Buco said a couple of things that hit me later, and that I think deserve their own topic. Here they are:
"Playing at home is different than playing during a band practice is different than playing a gig. You bring the same skills to each but yet things you can execute in one environment, fall flat in different [ones]."
"What I don't understand is then what happens during band practice when I'm equally relaxed (I think) as when playing at home but sometimes I flub the parts I seem to never flub at home."
I'm in the process of transitioning from learning and practicing on my own to performing with a trio. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to make a new friend who is schooled in jazz and classical guitar, become interested (again) in gypsy jazz. We practiced together for a couple of years as I continued to study and practice on my own. Next, I got hold of another friend who retired and was ready to pursue the music; he's our bassist. We played together for the first time a couple of months ago and did our first gig a few weeks ago. (See my post "My First Gypsy Jazz Gig.)
Here's what I've been observing. Like Buco noticed, even in a relaxed practice session with my band mates, I can still flub lines I can nail alone. Next, during the gig, I had some downright perplexing lack of fluidity and dexterity inhabit my fingers; I recovered, but it was something like juggling flaming toasters.
I've been thinking, since Buco made his observations, that one of the main things that is different is that, basically, I'm hearing different things in each venue.
Alone, playing to a backing track, I can control the whole experience from volume to speed. I can pull off some pretty amazing stuff playing alone in my study.
In practice, there's no audience pressure, but the variables are quite different. I was just thinking that last night, as we practiced. I'm observing and then asking my bassist to shape his sound profile a toward a little less high end, fewer passing notes, style differences and emphasis. It's part playing, but also part instruction because this is new to him. Then, I'm hearing my fellow guitarist slowing down the tempo. We stop, I mention this, we start again, but it's still slowing down. He's not as schooled in gypsy picking
or rhythm either, so I'm offering suggestions and demonstrations along the way. Later, though, other tunes sound pretty good and we evolve into some fluid playing. I feel myself relaxing and am better able to concentrate on my own playing.
During the performance, the venue was new to us; out position on stage is new. I'm heard too much bass in my ear and not enough from the other guitar. We made a few adjustments. Meanwhile, as I mentioned in the other post, I was battling illness coming on, sweating like Louis Armstrong. I flubbed whole passages, but kept things going. Managed to start and end things well, and the guys came through with good back up and attentive playing. Audience response was great--friends in the audience helped--and we finished the gig in pretty good form.
Among the solutions I'm investing in is a little amplification--an Ischell
pickup and a Schertler David acoustic amp. This is a nod to both future gig prep and an effort to hear myself a little better so I can play more relaxed. Scoredog mentioned he's settled on a couple of setups, depending on the venue, that help him stay the course while performing.
So, I guess what I'm looking for are some observations from you players who have transitioned from the quiet of solo practice and play, through the band prep stage, to the final performance routine. The emphasis I'm looking for is how you focus on keeping yourself on top of your game as the environment changes around you.