When musicians desire is ahead of ability...

Discussion in 'Worship Service Players' started by Dunnigan, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. Dunnigan

    Dunnigan Tele-Meister

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    How have you handled the developing musician who really wants to play in a setting they simply aren't ready for?

    Maybe it's the chops they don't have, they can go practice for a few months and see where we are. Maybe it's just on-stage experience they don't have--that can be gained in smaller venues. Maybe they really are hopelessly unaware of how bad they are, and you don't think they will ever get good enough.

    But you can tell they are someone who probably won't take it well when you try and tell them no.

    How have you handled this well? Not so well?

    How about the difference between a singer and a musician? I mean, sometimes the musician can go get better, but a singer could spend the next decade practicing and still sound horrible.

    How can developing musicians show they are eager to learn and develop, but at the proper pace and in the proper venues?
     
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  2. krowbot

    krowbot Tele-Meister

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    In that situation right now. I am a nice guy so I think I do a good job of giving them a "hint". I can out drum my drummer and out play the bassist as well.

    I do all the songwriting too so it makes things difficult. I have played in a cover band with them and they are awesome when it comes to that. However, contribution is low or non existent when it comes to our originals.

    I am trying to be proactive so I gave them a little heads up that now is the time to get better at our craft, especially if we want to start gigging our original materials.

    So, I make demos and minus one tracks for them. Giving them "ideas" on how the drums should go or how the bassline can go.

    Through that, they started to announce that they basically need to practice, but it is a good thing because it kind of boosts them to want to get better.

    It kind of isn't "fair" though because I started playing at 13 and got "serious" at 17. Went to Musician's Institute and all that.

    From a small town and have a family so I am making the best of what we got as far as fellow musicians. I do feel sometimes like telling them. "Look man, I can make you better, I can answer your theory questions", however it all comes down to them.

    Like I said, I try to be proactive and am also pretty laid back, so I also let them know the things I think I should get better at, and also let them know to please criticize anything they think I or we should change or get better at as well.

    Life is short and I wanna play.
     
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  3. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    I play pretty regularly with a guy who plays acoustic guitar. He always has a Capo but has seemed fairly competent to me. The other day we asked him to start a song with a particular rhythm and he got the rhythm but was a playing a D chord in the open position. The worship leader and I both told him that that chord voicing did not work as he was playing all the notes in the chord. We asked him to play the chord up the neck as an "A" shaped chord and to palm mute the chord i.e. with the barre at the fifth fret.

    His response was, I don't know how to play a D as an A shaped chord and what does palm mute mean? I was blown away because this guy got through the try out process somehow without anyone tripping to the fact that he is a very green beginner. So, sometimes you think you know what the other musicians can and can't do, but sometimes you don't. I just walked over and showed him how to do what he needed to know how to do. He was embarrassed because there were about 10 other people at practice, but what are you going to do. I told him to talk to me later and I would show him all the moveable chord shapes I know. He hasn't taken me up on it yet though.

    I don't know if I have a decent answer to the OP. I've played with guys who are like Simon Cowell. Just brutally (unnecessarily so) honest. These guys have caused permanent scars and a lot of bitterness in those I've watched them injure. I've also played with leaders who are terrified of conflict and therefore won't tell musicians that they are completely out of tune or can't play their horn on pitch because they don't want to offend them. I can't tell you which is worse. I think there has to be some middle ground where you gently tell someone that they aren't ready or that if they can't hear that their guitar is out of tune, they really should re-consider whether they should be trying to lead music. It's uncomfortable, but has to be done. I played with a couple trumpet players for a while who couldn't play on pitch, and finally told the leader to stop scheduling me to play until they were no longer part of the team because I simply couldn't take it anymore.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2017
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  4. SnowStorm

    SnowStorm Tele-Meister

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    They are my kids, so I work with them at home and we use simple parts and do the best we can. They are getting better and it is becoming more enjoyable.
     
