With the summer rapidly approaching, I find that many players and parents of young students I have keep asking me about who they can find for their children to play music with. This can be a very sensitive time and issue for anyone, especially the young player, and it is charged with emotion and can have long-ranging effects on an aspiring player.
It all depends on the emotional maturity of a given player, as well as his or her level of confidence. With that confidence can often come some “cockiness”, which is not a totally unwelcome thing, but one must be careful not to overdo that part of it, because all the players need to feel like they are on an even playing field, and that they all can contribute to a band. I do not believe, however, that the best bands are the ones that are a complete democracy! After all, we all need creative leaders, who have that special leadership “force” that can be used in a positive manner. Try to imagine Creedence Clearwater for example, not being led by John Fogerty, or The Dead without Jerry Garcia, or The Byrds without Jim McGuinn. These bands, I’m sure all consisted of very opinionated players, but there must be the one key figure who truly provides the guidance and creative force behind the music.
So, when young players get together, they must really be sensitive to what is right and/or wrong about having a “leader”. When these kids get together, unfortunately, there are times when the “leader” really just thinks he’s the coolest guy in the band, and he gets helped to that lofty position by everyone else in the band (and maybe some fans) who also think he’s extremely cool!
Still, the coolest thing of all is the act of making music together, and making the most of the situation. Great players are hard to come by, and if you are fortunate enough, it’s nice, just as in certain sports, to find players who are better and more experienced than you, so you can learn by “playing up” to them! This certainly was the case for me when I was cocky 18 year-old kid moving up to Woodstock, NY, and who was feeling quite free to jump up on stage with many of my heroes, some of whom were easily twice, or even three times my age! Don’t be afraid, but at the same time, remain humble….you’ll really make the most of the situation! Have a great summer filled with wonderful music!