Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't Be A Diva!

Disclaimer: I hope this doesn't come off as a rant - there's nothing worse than someone who uses their blog as a platform for their personal rants! However, in my professional playing the past few years, I have come across a number of "teachable moments" (thanks for that phrase, Mr. President,) and I wish to share them.

The term "Diva" often refers to a female singer, but I have found that diva behavior applies to both genders, and it is not restricted to singers! So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here is my list of ways to avoid being thought of as a diva:

  1. Be on time early to rehearsals and gigs - Yes, I said it! It wouldn't hurt to show up 10 or 15 minutes before your call time. You don't understand how stressful being a bandleader or contractor is, and you should never underestimate how much this simple act can improve your chances of working with a band for many years!
  2. Know the difference between "rehearsal" and "practice" - In simple terms: You "practice" the songs on your own time, so that you show up completely prepared for the full band "rehearsal." In other words, have the song learned before you show up to rehearsal! I should also point out that since rehearsal is a collective experience, it is often wasted if one of the band members does not show up. Without the entire ensemble there, including the singers, rehearsal can often be a waste of time.
  3. Help setting up the gear - If you are not yet a star, you probably don't have "roadies." Usually, this means that the band shares responsibility for setting up gear. This does not mean that you work until everyone has helped you set up your gear, and then sit around "noodling" while the rest of the band finishes setting up the p.a.
  4. Realize you are not the most important person in the band - In other words, leave your ego at the door. This category encompasses many diva behaviors, but I'll just list a few, and they probably don't need more explanation: a) Watch your stage volume b) Don't step all over someone's solo c) If you wish to offer criticism, be prepared to accept criticism as well.
  5. Be professional - Don't forget that this is a business, and you have clients. Try to avoid things like temper tantrums onstage, getting drunk during the gig, heckling the bar patrons, etc. Also (personal pet peeve here) if you have professional sound staff working with you, please treat them as equals. They have also had training and practice in their craft, and they deserve your respect!

If you have witnessed any diva behavior that is not covered above, please comment!
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