Allow me to lay some groundwork as to exactly what I’m referring to here. Practice as a word seems obvious, spend some time with your instrument to get better at it. This is absolutely correct and good on those who employ regular practice routines. If you’re a member of a group of any kind, the act of practicing has far more impact than your personal level of ability. Lately I’ve put more onus on my personal practice time as I feel I’ve understated it’s importance for more than just playing my part correctly.
Being a musician is great! You get to hang out in clubs with like-minded folks and sometimes get up on stage and strut your stuff in front of everyone. For that 45 minutes or 2 + hours, you’re in the spotlight. It’s a great feeling and one that isn’t matched by many other activities I can think of. Now let’s take a minute and think about the road to get there. How many hours do you think I’ve spent in my bedroom, friend’s house, band house or work space (yes I bring my bass to work with me) Practicing songs before I’ve ever played live? It would be impossible of me to provide and accurate figure but I can say it felt like forever! So, it would be prudent of me to maintain a particularly regimented practice schedule if I expect to hold on to these “chops” to not only continue to do what I love at the highest level of my ability, but also to improve to make what I help create better for those who dig what we’re creating as a band. Segue, this band is a joy to work with… point blank… 5 guys without, I’ll stress without, egos who all firmly believe the song should come first. If a bass line I’ve worked on for 3 hours sounds great but interferes with the vocal melody, it gets changed. If Scott’s solo doesn’t have the emotion the song needs, it gets changed… and we’ll all work on it together. After which, we go home and practice the hell out of it to be ready for the next rehearsal. I personally feel like I would be letting my band mates down if I didn’t show up prepared. These guys are great musicians whom I have a high level of respect for, so I owe it to them, not only myself to be prepared.
I know I’ve gotten a little side tracked here but all of this is to say, I’m shocked when I hear or notice anyone take offence at the notion of individual practice. Are you indicating that you’ve reached your plateau? Everyone needs to practice. It doesn’t just mean improvement, it means something far more important than improving, it means consistency. Consistency is also a major factor in what separates a good band from a Great one. If you are involved with a group of people who congregate on a regular basis with the expressed purpose to play music together, why would you not be prepared to play the music with them? Especially if they are prepared to play the music with you! This sort of thing drives others crazy and it’s a very easy way to find your invitation rescinded. I’ve been personal witness to people saying “that’s why we get together, to practice”. This statement is incorrect. As a group, active Band or a startup project, you get together to rehearse. These words are perceived as similar but in actuality are incredibly different. You practice the tune on your own time to understand structure and changes and, work on your own part. You rehearse the tune as a band or group to make the tweaks necessary for the song to shine through the way you intended when the writing process began… then you go practice it again with the newly made changes… wash, rinse, repeat until the end result is the very best you can produce. In this electronic world, distance collaboration is a very real thing and if you were involved in a project with someone far enough away that travel was required, how would you feel if you showed up ready to go and someone says, what’s that change in the chorus? It would probably feel like a giant waste of time. That’s an extreme example but the same can be said for any Band or group… if you get together and everyone hasn’t done their own work beforehand, it will feel like a waste of time while you sit there and wait for someone to learn what to play before you can continue as a group.
Bottom line, practice can’t hurt anything. As a string player, it will build strength and dexterity. It will help you get through a set without having to “remember what the next change is”. You will be a lot more comfortable in your performance which to the fan in the audience will be seen as confidence. And, you’ll just feel better about your own playing which at the end of the show, will translate into having more fun. So, give your bandmates the respect they deserve and put the time in…practice practice practice… let that talent shine and know that you’re doing your part to make the band the very best it can be!
Peace, Love, and horn up \m/…\m/