Shouting Is for Assholes
I’ve been a drummer since I was about 10 years old. When I was an undergraduate with a fine-arts credit to fulfill, I took real drum lessons for the first time in my life. (Great experience by the way. If you have a passion like that, professional assistance is wonderful. Do it.)
One of the many worthwhile lessons my teacher imparted was this: If you’re out on a gig and you want the whole room’s attention, play as soft as you can. Make your minimal volume command everyone else to shut up and listen. “Is there something wrong?” they’ll wonder, “What’s happening? I’m an obnoxious American that only responds to flashing lights and loud noises. I’m uncomfortable!” This is the precise moment, when the whole room is leaning forward, tilting their heads and straining their ears, to begin mercilessly beating the drum kit to a savage death.
What I’m trying to say here is that life is one big gig, and you can’t spend the whole show slamming the cymbals with the amps up to 11. Balance is a big deal, and 99 times out of 100, there’s really no reason to speak any louder than is necessary to be heard. In my opinion, people that generally like to shout are generally assholes. Shouting brings out ugliness. It makes us seem angry, out of control, and desperate — probably because shouting people usually are. Shouting makes you literally uglier too, if only for a moment. Even the most beautiful woman on God’s glistening green Earth can’t be pretty while shouting. It is the antithesis of the poise, balance, and happiness that makes people attractive in the first place. (I would also argue that “strong and quiet” types get even more attention… everyone loves a good mystery.)
Plus, if you keep your wits about you and shouting to a minimum, on that one day that it’s really necessary, you’ll get all the attention you want. People will subconsciously say, “Holy shit I’ve never heard this guy raise his voice in my life.” And they’ll listen up. Until that day comes, keep cool Jules. No reason to shout. Everyone can hear you just fine.
Oh and by the way, writing a letter or email in all capital letters might even be worse than shouting. Please don’t do that. I’ve done enough public writing to garner a reasonable amount of reader mail, and I assure you that all caps correspondence is an instant “delete,” at least for me and most people I know in that business. It makes you seem crazy, not serious.
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© 2012, Ian Mathias
The worst is younger modern musicians first time in concert halls… who don’t yet understand that the entire room effectively acts as a large architectural speaker (or how effective they got them to work.. I mean hearing a pin drop outdoors in the back row levels of acoustic refinement), and decide they have to out play the rest of the band. If I feel the need to plug my ears during a solo in a symphony, babies start crying, and little kids are putting their fingers in their ears… It’s a bad sign.
dave grohl in nirvana unplugged. nuff said.
This is one I really have trouble with. It might be because of my less than great hearing, or maybe a sense that what I have to say is REALLY important, but I find myself talking way too loud, far too often. Usually while talking over people. This was really good advice for me, and hopefully I can take it.
P.S. Really loving this so far. ❤
This is awesome advice for teachers. That’s how I operated as a first-year, know-nothing teacher (only because…that’s how I operate in general) and I never had even the slightest bit of trouble in a classroom that was full of…well…lets just say they weren’t angels. Kids definitely respond best to that “strong, silent” type you spoke of.