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David's Tip of the Day: Band Training, Part 6 - Listening

David Barrett Admin's picture

The highest art of performance is to hear and react to what everyone in the band is playing as you play. If you're too focused on what you're playing, your ears close and your timing and groove suffer... along with your note selection relative to what the band is playing to support you (it's common for a soloist to play too light to a bluesy backing and vice-verse).

At the last School of the Blues jam session the leader looked to stage right where there were two soloists (harmonica and guitar). They both saw the signal and played ripping solos... mind you at the same time... all over each other (which was obvious to the listeners). After the song was over I asked them if they knew that the other was also soloing and they were oblivious to the fact... they were too focused on what they were doing to see the gorilla in the room.

So, with this in mind... prepare well ahead of time so that you can tell yourself when it's time to play, "I've worked hard to get ready for today, it's now time to relax, open my ears and enjoy myself." The end result is that we always play better, enjoy ourselves more and are more able to react to what's happening dynamically on the stage.