What lies behind the notes?

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It is sensible to make allowances for cultural differences when working with performers from diverse backgrounds. In my experience, the idea of taking notes after a run through or rehearsal seems to be alien to musicians from some backgrounds, for example.

To be more specific, if I give a guitarist an opportunity to play a solo in a reggae flavoured song and he or she chooses to improvise in the style of George Benson or another jazz guitarist, I’m likely to ask the musician to have another think about the appropriate style for the song. I have done this in the past and asked the musician to think back to guitar solos he might have heard on Bob Marley records, only to find that he has taken the comment as a personal insult.

In another situation, a guitarist was given a part to play that needed a clipped delivery (as opposed to a flowing or ponderous one). I dared to give him the note after a run through and found myself in a situation where it seemed like he was looking for an excuse to walk out from the rehearsal and the band. I can empathise with the fact that the performer might not have been used to that way of working, but his attitude appalled all the other musicians in the room.

Those were the days when I allowed promoters to interfere and influence the line up of groups I led. Nowadays, I would like to think I would only share rehearsal room and performing area spaces with artists who understand that rehearsals are all about assessing and fine tuning what is to be presented.

Some musicians call me up nowadays, hoping to hear stories about the most recent bust ups I have had with colleagues, due to cultural differences of this sort. I’m happy to report that they are usually disappointed when they hang up. I am much more selective about who I associate with nowadays.