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Author Topic: Crisis of confidence  (Read 2106 times)

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Julian S

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Crisis of confidence
« on: April 09, 2018, 08:15:53 AM »

I'm sure I'm not alone in this - every so often I think that no matter how much effort I put in to trying to improve my playing, I'm really not getting anywhere. Last night playing in a pub - more of a sing/tune around with some excellent musicians, everything I played didn't really come out well. Maybe it was my choice of tunes - but even sets I'd previously been happy with performing didn't feel ok. Wrong speed, lack of rhythm, fluffed notes...you name it I did it. Bad day at the office, or maybe I need to go back to basics - certainly being without my favourite instrument didn't help. Or should I take a rest from playing for a while ? (difficult given morris dance and band commitments - not forgetting forthcoming weekend events )
Help please... :-[

J
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2018, 08:47:19 AM »

Was there beer involved? I'm not being facetious, here. Even very small amounts of alcohol (a couple of sips) affect my playing, so I don't drink when playing out until dancing is finished and it doesn't matter any more. My friends are well aware of this and think it's funny to get me beers in early on.

I came across a theory years (on The Session) that said you played best in the same state as you practice in. So, if you want to play pissed you have to practice pissed, or, even, very slightly under the effects. It was a proper scientific type theory with papers published and psychology and all sorts, but I can't remember the details, or what it was called.
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BJG

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2018, 08:48:33 AM »

I think this is a familiar experience with every instrument; certainly happens quite regularly to me. One tip I read recently is just to go back to playing something simple that you know you can do well, which sounded sensible. Trust that effortless expertise will come...one day...
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Howard Jones

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2018, 09:22:25 AM »

Informal sessions can be difficult to get psyched up for.  They're very different from formal performances, where the very processes of setting up and soundchecking, or just being in front of an expectant audience, help to get you mentally prepared to perform.  When you're simply sitting down in a pub after a long day (or perhaps a long week), and perhaps without having given a lot of prior thought about what you might play, it can be very difficult to summon the mental energy to play well.
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squeezy

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2018, 09:36:02 AM »

This is just a completely normal part of playing the melodeon (and I imagine any instrument as well) ... you'll have good days when you surprise yourself, and bad days when your fingers feel like lumps of lead ... trust me, it's more embarrassing when that happens in a concert full of people who have paid for tickets than it is in a session!

As for feeling like you're stuck in a rut and not improving ... the plateau effect is well known in learning instruments too.  We go through times when our learning curve is quite steep and then plateau out (which can often feel like getting worse) ... although that is also a natural occurance, you can still make use of it by learning extra repertoire rather than trying to force improved technique.  Going back in to the next learning curve is often triggered by finding something completely different to concentrate on, so it's possible to kick-start it by deliberately trying to play music which is from a different tradition or genre which will require different skills.  Alternatively, as you say, there is no harm in giving yourself a break from practice for a while, that can also help to give you a new perspective and enthusiasm when you come back to it.  Just don't leave it too long ;-)
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Squeezy

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2018, 10:19:50 AM »

Totally agree with Squeezy here, several good points made.

I find too that if I'm really tired then nothing seems to work whether practicing or playing in a session.
Went to a session a couple of weeks back and one of a few tunes that are automatic wasn't! Luckily the positive for me was I kept going and second time through was ok.
It was a reunion 'once a year' session, people i mostly didn't know, end of term tiredness, Friday night after a mad week..... wind in the wrong direction etc etc!
Never mind. It happens, just keep on squeezing. You know it makes sense  ;)
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

kenakordeon

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2018, 01:13:02 PM »

It happens. For me, its been a lack of confidence that creates those types of situations. But, I always try to remember that I play the melodeon (or any instrument) because I love the music and the ability to create those sounds whether or not the particular sounds I'm looking for are "correct." I know that even on my bad days, and there are many, there are folks out there thinking, "Darn! I wish I could play a musical instrument." I consider myself lucky to have the ability to even play as well, or as badly, as I do.

ken
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GPS

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 04:18:05 PM »

Was there beer involved? I'm not being facetious, here. Even very small amounts of alcohol (a couple of sips) affect my playing, so I don't drink when playing out until dancing is finished and it doesn't matter any more. My friends are well aware of this and think it's funny to get me beers in early on.

I came across a theory years (on The Session) that said you played best in the same state as you practice in. So, if you want to play pissed you have to practice pissed, or, even, very slightly under the effects. It was a proper scientific type theory with papers published and psychology and all sorts, but I can't remember the details, or what it was called.

Good point; on a gig I make a point of having no alcohol during the day, during the setup or during the gig; I might have a quick beer AFTER all the gear is stowed and ready to roll, but more often I'll get on the road and have my first beer when I'm safely home with my shoes off and a cat on my lap. 

My monthly session is a little different; it's not a folk session, but an anything-goes acoustic music session following a Sunday lunch (big thing here in Cyprus!), and as the performers all know each other well and we also know at least 90 percent of the audience nobody worries about a few fluffs. That is, I'm sure, rather different from many UK sessions, but that's the way it works here. If you're  ever (ALL Melnetters, of course) in the Limassol area on the 3rd Sunday of the month (except July & August, when it's really too hot), you'll be more than welcome.

Graham
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Steve Coombes

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2018, 04:45:50 PM »


Went to a session a couple of weeks back and one of a few tunes that are automatic wasn't! Luckily the positive for me was I kept going and second time through was ok.



The Loose Knit reunion? I was there and I'm sure there wasn't a wrong note all night from anyone apart from me :(
In common with a lot of other activities we all have good and bad days and sometimes for no apparent reason.
The plateau that Squeezy mentioned may not be entirely flat just because your not seeing an improvement it doesn't mean to say it's not there. 


