How’s The House Tonight?

How’s the house tonight?

After I had wandered through club entrance, past the bar, across the dance floor, around the stage, through labyrinthine hallways, and into the dressing room, one of the first words out of Rob’s mouth were, “How’s the house tonight?”  He knew my journey had taken me past whatever freaks, geeks, fans, and college-kids that had show up for the show.  Rob Fried was a gifted percussionist, filled with creativity, love, and passion for tying songs together by whatever musical means possible.  After he had completed his sound check and his pre-show warm-up, he would sit backstage amongst the sundry and silly of the rock and roll lifestyle sipping a bottle water anticipating the show.

How’s the house tonight?

In performance psychology one is so often encouraged to focus on themselves and let that which surrounds them fall as it may (i.e. decent advise when tryouts are on or scouts are in the stands).  A focus on the audience at a concert seems to contradict such a tenet.  Yet, perhaps the tenet is a bit wrong or at very least short-sighted.  In her book The Shelter of Each Other,  Mary Pipher alludes to the potentially misguided wisdom of focusing on one’s self during the therapy process… when considered, it’s a bit narcissistic.  High performance psychology leads to narcissism… that seems a bit depressing.

How’s the house tonight?

Concern and care about “the house” may highlight a core aspect to motivation at its deepest levels.  Self-determination theory is widely accepted as a good guide to understanding motivation for high achievement and a fulfilling life.  A quick look at the theory leads one to notice that intrinsic motivation is the preferred form of motivation.  The novice eye stops there… “Be internally motivated if you want to perform well.”  It seems straight forward enough, but motivation, like much in life, is more nuanced than that.  Dig a bit deeper into the theory and notice the concept of “relatedness.”  The feeling of a deep, genuine connection to others – feeling part of something greater than one’s self alone.  This is an incredibly valuable motivator and supporter during the challenges and opportunities that arise during the journey of life.

How’s the house tonight?

I never got the slightest sense that Rob asked this question from any place of ego.  It was not out of a need to have a full room  to play to or a “hey look at me” desire.  It was a question that came from a thirst for connectedness and community.  A passion to share the joy he felt with every cymbal clash and drum beat.  Truly a great performer because he stepped on the stage to share.  Not to beat, but to share the energy of performance and play.

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