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Life Lessons One Learns From Playing Bluegrass Music - Livin' the Good Life

Jan. 19th, 2009

05:05 pm - Life Lessons One Learns From Playing Bluegrass Music

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Steve and I just returned from a bluegrass festival in Blythe, CA. Since he was working as a sound technician all weekend, I was free to just roam around as the spirit moved me without consideration for anyone else. It felt deliciously self-indulgent. My only duty was to make sure Steve was fed at mealtimes. Easy. So I wandered around listening and watching all the bands and taking notes on my observations. Here's what I came up with:


1. Practise makes perfect. These people have put in the HOURS, man! Not only was everyone technically proficient, but they had all learned to put on a darn good show! I felt so appreciative of all that time and effort.

2. Try your best. It's such a pleasure (and brings tears to my eyes) when I see people giving their best effort... especially children. There were lots of young people playing their hearts out.

3. Include others. For the fullest experience, let others add their efforts to yours. There is a wonderful chemistry that happens when people join their efforts to make an effect that is bigger than just the two of them.

4. Harmonize with others. Harmonizing with others is one of the greatest pleasures I know of, and watching people do it well can be thrilling.

5. Listen carefully. I watched people listening to each other and responding to what they heard in beautiful and inspired ways constantly throughout the weekend.

6. Use clear body language when working with others. This was so fun to watch. I know from my own weekly experiences on stage that subtle body movements, or even just a quick glance, can say volumes to others. A lift of the leg, a dramatic strum, a step backward... these are all signals to your team mates. I had fun imagining what everyone's unique signals were meaning to their band members. I watched inside jokes passing between people and feeling vicarious pleasure when I saw how much fun they were having with it.

7. Take turns. Bluegrass music is very fair and respectful of all the band members. Everyone is allowed to (and expected to) take solos, and you can see clearly how each member's contribution is valued and encouraged by the others.

8. Have fun! This music is expected to be fun to play and fun to listen to. In my opinion, a great band has to be clearly having fun and wanting the audience to be having fun too. Bluegrass is often full of silly jokes, pranks, playfully poking fun at each other and the audience. Big smiles often abound while playing the music. My favorite bands do all of these things while displaying dazzling expertise on their instruments. Surprisingly, most of the bands did this at this festival. It was one of the best line-ups I've seen so far.


Date:January 21st, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
We used to go to the Blythe festival every year. I loved coming out of the frozen mountain and warm up in the sun at Blythe. And the kids loved to compete in the contests and then run free all over the fairgrounds the rest of the time. Happy memories. Glad you got to go and have a good time!
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