Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Anyone else get their fingers tripped up by their brain?


Recommended Posts

This is a weird problem, and I thought I'd bring it up here because I wonder whether anyone else has experienced this phenomenon. There are two things I do every day that require a continuous flow and coordination of hands and brain: playing guitar, and typing on the computer. I'm a fast typist (as you can probably guess by the volume of stuff I post here...LOL) and a reasonably fluid guitar player although I haven't consciously cultivated being a "speedster" type player cuz that's just not my bag. The thing is though, in the last couple of years I've noticed something bizarre going on that never had before. I seem to be able to get a good flow going on the guitar or the keyboard, but only for short bursts of time. That is, I can type fast for a phrase or maybe a sentence and then I have to stop or I make a typo. Same thing with guitar - if I'm trying to do a long fluid run, I can only do it for a couple of bars and then I have to slow down and get my bearings, so to speak. The limitation is not in my hands, and it doesn't come from lack of practice. In fact the same thing happens when practicing. It's bizarre. So I started trying to pay attention to what happens when I get tripped up. And what it seems to be is a sudden mental self consciousness that kicks in. It's almost like I suddenly start thinking about what I'm doing instead of just doing it, and I say to myself "I can't REALLY do this" and then of course, I can't. I didn't used to be this way, but in the past few years a few personal experiences have happened that sort of eroded the natural confidence that I have, and that probably has something to do with it, I don't know. I'm working on that part! But something freezes up between my brain and my hands that breaks up the flow, and it's pissing me off. Has anyone else gone through a period like this or had this problem? More importantly, has anyone had the problem and solved it? LOL... and if so, how? --Lee
Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 20
  • Created
  • Last Reply
I get so many typos, it looks like Dutch - I spend half my time correcting stuff. I never learned to type other than the Columbus method - "discover it and land on it". But I've seen you play guitar - I couldn't imagine it seeming more fluid or natural or tastefully done. Sounds like you may have too much on your mind that is buggin you up. ----------------------------------- "You know that feeling you get when you lean back in a chair and it feels like you are about to fall over? - I feel like that all the time." - Steven Wright

