For the second weekend in a row, I was able to play the drum with a group of musicians. We were learning new songs and had one day to get it them down. Finding the right balance was vital to our success. I am learning to be a leader by being a good follower and servant.
Let’s review my journey as a drummer. I have never owned a real set of drums. I did have a toy set when I was a kid. I have owned various other musical instruments, mainly the Bass Guitar, Six String Guitar and Various Keyboards. I play the drums because I like the drums and I will play what is needed most to keep things moving forward. I have been asked to play the drums because a drummer is what is needed most. So I am taking what I have learned from other drummers and try to apply it to this situation.
Normally, our singer / keyboard player is used to leading a vocal group to pre-recorded music tracks. Now we are trying to build a band to take the place of the pre-recorded music. This weekend, we had to learn three new songs in one practice session as a band, and then we got one practice session with the vocal group. Everything came down to finding balance. As a drummer I did not want to play to loud. I did not want to play too fast. Lastly I did not want to play too complicated and lose the beat.
So first and foremost, I did not want to be too loud, because then I could not hear the two guitar players, the keyboard player or the singing. I would have just been a drummer bashing away. As a leader, it is very important that we listen to the people around us, and make sure we are all in harmony. Now the flip side of this is playing too soft. As a drummer, if I play to soft then there is no definite beat to follow. As a leader; if the leader is to quite, than you may not be making steady progress. Both a Leader and a Drummer have to know when to be loud and when to be quiet so that everyone follows a nice steady pace.
Secondly, I had to keep myself from playing too fast. Sometimes the singers would kind of hold notes and let them linger through changes in the song. This would change the feel of the song, which would of course change the pace or rhythm of the song. If I played too fast, I would lose the singers through the changes. The easy solution was to slow down a little and make sure we are all staying together. As a leader, it is important to keep everyone moving together. Projects, Programs, Clubs and Companies have to learn to work as a team. Win together or you will lose together, so it is important to keep everyone moving together. A leader can not run ahead of the pack so fast that they lose the pack. Again, the flip side of this is moving too slow. You have to keep a steady pace. You have to maintain a level of energy that everyone can follow. The same is true of being a drummer; if you play too slow, the song will lose energy. Again it was important to find that balance.
Third was not playing too complicated. As a group we were listening to the recorded versions of the songs and there was a lot going on. There was more music than we had players to cover all the parts. We had to keep things simple. We had to pick out what parts of the songs were the most important and make sure we covered those points first. We had to keep things simple and yet put first things first. If we got too complicated then we would get lost as a group. I feel leaders need to learn this lesson. Do not get to complicated, but still put first things first. As a drummer; I told the group, it is better to play less and stay steady than to try to do too much. As a drummer and as a leader in the group, I had to listen to my own advice. I took some very complicated drum parts and kept them very basic. Keep it simple and stay on target. As a leader, we should do the same things. Figure out what are the most important and vitals things and do them first. Do not get too complicated. Now the balance is if you are overly simple, everything sounds the same. You have to be able to switch things up and not get boring without being so complicated that everyone gets lost. Balance, balance, balance; a Leader and a Drummer have to maintain balance.
Even though it was not obvious to the people in the crowd when we were performing, I was able to play a leadership role in keeping our newly found band on pace. It is a great feeling to be a to be a leader and a follower and a servant all at the same time. I hope this thread helps you find balance. Not too loud and not too quite; a leader has to be heard without drowning out everyone else. Not too fast and not too slow; a leader has to set a steady pace, and make sure everyone stays together. Not too complicated and not too simple; a Leader has to put first things first, and know how to change things up to avoid being boring. A Drummer is like a Leader when it comes time to find that balance.