craft. Other band members may not, with life getting in the way.

If it is getting you down (admittedly none of us removed from this can know the full ins and outs other than ŷour good self) maybe think about finding some fellow committed players.

I feel very much committed to improving myself but I play with some people who although are committed to the band don't try and push onto the next level and also can be somewhat tardy at times and that's not completely a bad thing. They are still members who add 'something' else to the group.

As long as their outcome/circumstances/playing don't hamper the band overall that's what it's about I guess. Some people sometimes are only in it for the hang but still offer something valuable to the group, an element that contributes overall.

Just be mindful of maybe applying your own outlook/dedication to other people too much maybe as everyone is different.

Again though I'm removed from your own personal experience on this and don't know full ins and outs.
 
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