Steve Powell - Bull Moon Digital

www.bullmoondigital.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee - let me recommemd a book on this subject, called "The Inner Game Of Music" - a great book dealing with interaction between the mind & performance (performance can be of any kind, truly - this one was written with musical performance in mind). IMHO, this is a book that every performer should read at some time in their career. You probably have to order it - if you have trouble finding it, let me know & I'll lend you my copy. drop me an email at franknputer@mindspring.com and I'll give you my phone #.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the keyboard, my fingers tned to get dylsexic, often times if I try to hit teh keys too fsat. I hear you about the guitar thing. Not for you, 'cuase (there's the dylsexic thnig again) you're still young, but for me, I always thought it was becuase (dylsexic) I was getting old. Maybe not. Mayeb I'm just thinking too hard.
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not alone, Lee. I noticed this a few years back. As a drummer, I used to be able to not even think about some of the stuff I pulled off, it just happened. As I got older, my brain started demanding that I pay inordinate amounts of attention to stuff that used to just fly out of me. I have considered the possibility that it's actually my brain telling me that I'm stuck in a rut and that it's tired of having me play the same things or use the same language base; that the moments where you hiccup or pause are actualy your brain saying "Y'know, maybe we could take this in another direction...?" Could it be time to get some new influences?
I've upped my standards; now, up yours.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slightly OT: One of the greatest guitarists I ever knew played his best when he was unfocused on his playing. There was one legendary occasion when he was ripping off this unbelievable blues/rock solo in a club, while he was watching a baseball game on a TV over the bar. Then again, this guy was classically-trained and seemed to be able to go on "auto-pilot" at will. RP
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee, I can relate to what your talking about. Lately, when I'm going down a flight of stairs, bookin' along, the minute I think about the steps and the timing of my paces, I'll wipe-out everytime! :D I don't know what the heck has brought this on, I guess I attribute it to being the big 40. The only fix I have found is to try not to think about it, just do it. Maybe this is some weird thing that happens to us senior citizens. ;) I wouldn't worry too much Lee; your guitar chops sound darned good. Matt
In two days, it won't matter.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee, I am going to admit to some things that I think most...or, at least a lot of us on this board have been guilty of.... First, a little background: I played my first paying gig in 1966 at the age of 14. In the 70's, my band played on stage with a lot of Southern Rock bands (big names) at Summer Jams throughout the south, and opened for a couple of big name comeback tours in the early 80's. I basically quit playing guitar at 36 years old,(1988) for the reason you are posting this thread. I lost that edge, and being the team player that I am, I gave up lead guitar for bass (not that bass was easy. I never did become what I call a bass player. I just learned the licks from whatever songs we played). Why did I loose my edge? I think it was because I went straight... Alcohol sux for a lead guitarist...that was not my bag... Pot is what made me play in the zone, and I think it was because it let my mind go to that place where I didn't think about ANYTHING. Now, I know what you're thinking...Everybody thinks they play great when they're high, but I have tapes to prove it ;) I am not suggesting that anyone smoke pot to be a better player... But mebbe it's a zen thing... Mebbe meditation is in order.... I agree with the comment that you may be thinking too much...it is something that comes with age (I am 50 now, and think/worry about things that didn't phase me before). Duane Allman made a comment one time that holds true for all of us: "Man, I don't really think about playing anymore. It's like my fingers do their own thing" (paraphrased) I miss that place...but I had my time, and gladly stepped down for the next person to enjoy..... Oh, BTW,I didn't mean to imply that you are old, but none of us are getting any younger :cry: EJ
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Lee, & everyone else :wave: [quote]Originally posted by Lee Flier: [b]The thing is though, in the last couple of years I've noticed something bizarre going on that never had before……... ……….. So I started trying to pay attention to what happens when I get tripped up. And what it seems to be is a sudden mental self consciousness that kicks in. It's almost like I suddenly start thinking about what I'm doing instead of just doing it, and I say to myself "I can't REALLY do this" and then of course, I can't. I didn't used to be this way, but in the past few years a few personal experiences have happened that sort of eroded the natural confidence that I have, and that probably has something to do with it, I don't know. I'm working on that part! But something freezes up between my brain and my hands that breaks up the flow, and it's pissing me off. [/b][/quote]yeah Lee, I have this on occasions too, and with my own experience of it I’ve found it’s possible to create your own mental blocks about things, and the more I focus on the specific bit that trips me up the more of a problem it becomes! Confidence is a tricky thing, the worst block I have at the moment is on a solo intro to a tune in a band I only sub in, so they think I simply don’t work on the tune, but in reality I spend more time on this one song than any other, (and I only play with this group once every 6-8 weeks!). Whenever the group launches into this tune I now have a little moment of panic, I think I have convinced myself that I will never pull it off so of course I always feel like I’m seriously fumbling and struggling to keep up with the tempo (it’s only @110bpm!). I’m only guessing here, but with me at least, my experience of what you describe is also related to how high my expectations are of myself and the gig. When I simply rock up and sit in for a bit of fun at friend’s gigs, generally speaking I have a great time and play really well, even when I don’t know the music. It’s simply as I have not built up a benchmark of how well I "should" play, I relax and play better than when I have spent time working my butt off on the tunes. It’s only natural in this biz to have had a few personal knocks, and there have been two biggies that have had a big effect on my self confidence,. won’t bore you with the details but I’ve spent the last three month’s trying to deal with one of them and still struggling to get back to where things were once at with my songwriting. With playing bass, the way I’m trying to deal with it is to really focus on what the other people in the band are playing instead of consciously thinking about moving my fingers or what the next chord is. This sounds really obvious & this is always how I used to approach playing all music, listening really hard, but sometimes these days, like you describe, "a sudden mental consciousness kicks in" like a nagging little voice trying to get my attention. [quote]Originally posted by franknputer: [b] Lee - let me recommend a book on this subject, called "The Inner Game Of Music" - a great book dealing with interaction between the mind & performance (performance can be of any kind, truly - this one was written with musical performance in mind). IMHO, this is a book that every performer should read at some time in their career. [/b][/quote]Thanks for reminding me of this book franknputer! Many years ago I bought it and managed to read the first chapter or two before it was borrowed by a friend and never came back. If memory serves me correctly, it’s written by a bassist & golf-player that had performance issues with both. Is this the one? Can’t quite remember, but I think it was in this book that I read about "that nagging little voice", but unfortunately never got to find out how to deal with that ‘nagging little voice" grrrrr, definitely going to search out another copy…. [quote]Originally posted by = stevepow =: [b] I get so many typos, it looks like Dutch - I spend half my time correcting stuff. [/b][/quote] [quote]Originally posted by Tedster: [b] On the keyboard, my fingers tned to get dylsexic, often times if I try to hit teh keys too fsat. [/b][/quote]My typing used to be pretty speedy but these days I put my replies together in "word" so I can spell & grammar check, not only is my typing getting worse, my spelling is too so I don’t even know when I’ve miss-spelled a word :rolleyes: plus sometimes my whole post seems to just disappear just as I’m about to hit that add reply button as it I take so long to get my reply happening…. peace, natty [img]http://www.theunholytrinity.org/cracks_smileys/contrib/fk/butterfly.gif[/img]
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by rickpowell: [b]Slightly OT: One of the greatest guitarists I ever knew played his best when he was unfocused on his playing. There was one legendary occasion when he was ripping off this unbelievable blues/rock solo in a club, while he was watching a baseball game on a TV over the bar. Then again, this guy was classically-trained and seemed to be able to go on "auto-pilot" at will. RP[/b][/quote]That's funny, the last cover band I was in was back when the Bulls had Jordan, I spent a lot of time watching games over the bar while playing. It's almost like that part of your mind has little to do with doing music, sort of a zen state - I liked it a lot, because when it came time to solo it both gave my attitude a different bent and kept me from getting too bored with the stuff we were playing. It was pretty funny - most of the places we played the bartenders would laugh when I walked in, "hey man.. what channel is the game on?" The only time my fingers fail me is when I'm in a bad mood. Then I have to *think* about it, and it's not as good. I hate that. I'm always conscious the physical state my fingers are in, so I don't expect the wrong thing at the wrong time... My fingers are really tight right now from having basically a 9 to 3 am gig thursday (two back to back), after spending 12-7 at work playing guitar teaching Friday, then another gig on acoustic doing crazy fast stuff from 8-10, then I was on guitar from 10 am this morning until 7 pm... So the muscles in my fingers are tight, and I realize both A) they're not going to be as fast/limber right now as they will be around monday and B) if I try to *force* the issue I could easily damage them. A friend of mine that graduated from GIT asked me last week "hey, you don't have any problems with your hands?"... He said he was starting to have problems, and that a lot of his friends from GIT were basically almost debilitated and couldn't play. I think because I'm very *aware* of the state my muscles are in, and don't do stupid things with them I've never had any problems. On the other hand, I've got a serious sleep problem that's probably going to cause other health problems if I don't figure out how to rememedy THAT, so...

