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Are you good at listening?


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The church I now go to has a collection of musicians. Some play every week, some rotate, and some are subs. The regular drummer is okay, nothing special. She plays steady and blends in well. She has been out for two weeks and at first glance the sub is a much better drummer. Has a definite groove and does more without being overbearing. But this morning I noticed a definite problem. He does not listen. In our church and I assume many others, the piano is the main instrument. Usually played by a dedicated and talented person. I think our piano player is wonderful and she dominates the mix, being louder than anyone else on stage. This is a case where the piano sets the tempo, sets the groove, IS the boss on the stage. The more I listened this morning the more I noticed that the drummer was in a totally different pocket. It was like listening to two different songs at the same time. I found it jarring though I don't know if many other people noticed. So now I am wondering if I should mention it to him. No, I'm not going to just go up and say you have a problem. But I do sit behind his parents every Sunday and today I mentioned to them that I have been playing drums for 50 years. 


So, in conversations, if he ever asks "do you have any advice?" Should I bring up the art of listening and matching the lead's groove?

This post edited for speling.

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Tell him what you like to do and how it helps you to be a better player. 

Don't put it on him, lead him in a better direction by talking about how much you've improved are because you started to pay attention to everyone around you and play WITH them. 

Then he can decide what he wants to do without feeling attacked. 

I learned this one the hard way but it's paid off many times. 


It's also good to discuss the value of silence, a seemingly unknown art. Leaving air in the music makes it so much more interesting, lively and full sounding. Playing constantly just flatlines everything. 

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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How old is this cat? if young, then maybe some round about discourse on listening will help. Regardless, a direct approach seems ill advised unless you're in a definite teacher/student relationship. Music really is all about listening - that and using good judgment in the context of the song - whatever that means. This is in fact a teachable skill. Tread lightly!

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