  5. -Hawk-

    -Hawk- Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I reckon you've described a large percentage of the bar band community! Seems the answer is drink until it sounds good.
     
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  6. h2odog

    h2odog Tele-Meister

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    I have a weekday practice night as well as a Sunday morning rehearsal before the service. Practice night is open to anyone who wants to come and play with the regular worship team. We also multitrack record practices. I find that things can seem to sound better in the moment than they do in playback. I play back the recording and sometimes individual instruments for people to really hear what they're doing. That usually is very helpful if they have a false impression of how they sound. I try to do this in a way that encourages them to get better.
     
  7. SngleCoil

    SngleCoil Tele-Holic

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    Be up front and realistic about the level of skill needed to play as part of the team. If the skill set isn't quite there, be specific with recommendations for where to invest in development. No doesn't mean never. Skill can be developed where there is desire. If you are genuine and kind, the person may still be offended, but if you have done all you can to encourage rather than critique, you have done what is needed.
     
  8. christhee68

    christhee68 Friend of Leo's

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    Our music director seems to have an "all are welcome" policy.

    Our problem is mostly singers. Since I'm not the WL or music director of our praise band, I've learned that ear plugs are a must. Ear plugs or a monitor mix set so I don't have to hear them.

    We have two women who seem to have "volume wars." When there is only one of them there, each seems to blend in fine with the other singers. When they both are there, they both try to sing over top of the other and any semblance of "blending" is thrown out the window.

    We also have two younger women who both sound great but show taste and restraint in their vocals; they both use their voices to make the music sound better. Too bad they're mostly drowned out by the other two.

    We have one singer who is really confident in her abilities, much to the detriment of our overall presentation. She's developed a romantic relationship with one of our musicians, who is very supportive of her efforts.
     
  9. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    If the musician in question really has desire to get better and to perform than you are halfway there. You can't teach someone who doesn't want to be taught.

    Be unambiguous about their shortcomings but offer solutions. If you've ever heard of a sh$t sandwich, this is a good time to serve one. Positive input first, followed by the dookie, summed up with positive input. And then be willing to invest your time and effort to help them with their goal. That might be another thing, after they finish the sandwich see what their goals are with their instrument. Then offer up your own effort to help them get there, even if you are just emailing songs and lesson videos, whatever.

    Also we've had people who just practiced with us but didn't play on Sunday. Sort of a jam thing. But overall I've not found a great way to tell someone that "it's not soup yet."
     
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  10. idma

    idma TDPRI Member

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    this is a very tough question because it very much depends on what your church's expectation on musical caliber, and the reality of what the worship service will be like regardless of skill, and of course the act of worship in just letting people serve.

    For me, my philosophy is worship players' only job is to provide the setting for the congregation to get ready for the sermon, and not to provide distractions. The first thing I consider is that I always run my worship services in a low key way anyway. Acoustic, drum, bass, 1-2 vocals. Or maybe add an electric guitar but they essentially won't be pressing the distortion pedal any time soon. Musically it allows for people to be simpler in their playing. Because of that, it gives any newbs a much easier and lower expectation for them to reach if they don't know the songs. So in terms of providing the musical setting, i'd say its reached 100% of the time because A) nobody notices all those little details you practiced all week B) a good % of your congregation would care less or do not know anything musically.

    In terms of providing no distractions, thats where the actual excellency comes in, and when i say excellency i mean not playing the wrong notes/chords/words. Out of anything that ever happens in a worship service, those three things are what people notice when it actually goes wrong. Even fellow musicians that are standing in the congregation won't notice anything except for those 3 things if they're not really paying attention. So if i needed someone to REALLY practice, i'd ask them to practice A) rhythm, B) chords. Thats all. And if you're singing, you should practice (i.e. memorize) A) melody B) Words.

    TL:DR - Other than rhythm and the main melody and chords, everything is too endemic to predict and asking to practice anything farther than that is, to me, almost asking too much.
     