Guitar Lessons in Augusta Georgia: www.chipmcdonald.com

Eccentric blog: https://chipmcdonaldblog.blogspot.com/

 

/ "big ass windbag" - Bruce Swedien

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee, I get this all the time, on keyboards. It often happens to me when i am remembering a great solo from a previous gig that just seemed to happen, and consciously trying to recreate it. Never a good idea. The ancient Taoist Chuang Tzu talks about "transcendance of skill," basically when you get so good at something that you are just [i]doing[/i] it, not thinking about it. His example was a butcher who cuts up a side of meat so artfully and effortlessly that it is like watching a dance. I always imagined a continuation of the parable, wherein he has to explain what he is doing step-by-step (let's say for a cooking show) and winds up slicing off a finger. Unfortunately, I have nothing of value to say about trying to avoid it. TRYING to avoid it seems almost self-defeating, because it involves worrying about it happening, which is all but guaranteed to make it happen. Just know you're not alone.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny, at rehearsal today a guitarist and I were just talking about this. Today I butchered a solo that I had played flawlessly just the other night, and I commented that I was thinking about it instead of playing it. He said, "Yeah, thinking is never good, and playing is never bad." Then he'd got a thoughtful look, and said, "Hey, that's true for a lot of things isn't it?" Yes, it is. I recommend meditation to keep the "thinker" from thinking when it's not supposed to, and practice to keep the "player" ready to just play. Hmmm, that makes sense to me, not sure if it makes sense to anyone else.... --Dave

