April 05, 2009

#174: Ambitious players preparation strategy

Advanced banjo camper Gabe from Massachusetts writes:

My band's CD is coming out soon.  They took almost all of the banjo back-up out, but I think it sounds good.

[How come your backup was mixed low?]

I have heard some of the music that the people who engineered our CD did (including their own band's CD) and the tracks with banjo had almost no banjo except for the breaks.  I also didn't know the material that well (none of us did). The fiddler in the band wanted to make the CD to help him get into schools, so the band got together a week before recording and we started a whole bunch of new material, a lot of it was stuff that I had never played before.  I think I would have done a lot better if we had been able to rehearse more.

Gabe,

I sympathize, as that kind of thing does happen.

For future reference, please note that the world of pro musicians is pretty competitive. ANY time you get a chance to play on a recording that MAY be heard by opinion-makers or people worth impressing, you can gain a competitive edge by going over-and-above. Same with a high-profile performance. Stay up late, do the work, and your chances of smooth sailing are higher.

You never know who will be listening and how the impression you make can be anywhere from exceptionally good to quite a bit less. They don't know if you have an excuse (no chance to prep, you didn't feel well, whatever) about why you could have been better. And they don't much care either, as they're focused on other stuff. But when you have a chance to be heard by people whose opinions count (which is almost any time you play), it's worth taking whatever trouble it takes to be as prepared as you can be. Very often that is the difference between the very good and the great, the people who "get picked" and those who almost get picked.

Pete

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