Are YOU the best musician in your band?

erict43

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I might not be the most musically gifted, but I'm usually the most "professional" in my bands. I'm always the first one set up and ready to play. When we say "let's learn songs X, Y, and Z", I come to the next rehearsal knowing those songs. I don't bring a vintage instrument to the gig that has to be retuned half-way through the set, or bring 5 slightly different-sounding snare drums and make the band and the audience wait while I swap them after every song (looking at you, guitarist).

I love playing with really good musicians, but professionalism is more important than talent to me tbh. You can often change the repertoire to find something everyone is able to play. In one of my bands, we've been rehearsing "The Ocean" by Led Zeppelin on and off for the last couple of months. There's that little melodic hook in the last part of the song, you know the one, it goes dah-dum dah-dum dah-dum dah-dum. Neither the guitarist nor the bassist knew how to play it. They guessed and it sounded terrible. Next practice, same thing. Last practice, same thing, not as terrible but still wrong. Finally, I told them to wait 10 seconds while I pulled up the tablature on my phone to show them how to play it. The bassist can't read TABLATURE. Ugh.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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My band is a bunch of kids from 8-18 on guitar and the "best" kid is a 15 year old who blows me away (and I've played guitar 25 years!), and he can sing incredibly well. I was humbled by his request this weekend to have me as his drummer in a power blues trio he wants to start. But I'm a bit older and have a family so not sure how that will play out, plus he needs a bassist. I am going to help him try to find kids his age (H.S.) but he clearly has sick talent.

I've backed him as a 2 piece doing SRV & Hendrix covers, John Mayer, Santana, Ain't No Sunshine (Bill W.), Stand By Me, etc.......

As for the other adult instructors in the group, the lead lady is a singer songwriter and killer bluegrass player, one is an amazing blues/fusion guitarist, one is maybe as good as me on guitar, and the bassist (when he is there) is an instructor so he's way better than me, and does most of the arrangements!

So short answer - Not even close!

When I was in grad school, I was the "best" player - and that band sucked!
 

ra1199

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I quickly realized our guitarist was way ahead of the level he first claimed he was, which prompted me at 56 years old to start lessons again after a 20+ year hiatus of studying. In only about 4 months of dedicated lessons and practice, I have a lot more confidence in my playing and feel my level is getting closer to our guitarist. Just wish I would have started this a long time ago.
 

paul

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I've been in bands where I was the most educated or experienced musician. Playing with people not at your level musically is a drag.

Since 2001 I've played in a jazz big band. When I first got in it I was definitely the weakest link, and everyone knew it. All these years, there's always someone better, and knowing that keeps me on my toes. I don't want to embarrass myself. One of our guys now played trumpet with Buddy Rich. I love playing Rich tunes, but whenever we do I feel a little paranoid at the comparisons John may be making.

Some years ago I played in a jazz trio with a keyboardist who now hangs out and plays with Dave Weckl. I learned a lot from him, and it stretched me.

It's definitely better to play with people who are better than you.
 

Ray Dee Oh King

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Technically, no. Knowledge of theory, no. My ear for production, yes. We all have our pros and cons, but without them all, we wouldnt be doing what were doing either. The melodies get written by our piano player/singer and we all put in our two cents, and build the songs. Create our parts, create harmonies, bridges etc...I tend to come up with many of the changes, and create the direction of the songs, if that makes any sense. Were all equal, and the chemistry is working finally after multiple changes in members.
 

pwc1141

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There is a quote I read some time back that might apply......"Don't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree". In other words we all bring something to the table but normally we each bring something different and that's why it often works so well.
 

Mcjnic

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There is a quote I read some time back that might apply......"Don't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree".
Albert!
Man, that guy could string them together.
Love his stuff.
 

Old Drummer

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Technically, no. Knowledge of theory, no. My ear for production, yes. We all have our pros and cons, but without them all, we wouldnt be doing what were doing either. The melodies get written by our piano player/singer and we all put in our two cents, and build the songs. Create our parts, create harmonies, bridges etc...I tend to come up with many of the changes, and create the direction of the songs, if that makes any sense. Were all equal, and the chemistry is working finally after multiple changes in members.
Not sure what exactly you're saying, but back when I was a kid I half aspired to be an arranger. Then as now I couldn't write an original song to save my life, but I've always thought that I have a good sense for how songs are put together, so to speak.

