I love playing the Bass Guitar. I love making music. I have told me exploits as a Drummer and a Servant Leader. I have been trying to learn to become a better leader by doing the best I can to help move the group of musicians I jam with forward. Well this week I learned quite a lesson. I will share it with you if you will stick around for a minute. Welcome to 60 Seconds of Motivational Mojo.
Have you ever heard of the term, “Fake it until you make it?” I am not sure I agree with that term. I believe you should do the best you can, do not be afraid of making mistakes; but learn from the mistakes you make, and keep trying to get better at what you do. I play the Drums in a Praise Band, because that is what we need the most. Every now and then I get to play the Bass Guitar. This week for the second time only I got to play the Bass.
Now as a Drummer, I have tried to make sure everything was good for all the other musicians. I bring extra Cables, converters and spare batteries to make sure you can clearly hear each instrument. I have explained to the people in the band that the person running the Sound System can make or break our performance. The mix of the Sound through the Main System is what the people in the crowd will hear. We will hear the mix through the stage monitors first, and the sound going out to the crowd will sound like an echo to us on stage. Everything has to be mixed just right.
I have gotten used to different mixes because I have played different instruments and different styles of music. It never sounds exactly the same twice. Most of the time people in the crowd are not 100% sure if what they are hearing is mixed just right, or if it is even being played live at all. You see people pantomiming to music in the Movies, On TV and even at some Concerts. A lot of Television Appearances are set to pre-recorded music. I never much liked watching people fake it on Television or in the Movies. I really like movies where when you watch the musicians’ they look like they can really play, not just fake it. I never like watching people fake it on Television or Live.
Ok, quick switch. Name your five favorite singers. Now name your five favorite bass players. Most people can not even name five bass payers. Most people can not really tell who is playing what on stage. I can. I am a musician. Some styles of music are truly built upon what the Bass Player and Drummer are doing. Usually the best Bass Lines can be found in Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and Funk Music. In other Styles of Music the Bass Player can sit in the back ground and just provide deep notes that sit under what everyone else is doing. I like playing the Bass in a way the weaves in and out of the mix. I play the bass in a way that can sit back or take the lead. I like to play in a way that will push the other musicians’ and add a lot of energy to the music. I want people to feel what I am playing.
Well because of strange scheduling we did not get to practice with our sound man. We made it through practice, but there we some sound problems. Noisy cords that were creating a popping sound in the music. Because we were not able to really pin point the problem we just did the best we could and got through practice. During our performance, something went terribly wrong. The Acoustic Guitar and Bass Guitar were low in the mix to start with, but halfway through the first song the Guitar and Bass were turned completely off in the mix. We were reduced to playing along, but nothing was coming through the Main System or the Monitors. We tried to wave to the Sound Man but we could not get his attention. I was basically faking it. The keyboards, drums and vocals were the only thing being heard by the crowd. Everyone seemed to enjoy the music, everyone but me. The Bass Guitar was plugged directly into the Main System, no Bass Amplifier on Stage. I knew what I was playing, and I was trying to play to the best of my ability. I really, really wanted people to feel the Bass parts I was playing. I wanted to take each song to New Heights.
All the weeks I spent behind the drums making sure everyone else could be heard, and now I was not being heard at all. Many a Rock Star has walked off the stage when the mix was wrong. I wanted to sit down the bass and walk off stage. I had to convince myself that the sound could be fixed at any minute. I had to fake it. I had to keep playing not knowing if I would be heard or not. I have read stories of Guitar players who would jump around and go crazy one night and really concentrate on their playing the next night. People like to see people jumping around more than really trying to play their best. I knew what I was playing. I could hear it in my mind. No matter how much I tried it would not be heard by anyone else. I would not be able to make people feel what I was playing. They would only see what I was trying to play.
I gave up trying to signal to the sound made. I tried to let it go and just have a good time, somewhere between faking it and really playing. The performance made me realize it is not about me; and if the sound man could not hear what was wrong, no one in the crowd would hear it either. No one else could tell that the Acoustic Guitar and The Bass Guitar were turn off in the mix. We were really playing but not being heard. We were being seen though. A few people even told me, that they could not hear me in the beginning. The Bass was actually “On” early in the first song.
The whole thing made me wonder if I could every “fake it” for a TV show. I am not sure if I could. I think I would at the very least need an Amplifier turned “On” even if it was not part of the Main Mix. As much as I wanted to show off my skills to the world, how much will it really matter? Someone has to really be tuned in as much as I am to what each instrument is doing. Maybe this is why some many people can just fake it. Maybe people really do not even really know what they are hearing. Live or Pre-Recorded. It is more about liking what they hear more than how it is being made. I still want to really play; I do not want to fake it. Maybe this is why more and more bad singers are famous, and why so many acts out there can just put on a tape and jump around. They just fake it.