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The meditation thing is where it's at. I talked to a meditation counselor at one time. I was discussing that it was hard for me to reach a state of meditation, but when I play music it comes natural. She told me that meditation is not what the stereotype would have me believe. She said that each person has their own way of reaching the zone and that I had obviously found that music was MY way of reaching the zone. I would agree that you are thinking WAY too much about what you are playing. Stop thinking while you play. The same person I mentioned above said that the way she helps a lot of people meditate is the following. "Imagine that you are standing at a railroad crossing waiting for a train to pass. She said the the space between the train cars is where you want to focus. The train cars are all the thoughts that a person encounters every minute. The key is to focus on the space in between those thoughts. That is where you want to go. You know how if you stand and focus on the space bewteen those train cars, you can block out the cars and see a clear picture of what is on the other side of the train. She said this is where you want to go." I don't know if this is clear or not. I had to chew on this for a day or two before what she was telling me clicked. And the reason I was talking to her about this subject was because I had recently quit smoking grass and was having a hard time finding the zone without it. She stated that all I had done was removed a chemical impetus to meditation and that the same state was reachable without chemical assistance. She wasn't getting down on the smoke, but said that I had come to rely on it, when it really wasn't needed. What's funny is I found the zone without pot, but it was not as easy. And after further contemplation, I realized the MUSIC is what took me to the zone, not the pot. I would practice some meditation of some sort before you play. All the thoughts you are having when you play are just getting in the way. Let the music take over. I think when you are writing songs and recording, you have to think about what you are doing, but when you are playing the song, all those thoughts are just in the way. If you are thinking while you play, you are splitting energy between playing and thinking. I think you would be much better off to play now and think later. A side note: Lee, I'm inclined to think that you need a break from music. You seem to be so far into the analytical side, that you have gotten away from the magic side. Take a break for a week or two. Don't touch a guitar, don't write, don't do anything to do with playing. Listen to as much as you desire, but don't play. When you get back to it, you will have missed it and probably built up a nice reserve of vibe that will just be waiting to pour out. It sounds to me like you have drifted into music being work. You are obviously getting stressed out from music, so get away from it for a bit. Music is supposed to be release, not a stress factor. :thu:
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee, I second the recommendation of the book "THe inner game of music". It basically confirms what I've found to be true. Not thinking, just doing consistenely yields the most interesting/creative results. However, I see this working in the creation stage. If you are tryin to re-create ( a.k.a. play something accurately that has already been created) then Im not sure that it applies. Folks like dylan seem to use this approach in attempts not to be bored /in a rut. The result is audiences get frustrated at hearing their beloved songs sounding unfamiliar. To quote Jackson Browne in a song about coke, maybe you "either have to do more of it or less of it". Either play through the problem forcing the connections to be re-established by brute force - or lay off for a while so that your circuits get re-juvenated. Given my age it's way too scarry to think that this is part of an irreversible aging process. So I'll just ignore that possiblility.

Check out some tunes here:

http://www.garageband.com/artist/KenFava

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[quote]Originally posted by the stranger: [b]I was discussing that it was hard for me to reach a state of meditation, but when I play music it comes natural. I would agree that you are thinking WAY too much about what you are playing. Stop thinking while you play. [/b][/quote]When I play I'm sort of "blank", total abstraction. Everything else - I think wayyyyyyyyyyyyy way too much (like just now ("is that the appropriate number of y's to express what I wanted to express? should I have made this a seperate sentence? How much processing power is being used to animate those little graemlins to the left? (looking at bottle of water) I wonder how their osmotic purification filter works, or if it's just some sort of ultra small micron size filter, or.. (back at screen) this paragraph is too dense) ANYHOW - see, I now I'm thinking "is it possible to codify with any reasonable amount of accuracy what one's mind literally thinks of for just 1 second", because I've left out about 90% of what that instant was comprised of. SO maybe everyone's brain isn't meant to interface with externalized reality as much as an internalized one, and that's how you get autism variants. Or maybe not....

