Getting more pro with an ARP Omni II
The ARP Omni II had a reasonably interesting polyphonic synth sounding component in addition to the familiar String Ensemble sounds. For playing in band covering a diverse array of songs this was essential. Now I had a more impressive looking Keyboard Rig that served as passport to bands of note around town. I also started to develop much more independent hand playing. I started using my ears a lot more in context of hearing all the parts being played. My hands would then slide into place for chords or melodic lines across two different keyboards. I found myself looking less at my hands on the keyboards and started watching band members more or the audience. By watching band members my timing improved and I could better predict where everyone might in the song if our stage monitors were lacking. I'd watch the drummer for the beat, the bass player for where the riff was and the guitar player's chord hand for when we were about to change into the bridge. The great thing about the visual cues in conjunction with listening was having a bit more advance notice. The singer would step up to the mic before singing the chorus or raise their shoulders as they took a breath before launching into the 2nd verse. All these tricks greatly improved my ability to play in a live band. To this day one of the first things I do when the band starts playing the first song in the first set is close my eyes. This helps me immediately place each instrument sonic ally on stage. Because each stage sounds different it can take 20 seconds to dial-in our collective sound. Closing my eyes for 10 or 20 seconds is enough to lock that placement in.