The most important thing is to do what is best for the group and move forward. The lesson is to really tune in that sound system and each sound man to what sounds they are hearing. The sound man can make or break the mix of the music. So on wards and upwards in my journey as a leader, sometimes you just have to adapt to the worst possible scenario and keep moving forward. Next time, there will always be a next time!
Otherwise known as My Wired in Music Part Two: Where to begin? I have Five Ultra Cool CDs that I made a personal Music Mix From. These are Chilled Out Wired In Tunes that keep me moving, working and focused; even though a lot of people wonder how I can be productive while listening to these tunes. Some people get it, some people don’t; on to the mix.
CD Number One: Billie Holiday – Remixed & Reimagined – Billie Holiday has Nine Grammys Awarded for Historical Impact on Music. Do I need to say more? Take one of the most Seminal Jazz Artists of All-Time and have Top Electronic Producers make nice and chilled out lounge mixes. How cool is that?
CD Number Two: Nina Simone – Remixed & Reimagined – Nina studied at Julliard, was involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and recorded what I think is the Greatest Version of the Song – The Look Of Love: Yeah, Chill her music out with a great Lounge Mix CD.
CD Number Three: Shirley Bassey – The Remix Album – Diamonds Are Forever. It is pretty cool to get to record a James Bond Theme Song. Shirley Bassey is so cool, she is the only artist to have more than one, she has three. How cool is that? Remix a bunch of Diamonds!
CD Number Four: Tom Jones – Greatest Hits. Tom Jones is so cool, he makes cool tracks and then takes other people’s cool tracks and remakes them with other cool people. If that isn’t cool, I don’t know what cool is…
So I took my favorites from each of these and did a “Round Robin Music Mix.” Now I have to get back to work.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Sometimes the difference between a job and a career is if you are having fun. Do you like what you do? If you like what you are doing, you will work harder, and success will come easier. This will lead to promotions and a career you can be proud to look back upon. So the question I dare to ask is, “Are you having any F.U.N. at your job?” F.U.N. meaning Freedom, Understanding and Networking!
I will say it again; F.U.N can mean the difference between a job and a career. Do you have any “Freedom” at your job? Are you gaining “Understanding” about your job? Are you “Networking” at you job? If the answer is “Yes,” feel free to comment! If the answer is “No,” keep reading. A F.U.N. job will lead to a F.U.N career. A no F.U.N. job will feel like a dead-end prison sentence.
First off, do you have any “Freedom” at your Job? If not, then I am sure you can already identify with the fact that you would feel better if people trusted you enough to make a good decision. Some jobs, by their nature involve making the same decisions over and over in rapid succession. If you work as a cashier or on an assembly line, sometimes the day feels like you are doing the same things over and over and nothing changes. You could fall asleep at the wheel and nothing changes. But what if something does change? What if something goes wrong or what if there was a way to do things better? Are you trusted enough, do you have “Freedom” enough to make a choice and help create a new way of doing things? F.U.N. – the “F” stands for “Freedom”
Secondly, if you feel like you have stopped learning, an 8 hour day seems a lot longer than if you are always learning something new. Time flies when you are having F.U.N. – the “U” stands for “Understanding!” Learn something new everyday. If your job is something you like to do and is a challenge; you will be required to and you will strive to learn something new almost everyday. It can be the difference between looking forward to going to work in the morning, and dreading getting out of bed. When you stop learning, boredom can set in quickly. Always keep searching for better and faster ways to do your job. Work “Harder,” then learn to work “Smarter!” If your “Understanding” is steadily increasing, it is a sure sign you are having F.U.N.
Third and last for this example is “Networking.” Are you meeting people who work with you and also work in the same Industry? Are there chances for you to learn from other people who have been through what you are going through? Do you have a chance to talk to someone who may be doing things you would like to do? It may appear to be a mix and mingle type event on the surface, but it is also a chance for you to identify who can be a good coach and mentor for your career. You next job lead or promotion may come from someone you meet while “Networking” at a work related or career related event. You may come back with ideas that can help you excel at you current position. F.U.N – the “N” stands for “Networking!”
Let’s take a fun event like going to a concert, for every person whose name appears on the ticket, there a 100 people who make up the support staff to make the concert happen. There a people in charge of Set Up, Tear Down, Sound, Lighting, Promotion, Ticket Sales, T-Shirt Sales, Food and Beverage, and maybe even Warm-Up and Back Up Musicians. Let’s say you are in charge of designing and selling T-shirts for your favorite Music Artist or Group. Do you have the “Freedom” to come up with an original design or are there strict guidelines in place. Do you have any “Understanding” of what you are supposed to be doing; so you do not waste time doing the wrong thing over and over again with little or no knowledge of what is expected? Also are you able to “Network” with the Artist, the Management, and even some of the fans to find out what concepts and elements people are identifying with; and maybe what has worked and what did not work for people who came before you?
F.U.N. – Freedom, Understanding, Networking! Are you having F.U.N. at your job?