Several Definitions

As a musician and bassist I’ve found in various work situations from which I have learned to be involved in the roles of Leader and Sideman. While experience is one of the best schools in this type of situation (in my opinion), the parameters to differentiate each role represents, has helped me understand from a totally different place than I was used to.

Here are some general ideas.

Lider: the one musician who leads a band or solo project.

Sideman: the one musician who accompanies, as a right hand to a soloist or bandleader.

Habitually and depending on how active the musician is often be in both roles simultaneously. In my case, I’m always on both, which made me think deeply about the behavior I must take in each situation and the responsibility and qualities that each role represents.

In a certain way, to be within each role pursues an internal struggle with self Ego and in turn, the Ego of the musicians with whom we interact. To be versatile in both situations attracts adapt and be in favor of music.

Qualities and Responsibilities

Know how to speak: to transmit the thoughts and ideas with respect and good energy represents a great challenge. Choosing the right words in a relaxed situation, as in a very large pressure situation is paramount and essential.


Listening: be open to suggestions and new ideas is sometimes a very good practice, especially when one has explored various alternatives without satisfactory results, and the person who suggests has a point of view to share based on their own experience that in varied situations can be much broader and experienced than ours.


To recognize errors: we can all make mistakes and take wrong decisions but must always be the attitude to recognize them and remedy them in the best way possible. This includes knowing apologize when necessary and in turn, learn to accept the apologies when another offers them.


To show and receive: make decisions is essential and one of the most difficult tasks to perform. Be partial, objective, look at situations from many varied angles and try to get the best results possible its part of the game

Be guided is also a difficult task because it involves following the decision taken by the Leader despite not be what one would like to do and represents be able to participate in something bigger than yourself.


Respect: Do not do what we do not like us, and this includes various situations.

We all have to eat and pay our bills between various things, and even though the musicians involved in a project follow the leader for admiration, respect and why they like the project itself, recognize and perceive even a minimum payment as respect to the work and dedication is fundamental to maintain an overall balance and keep the wheel spinning.

Another delicate issue in this aspect is the general schedule and times. Time is money says the old saying, so it is important (at least for me it is) arrive on time or earlier and do not play with the persons time. In many professional situations this item can avail ourselves work and reputation of work.

It is valid to understand that when you do music, the feeling of lead is subjective and often, depending on the style of music that is played, the leadership role changes from musician to musician at different times. However, the discussed earlier attempts to make reference to the extra-musical situations than to play itself, although several of the items itself can be used equally when one is playing.

Probably are overlooked a few details, which may help define a little more the situations, however, and as usual, this post has helped me as a deep catharsis and I found on what I just wrote, many similarities to real life away of making music.

I never cease to be amazed!