Lessons about performing, #44: Leave your spouse home!

So… I was ahead of the game! On Sunday, I had Monday’s article all set to publish at the scheduled time. Monday came and the phone calls started coming in. It’d turn out that I’d be busy until evening came, and then my ass would be sleepy.

I like to share my article links only when I have time to address any comments and concerns. (I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to do with the site when I go on vacation for the month of January. It might be a staycation, I’m not sure.)

Which means I didn’t submit ’em to the respective sites until this morning.

Sadly, only one of you appears to have noticed and read the article on your own. Y’all know I publish ’em once a day, right? Sheesh! Only one of you came to the site, using your own initiative, and read the article! Horrible! I know what browsers you use – and I know they have bookmarking built in!

You fool nobody!

I spend all those hours, working over a hot letter forge, to smith those words. Y’all can’t even make the effort to visit the site and actually see if maybe there’s a new article and I just didn’t submit it…

Anyhow, if you want to see the article then you can click here. Slackers…

(If you were all actually my guitar students, I’d be pretty grumpy! I’m not really, but I’m gonna pretend I am.)

I need a damned secretary. Hmm… And an editor…

But, enough about that… You should already know your shame! I needn’t berate you with it.

This next rule is one that is actually a bit contentious and some people just can’t figure out how to follow it. It’s a good rule. Trust me…

Rule #44: Leave Helga Home!

Look… I get it… You’re a lead singer and your girlfriend of the week is going to be the one. You want to spend every minute together, because you’re in love.

Leave her home.

She’s a distraction. She doesn’t have any meaningful knowledge to impart. She’s not helpful in any way. She causes strife. She also keeps blowing the drummer when you’re passed out after a show. We just don’t tell you, because we don’t want to hear you whine about it. Also, he had sex with your sister.

But your spouse is different! She has musical talent!

She played recorder in third grade. That’s not musical talent. Yeah, she’s got a nice rack – but that’s not going to help us practice.

It’s tough, it really is. Having a relationship and being in a band is often a tough line to walk. You need to minimize distractions during practice and rehearsal. Adding to those distractions, and maybe adding drama, is absolutely a horrible idea. It’s not productive and it’s potentially pretty damned destructive.

Are there exceptions?

Of course there are. Almost every single one of these rules has exceptions. However, exceptionally good looking doesn’t mean it’s also an exception to this rule. Exceptionally in love doesn’t mean it’s an exception to this rule.

What are good exceptions?

When you need a test audience – sort of. They’re not going to give you good feedback, because everything you do is perfect to them. (There are even exceptions to that!) Still, they can help fluff it out and add more voices to the feedback you’re getting.

It’s also okay if you’ve made a previous exception. In my very first rule, I told you to not sleep with fellow band members. Doing so is a horrible idea. But, if you’re already doing so – you should probably also practice with that band member.

Personally, I have an exception. The missus does our lights, sounds, and effects with the aid of the eldest hoodlum. For their services, they get paid. While they are doing their job, they are considered employees.

Use common sense. If they don’t need to be there, if they’re a distraction, or if they’re not actually useful – leave them home.

This applies to people who aren’t your spouse. Yes, it also applies to your buddy that you’ve known since the 2nd grade and you like how everybody thinks you’re actually siblings.

Picture, if you will, an orchestra of great fame. Do you fucking think they’re all bringing their spouses to rehearsal?!? No! Of course not! Why? Because they’re professionals and they’re there to work.

Sure as hell don’t bring your kids. I think kids are awesome. They’re great and I love to see curious people learning new things. There are times and places to let them learn about what you do for a living – and practice and rehearsal are not those times and places. Get a babysitter, or leave ’em home with your spouse!


Let’s say it’s, for some fucking bizarre reason, impossible to not bring anyone with you. I don’t know, maybe you were in a horrible accident at the glue factory and it’s truly impossible for you to leave them home.

If that’s the case, it is your duty to ensure they sit down and shut the hell up, unless they’re asked a question. It also shouldn’t be YOU asking them a question. We’re already mad that you brought them, we don’t want you wasting our time by talking to them and trying to pretend they perform a useful function – because they don’t. Stop wasting our time and trying to make it better.

