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There are days I can play and...


ITGITC

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There are days I can play and...

 

Then there are days when I wonder how I ever thought there was a seed of talent.

 

Yeah, I know this happens to everybody once in awhile.

 

But do you ever have thoughts where you've become so critical that you seem to have reached a point where nothing you play meets your own standards?

 

Yeah.

 

The classic response is: You just need to practice more.

 

I wish it were that simple.

 

Have you ever played in a band where every performance is crap? OK, we're our own worst critic, right? That may be.

 

But there are many reasons to play in a band, and not all of them have to do with the quality of the music you produce.

 

For instance, I played with some hometown guys not too many years ago. We played for private parties - mostly people we knew. We never rehearsed. They would start a tune and never tell me the key. And that was OK, I figured it out. And I learned how to do this rather gracefully, I thought.

 

But they would also spring new songs on me during performance that I had never heard.

 

Luckily, the guys who fronted the band were charmers and a lot of the music was folk/americana/novelty stuff (like, "I Don't Look Good Nekid Anymore").

 

KLONK FOR LIVE RECORDING.

 

It was all great fun and everyone had a good time.

 

But musically, it was loose. And there were many times that I came away from a gig feeling bitter that we didn't give the audience a better performance - from a musical point of view.

 

On the other hand, I justified, they were drinking and smiling and dancing and having a great time. Did they really care if we forgot the lyrics to the 3rd verse or hit a wrong note every so often?

 

It was hard for me to justify this fully. So I quit the band.

 

I had a chance to play the other day with some neighbors. The drummer and the vocalist play jazz. One of the other guys plays guitar - but hates jazz. He complains, "Jazz has too many notes. One musician is playing a totally different song than the other."

 

But we sat down and played a few crossover tunes. OK, they weren't crossover, they were watered-down folk/rock/bullshit (sorry). It's hard to find a middle ground when you play with guys who favor a different genre.

 

When you're introduced to new people and they find out you play music, sometimes it's assumed that you can just get together and play and it will turn out wonderful - no matter what kind of music you play. But that's just not the case.

 

You get together and it's the same ol' question, "What do you know?" "Well, I dunno, what do YOU know?" And you end up jamming on some blues tune because that's the lowest common denominator for the motley group.

 

I'm sure some of you have felt this way. So I thought I'd put the idea out there.

 

I'm going to go practice now... Nekid. ;)

 

There are no mirrors in the room, so it's OK. :)

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Holy crap ITGITC!!! You said it all. My memories of the past too. Well it seems like you love to play, and have fun, but the other folks around you don't care. And if they do, don't know what to do with their talant(If they have talant).

 

You need a fresh start with folks that do care. You could put an add in the paper to help find some folks that do care about what and how they play. Session stuff to see if it can work out, can't hurt.

 

Playing for friends, and then getting smashed is not what I call fun. It all sounds the same, and the guys end up going from party to party to get drunk, etc. Having a good time first, then play around on an instrument as a passing.

 

I would have a second live and get going with a group of folks that care, and not just in wanting to make a few drinking, or gas bucks.

 

You are frustrated, (playing in the nude shouldn't help with or without a mirrior :blush:), and start hanging out at establishments that have some good groups playing and start up a friendship with musicians that do care.

 

Just my opinion, and I hope you think of some good outings to get you back on track.

 

Jazzman :cool:

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Interesting post ITGITC. Whenever I find myself struggling with the "there are days I can play and...." conundrum I draw on my experiences as an athlete. Athletic performance NEVER follows a smooth curve of continuous improvement - but rather a trend line characterised by peaks and valleys. Even exquisitely trained athletes have what they perceive as "off" days - despite the fact that they may be in the best shape of their lives. I find that the same holds true for my musical performances.

 

Recognizing and accepting (without much internal drama) that you're going to have "off" days is the first step to getting this under control. Just like your overall level of physical fitness doesn't change overnight - neither does your overall level of "musical fitness". The trick is to figure out what situations and activities work best for you to perform your best - and then train yourself be able to control when your performance "peaks".

 

Everybody's different so everybody has to find what works for them. When I find myself fumbling to perform at the level I performed at yesterday (i.e., I'm in a "down" period) - I know that I need a change. That change may simply be to walk away for a few days (physical ability doesn't deterioriate immediately - so a couple of days off won't hurt you). If I've been "partying" while playing - I'll play straight. If I've been playing straight - I'll "party" a little - just to introduce something new into the mix. I find some way to vary my routine.

 

Most if not all of an "off" day is in the mind. I do everything in my power to NOT dwell on the fact that I'm having an "off" day - and to not beat myself up over the fact that I'm in a funk. Keeping my attitude positive and finding what gets my head back on course is the key.

The SpaceNorman :freak:
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I know what you mean. There are a lot of days I feel like I'm the only kid who's not in school, standing alone in the middle of the playground on a perfect day, but where is everybody?

 

I can't solve this by practising at all - makes no difference. It's the interaction with players at, or above, my level that does it for me. Communication is what it's really all about, and playing nekid with your feet in the sandbox isn't the answer.

 

The lowest common denominator - the dumbing down - is what's wrong with just about everything, IMO, take it wherever you like.

