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Where Are You At as a Player Today?


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I think about this stuff from time to time. Almost a year ago I lost my closest musical partner, guitarist Ken Basman, who I felt played at a higher level than I did, but at the same time lifted me to heights I hadn't thought possible. When he died, I moped around for a while thinking "There's the end of me growing as a player."

 

But lo and behold, I noticed that I was covering some new ground in both blues/funk and jazz. It was like his death liberated me.

 

I'm so influenced by my bandmates--right now, my bassist is a well-meaning, super nice guy who is still reading the charts I gave him in November. His solos are opportunities for me to zone out and try not to notice that I'm not hearing him miss the changes. We have a wonderful and creative drummer who sadly overplays when I get excited during my solos, which makes me back off and not try to play anything that he will find irresistable. As a result, I felt like my own playing was getting stagnant. Defensive playing, I guess I'd call it.

 

But two weeks ago I played with a couple of young monsters in Mexico City (bass and drums). I knew within the first minute that we were a good match. They are coming to my town next week and we're doing a 50 seat house concert, just because I'm so excited...and this is immediately after doing back to back concerts with my regular trio last weekend. I'm practicing again--I have to with these kids!

 

I know I'm a sloppy player and rather undisciplined, but I also feel like I have a little something to say as a player, not just as a composer which used to be my posture. I used to aim for not being an embarrassment. Now I hope to inspire younger players who can't see themselves sounding like a badass like Mehldau, but might be able to at least get to my level if they so desire.

Doug Robinson

www.dougrobinson.com

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WAIT, I forgot the thing that got me going on this--I've been listening to Chick Corea's birthday CD/blu ray set for the last two weeks. He amazes me though he's only one of my favorites and I actually prefer Brad, Keith and Bill most of the time. But listening to him song after song, setting after setting...it's been extremely inspiring. He brings it to every kind of music, takes a lot of risks. I want to be more like that.

Doug Robinson

www.dougrobinson.com

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Some days I feel not much further along then when I arrived in LA from St.Louis in Jan. of '79.

 

Other times I'm content and have a feeling of satisfaction for the level I've gotten to - but that feeling doesn't last very long. It helps to live in an area where the level of musicianship is extremely high or at an elite level. That has always given me that sense of urgency to keep practicing, stay up on my game and move forward - even though I feel any kind of progress is very incremental now. It would also help if I were doing more "real playing", like even as recent as 3 years ago, as opposed to just practicing and the scattered quality and inspirational things that pop up too infrequently.

 

Music is hard, no two ways about it.

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Like RABid, My classical chops aren't what they used to be. Plus, I now notice that if I don't keep up on daily finger exercises, scales n' arpeggios, and solo repertoire (some standard interpretations, and a few originals) I lose fluidity very quickly. That's likely a combination of age and some mild carpal tunnel issues.

But a decade or so back I realized that feel, groove, and the art of leaving space far outweigh the ability to shred on keys. I'm a far better pocket player than I was 20 years ago. But for the grace of a couple of kind and wise mentors, I'd have been kicked off a couple of dates I was fortunate enough to land at the time.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Odessa, TX today, but I'll be flying back to St. Louis tomorrow. Next week I'll be in Ottumwa, IA.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

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Odessa, TX today, but I'll be flying back to St. Louis tomorrow. Next week I'll be in Ottumwa, IA.

 

Dan, you can be Johnny Cash. :laugh:

I have heard of St. Louis...

Anyway, I suck compared to everyone on this thread so far, but I can live with that, it's the cards I have been dealt.

:nopity:
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Next week I'll be in Ottumwa, IA.
Is your gig accompanying this guy?

 

439eed6f2b4fb673727f0212efb9d1ca.jpg

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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It's been weird for me lately. I kind of feel like I've made some progress, and I'm getting into better habits as far as practicing. OTOH, While I've made progress on stuff, I'm still not where I'd play these things out, and the progress has felt like a crawl. Still, I keep plugging at it.

 

Meanwhile, I've just about given up trying to find people to play with. I guess the problem is with me. I believe that if you keep having the same troubles with different people, the problem is you, not them. Well, that means it's me. Maybe I need to step back and reset, so I'll step back and see if that resets anything. Meanwhile, I'm going to keep working on my playing. :thu:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Within my current constraints, about as good as can be expected.

 

Given that I still work for a living, there's only a small number of hours per week that can be devoted to things musical at this point.

