Since early this year, I’ve been organising a group of people who get together to play ukuleles once a month. Until a few weeks ago, we were meeting in our lounge room – I would drag all our dining room chairs into a rough circle and we crowded in between the bookcases, strumming away. But we moved recently to a community centre, which gives us more space. It also makes the whole enterprise seem more formal, which I’m finding a bit of a challenge. Figuring out get the attention of a group of people and count them into a song, wondering if the song choice is right, if the tempo is right, wondering if we should go over the chord changes more… I rarely have enough confidence in my own decisions to say definitively, “Right, this is what we’re doing – 2, 3, 4, go.” Partly, it’s lack of experience in leading any sort of musical group, and partly it’s my usual concern that people won’t like what I’m doing.
Charlotte at Great Fitness Experiment wrote about the strange nature of the desire for everyone you meet to like you. And it is a ludicrous idea, really. I don’t like a lot of people I meet, and occasionally I would describe myself as a bit misanthropic, but I still want people to like me and approve of my decisions (even the ones about how to count in a song). I always find it a bit hard to believe people who claim that they really don’t care what other people think of them. Surely no-one gets through their day without a healthy dash of paranoid speculation about the inner thoughts of their fellow citizens.
I think improving at leading in songs is more to do with deciding that your timing is the right timing (and your songs are the right songs), and sweeping everyone along with you. No dissension allowed. Speaking practically, the minute you ask for opinions from 10 or so people, you lose 5 minutes while the merits of those various opinions are debated. A benevolent dictatorship is probably more productive. (As long as it stays relatively benevolent, I suppose).