Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
I’m part of a Jewish music group that formed three years ago when several of us
wanted to jam and play songs from our Latino and Yiddish heritage. We have a
great sound together and although we are a mixed bag in terms of musical skills,
our love of the music and different strengths in singing, researching, organizing,
etc have helped us create a very likeable and charming group. We get invited to
do small gigs at people’s houses and local fundraisers. A woman joined us three
months ago. We said yes because she plays at services weekly and we thought
she would help us. She is a superb musician but not a great member of our
band. OY! She is constantly telling us what we are doing wrong and doesn’t
seem to understand that this isn’t her group to order around. We didn’t tell her
this was a trial period, and now, after three long and heart-rending sessions of
personal processing, the group is more interested in dissolving than staying
together. Can you help me salvage something that was very precious to me?
Just Wannna Play
Dear Just Wanna Play:
You’ve hit on the key mistake that your group made: not having a clear period of
trying things out (and an exit strategy) before making a firm commitment to
include her. Many prima donnas don’t show their true selves until they are past a
probationary period. But this one has done enough for you to know that you
prefer how it was to how it is. You are going to have to level with her if you want
your band to continue. The conversation goes something like this: We were so
excited to incorporate your wonderful skills into our band. But what works well
musically isn’t so good interpersonally. We’ve tried to make this a match. But it
very clearly is not, so we’ve unanimously decided that we want to turn to our
original configuration. Thanks for trying to make this work what us. Sorry it wasn’t
a good fit. There will be some tears and many more words, but hold firm.
“Unanimous” buys you that solidarity. Be sure no one says anything else.
If you could go back in time, or next time, what you should say is this: We have
very tight chemistry. Sometimes we invite guests to play with us for a certain
song or occasion. But we are unlikely to expand very quickly. Come jam with us if
you like and we will try things out. But no promises beyond a song or two. That
should keep you safer.