If it Sounds Right, it is Right(eous)

Mike Lawson • Perspective • May 11, 2018

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This issue is heavy with stories on festival performances. It’s that time of year.

They are wrapping up this month, and a couple even into June, but for the most part, the majority are over in May. The past few years I’ve been able to attend festivals all over, from New York to Florida and in-between, and I must say, this year has been full of amazing experiences. Most of these students perform goose-bump-making music, from concert bands, to string ensembles, orchestras, jazz bands, and guitar orchestras. I’ve been playing guitar for 40 years of my life, but some of these guitar student performances made me want to go home either practice furiously or line up my guitars and furiously throw rocks at them.

These students are where they are for multiple reasons. First, they have amazingly-dedicated music educators who get it, who shepherd them, teach them, and diligently work them. They incentivize them in a variety of ways, academically with the repertoire, and opportunities to perform. At the end of the day, all musicians want to perform in public for others. It’s what we do. We want an audience. I often hear self-deprecating people say how cool it is their son or daughter can play, because they haven’t a musical bone in their body. And I remind them, the world of musicians needs the world of listeners. Otherwise, it just doesn’t work correctly. In some of these festivals I attended, the students performed in amazing venues. Acoustically luxurious, supporting a sound that perhaps they’ve never heard before when they have performed. I know in my professional past life as a musician, and when I perform now with my band in Nashville, when the monitors are perfect, and the stage volume is perfectly balanced, and the venue provides a quality sound system with a qualified sound engineer, the band is going to perform better. That’s not to say there won’t still be a clam note from time to time, but the opportunity to perform at the top of our game is greatly enhanced when the sound we are making is sonically awesome. An amazing-sounding stage and venue inspires everyone in the band, so we can really focus on the music without distractions.

One of the best things about performing at a festival is simply performing in a venue that may sound worlds apart from what the students have at school.

Giving them the experience to hear themselves in a wonderful setting can change everything. So whether it is a concert hall, or stage in a park, it’s important to always choose a great sounding venue, no matter how far away it might be from the roller coaster that enticed some of the students to join or stay in the band to begin with.

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