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  • fretwear 9:39PM

Practicing alone vs. Band practice vs. Performance

ChiefbigeasyChiefbigeasy New Orleans, LA✭✭✭ Alves de Puga DR670; Dupont MDC 50; The Loar LH600
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.
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  • crookedpinkycrookedpinky Glasgow✭✭✭✭ Alex Bishop D Hole, Manouche Moreno, Anastasio,
    For me I'm in the same boat where I can confidently play things at home but then when it comes to playing live my hands stiffen up and I feel as though I'm wearing mitts. I invested in a Fishman Mini Loudbox but find that that brings another level of issues - like am I too loud and I'm never happy with the sound when I play as part of the band set up I play in. And then of course there's a concern about what I'm actually playing. I ask myself stupid questions like "is it gypsy jazz enough" or "is it even close to a "proper" gypst jazz feel". But then given that the usual audience don't know what gypsy jazz is they seem to appreciate whatever I do as part of the band.
    always learning
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Very close to the bone there, Chief.

    I think we've all been there... especially the part about band practice! what's with that, anyway?

    **************

    OTOH, once you get that excellent Ischell and Shertler combination working for you, I think you're going to find life a whole lot easier.

    Tip one--- try to record your gigs so you can listen back and see what the sound system did to add or take away from your music. That way you can keep tweaking it, and there's almost almost room for improvement... usually by the liberal use of a credit card... but what the hell are we old guys saving our money for anyway?

    Tip two--- add just a slight bit of reverb to your amplified sound... not quite enough for the audience to be consciously aware of it, but enough to fatten that lovely acoustic guitar sound and give it a bit of shimmer.

    Good luck!

    Will

    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • I forgot how it came to that topic but Kurt Rosenwinkle said this in a workshop, that he would guesstimate on his best night he's about 70% as good during live show compared to practice room, most often 50% he said.
    He was like "so I guess whatever your goal is to play like, you have to be twice as good during practice", haha.

    billyshakes
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Oh, shit, then we're in big trouble, Buco!
    BucoBones
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • I remembered back when I read Choke I wrote down some of the tips and tricks to cure or minimize the effect. Some are copied verbatim from the book, some I paraphrased. it's lengthy but here goes:

    Reaffirm your self worth: before important performance, think or even write about your interests and activities.

    Map out your complexities: draw a map of things that make you multifaceted individual. It'll help you show this one performance doesn't define you as a whole and in turn it will take some of the pressure off.

    Write down your worries: writing about your worries and concerned before performance will take the edge off those same worries.

    Meditate away your worries: with meditation you can spontaneously recognize and discard your worries thus free up your RAM memory or cognitive power for the task at hand.

    Think differently: think about your self in light of things that would make you likely to succeed. Think of your past achievements. Focus on your credentials.

    Re-interpret your reactions: instead of recognizing your bodily reactions like sweaty palms and racing heart as fear of failing think of it as excitement and that you're about to reach success. That way your physical reactions may turn potentially decreased performance into booster.

    Pause your choke: walking away for a few minutes form a problem and let the brain relax may lead to "aha" moment and finding a solution.

    Educate the worries: verbalizing the stereotypes and labeling them as stereotypes, nothing more can negate the effects that stereotypes can sometimes introduce. Think of people who defied stereotypes and reaffirm that stereotype that labels you can't be true. During studies, girls who prior to the test received the talk about the popular perception how girls aren't as good at math as the boys, routinely performed worse then those who didn't.

    Practice under pressure: putting yourself in a similar situation as the one you're about to face beforehand will help you relieve stress in the actual situation.

    Organize what you know: group your knowledge into some kind of meaningful group instead trying to remember individual pieces of information. Remember a chess players example when they had to reconstruct the board they had just seen. They were thinking of patterns they had just seen not the individual pieces. When you need to remember few pieces of information sometimes you can use mnemonics to help organize it. Associate something you're trying to remember to something ridiculous.

    Put pressure in practice by "punishment" if didn't perform well: example of basketball coach who brought his team from ranking 217 in free throws to 1st place by ordering his players to shoot a free throw when they least expect it and sending them for a sprint around a court if they don't make it.