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  11. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    This all seems like good advice here. I especially like the idea of recording parts of your practices and for the time being trying to simplifying the parts for this person. I also agree that being too passive is just as bad as being cruel regarding discussing where their progress sits right now.

    From what you have described it sounds like the person is well motivated. They need experience and feedback and a chance to grow into their role. Good luck.
     
  12. GoldieLocks

    GoldieLocks Tele-Afflicted

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    Remember these are Volunteers. You get what you pay for.

    I'm not sure you can force someone to be a good musician. Believe me - i've tried. I'm still trying. Either you have music flowing through you or YOU DON'T. A person has to desire it. Having said that: Imagine Johnny Ramone jamming with Miles Davis? Or Weird Al Yankovic on stage with Pavarotti?

    But the issue here isn't musician's styles - but those who DON'T want to really develop - or are stubbornly clueless about how unskilled they are. YES, this issue is almost 100% emotional. We have no problem telling little kids to practice... but those adults (or teenagers?). OR worse: senor citizens with 50 years experience: You'll destroy their fragile world if the truth is known or revealed.

    After I toured Canada for a year and played with a few bands all over (I thought I was hot stuff). My jazz guitarist buddy dared to tell me I was an unfocused chaotic musician. Guess what? He was right. I later rethought everything I did and knew. I changed a few habits (still changing some). And really started growing. But my Buddy respected me enough to tell the truth.

    If you don't respect somebody - don't tell them the truth. They can't handle it.

    My advice: have good and bad worship weeks. Schedule a bad players Sunday every month (let the insanity flourish). Or schedule a GOOD players Sunday (so they can think about not quitting because of all the previous crappy performances by the band.) Indeed, don't punish the good players. They will stop coming.
     
  13. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

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    Desire ahead of ability HA! Seems to come with being a musician.
    Thought by now I'd be able to play anything right off the top...
    At least as we get older we have some insight as to our limitations.
     
  14. CapnCrunch

    CapnCrunch Friend of Leo's

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    Ever hear the saying "Put the teenagers in charge so they can solve all the world's problems before they realize that they don't know everything"? It is sometimes apt for the musically immature as well.
     
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  15. JuneauMike

    JuneauMike Friend of Leo's

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    I just really appreciate and respect, and would hope any church music program would value aspiration and striving. Seems like as long as you've got the desire to make music, the musicianship will eventually get sorted out. I always wish I was a better musician, but at the end of the day I think I usually do alright.
     
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  16. dougstrum

    dougstrum Tele-Afflicted

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    Get those young folks playing! Bass and drums are sister and brother
    biological and in the Lord. I've played with them since their teens abt
    8 yrs now~ bass is good and drummer I'd put up against anyone.

    Fun seeing those skills develop; now onto my grandsons:)
     
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  17. PastorJay

    PastorJay Tele-Afflicted

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    We do a couple things that help mentor aspiring musicians.

    First, we get our young people to take lessons of some kind. Our worship leader once worked for something between six months and a year with a young man who wanted to sing--before we gave him a microphone. And we've referred several of our aspiring musicians to a particular teaching studio. Then we ask the teachers when they think the student is ready.

    Second--we scatter the inexperienced musicians into teams with experienced musicians. Put the inexperienced drummer with a very experienced bass player, or the new singer with a couple very experienced singers, etc.

    People can only get experience by getting experience. Figuring out how to help them get it is part of our ministry--bringing up the next generation.
     
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  18. Jhengsman

    Jhengsman Tele-Holic

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    Except for a few months when we had multiple keys players my church has always been in an everybody plays position. Mostly we have been mature enough not to try to overplay as we began and the more experienced handled the fills. As such new musicians often served the team in ways beyond their instrument such as learning the AV and sound board singing in the choir and played along during rehearsals.

    There would be no formal instructions just a worship leader on a particular week asking them to plug in or get behind the drums we need you.
     
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