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Tact in dealing with people who don't have tact
Posted On 01/07/2010 17:15:07 by KenSanders

A young drummer asked me yesterday about a particular confrontational situation he had experienced at a venue recently.  I’ll share the jest of it with you.


Just suppose….you’ve walked into a venue to get ready for a performance situation and while you’re setting up your gear, someone you’ve never met or had any previous conversation with says:


“Oh Jeez man, I hope you’re not one of those drummers who…” 


Now pick from the list


·      Uses one of those awful Chinese cymbals

·      Uses more than two toms

·      Has a solid head on the bass drum

·      Thinks he’s Neil Peart (or substitute another name)

·      Is going to be hard to get along with

·      Turns the beat around all the time

·      Thinks he has to tune his drums

·      Has “that drummer” attitude with real musicians 



I think this is a rude way to confront anyone.  It doesn’t ever happen to me anymore, but I do remember how I decided to handle those situations, back in the days when things like that did occasionally happen to me.


I might chose to say: “Sir, we haven’t met before have we?  My name is Ken Sanders and I was hired by (the name) to be here tonight.  Since I don't know you, you'll have to tell me who you are and what your connection with (the name) is tonight?”


From there I would have time to gather some options on just how to appropriately handle this person and their rudeness.  There is also a chance that I might even need to develop a working rapport them   (i.e sound tech, producer, venue owner). 


   I know...gag, puke.....but someone with a mature, cool head HAS to deflate the tension.  It's most likely going to have to be YOU!


The best answer was usually something like, “Well, I was hired by (the name) because they wanted me to help (him or her) sound really great tonight.  I’m here to do that and I’m planning on using the gear and techniques that will work best for them in this venue.  Now, since we've never met, exactly what is your actual concern about me in particular?”


All of this with a confident, firm, and very sincere, business demeanor.   Your voice should indicate nothing condescending  or tense.



I believe the basic game plan to calm the situation is to assure this initially rude person (if they are indeed in an official capacity with the event) that you are a professional and want to be treated as such.  Also, that you will in turn, show the same respect to him.


If the person is not in an official capacity that truly concerns you, and is just being a butt....then calmly just say…”I’ll think about what you said and deal with it later.  Right now, I am very busy trying to get set-up on the schedule I was given.... so please be courteous and excuse me.”


Above all, keep your cool and you won't regret it. Let the OTHER person look like the rude crude dude.

Tags: Confrontations


Viewing 1 - 1 out of 1 Comments

From: Reno
02/13/2010 14:34:21

I would say (with a grin) "yeah, I'm afraid so, I guess your night is gonna suck..." lol    For the most part, the best defence you can put up is a healthy sense of humor that reflects your comfort with your own abilities. If you made it through the auditions and rehearsals onto the live stage, chances are you have already proven yourself to the ones who matter most in this scenario (which, prior to the performance, is the musicians you will be sharing the stage with).

Keeping it light helps avoid being put off your game, and usually the questioner becomes actually interested in seeing what you have to offer to the overall sound. And in the context of a bar gig where such questions are asked more frequently by somewhat intoxicated patrons as opposed to stage/sound people, the person is usually just trying to get a laugh by cracking a stupid joke.. Laugh with them, entertainers can entertain between sets and, really, the more fun you have the better you will play and the more you will enjoy the show..  Making music isn't a job, it's an art.

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