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Tip #1 – Practice Isn’t Enough!
Musicians get hung up on talking about technique, what to practice, how many hours per day to practice, practice logs, and practice tips. But what we tend to lose sight of is the “WHY” we practice.
In the grand scheme of things, we’re practicing to be able to perform music with other musicians for people in an audience who like the particular style of music that is being played! Nothing more / nothing less. But yet, we tend to get more comfortable in a practice room and nearly freak out when it comes time to perform what we’ve been working so hard on – practicing. Kinda seems illogical when you stop and think about it.
So my first tip for you this week is to get out and find places / opportunities to play in front of people. Work on your craft and keep practicing, but put that practice into play!
Tip #2 – FEAR!
This is something that I never equated with music, playing, etc. But much like we start to create fear around performing because we don’t do much of it, we can also create tons of fear in our own minds around the more difficult things – such as range, reading tricky rhythms, improvisation, etc.
I’ve found for myself that there are several ways to deal with this fear so that we can over come it. The first is kinda obvious – practicing / performing. Throwing yourself into the situation every chance you get and work on it as much as possible.
But the not-so-obvious for me is the other work we have to do on the fear. Such as – What caused it in the first place? Maybe someone laughed at you while trying to do what ever it is you’re working on. Maybe you’ve been told that “only really talented people can do that.” What ever this fear stems from, you have to face it and defeat it.
I’ll give you 2 examples – a fear I’ve learned to over come, and a fear I’m still working on!
Range – I was SUPER afraid for a long time to miss upper range notes, lines, etc. At a young age I had been laughed at AND told that only certain people that were born with that skill (or could naturally do it) could play in the upper register. So the pain of being laughed at mixed with the messages of (only the talented) worked on my confidence and made me very afraid. It took a LONG time for me to work that one out.
Improvisation – I have this inherent fear of sounding bad, therefore when I improvise, I tend to freeze. The combination of not being shown a simple method early on, mixed with more of the same messages of “only the naturally gifted” worked on my confidence. I also spent many years playing in a group that was filled with extremely dark people – they were horribly unsupportive and therefore could be extremely cruel when things didn’t sound right. So what I was left with was the fear of missing chord changes, playing up tempo songs that caused me to feel more pressure, etc. This is what I still work on!
The only true way to over come your innate fears is to address the core of the fear. Understanding that we are much bigger than what we’re left feeling like, we need to slow things down, and take one bite at a time. Find a supportive teacher, group, and like-minded musicians that understand that our art form is a work in progress. I think you’ll find that with each little step, the fear will subside and your goals will become achievable.
“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”
Orison Swett Marden
Have a GREAT week!