Perception. Interesting word and easily forgotten unfortunately. As musicians, I think we often feel entitled to acting a certain way regardless of how it may affect others and their perception of us. We may have done great and wondrous things but it doesn’t give us the right to ignore the effect our verbals and non-verbals have on others. This sort of behavior can happen anywhere but since this blog is specifically targeted at musicians, that is where we will keep our focus.
Merriam-Webster defines perception as “the way you think about or understand someone or something.” How does this apply to us as musicians? Remember that the tagline for the blog is “playing nice while you’re playing.” In the past, we have talked about respect for the next guy and this is a deeper element to that respect. We musicians aren’t always the friendliest creatures on the planet. Many times we say things to our fellow bandmates or other musicians we are working with that could be taken a number of different ways and sometimes they can even put a relationship on the line. This can be detrimental to a product or even your career as a musician.
Part of the respect for your mates entails looking at the other side of the coin before you say something, especially when offering critiques or discussing a potentially volatile subject. By this, I mean to think about how something could be perceived by the individual you are saying it to. For musical directors, this is especially true because they have to know their people and be able to communicate to each individual in a way that each will understand. Everyone responds differently to different comments. It is absolutely necessary to understand this concept and be aware of it as you go about your band rehearsals and interact with various musicians. Self awareness can make all the difference between a productive band rehearsal and an absolute disaster. Or the difference between a highly sought-after collaboration and the door being slammed in your face.