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All that pressure

 
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JakobWithTheExplorer



Joined: 01 Apr 2006
Posts: 74
Location: Gotland, Sweden

PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:44 pm    Post subject: All that pressure Reply with quote

Hi everyone!
I'm just wondering if anyone of you have had some kind of a "performance anxiety"? Not the kind of anxiety where you are afraid to play in front of people, but more like you have to learn all this and that, practice this, show of this at the next gig and so on.
I've had a hard time getting myself to pratice my intrument the past 1 years. Not that I got tired of playing or so, I still love playing and enjoy so many different aspects of music. But when I sit down, to practice, I find myself under great pressure. I think about all the different things I want to master, and even if I start with a great attitude (determinated to practice and understand something), soon I realize how much I still have to learn. And I mean MUCH. I see this huge mountain, and the next plateu is close to unreachable. I get very stressed, and in response, I'm like "man, I can never reach there anyway, why bother?".
I can't apriciate anything I hear myself play on the spot( but often get suprised when i hear recordings of myself afterwards).
So practicing the guitar has now become very, VERY stressful, and I just can't seem to figure out way or, more imprtant, how to change this.
It has come to the point when thinking about practicing, I think about all the things I could have accomplished in these 1 years, but haven't and I fell depressed. It's a hellhole.
I just want to love playing again, without all that pressure.

So, I need your help, wise jazzers. There must be someone out there who has had a similar experience.

Btw, this forum has pretty much kept my jazzspirit alive during this period.
Thx
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If practice makes perfect... well, I guess I haven't been practicing
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Alexo66



Joined: 08 Mar 2008
Posts: 97
Location: South Wales, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey man. I know what you mean- sometimes it just feels like so much we have to learn. The best suggestions I can make:

1) Keep listening- ALL THE TIME. Sometimes hard, sometimes just in the background, but ALL THE TIME. (When the guitar's not in your hand).

2) Start practicing things you really love and things you genuinely WANT to do, not stuff you think you need to.

3) Make a practice routine and follow it everyday- DISCIPLINE!

4) Within practice, routine or not, I find it's important to focus on one or two big things at a time. For example, work on vocabulary and transcribing for a month or two, or technique for a while. But keep it focused on one or two major things or you may end up diluting your learning.

5) Be goal focused. Don't think too much about how many hours you practice for, but more along the lines of what you actually LEARN, and how much you can actually apply in a playing situation.

And also keep listening and transcribing all the time! Jazz music is an Aural art form, we learn it by learning what those before us have done.
Learning other people's solos and lines is a good way to avoid becoming "stale", and it mysteriously seems to be the answers to most, if not all of my guitar playing problems.
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"The first thing I played was boogie woogie, then I had to do a lot of rock and roll. It's all the blues anyhow." - Grant Green
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jamester



Joined: 14 Jun 2008
Posts: 137
Location: Baltimore, MD

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can certainly relate. In fact, I'd say jazz more than any other style has this built-in to the art...i.e., are my chord voicings hip enough, am I doing the appropriate substitutions, am I nailing my altered dominants with the coolest of modal/symmetrical scale choices etc etc... All to be improvised in real-time, on the spot amongst your peers!

I think Alex said the most important thing with point number two: Practice what you WANT to play, not what you THINK you should be playing. It's taken ten years out of music school for me to come to grips with this, but I think it's hugely important. Not that you shouldn't be pushing yourself to take on new and different things, cuz that's a part of the game too. But keep the focus on your tastes, and you'll probably find a nice mix that works for you.

In fact, to expand on that...after music school I developed actual performance anxiety, and this is after years of being in bands and playing the Balto/DC metro area. All of a sudden I felt like the audience was judging my every note, and I developed a bit of stage fright. Not to a crippling degree, but to the extent that I wasn't really enjoying performing. When I started doing regular duo gigs with another guitarist, I noticed that he would often play the simplest things, and get the best response from them. That really taught me a lesson: Don't worry about what others might be thinking, cuz they're probably not thinking that at all. Play how you like, and they'll like how you play.
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jazzerchick



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 968
Location: SanAntonio , Tx

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also know how this feels. It seems to be like practice anxiety.
Picking up the guitar to practice and just playing stuff you already know
because there's too much to learn, and putting it back down.
That's when I like to play along with recordings of the greats. Doesn't have
to be just guitar players. It seems there will always be something to
catch your ear that you can bring into your playing. Even something
like some cool sub changes or a nice line. A little jolt.
Most times, that's enough to give me inspiration to move forward.
Try not to let this get you down, because pushing thru these low spots
is what will make you a better and stronger player. You will always
have low and high times no matter how great a musician you become.
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sunflower



Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 581

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I see this huge mountain, and the next plateu is close to unreachable. I get very stressed, and in response, I'm like "man, I can never reach there anyway, why bother?".


Yeah I know that feeling we all do ......
when that happens you've gotto forget all the
multiple goals scales theory BS
just take one tune you like and learn it and enjoy it to the max

What tunes you into ?
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JakobWithTheExplorer



Joined: 01 Apr 2006
Posts: 74
Location: Gotland, Sweden

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sunflower wrote:


Yeah I know that feeling we all do ......
when that happens you've gotto forget all the
multiple goals scales theory BS
just take one tune you like and learn it and enjoy it to the max

What tunes you into ?


Well, right now it's mostly standards that I've been working on, but can't really seem to find something interesting to say when playing them. Well, I think I have some nice expressions, but I'm always drawn to the thought that they're not good enough. To simple, to "inside", to predictable or whatever.
But on the other hand, since I realised that this practice anxiety was whats been keeping me down, I've tried to lean towards material that really moves me. Right now it is the african jazz style of players like Richard Bona, and the amazing Lionel Loueke: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXzgWTZ2NW0&feature=related .
My problem right now is that I'm in my last year in music high school. So, I have many different projects going on that doesn't really give me time to study only what I want to study.
I guess I just have to go though it, and hope that my motivation eventually will recover, when I stop taking on all these projects that is so much hard work and so little reward.
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Last edited by JakobWithTheExplorer on Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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M



Joined: 02 Jan 2009
Posts: 331
Location: Northern VA (USA)

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JakobWithTheExplorer wrote:
... My problem right now is that I'm in my last year in music high school ...


To be at your stage and just finishing high school is quite impressive to me. Personally, I think you're well on your way. Good luck to you.
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

M wrote:
JakobWithTheExplorer wrote:
... My problem right now is that I'm in my last year in music high school ...


To be at your stage and just finishing high school is quite impressive to me. Personally, I think you're well on your way. Good luck to you.


Yeah geez, I wish I had started doing this stuff in HS...
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"Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconciousness - I wouldn't know. But I am sure that it is the antithesis of self-consciousness." - Aaron Copland
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JakobWithTheExplorer



Joined: 01 Apr 2006
Posts: 74
Location: Gotland, Sweden

PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JakeJew wrote:
M wrote:
JakobWithTheExplorer wrote:
... My problem right now is that I'm in my last year in music high school ...


To be at your stage and just finishing high school is quite impressive to me. Personally, I think you're well on your way. Good luck to you.


Yeah geez, I wish I had started doing this stuff in HS...


Wink Yea, I guess that life is ahead of me. I'm gonna try to play more for my own pleasure/need of expression and less for WHAT I THINK people expect from me.

Thanks for the great advice, fellows.
It seems as though the path towards mastering this beautiful instrument lies as much (if not even more) in ones attitude, as it does in ones fingers and musicality.
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If practice makes perfect... well, I guess I haven't been practicing
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