A few of us were sitting around after a lovely dinner last weekend discussing what makes a good musician. Some of the qualities of a good musician are: good sense of timing, good pitch, knowledge of music theory, showing up on time, being able to play a lot of different styles, tearing through a startling solo, and so forth. But we all agreed that the most important characteristic of a good musician is the willingness and ability to listen.
Playing in a band is like a conversation. Just waiting your turn to talk or talking when somebody else is talking is not a conversation. In a real conversation, each person is listening to what everybody else is saying and adding something worthwhile to the mix at the appropriate time. It is the same with music. A good music musician is always listening to the other players and fitting in as appropriate. The appropriateness determines the quality of the player. If the band is backing a singer, the singer is the leader and each player needs to be acutely aware of everything the singer says and does and play accordingly, following dynamics, groove, expression, mood, etc.
Listening also involves listening to other musicians as a way of learning. I believe musicians should greet each other with the question “What have you been listening to lately?” The music we listen to has a big affect on our direction and growth as individual musicians.
As both a photographer and a musician I see a lot of parallels in the two. Music is all about listening and photographer is all about seeing. Both are learned skills that require daily practice.
Glenn and Vanessa Winkler are the new managers at Homer’s Coffee House. Glenn is booking the music for Homer’s. firstname.lastname@example.org
I am now doing photography full time. Well actually it is about a 85/15 split between photography and music. E-mail me or call about setting up an appointment for your photo session.