The Fateful rehearsal

Can small events influence our lives at large?

It was spring 2000, in Warsaw, Poland. My band, whose members were professional level musicians, featured two vocals, a brass section and the basic quartet: drums, bass, piano, and guitar. Gigs were rather difficult to find, but the band played live every now and then. There was not enough work for the band to live, but too much for it to die. Considering the size of the band, and the relatively unpopular, at the time, music genre — acid jazz — it’s no wonder that gigs were difficult to get.

I was continuously working on music arrangements. The band had a brass section (trumpet and trombone, sometimes also a sax), so I was adding brass section parts to every song. It felt great to work on them, and experience the new air of songs boosted by the brass section.

The band played mostly covers, with the objective to have enough material to play gigs. In the meantime, I was working on original songs. While we already had five of them, getting new ones was a priority. We needed enough songs to record an EP.

This is where the fateful ‘single event’ comes up. We had a gig in a club, preceded by a rehearsal in the morning, as usual. I had just printed all parts for a new song, and was very excited about rehearsing the best song I ever wrote. We started the rehearsal by playing a few songs as a warm-up. Everything went fine. After the warm up, I handed out the parts of the new song. Band members studied the sheets for a while, and eventually nodded that they’re ready. I counted in, slowly, and the band started playing. Intro. First verse. It sounded great. Suddenly, something went wrong: one person missed a beat, another hit a wrong note. Whatever it was, the music stopped. It’s a normal occurrence at rehearsals. I thought nothing of it, and was just about to count in again, when somebody said that they don’t want to rehearse the song anymore. ‘Me too’, added somebody else. I looked around. People were looking at the floor, avoiding eye contact. They didn’t want to play it. I still wanted to rehearse this song, but it was no use to push for it. The rehearsal ended.

Excitement turned into frustration. Rehearsals continued, but the band never rehearsed this song again. Nobody asked about any new songs. I stopped writing brass sections, and stopped composing originals. The band got a few more gigs, but I had no motivation to drive it anymore. Wanting to get some rest from the band, I bought a book about programming and spent my vacation studying it. In the autumn, I applied for an undergraduate course in Computer Science, and my music career ended.

Was really the unfortunate rehearsal the beginning of the end of my band? Or would the band collapse anyway? It seems like a stupid question, unless I realize that it changed my life completely.