Ben KonenBen Konen is a student at Berklee College of Music. With the help of International Programs he and his band, Cluttered Clarity, will be touring around Europe this summer. Read more about Ben’s adventures here.

Over the last few weeks I have been writing about the project Cluttered Clarity. The way we put the band together, different approaches we tried to cover the flight expenses, and how we ended up on the program of the Montreux jazz Festival. Even though I needed to improve some skills such us promotion and music business, I enjoyed the hard work and the new skills I achieved.

Unfortunately, over the last couple of weeks I learned another valuable lesson for my music career: Sometimes you have to put business over friendship.

Cluttered ClarityAt the beginning of February we found our amazing band members but we encountered a major problem. The major problem with the band members was that they were really busy. Since we are all students we had many assignments, jobs, and gigs around Boston, so it became difficult to schedule rehearsals.

At first I tried to work with our schedule. I tried to set up a rehearsal schedule via doodle 2 weeks in advance, I called all the band members almost every day to see if they had a free time slot, and I send many Facebook messages. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to schedule any rehearsal time. We barely managed to get 2 hours of rehearsal a week. This might be okay for a band that is just starting, but with the high profile gigs we were about to have, I wanted to make sure we were going to be able to play the best show we could.

Finally Jernej Bervar, who co-started the band with me, and I had to sit down and figure out a solution to our problem. We both noticed that the commitment of the band wasn’t at the point we imagined it to be, we had to change the band. I wanted to see progress in the band, but I’ve never faced the problem of having to let band members go. Since I had developed a friendship with these new band members I wasn’t ready to let them go just yet.

Naively, I tried to continue with the band. We used every single resource Berklee had to offer. Berklee offered us rehearsal rooms outside of their normal schedule going as far as letting us use office rooms that aren’t supposed to be used for rehearsals. Things did not change. Our progress was very slow and we still only rehearsed once a week. We lost so much time trying to set up rehearsals, meetings, and recordings. All that time took my focus away from writing music, managing the band, and, most importantly, practicing. During several nights I had a hard time falling asleep, because I was constantly trying to come up with a way to find rehearsal time.

3 weeks before the end of the semester, I couldn’t bare it anymore. Jernej and I finally agreed that it was time to let them go. Even though, I had developed a friendship with these new band members, at the end I had to tell them that they weren’t part of Cluttered Clarity anymore. We ended up finding a group of other musicians with incredible skills, some of Berklee’s finest musicians. There was a big smile on my face during our entire first rehearsal. I was so happy that things finally worked out and I could finally focus on what is most important: the music.

The lesson at the end of the day is that my band lost almost 2 months in their progress. We could have recorded a CD, uploaded a great video, and booked more concerts.  I couldn’t bare the thought of letting people go but at the end I had to do it anyway. Musicians will at least face this problem once in their career. Don’t lose time the way I did. It’s better to find people who are fully committed to the project. When you find the right people it becomes easy to find the time to practice and create music, the whole process is fun. To get there, sometimes you have to put business over friendship.

Yours truly,
Ben Konen