Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Get out of the Way!!

Today, I would like to challenge you to consider a fresh new perspective on how your music is created.

When a band or choir is improvising a song, they create an ever-evolving "real-time" energy that takes on a musical life of it's own. The way in which voices and instruments "discuss" and "dialogue" using various tone colors can become extremely intricate and , all too often, very busy.

Today, I would like to invite you to become more aware of your role in these "musical conversations".

Are you hogging the stage by overplaying? Are you allowing the other instruments to "have their say"? Remember that a conversation involves listening as much as speaking. Even if you are playing a solo, are you taking time to breathe and create effective pauses between your phrasings?

One glaring mistake I see with new musicians is that they tend to overplay as much as possible.
They either run over someone else's musical contribution, or emote such a flurry of notes during their own solos, that each individual note loses it's effectiveness.

Consider this the next time you are "sitting in" with a band or vocal ensemble". Will the entire stage go suddenly silent if you just stop playing to get out of their way? I seriously doubt it. Take time to listen so that your voice will enhance and not distract the overall message of the song.

Lately I have been making puzzles with my five year old daughter. Occasionally, I see her trying to force a puzzle piece into a space in which it was not designed. No amount of pressure will make the complete picture" unless each piece is placed where it was created. Make sure your music piece is competed with every voice being the right size and shape to make the finished product pleasing to the ear.

In kindergarten we are taught to to: listen when others are speaking.

This is good advice onstage as well as the classroom.

Tonight I am performing the piano in with a 10 piece jazz band which also includes a very accomplished guitarist. My goal is to enhance and uplift the other musicians so that the overall sound is the right texture and complexity. Since the guitar and piano have very similar roles the in band, I will encourage the guitarist to work with me to ebb and flow the rhythm duties in a conversation way.

Let's hope the guitarist learned this in Kindergarten as well.

Good Gigging!

Larry Marra

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