Photo by Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash

I just got home from band practice. I play bass in Kermit the Band. My brother plays guitar, and two friends are on drums and vocals. I used to play the French Horn. I played that in everything from a trio to a 70-piece orchestra. So, I’ve been playing music for a long time. I’m not a professional by any means, but I’m an amateur that’s serious about it. In all that time playing music, one concept that I’ve never really understood is following.

You hear it all the time. In orchestras, you should follow the conductor. In smaller settings, like a rock band, you should follow the drummer or the singer. It’s always seemed to me, though, that if you’re following someone else in the group, you’ll always be behind. It’s not like tempos and transitions are mysterious things that only a select few understand. It may be subtle, but anyone paying attention will notice. Instead, everyone should be together.

I was thinking about this all through tonight’s rehearsal because I played terribly. For some reason, I couldn’t internalize any of the tempos. I was drifting all over the place. The only way I could keep any semblance of the beat was to follow my bandmates. And it felt terrible. In a musical setting, following is icky.

Hopefully, tonight was the result of it being a holiday week where I was really busy and didn’t practice very much. I don’t like being a follower. It wasn’t the only thing I did wrong tonight, but it felt the worst. I need to get a good week of practice in, maybe even use a metronome, so this doesn’t happen again.

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