elementary criteria

now playing: october project, "adam and eve"

so i've been thinking about this quite a bit since my recent post regarding my personal expectations, where being part of a musical unit is concerned - and i think i've arrived at some reasonable and acceptable guidelines for myself....boundaries, if you will.

certainly, there are the obvious ones that would apply whether my personal boundaries existed or not: the usual run of musical compatibility, equal levels of talent, the appeal of the music being played...my personal list assumes that all the elementary criteria have been met.


rehearsal to performance ratio.

there's really only two ways to interpret what i'm about to say - either i'm a slacker or i have a huge ego - but whether either of those things are true or not, the fact remains: i hate rehearsal. there are times when it's less painful than others (like when you're starting a new band, or when you have to break in a new member, or something of that nature), but for the most part, it's a boring, mundane exercise in repetition. i view it as a necessary evil, something to be gotten through and then set aside...once the mission of rehearsal has been accomplished.

what is the mission of rehearsal? to learn the material and polish the performance of said material.

with a professional crew, this can be accomplished more quickly than some might imagine. copies of the material are disseminated, homework is done, and rehearsal serves as a polish session, more so than a place you go to do work you could be doing at home. i'm a big advocate of learning the songs at home and coming to rehearsal ready to play them - or at least sufficiently ready to play them that you don't hold the process up while you're hashing out chord progressions and such.

and, having said that, nothing makes me crazier than rehearsing for weeks on end to play a 45 minute set opening for some wingnut that i never heard of at a club that shouldn't even be on the bands' collective radar. i use this as an example only because it's my most recent - this happens far more often than it should, and as such, i've made a personal rule for myself...thus the creation of the rehearsal to performance ratio.

my rule states to those who would consider hiring me that i will rehearse with the band no more than three times per paying gig. that's more than enough time for me to learn what i need to learn and move on. if the band in question is playing six times a month, that's never going to be an issue, as i don't know that any band that's not working up to a new record that would rehearse 18 times a month.

where that rule will become an issue is with a band who wants to rehearse once or twice a week and gigs once every other month.

never, ever again.


i will not pay to play in a band.

i will happily work for free on occasion if the situation warrants it, but i will not finish another month of my life in the hole for a musical project.

to give an example -

the most recent band in which this became an issue for me rehearses at least half the time in willow grove, pa. now, from the morgantown exit of the pennsylvania turnpike, that's three dollars and twenty five cents away from me in one direction. so, with a total of six dollars and fifty cents in tolls alone, it's no exaggeration to say that every time i walk into that rehearsal space, i've probably spent twelve to fifteen dollars to put myself there. the drive takes roughly an hour and 45 minutes on average, so every time we practice, that's six hours of my life i'll never get back.

so to rehearse that 45 minute set once, i'm out six hours and thirteen dollars (we'll say on average).

so, with that in mind, you can do some quick math and arrive at the fact that, after rehearsing that 45 minute set for six weeks, my total pre-gig investment is 36 hours (almost a full work week for normal people) and roughly $80.00 - which is (with the exception of very rare instances) easily twice and maybe three times what i could expect to be paid for the gig...if there's money involved at all (which isn't the case as often as not).

so you can see how quickly and easily it is to become immersed in red ink in a situation like this.

as i said before, no more.

those are my two chief criteria for consideration of future projects. so, anyone reading this miserable little cyber-gripe session who might be considering what might entice me into a new project would really need to know little else than this.

it's not that i don't have other peeves - like learning parts for songs on several different instruments and showing up with my gear and being alloted a 24-inch square behind something in a corner and being expected to set up my gear in not much more space than i take up by simply standing with my hands on my hips, or things of that nature...but those are pretty specific annoyances that attach themselves to specific situations. these two criteria in particular are guidelines - put in place to help me make decisions about what gigs i will take in the future and what gigs i will happily say "no, thanks" to.

what's that, you say? that rules were made to be broken?

well, certainly, they are.

which is why i call them guidelines, as opposed to rules.

is there a possibility that i might hear someone who inspires me so much that i'm willing to forego my guidelines and throw caution to the wind and follow them to the ends of the earth...but then again, if you know anything about what my life is like right now, and where my priorities lie, i think you'll agree that this is a LONGSHOT, at the very least.

as i start entertaining possibilities for what i might take on next, and when that might realistically be able to happen - i think this should go a long way towards keeping some of the usual resentments at bay.