 

The question is -- how do I want to spend my time?

 

Since I enjoy playing with bands, that's where I invest. Perfecting the material at home, no matter how lame I might think the songs might be. Showing up to rehearsals prepped and ready to rip, and thus able to spend time with the other musos who might need some attention.

 

Going to gigs with full confidence that every night has the potential to be a smokin' experience -- for me, at least :)

 

Am I getting *technically* better? Not so much. The stuff I play wouldn't be all that challenging to many of the folks on the forum here. Besides, I bet many of them could do a better job than I could.

 

That being said, I do dig out recordings from a year or so ago, and there's been subtle but noticeable improvement. Solos sound a lot better. The comping has gotten more interesting. I'm bringing a broader and more nuanced palette of sounds to the table. Dynamics are better under control.

 

A few people have commented how they really like my "sound": between all the investments in boards, amplification and rehearsing, they say that they can always tell when it's me playing, and it doesn't sound like anyone else they've heard.

 

I guess that's worth something. Or a subtle backhanded diss.

 

I'd love to be in a situation where I'm playing with people seriously better than myself - always good for improvement - but that situation hasn't presented itself in a long time.

 

So you make do with what you have. And right now, it's keeping me pretty happy.

Want to make your band better?  Check out "A Guide To Starting (Or Improving!) Your Own Local Band"

 

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Since taking on a teacher in October, a lot further than I would have been otherwise.

 

Because of her, I've developed a new relationship with the piano. I have very, very far to go as far as technique and processing, but my eyes have been opened. My band mates always tell me about the improvement they hear in my playing.

 

But I'm with Tim. I'm about halfway there.

.

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Where am I at? I'm much better at playing and playing whats needed in my the church band. I feel I'm almost back to where I was in the early 80's for my chops. While I could sing in the 80's, those high notes are now long gone.

Although after listening to old practice tapes, maybe I'll never get it back to where it was.

In fact after reading what I just wrote, I guess I have no idea where I'm at. ~BOB

I'm practicing so that people can maybe go "wow" at an imaginary gig I'll never play. -Nadroj
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I used to run into a genre I don't play well and think, "OK, gotta learn that one now."

 

Now I run into one I don't do well and think, "Guess I'm going to my grave without ever learning this..."

Now out! "Mind the Gap," a 24-song album of new material.
www.joshweinstein.com

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Finally at around 5 years into my mid life (I must be in a rock band) crisis, I feel comfortable relaxed and somewhat in control. I had 8 years of classical training when young and only briefly dabbled as an adult, so there has been a lot to learn, starting at age 50. Fortunately strides, while seeming painfully slow at times, when compared year over year have been good.

 

In the last year, I have been able to play and sing a song solo and make it seem fluid, which allows there to be some emotion and passion behind the singing, because I am not overwhelmed with thoughts. The next step, is to really grind some more variety into my playing style so that my playing is not so one dimensional.

 

To the talented keyboardist, I would consider my chops only just acceptable. A layman might thing I could play well. And I won't let them know otherwise. :)

 

I am excited with the next 5 years. I see the potential to become a truly decent keyboardist, if I keep up the work. But it is likely I will feel this way at every stage. And that is the beauty of musical improvement, there will always be more. At this point, I feel like I only now have the basics, but with a well established foundation there is a wealth of future improvement looming on the horizon, very exciting.

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After 16 years I'm just about chilled when I play.
Yamaha CP70B;Roland XP30/AXSynth/Fantom/FA76/XR;Hammond XK3C SK2; Korg Kronos 73;ProSoloist Rack+; ARP ProSoloist; Mellotron M4000D; GEM Promega2; Hohner Pianet N, Roland V-Grand,Voyager XL, RMI
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So gifted

but no perfect pitch

gigging since teenager

riddled with regret I could have been a contender :blah:

 

I play mostly with a degree of confidence, because I know my limitations, which are considerable. But because I operate within ( mostly he he ) those limitations I am ok

 

Another feature, I play blues now, every week.. and I mean simple blues. And it is the most liberating thing I can recommend.

I play blues with as little consciousness of chords as possible.

another way of saying I play ( or attempt to play that is ) what I hear. Which could be reduced to a single line aka melodically.

 

Next feature

I do not care for the way many younger players play ( yes of course there are exceptions and I really enjoy those )

they over emphasize precisely what I avoid

they emphasize harmonic thinking and

speed

they sacrifice ( because let's face it very very few are so gifted to have it ALL together- every single element of playing )

groove, steadiness of tempo, the melodic, which I insist is the golden ring of music.