This week I'm auditioning for a band playing original material, as as I've listened to their songs, I find myself with no opinion about the basic songs but a fair number of opinions about how they're put together. One has a cool drum intro, but after the song starts, that rhythm is abandoned in favor of another. It makes no sense to me to have a drum intro, however cool, that doesn't continue or repeat anywhere in the song. In another, the drummer comes in a few measures before the bass player. I think both should come in at the same time. A third has kind of a syncopated beat when to my mind more of a driving rhythm is called for. And so on.

Oh well, we'll see whether the band takes to my ideas. I'm not counting on being selected. Because it's not my preferred style of music and I'm singularly lacking in ambition, I'd almost prefer to be passed over. I'm mostly auditioning to meet the people and expand my sparse network of contacts. However, while preparing I have found myself developing opinions about how best to construct and play the songs, and this seems similar to what you say you contribute to your band's songs.
 

dale w miller

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I can’t imagine artistic greatness resulting from one who puts himself above any of the musicians he’s traveling through the creative process with.
One of the more important ingredients in the soup of artisan integrity is a healthy dose of humbleness.

... of course, this doesn’t apply to the keyboardist ... we are all much better than that guy.
Yes & no. Sometimes it’s very obvious and there should be no guilt in saying it. The only thing I’d say with that is you should probably leave the band if it’s true.
 

TheBeachBoy

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Everyone in my band is (my opinion) pretty top notch. The singer could work on his rhythm guitar some more, but his voice is amazing so we let it slide. Our bass player will miss the harmony sometimes but he's got great energy most of the time. Counter to that, my vocals aren't the best, but they're getting better. Same with my drumming. I've definitely gotten better the last 12 years we've been playing, or almost 20 if you count my time playing with the singer. It's really hard to compare across instruments, but as long as I'm better than I was that's all that matters. And that we as a band gel.
 

fun2drum

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I'm definitely the worst in my band. The bass player and I are about on the same level of playing and his band experience is way greater than mine, but for some reason his confidence is low. He'll play something well and think he sucked when it's over. The guitarist is the most amazing musican I've ever worked with. Graduated from Berkeley and can play all of our instruments well enough to record great songs with him doing all the playing. Thankfully I'm still the better drummer, but I wouldn't be if he spent any time practicing them.

I've had a different kind of disadvantage with this band that's not talent-related. I've always been a rock and 70's/80's metal drummer with some 2000's Alt band experience thrown in. I joined this band a couple of years ago because the leader kept bugging me to play when he was forming it. It's a BLUES band, and I've never played anything like this. I knew nothing. None of the songs. I never even enjoyed listening to songs with a blues sound unless it was Led Zep, Pat Travers, or something like that. Not enjoying casual listening to my music makes it difficult to motivate myself to practice. I do enjoy playing it with the band, just not what I generally listen to casually.

Thank God my wife was pressured to join after we started practicing in my basement and they found out she plays keys. I might have given up earlier if she weren't playing too. Her struggles have been at least as great as mine and she's doing great - so there's been no way I could give up! I can say it's been a fun learning experience and after a couple of years I'm finally getting used to and enjoying the music. They tell me I'm playing great. The rest of the band is older than both my wife and me, and they all have deep blues experience. I can't believe these guys have put up with me for this long.
 

Boomer

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Definitely not!
  • The sax player was a high school band director his entire working career (he taught James Kottack; says he was a better trumpet player than drummer).
  • The guitar player was a professional studio musician in his younger days.
  • The keyboards player owned a music shop for many years and now owns an a/v shop.
  • The bass player played with Steve Earle at one point.
  • The lead singer sang with the city's most popular corporate event band for more than 30 years.

At 64 years old I'm the youngster in this band and still have a way to go to catch up to everyone else.
 

CC Cirillo

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Definitely not!
  • The sax player was a high school band director his entire working career (he taught James Kottack; says he was a better trumpet player than drummer).
  • The guitar player was a professional studio musician in his younger days.
  • The keyboards player owned a music shop for many years and now owns an a/v shop.
  • The bass player played with Steve Earle at one point.
  • The lead singer sang with the city's most popular corporate event band for more than 30 years.

At 64 years old I'm the youngster in this band and still have a way to go to catch up to everyone else.
And, yet, judging by the company you keep, you are definitely a bad ass!
 

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