But, it’s going to happen. People are going to bring people with them to practice. Nobody listens to this rule. It’s also quite probable that you don’t have a dedicated space to practice, so you’re in someone’s house.

By the way, and while I’m here… You should be nice to the people who live at said house, even if they’re dicks. You’re invading their home, making a racket, and your drummer keeps missing the toilet when he pees. Also, the lead singer brought three extra people with him and you’re pretty sure one of them is too young to be legal.

It’s not like you’re making music as your sole source of income – at least that’s statistically unlikely. Most, if not all, of the band has a real job. It’s damned hard for you to find time when everybody can fit practices and rehearsals into their schedule at the same time. You absolutely should be taking full advantage of that little bit of time you get. You should be maximizing the benefits of that time.

Distractions, any distractions, are taking away your ability to get maximum value for your time investment. We’ve already talked about managing your time and how little time you’re really going to have. Well, you need to make sure that you use that time as best as you can – and this goes right along with it.

And, of course, it still needs to be fun… My solution is to schedule practices/rehearsals for longer than I actually expect to be productive. If I feel we need an extra two hours this week, I’ll schedule an extra three or four hours.

To add to that, I also know my band drives a long ways to get to my house – which is where we have our practice sessions. I frequently also make sure they have food and drinks available and they’re also always welcome to just grab a room for the night.

I also cheat this rule pretty heavily. I’m actually pretty lenient and don’t care if they bring people with them – so long as they keep it to a dull roar. The difference is, I have a big house. We can go into the studio and have plenty of private space to work in and, during this, their guest(s) have other things and other people to keep them company.

I do, generally, draw the line at the number of people who go into the studio when we go in their to work. That is where we are going to concentrate. That’s where we are going to work. That’s where we need as little distraction as possible. That’s where we need to maximize the return on our time investment.

So, like I said, there are exceptions. At the end of the day, you need to figure out what your goals are. If your goal is to make a living, then you should probably be making the best use of your time and, equally important, making the best use of your bandmate’s time. Bringing your spouse with you is, more often than not, going to result in some of that time being wasted. Don’t do it.

Like always, it works out to using common sense and figuring out what is best for your situation. There’s some variation and it’s pretty subjective, as far as rules go. If you’re just a jam band that plays pit parties for free beer, you probably don’t really need to take this rule very seriously. If your next show has an expected attendance in the tens of thousands, you should probably take this rule a bit more seriously.

As always, I love questions and comments. I love those more than I like seeing the hit counter go up – and I really enjoy seeing the number of people who are reading these. That tells you how much I love me some questions and comments!

So, leave a comment! If you don’t want to leave a public comment, there’s a ‘contact me’ link at the top. I’m too lazy to go get it and link it, but you can click that blue arrow to your right and it’ll zoom you right to the top of the page! It’s right there! If you haven’t noticed, I don’t share private comments with any association to your name – unless you give me permission to do so.

On top of that, my well of ideas is running pretty low. This series is running to an end. I’m eventually going to run out of rules for performing musicians! It can’t go on forever, or so they say. Your questions and comments often give me ideas for things to write about. It may seem like a silly question or comment, but it may be just the motivation I need to write an extended response in the form of an article.

There are many other instruments, and I play some of them – or know people who do. While I concentrate on guitar, you can also see that this very series is not specifically about the guitar. I’m even happy to attempt to answer questions about other instruments and other facets of musicianship.

If you want, turn it into a game. Call it, “Let’s Play Stump TheBuddha!” I don’t mind and like the idea of having to research answers for things I don’t already know. Also, if you have an idea for the next series of articles – that might be helpful! (A guy named crazy_eyes has given me an idea for a short series. That may be next.) Until next time…

Shut up and play us a song!

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2 thoughts on “Lessons about performing, #44: Leave your spouse home!”

  1. I liked this one, although I would have to assume its okay to bring spouses and children to shows provided they are just in the audience.

  2. Absolutely. It’s very subjective and there are exceptions. Like I said, the missus does sound, lights, and effects. So, I violate the hell out of this rule. It depends on the person and their function. Are they really adding benefit?

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