I was speaking to a mentor of mine yesterday about a number of issues going on in my life. One of the subjects that came up was my wanting to improve my leadership-skills, when it came to my band. For most of my career, I’ve been quite passive regarding my band(s)… Because I was so young (15 years old) when I first started working with a band, I learned that it was other people’s job to steer the wheel when it came to my music. I simply didn’t have the skills or the experience to do it back then. So it went on over the years, that I was at rehearsals and on stage to sing and perform, but beyond that I made little progress in leading my band. My musicians often wound up making important musical decisions, and becoming music directors of sorts, either collectively or individually. I actually felt insecure, feeling like I didn’t have the adequate schooling or understanding to fly this thing.
Over the last 4-5 years or so, I’ve slowly been changing this pattern, although it turned out that I didn’t find a way to do it with the musicians that I had already worked with for many years. I had much love for the people who I had come to know so well, but I knew it would be challenging to change a dance that had been going on in a specific way for so long. In the end I wound up starting to work with a whole new group of people, and concert after concert, rehearsal after rehearsal, I found myself stronger and more confident in my position as the leader.
But there are still challenges, and ways that I want to grow. What blew my mind about the conversation that I had with my mentor was that she described the band as a family, and me as the “mother.” Holy shit! I never thought of it like that..! Let me explain what she meant: If I’m not on top of my shit with sending setlists and music to my musicians with ample time before the rehearsals, I’ll be creating chaos and confusion. If I don’t set up enough time to rehearse, and come in with a complete vision of what we’re doing, I’m creating chaos, confusion and distrust. It is my responsibility in my band to make sure that everything stays on track; my responsibility to make my band feel safe, not the other way around; it is also my job to make sure that my band knows how much I appreciate their work. I don’t want to create a dysfunctional family of my band–I want to create a healthy, happy, harmonious one!
I have an opportunity to kick it up a notch before and during my next concert on December 2nd at Rockwood Music Hall, stage 3. Posted in this blog are pictures of the ensemble that I’ll be taking the stage with: my dear friends Melissa Giges (on keyboards and backing vocals) and Andrea Longato (on guitar). I hope to be a more worthy bandleader to them, and all the iterations of my band to come, each and every time. Amen.
“To lead people, walk behind them”
— Lao Tzu