The Kobiyashi Maru is the name of a training exercise from the movie Star Trek II where an officer trainee is put into a situation where they can’t win. The point of the exercise is to find out how the person reacts when their ship is being destroyed and there’s no way out.
This happened to me on a gig a few days ago. We were in a large high school gym with over 1000 students. We were hooked into a huge PA system. As soon as we started to play, one of the microphones started to feed back so loudly that we couldn’t hear anything. About a minute later, all of our monitors began to feedback with a howling fury. To make matters worse, we were playing a fast jazz song. I couldn’t hear myself or anyone else.
That first song was a disaster, and I panicked that I might not be able to hear for the entire show. But my panic disappeared when I saw that the rest of the band were acting like grown-ups and doing what they could to make our band sound better. No attitude, no head-shaking or eye-rolling, no yelling at the sound man.
We corrected the problem little by little. We turned off the stage monitors, adjusted our volume and tone, asked the sound man to adjust our microphones, and little by little we crafted our sound. By the time we played the last song of our 40-minute set, we could finally hear well enough.
In the end I left the stage happy to be playing with true professionals, and satisfied knowing that we had made some great music.