How do you talk to the guitarist? How do you talk with all the musicians? Are you overbearing? Firm? Indecisive? A “yes” man/woman? The way you talk with the band defines your relationship and effects everyone’s rate of success. It wasn’t until watching a music documentary last night that I thought of my own way of talking with the band.
Watching the documentary, the “Big Name” star was rehearsing for the first time with in-ears. Between songs, he mentioned it felt like the sound was punching him in the head. The audio engineer, calmly, firmly, and professionally, asked what about it was causing that feeling. The response from the stage was that the overall level was too loud and it needed to be lowered. The engineer responded by saying he would lower the levels and that if it was still a problem after the next song, to let him know.
This was a short interaction but I was struck by what the engineer did and did not say.
He didn’t say;
- “That’s just part of using in-ears.”
- “Are you sure you have them in the right way?”
- “I’ll just turn down the drums…that should help.”
- Ask why it gave the singer that feeling
- Offer a suggestion to remedy the problem
- Recognize that everything doesn’t get fixed the first time – “let me know after the next song if…“
What do your musicians say?
Common conversations include;
- Monitor levels
- Stage volume (standing to close to something)
- Individual EQ
- And “overall band sound.”
The point here ISN’T to discuss what they need to worry about but to recognize how you respond to their questions / comments will affect how successful both of you are in getting the results you want.
Let’s say the worship leader says their guitar sound isn’t right in their monitor. What do you say in response? “It’s fine out here.” “It’s always set like that.” That isn’t helping anyone. What if you went this route…
- Inquisitive: “What about it sounds wrong?”
- Probing: “Do you have new strings on your guitar?”
- Informative: “I’m using a different effect that sounds great out here and it probably sounds different to you. Would it help if I took the effects out of your monitor?”
And here’s the kicker
No matter the tone in which the person on stage takes with you, you should remain calm and professional. The more you do this, the more respect others will have for you and the better the conversations will go.
Listening to the audio engineer talk with the “big name star,” I noticed there was never a doubt that he had the star’s best interests in mind while recognizing the requirements of his own job. And the big name star was equally respectful. The star never said “I need to go back to floor monitors.” They each knew their role and they each recognized the needs of the other.
Question: Have you noticed how your conversations go when you stay respectful and professional?