Guitar Lessons in Augusta Georgia: www.chipmcdonald.com

Eccentric blog: https://chipmcdonaldblog.blogspot.com/

 

/ "big ass windbag" - Bruce Swedien

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...so I'm doin' the "train thing" and I'm starting to see thru there on to the other side and it looks like a party or something - in a big field kinda like Woodstock, but there's a big pig thing floating - maybe its a Thanksgiving Day parade, but as I focus more I realize it is a Pink Floyd concert, so I'm thinking cool, I'm definitly heading over, and then WHOAAA - I almost walked into the damn train! Now I'm very tense :mad: .

Steve Powell - Bull Moon Digital

www.bullmoondigital.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lee, I think age might be the culprit here. It's losing a confidence mindset that's easy to obtain in youth. I don't seem to have the problem in guitaring, but I think it's because I sing on nearly every song we do and I've always been on autopilot playing so I can concentrate on the singing since it comes harder for me. If we go a good long bit between gigs, I will get to a solo and sometimes just draw a complete blank though. I mean to the point that I can't even fathom the first note. The good news is that since it's a mindset thing, you've just got to find that mindset again and that's really easy with some visualization of past good times. Where I'm noticing it is in driving. Driving is one of the only things that ever came naturally to me. I mean I've got out of some really horrorshow situations before because I seem to have a knack for understanding physics of motion I guess. Plus, when I was a teen I would go to parking lots in snow/ice and practice sliding every which way. When I was younger, I could look down at my cassettes and go through the whole mess looking for something and when I looked back up, I'd be right between the lines like I had radar or something. Now days, I can't take my eyes off the road for a half minute or I'm veering off the mark. Scary stuff. On the other hand, when I was a little kid, I learned about automatic responses like breathing. It somehow freaked me out so much that I went through a whole afternoon thinking about automatically breathing and I wouldn't breath unless I made myself. Got very scared. Thinking too much! Did the same thing with eye blinking another time. I guess all I'm saying is that you can't think if you want your right brain to take over and do things right. The left will mess with it if you let it by trying to analyse each step. ps Ted, I'm definately going dyslexic in my old age. Dyslexic's of the world -UNTIE!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mmmm, I got this one licked, long since. I eventually established that my conscious mind is simply not allowed to interfere in any way when I'm playing- It's like it's just disconnected, my will has no purchase at all when it comes to what I play. I let th instrument and the muses play me, and whatever geeked out thoughts I think are just like they were in some bystander with no control over the music. Obviously I have to give up deciding exactly what to play, but no loss, it's always better than if I got my will involved. Fortunately I write my parts and don't have to play difficult sheet music for anything but fun, and those work the same way once I have them under the fingers after much repetition, and eventually find their way into the repetoire. Really it's like I'm a knowledgeable and interested spectator, and I think that attitude is a bit contagious and gets others listening in a comfortable attentive way. Like you're staring at something or someone and everyone else has to look. I first knew I had this licked on a studio session where the whole band was recorded live at once but for vox. I played the rave-up over the top improvised solo just so inspired, and all the time I was thinking "Oh shit! What chord am I on?! What chord comes next? Where are we in the song!?! What song are we playing anyway? Is this the solo? Oh no, I'm already playing it and I have no clue what's going on! I know I'm going to blow it! Oh shit! I'M BLOWING IT!!!" But none of this had any effect at all on the music, and when you hear it you know the player is thinking some exalted thing with total conviction. Thus permanently convincing me that the conscious mind and will is NOT the player! Good luck, Lee! Let that gold top call the shots. Ted

A WOP BOP A LU BOP, A LOP BAM BOOM!

 

"There is nothing I regret so much as my good behavior. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?" -Henry David Thoreau

Link to comment
Share on other sites

lsd always did the trick for me, in a BIG way. and im really not joking around. i mean, i floored myself while playing on it. i would be there playing looking down at my hands and started thinking that they really had a mind of their own.... kinda just watching myself play.

alphajerk

FATcompilation

"if god is truly just, i tremble for the fate of my country" -thomas jefferson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...