Leslie asks:

The other female lead singer in our band had to leave the band due to personal/family demands on her time. This is a huge loss, since the strong 3-part harmonies are a big signature of our band, and what I love the most. So we’re now searching for another (hopefully female) strong lead/harmony singer – not easy, but we’re staying positive that we’ll find the right person.

We’re about to put an ad out and about, and I’m anticipating a whole bunch of my women musician friends who I really like and enjoy jamming with , to approach me about auditioning. Not one of them would be a fit though at all – great to jam with, and be friends with. But, a band’s a whole different story. Already, the fact that I’m in a band now that’s getting more attention and has a demo, has stirred some jealous hearts and there’ve been some ‘attitude’ coming my way sometimes…….

Alas, the challenges of semi-professional amateurism!


That is a tough question.

Even though you are really an “amateur” musician, this is a problem associated with the professional attitude and situation. Performing musicians and situations are considered special and are indeed a step above informal music making. There is a huge difference between making music in a circle, for yourselves vs. all facing one direction, using a sound system, and having an audience that’s there presumably to give you their attention and maybe pay money to sit in the dark and watch/listen to you.

Those simple facts create a set of expectations based around an imbalance of attention and power, and the challenges do affect whom you’d like to join forces with. So this preamble is just to say, yes, you’re right to be selective. Also it implies that jealousy and ego issues become part of the scenario in a different way than when you’re just free-form jamming.

With all that said, what to do in this situation? Well certainly, I agree you shouldn’t compromise your choice, just to please someone or be polite. Fragile egos will get stepped on when people are not chosen, and it rarely helps to frankly explain to someone why they weren’t chosen. If you got cornered into that, you might take tips from colleges and all sorts of folks who have nicely-worded letters saying stuff like “We had a lot of wonderful candidates, your considerable qualifications impressed us but we were looking for the best fit, etc. etc.” Once the replacement has been chosen, any discussion of the choice can be in terms of how well the new person fits, and let any observers hear the your band’s new sound and make their own conclusions about their own relative qualifications.

Once a person becomes a real pro, they understand they are going to be passed over LOTS of times, and they will do best if they handle it with aplomb and keep their ego issues to themselves. Naturally, folks who are amateurs might not do this very well (pros are the experienced ones, you see, and have learned this lesson from that experience).

So there you are, on the receiving end of both positive and (gasp) negative attention. Welcome to show biz! Now your job description includes handling these situations with grace and kindness. You can certainly take some care to stroke the egos of any of those people you passed over, being happy to play together in situations that work for you, and making extra sure to not seem stuck on yourself, which they will be especially attuned to.

A friend of mine in a high visibility job who’s attracted a bunch of admirers and some detractors, came up with a little jingle: “Do your job, do it well, let the whiners go to hell.” Catchy, huh!

Hope that helps. Mainly — enjoy the music and the people!

Pete Wernick