Late night rehearsals were not her favorite. Especially when just getting through a previous four-hour rehearsal with musicians that didn’t practice, didn’t care, and didn’t want to be there. She was tired, both physically and emotionally, and she definitely needed sleep. It was nights like this that made her question whether she truly could be a singer.
“Hey, let’s run ‘Skylark,’ guys,” she said, adjusting her microphone stand.
Sam was noodling around on the drums while William was playing a pattern on the congas.
She held up the chart. “Can we run through Skylark one time? It’s super late.”
Sam looked over at William’s hands and decided to join in. The piano player heard the pattern that William and Sam were playing and he started playing a montuno on the piano.
She shot Todd, the piano player, a dirty look.
He smiled and played the montuno faster.
I don’t have the patience for this, she thought, rolling her eyes. She sat down and put her chin in her hands.
“Alright guys. Let’s run ‘Skylark’ before Tiffany loses it,” William called to the other band members as he slapped one of the conga heads.
She looked down at the ground and sighed. William loved to jam for hours and hours and was easily distracted, whether they had to get stuff done or not. The level of sarcasm in his voice was more than she liked, but she was grateful William had taken charge and got the band back on track. Who knows how long she would’ve been sitting there.
She had never felt she fit the leadership role very well, being more comfortable with the idea of being a part of and working as a team. That’s why she hated when stage crews placed the microphone out front, far from the rest of the band, isolating her. She loved set-ups where everyone was close together, even if it was uncomfortable, because then she felt part of the group. She could interact with everyone easily and react if something happened unexpectedly.
Todd began to play the intro to the song, interrupting her thoughts. She came in with the first verse, but as she kept singing, she noticed something sounded off with he chords that Todd was playing. She tried to ignore it as she continued on to the second verse, but his chord voicings felt like nails on a chalkboard. She winced. She knew her music theory was poor and that if she said something, Todd would ask for specific keys and fingerings. Something that she honestly couldn’t do. She looked at William and Sam, who both gave her uncertain looks.
Sam put up his hand. “Stop. Let’s run it from the top again.”
Todd played the intro to “Skylark” and she came in with the first verse again, but the same issue was still happening. There was no room, melodically, for her to sing. Todd’s chord voicings sat right on top of her voice. “Something’s not right,” she called out to Todd.
“What do you mean?” Todd stopped playing.
“The chords you’re playing don’t sound right,” she said, making a face.
“Well, what chords? Show me specifically what chords I’m playing wrong. If you can’t point them out, then–”
“I don’t know what exactly you’re playing, Todd, I just know it’s the wrong chords,” she said, feeling herself blush. She knew he would put her on the spot if she spoke up. Just because she couldn’t name every chord Todd was playing without looking, didn’t mean she was wrong. She knew she had a really good ear. Now, though, she felt stupid for saying anything.
Sam got up from behind the drum set and walked over to stand beside Todd. “Let me see what chords you’re playing.”
Todd played the first couple of chords.
“You do know this is in the key of A minor, right?” Sam said, frustrated. He pushed Todd over on the bench so he could sit down and start playing.
“Where on this chart does it say what key it’s in?” Todd said, losing his patience.
“Right there!” Sam pointed to an area on the chart. He started playing the chords of the song. “Tiffany, start from the top. I’ll play along.”
She started singing the first verse while Sam accompanied her. “That feels way more comfortable.”
“Yeah, dude, your voicings were wrong. You’re crowding her too much when you play like that. She’s supposed to sit on top. Not fight to be heard.” Sam got up to go back to the drums.
Todd started running through the chords, playing the voicings that Sam had shown him.
She shook her head. She knew she shouldn’t let it get to her, but being a singer who was severely lacking in music theory was crippling. Musicians already had notions of singers being divas and complainers. Add lack of technical musical knowledge and it would become downright embarrassing whenever any type of issues arose. Moments like the one she just had with Todd would happen more often if she didn’t start studying theory more.
Sam counted off on the drums. She raised her eyes from the floor and started to sing.