 

I suggest an adventure for your spirit. I did this last year and it was the best thing I've done in a long time. I got out of town for a month, on my own, with my gear, out to the coast. I have player buddies who got me a couple of gigs with some hot shit players and I found my place there, and we grooved mightily. I came back with new fire and great connections which are bearing fruit.

 

"learn to work the saxophone, I'll play just what I feel. Drink Scotch whiskey, all night long, and die behind the wheel."

 

Call it a New Year's resolution.

 

 

____________________________________
Rod

Here for the gear.

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Most if not all of an "off" day is in the mind.
+1

I find it hard to be on my "A" game if I'm tired and just want to sleep. Or I've had a particularly mentally or emotionally draining day. Sometimes the creative battery has been run down and needs a recharge. (Perhaps not exactly what SpaceNorman was getting at, but I think brain status has a lot to do with it.)

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Here's the thing - you are the only person who has to listen to you every time you play. It's very easy to get sick of your own playing or to get down on it. One thing I've found is that on days when I think I'm not playing all that well it's because I'm actually playing new ideas that are so unfamiliar to me that they haven't matured into strong obvious statements or just don't flow quite as easily as the same old stuff I play that makes me want to punch myself in the balls.
A ROMpler is just a polyphonic turntable.
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ItgitC .. I say it's about time we hit a blues jam and you blow those chumps away.

 

I know what you mean about gettin together and there is no musical spark with some people. It is as if you can't find any common ground sometimes. Some people may play music but they just don't understand what it is to make music with others.

 

If you need to get away for a brewski just holler my way and we will sneak off from the holiday hustle and solve some of the worlds problems. That is if you don't have anything BETTER to do.

Jimmy

 

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others. Groucho

NEW BAND CHECK THEM OUT

www.steveowensandsummertime.com

www.jimmyweaver.com

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Beyond practice, play with musicians who are "better" and/or who inspire you to play. Most monster players learn from hanging out with others.

 

It is easy to get caught in playing for self-satisfaction, grins, giggles, pocket change, etc. There is a time and place for that too.

 

When the desire to take your playing to another level and/or in a better situation gets strong enough, you'll know exactly what to do. :cool:

PD

 

"The greatest thing you'll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return."--E. Ahbez "Nature Boy"

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Yeah, I was going to quote another line from Deacon Blues - "This is the age of the expanding man" - but the nekid piano thing - I dunno.

 

 

Yeah.

 

:D

 

The nekid idea came from THIS THREAD.

 

 

Forgive my low humour. Practice nekid - expanding man.... :rimshot:

 

Anyway, sounds like you're not too bummed out. :rimshot:

 

Have a good holiday, Tom! :D

____________________________________
Rod

Here for the gear.

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Have a good holiday, Tom! :D

 

And to you, Mr. Drawback.

 

I'm not bummed - just peculiar particular.

 

Yeah.

 

And Jimmy, we'll get together for that beer soon. I've It's been crazy 'round here.

 

And ProfD, I got your phonemail message. Funny how it got to me all the way in Rocky Mount - home of the RMI Electra-Piano (thought I'd put that plug in just in case Dave Horne was nearby). :) Merry Christmas!

 

It's Christmas Eve at my house and we're taking life E A S Y.

 

If you too are kicking back celebrating the holidays, enjoying life and family, and perhaps playing a little music, best wishes to ya.

 

Oh, by the way, I sat down to play yesterday and it didn't sound too bad. I actually surprised myself. Still don't know why.

 

Stay in touch. Santa and his reindeer fly tonight. I can't wait to hear about the toys he's bringing the GOOD girls and boys. (I asked for a B3 - let's see him get THAT down the chimney.) :laugh:

 

 

"Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent." - Victor Hugo
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Hi Tom,

 

Yeah, I know how you feel. I think we've all run up against similar feelings from time to time. First, understand that it's not uncommon to get tired of hearing yourself after a while. Mike Brecker even expressed similar sentiments while in session. After all, it's hard to "surprise yourself" since you usually know what you're already capable of. For me, practicing is not the answer. What does work for me is transcribing stuff by another artist that I wouldn't have thought of; whether it involves actually writing it down, or just memorizing it. (I consider both to be "transcribing".) There's nothing like a new concept to shake the cobwebs out, and I often find it stimulating to find it in a non-keyboardist. (I love how Tenor Sax players think.) But it could be another pianist, or any other instrument at all; just as long as it's something that inspires you to think differently.

 

Another way to keep things interesting is to compose a new tune. In this case, the ability to go back and erase common licks and cliches and strive for something that pushes your own personal envelope is often exhilarating. Once you've got a tune that you're excited about, then comes the challenge of either getting it performed by a bunch of musicians, or sequencing it yourself to the point that it's album quality. (Or a combination of the two.)

 

The third way to combat boredom is to play with players either equal to your ability on your best day, or a bit better. There's nothing like playing live with great players to keep you on your toes. Of course, you've got to find players with an equal commitment to self improvement; not just a bunch of glory seeking partiers.

 

If there's a good local pianist that you enjoy, consider approaching him for a lesson.

 

Just some ideas; hope this helps...

 

Happy Holidays all!

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