Working With Others – Some “Do”s and “Don’t”s about making music in a group

By Daniel Ondaro, Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Daniel Ondaro, Guitar Instructor at The Lesson Studio

Daniel Ondaro

Lately I’ve been wondering how great bands work and why so many bands at all levels break up, get in fights, or in many ways are dysfunctional and unhealthy. There are typical problems that many bands go through despite their level of fame and success. Even the Beatles for example, one of the biggest bands in history, couldn’t keep it together. In fact one could probably say that the bigger a band gets the more there is at stake and that the stress level and tension between members can elevate much more easily. Many of the problems within groups may fundamentally be because of personality differences between members. Aside though from the personal issues between each member of the band, it is misunderstandings about each player’s role within the group and miscommunications about each players intention for the music that contribute to the demise of a band.

Behind each band is a shared idea and goal for which each player is contributing in order to create an interesting and effective group sound. If it’s a corporate wedding band, then each member will focus his or her energy on playing corporate wedding music. If it’s a Mariachi band then each member will play Mariachi music. As a band develops and its style becomes more refined, each member of the band begins to play a more specialized and specific role. That’s why, depending on the significance of the role, certain players become more and more valuable within the group. However, unlike a product or parts on a machine where if a simple or valuable part goes you can replace it with another exactly like it, if any member of the band leaves the whole chemistry of the band is affected and needs to be reworked even after that member is replaced. Bands therefore always have to be flexible and open to whatever changes may occur without losing sight of the fundamental element of the band, which should always be centered on the music and each players emotional and technical contribution to it. Even for bands that stay together, if either of those elements, the emotional and technical, are lacking from any member of the group then the band is in danger of creating a poor performance or possibly facing conflict because of dissatisfaction between members. It is therefore essential for every member to have an understanding about the overall intention of the band, and what each player is expected to contribute with his or her unique technical and emotional capabilities.

From my experience it is essential in working with groups to stay humble and cooperative while also being clear about your intentions and needs as an artist and player. If your needs and the overall needs of the group and music are not being meet then the band will suffer. Working in bands as a guitar player, percussionist and vocalist I have found myself in many diverse situations trying to work cooperatively with others. In all of these situations, beyond personal issues, it was miscommunications about the bands intention and the intention of the players that lead to their failure. The successful ones were the groups where we all found a common ground and were satisfied with the group and ourselves. I find it therefore essential to be honest and open with your band mates, instructor, and all of those with whom you try to make music with, about the needs of yourself as an artist and musician and the shared needs of your group in order to create great music with others.

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One Response to “Working With Others – Some “Do”s and “Don’t”s about making music in a group”

  1. studiomanager541 Says:

    Behind each band is a shared idea and goal for which each player is contributing in order to create an interesting and effective group sound. – I completely agree with you. Team work is a key. That is why in managing a music studio or any business, we need to get such assurance that everybody is working towards a common goal and doing tasks as a team – targeting only the best. Keep up the good work and continue to share your bright thoughts and ideas, which I think are all useful to many music teachers, school administrators and even studio managers out there. Please also share other useful studio management tips and resources – giving us more rooms for effectiveness and efficiency. Thanks again and see you around. Cheers!

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