Always be the worst musician in the band

I just finished Chad Fowler’s book “The Passionate Programmer“.  There are a lot of great concepts in this book and I recommend reading it even if you’re not a programmer.
There is a concept in this book that he talks about that really stuck with me: Always be the worst player in the band.

Chad has been a jazz saxophonist for years. His concept is a simple truth about your level of talent relative to the people in the room.  The idea is that if you’re the least talented, you can’t help but play towards the level of the more talented.  Conversely, the more talented people play more like the less talented people. You can’t help in a group setting but to become more like the other people you play with.

I’m an engineer type professionally.  I work in computers and electronics and have extensive experience over a broad range of topics on both related fields.  I’m VERY good at what I do.  Lately, I find that I’m often the best engineer on the projects I’m working on.  According to Chad’s concept, the people around me are getting better, but I’m standing still, or worse, maybe even going backwards.

This is a gross oversight on my part.

As a musician, I’ve NEVER been anything but the least talented in the group. The people I play with a generally VERY good. I’m by no means good these days, but my playing over the last few years has improved dramatically because of it.

Today, I’m going to find something to get involved with where I’m the least talented in the room.  Hopefully I won’t break something 🙂

2 thoughts on “Always be the worst musician in the band

  1. I have yet to be the most talented person in a band, and I COMPLETELY subscribe to this axiom. I was at practice last night playing a song Chip and I wrote called “Like Everything” that has this cool breakdown at the end. I’m able to match Chip throughout note for note; something I could not have done even 2 years ago if I hadn’t been playing with Chip and others who are light years beyond me.


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