The "More Me" Syndrome
Posted by: david at 9:40 pm on June 5th, 2016
One of the most memorable phrases from my musical upbringing was, “If you can’t hear your neighbor then you are playing too loud!” To this day I am guided by this wisdom in every musical setting I encounter. Specifically, I gauge my relative volume level by how I fit in to the ensemble.
One of my goals as a music instructor is to cultivate this line of thinking in all of my students. The reason is that over the years I have noticed a trend which I call the “More Me” syndrome. What happens is that one person in the group finds they aren’t loud enough. Our natural instinct is to play louder. What results is a sonic tug of war battle.
Before you know it, everyone in the band is trying to out play everyone else. The urge to play louder is a strong one. I repeatedly remind myself that the ensemble as a whole is more important than my individual part. Playing at increased volume levels can damage equipment as well as your chops. Additionally, many intonation problems for wind and brass players are caused by overpowering the instrument.
All of this advice applies to ensemble playing. In other words, when you are in a group of musicians. Of course, if you are playing a solo or featured part you certainly will want to be heard above the group.
In conclusion, next time you are playing with a group, be mindful of your relative balance to the other musicians. The music will sound better to the audience and you will also benefit from observing the other parts of the arrangement. If you have any questions or would like to sign up for private lessons contact The Marion Music Academy at 319-377-3343.
A graduate of Luther College, David Arnold has been providing high quality private music lessons to students of all ages for over 15 years. His specialties include saxophone, guitar, and bass guitar. Drawing upon his diverse musical background, David provides a unique experience that merges his formal training in music with his professional performance experiences. Students will learn to be confident, well rounded musicians that are capable of performing in a wide array of musical settings.