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No Major Adjustments Below 500 Feet

Stay on target…

WAY back when I was in high school, I took an aeronautics course. The teacher said it was basically the same as flight school without the flying part. While I thought the whole course was interesting, the biggest thing that stuck with me all these years was that when you’re landing, as you get closer to the runway, you stop making major corrections to your flight. A friend recently described this by saying you make major changes at the beginning of the landing procedure, and you make smaller and smaller changes on the way to the final landing point, sort of like a pendulum making smaller and smaller swings as it comes to a stop.

Why did this stick with me and what does this have to do with music? In general, I realized that the same philosophy applies to many areas of life. When you’re working on something, I think if you make big changes just before you’re supposed to finish, you’re asking for trouble. It’s almost like starting over at the last minute. “I know we’re supposed to release this tomorrow, but I decided to use X instead and replaced all of Y with it!”

In music, I don’t think it’s wise to change the set list or how you play the songs the week of the show. Maybe you’ve realized you’ve been doing it differently than the record, or maybe you think doing it some other way is better, but you’ve been doing it that way for weeks. To change that now could be asking for trouble. If what you have been doing isn’t bad, don’t change it. Save it for the next show if it must be changed.

Similarly, when I was in college, I came up with a rationalization for not cramming. I decided that if I didn’t know the material by now, I won’t learn it “tonight.” Along those same lines, I think rehearsals the day before the show or worse, the day of, are a bad idea. Any problems probably won’t get fixed, and even worse, if the rehearsal goes badly, people’s confidence can get shaken and/or they’ll be drained spending a ton of time and energy trying to fix the problems at the rehearsal, making them less energetic for the show.

Happy flying!

Posted 2016 03 17 at 10:00 AM

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