    Distract yourself, focus on something other then your performance: a ball kicker might focus on the person sitting behind the net at the precise spot he wants to hit instead on how is he going to hit the ball, opera singer might focus on the melody instead on how is she going to hit the high note. Jack Nicklaus used to focus on his little toe during putting. This can prevent prefrontal cortex from regulating too closely movements that should run outside awareness.

    During performance or practice give your self verbal cues, words that describe "strategy" rather then "technique": when soccer players were asked to dribble the ball around the cones those who thought "keep knees loose" performed worse then those who thought "keep the ball close to cones".
    Skiers are asked to focus at least 2 gates ahead in order to prevent them focus too much on what they're doing right now.
    steffohumphrymusicalton
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Wow. There's a lot of food for thought there. Thanks.
    I live in a little tourist town called Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, Canada, which is about twenty miles north of Niagara Falls.

    If you are ever planning on visiting the beautiful Niagara area, feel free to PM me and perhaps we can get together and do some jamming.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    Oh, shit, then we're in big trouble, Buco!

    Ha, yeah I'm maybe 75% of what I'd like to be able to do and that's on a good day. Take 50% of that away.....

    I think the sports analogy is a good one Buco. At least it is the same kind of thing for me. Don't 'over think' it. It has to be more reflexive because otherwise the moment is gone before you can think about it. In fact, that's what I like about sports and music. It's a good way to turn off the internal dialog.

    BTW, since I spend a lot of time at home practicing by myself I enjoy playing along with recordings that I like FWIW. Not sure if that is good productive practice or not but makes it more fun. :-)
  • Chris MartinChris Martin Shellharbour NSW Australia✭✭ Petrarca, Di Mauro x 3, Sonora, Favino (classical), Bucolo, Hoyer, Martino resonator and a few electrics.
    Buco wrote: »
    I forgot how it came to that topic but Kurt Rosenwinkle said this in a workshop, that he would guesstimate on his best night he's about 70% as good during live show compared to practice room, most often 50% he said.
    He was like "so I guess whatever your goal is to play like, you have to be twice as good during practice", haha.
    Or to put that another way, right there is exactly why I am not ready to play GJ in public yet. I need to get to be not only competent at what I am trying to do, but way better than that so I have the chops to get away with any mistakes and still land on my feet!

  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Elan 14 - Altamira M10
    Or to put that another way, right there is exactly why I am not ready to play GJ in public yet. I need to get to be not only competent at what I am trying to do, but way better than that so I have the chops to get away with any mistakes and still land on my feet!

    There is another school of thought to this. If you are always in your comfort zone, you will never advance (or at least you will do so slowly). You should be outside your comfort zone. It is how you gain experience.

    So often people expect perfection before they try to attempt anything new. Failing is part of learning. If you did play in public, you might fail and maybe even cringe-worthy fail. But, you will have that experience. You will remember how it felt and you will ponder it. You will probably even think of the things you should have done instead of whatever it was that you did. Then, you try it again and this time you are armed with a strategy in case the same thing happens. That either works or it doesn't but either way, it provides another data point on the path.

    @"Chris Martin" This isn't all directed to you but just in general. However, I would recommend you get to a point where you go out in public for something low stress. Maybe a coffee shop gig. Maybe just practice somewhere public. Maybe busking. Somewhere different from your bedroom/basement/garage where you will gather an audience. Shake things up and maybe you'll see you're closer to the competency you seek!
  • edited March 11
    I hear both of you. But there's definitely a balance, between going out to perform in public when it's too early and staying in the practice room for way too long. In my rock days, I was in sort of really high working ethic bands and we always made sure that our set was consistently solid in practice for at least a couple of months given that we usually practiced at least once but aimed for twice a week. I was surprised when I came to this genre that people are more of a loosey goosey attitude, like "yeah it's good enough for a coffee shop or an open mic gig". Luckily the band I'm in with Bill is a pretty hard working one.
    billyshakes
    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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