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Tommy D/G

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2018, 05:24:06 PM »

sessions are possibly the worst places to play, although at times they can be the best.  I think a lot depends on whether people listen to one another as they play - and here I'm talking about kind of sessions where everybody joins in to play the tune that someone starts - ideally, joining in on the condition that they know the tune, in practice, playing  their instruments whether they know the tune or not.

One or two boors can ruin a tune, without it being blindingly obvious that they're doing so.  It doesn't take much to wreck someone else's tune,and perhaps that's what's been happening to you.

The other problem is that as your own understanding of playing advances, there's no guarantee that others at the session will have made the same progress, so they don't know what to listen for, and inadvertently trample the delicate nuances you've been practicing for weeks (just like you've probably been unknowingly doing to others for the last year or two).  It's not their fault so you can't really complain.

I find sessions increasingly frustrating but keep on going, for the craic, and for the fleeting moments when tunes come together properly.  I cope with the misery of being sped up, played over or otherwise screwed, by drinking Peroni.  When I've had a couple of those, the folly of attempting to play becomes clear, and I sit and gossip in the corner.

Good luck, and don't let your session experiences spoil your enjoyment of the music.

 
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2018, 05:56:12 PM »

Yes, Loose Knit band reunion.
I could only get over for the Friday night as family occasions took me elsewhere, but it was just so enjoyable. Just wish I was more up to it that night!

Confidence - that also gets me. If I'm feeling on form then the tunes go well at my local session, if not on form for whatever reason the confidence goes, as does my playing.
I'm amazed at how fragile we ( or I ! ) can be to get knocked off the 'on form' feeling.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

pbsalt

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2018, 06:03:58 PM »

Squeezy has covered the learning cycle and boxer has made good points about sessions. I know if I'm  an out of sorts mood and go to a less than ideal session I'm not really on top form. In that case my solution is  at the next spare moment to listen to recordings of some of the many melodeon players who have inspired me and that usually has a positive effect.
Paul 
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2018, 06:29:28 PM »

A good idea Paul, will do that next time I'm off form.
Ta
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

tiny

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2018, 07:07:18 PM »

I hardly ever play in sessions these days. I did love them years ago but have found them frustrating in so many ways these past few years.

I will say though, last Thursday I went to a slow session and took my fiddle (new toy) and had the best time for such a long time. It was well run and controlled had a play list and was packed with people. I think it was good because expectations were low.

When we play in sessions on main instruments we feel the need to play new tunes, and play them well. Professional players play the same tune for their tour and its in their fingers and bones...well thats what I think...  Its very hard to keep up a good standard with a constant turnover. :)
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Lester

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2018, 07:21:17 PM »

I think it was good because expectations were low.

I like to think that, at the slow session I run, expectations are high but so is support and forgiveness of failure.

Julian S

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2018, 07:24:11 PM »

Thanks for the comments and advice all. Having paused for reflection, I think part of the problem was that the session was quite new to me, and I should probably have treated it more as akin to a performance than the others I go to, and thought through what I should play - particularly starting with a relatively easy set - and focus on keeping speed down.Nerves aren't normally a problem for me but this time perhaps so. Fundamentally, I'm also trying to play more difficult tunes which might be fine at home, but aren't quite ready for public performance - I need to rethink what I practice.
And yes, I did have a beer - and maybe it affects me more with advancing years ! (Memo to self - at forthcoming real ale festival gig - fee in form of beer - definitely save the drink until afterwards... :|glug...and take public transport !)

J

PS a session in Limassol sounds just what I need...


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GPS

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2018, 07:43:15 PM »


PS a session in Limassol sounds just what I need...

If you're ever over this way PM me and I'll give you a contact phone number.  We're always  up for an imromptu session somewhere even if it's not the regular monthly Sunday afternoon. Just keep an open mind re material....... :D :|glug

Graham
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george garside

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2018, 08:21:05 PM »

We've all been there  and will all be there again!

george ;)
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tiny

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2018, 09:03:51 PM »

Quote
I think it was good because expectations were low.

I like to think that, at the slow session I run, expectations are high but so is support and forgiveness of failure.

Yes very nicely put. Thank you. I was just looking at my own performance .
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mselic

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Re: Crisis of confidence
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2018, 12:29:16 AM »

I can certainly relate to this thread, and the OP's comments.  I've had days where things just don't seem to come together, and I'm all thumbs and it's fluffed notes and the whole things feels like it's gone to pot.  It used to really shake my confidence, but my love of doing it trumped any fear or hesitation I had in continuing.  A while back I had once such day at a paying gig where I made a couple of mistakes, and then it just snowballed from there and by the end of the gig I was actually afraid of picking up the box!  At that point it was mostly psychological, but I had to go back the next day and do it all over again, and put aside any fears I had of a repeat of the day's mishaps.  Choosing tunes that were well rehearsed helped a lot, rather than throwing in tunes that I'd played at one time but was potentially rusty on.

Losing one's confidence while playing in front of others is a common stumbling block for many people, and I was no exception.  It's basically the same as public speaking, which is the #1 fear for many people.  A had a wonderful piece of advice given to me by a friend, which may sound harsh, but is actually rooted in kindess.  He said: "get over yourself - you're not that important!"  It was meant rather tongue-in-cheek, but the message was actually quite profound, which was essentially that most people aren't *that* fixated on you, so quit worrying.  You may go home at the end of the night obsessing over those fluffed notes, but many people either won't have noticed or aren't thinking about it anymore even if they did.  Having confidence is something that is cultivated over time, changing your mental process around it, but a large part of it is also practicing your craft.  Practicing tunes on the box until you can play them without worry on your own will certainly better prepare you for those situations where you're in front of a listening or playing audience and your hands suddenly feel like lumps of clay.  It does get better.  Keep at it! :)
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