The second golden ring is groove or rhythmic element

And they do not play sufficiently rhythmically for my taste

now hold on a minute.. I am making a point.

BECAUSE I do not enjoy how I am comped behind... long ago I switched my style, as a default, as no choice really... to the MELODIC!

The rhythms I love were out of the question

That left me with the melody.. so I restate melody. and as years have passed, playing the melody has developed into an enjoyable thing, I never would have guessed, when I first defaulted to melodic playing... aka defensive playing.

In a way I defaulted to Louie Armstrong era, where groove, blues feeling and melodicness were the golden rings.

 

fast forward beyond the incomparable Armstrong and in my mind the place for players to develop groove and blues and rhythmic sharp phrasing is in the Organ trios of the 50's 60's.

But again, players in my neighborhood do not play with organ trio sensibility so that leaves the naked melody

 

to reiterate... I am loving melody playing more and more.

 

But when I am with rhythmic guys who play my language... my rhymicness can come forth.. but in the meantime.. I will be happy with melodic playing.. and unbridled soulful blues solos.

 

When young I wanted to be like Coltrane... and that is why such regret ... but I have survived in a rough business.,, so far :)

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Well I went back to lessons which is good, left hand 3rd and 4th finger need work. Music is a bitch and it's hard. This is a tough instrument, probably the hardest to be good at I think. Not everyone can do it that is why we are kind of a rare breed. I am comfortable in a few styles so that's good but there is always something to work on, always something to do.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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I am where I'd like to be as a piano player - at this time. It's a journey, not a destination (to borrow an old cliche). I retired almost 2 years ago and now I have the rare luxury of TIME. Free time. The piano is now my sand box and I get to spend hours most days playing in it and with it. I play through various jazz standards, write 4 part harmony exercises (avoiding parallel 5ths and octaves), compose/sketch ideas. I also read thru some Bach pieces - currently certain pieces from his French Suites. It's unstructured and I do what feels right at the moment.

 

All my adult life, I struggled to eek out time after my work day to get an hour or so on piano, trying to keep up my skills. I tried to pack all my "life support chores" (laundry, grocery shopping and food preparation, lawn mowing etc.) into the weekends in an effort to have a free hour or so for playing on weeknights.I gigged here and there, but not steadily. My main plan for the rest of my life is to grow musically and artistically - however that might play out. I'll just keep putting in time.

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I guess I'd consider myself a B player. I know an A player when I hear one and know that I've got a ways to go. Fortunately, I get to play with A players somewhat often. They inspire me to up my game and are almost always complimentary and supportive. Progress in recent times has been very good as I've become more disciplined and dedicated with my practice routine.
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Technically I am far behind where I was as a 12th grader practicing Bach 3-Parts in preparation for tryouts as a music major in piano. Mentally I am far ahead of where I was when I thought every solo was based on 16th notes.

Much the same for me. I've a greater understanding of theory and concepts, but my technical abilities are not what they once were when I was in the midst of my classical piano training.

I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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I am improving, thankfully, playing with bands I am better at comping under guitar solos, which I love to do (but there is a limit!).

 

Under vocals with organ I am focused more on playing simple melodies, or following the progression using single notes or thirds, and using Leslie speed. Danny Louis style is a major influence for this type of playing. I try to be expressive. It makes me a one-handed organ player, though, left hand is almost always on my speed switch.

 

My organ solos have improved I think, Chester Thompson is an inspiration for that. I try to build and listen, and I have become more aggressive I think (sometimes I blow off the build and just go for it!) As a piano player I am terrible, I just dont have time to practice on my acoustic. Any time I have is spent working on band stuff and even that suffers from the pressures of life.

Great thread topic! :thu: Introspective. :cool::)

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I started taking vocal lessons last year, and devote time to exercises for vocals that could be devoted to my keyboard playing. I also play in a band and as a result my ability to play solo piano has diminished (stopped working on songs that were complex and would need to work to bring them back). In my mid fifties, I want to do the band thing for a few more years, then return to solo piano (perhaps with some vocals). I have a unrelated day job, so it is tough to cover all the territory and be a decent husband and family man.

Korg CX-3 (vintage), Casio Privia PX-5S, Lester K, Behringer Powerplay P2, Shure 215s

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