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Thread: What on earth are you doing?

  1. #1
    I really look like that soliver's Avatar
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    Question What on earth are you doing?

    I watched a video of myself playing once and said to myself, “What in the world am I doing with my face?!?!” Half open mouth moving my mouth around and staring off into no where... I was able to correct that weirdness, I think.

    Recently at jams, I notice that when I stand while playing, I have this weird tendency to pick up one foot and stick it out in front of me and step out of time, ...imagine a spastic chicken walking in slow motion.

    What is with that?

    What kind of weird stuff have you noticed that you do while you’re playing?
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    It's funny you should mention out of time foot tapping while playing. I noticed I was doing the same thing myself just yesterday and attempted to correct it. I found out it's going to be a process.

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    Mandolin user MontanaMatt's Avatar
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I try to smile and move with the music, which takes effort and practice.
    I talked with a traveling musician about his stage craft and he told me that he spent lots of mirror time developing his stage persona. After he told me, I watched critically and found it cheesy. If I hadn’t known it was an act, it was believable, but knowing it was fake ruined it for me. It was cyclical and I saw the repeat sign go off in his head
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  6. #4
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by soliver View Post
    ...Half open mouth moving my mouth around and staring off into no where...

    ...when I stand while playing, I have this weird tendency to pick up one foot and stick it out in front of me and step out of time, ...imagine a spastic chicken walking in slow motion.
    Combine all of that with a weird attire and you'll have full stage cred. It worked for Ian Anderson.

    I tend to gaze with a stern and determined expression at my fretboard, lips withdrawn between my teeth. If that is me, so be it. I am not trying to act.
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    Registered User GeoMandoAlex's Avatar
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I will make small 30-60 second videos to send to my family (and some friends). They all ask me if I enjoy playing the mandolin because I look so angry.
    I can only play half as much as I want, because I only play half as much as I would like.

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  10. #6

    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    In my early days of playing, I did a lot of local TV shows . . . there is nothing like putting a camera on a beginner to embarrass the heck out of him, and get him to see mannerisms that he never noticed before. I seem to recall reading recently that even Chris Thile never realized how much he moved when he played, until he started watching video - and now he is trying to scale it back.

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    Isolated enthusiast Caleb's Avatar
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I've noticed a lot of guitar players using a wah pedal start to instinctively do some weird "wah" shape with their mouths as they play and make the sounds. Funny.
    “Never laugh at live dragons.” -Bilbo Baggins

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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Mike, Call it Parkinson's, but I tend to mouth the notes as I play them... I like to think this is like John Mayer playing blues solos... Looks kinda weird in my videos. LOL
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I used to bowl in a lot of tournaments and one day a friend videoed taped me rolling the ball and that was one of the worse things I could have done, I never realized that I did all of those little mannerism`s when I got ready to roll the ball. After that each time I stepped up on the approach I got to thinking about those little things and my scores sure suffered because of it...I have watched some videos of my mandolin playing and found some things that I never thought that I did while playing and I will work on being a little more entertaining...One was always keeping my head turned down, no one could ever see my face, Maybe that is a good thing though...

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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    There are probably other weird things I do that I'm not aware of, but I know my main one is a habit of staring up at the ceiling when trying to remember how a tune starts. Or when "recovering" a tune that I sorta know, but haven't played in a long time. As if I'm going to get some kind of celestial help from the Tune Gods.

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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post
    Combine all of that with a weird attire and you'll have full stage cred. It worked for Ian Anderson.

    I tend to gaze with a stern and determined expression at my fretboard, lips withdrawn between my teeth. If that is me, so be it. I am not trying to act.
    I found that when I wear tights (ala Anderson), I make faces too ....
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  19. #12

    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    The queen of unique facial expressions while playing has to be Elana James of the Hot Club of Cowtown. And a great fiddler also.




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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    1. A friend of mine spotted a painting at a local art show, evidently made from a photo slide taken when I and another musician were playing at a local restored village. The artist made an oil painting (which I subsequently bought and now hangs over my fireplace). The friend who found it said, "I recognized you right away, because you always play with your head leaning over to one side." I hadn't realized it, but, yes I do.

    2. First time I saw Marty Stuart, as a teenager playing mandolin in Flatt's Nashville Grass, he looked like he was "speaking" the notes when he took his mando breaks. Guess he got over that.
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  23. #14

    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Many years ago a bluegrass band came into my old recording studio to do a couple of songs for a local compilation album that I was helping to produce. The fiddle player didn't make any faces, but he made all sorts of strange growling noises while he was playing solos . . . and naturally, because his mouth was so close to the fiddle, every noise came out on the recordings. He seemed unconcerned about the extra sounds over his solos, so the record came out - growls and all.

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  25. #15

    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    A friend of mine spotted a painting at a local art show, evidently made from a photo slide taken when I and another musician were playing . . . The friend who found it said, "I recognized you right away, because you always play with your head leaning over to one side." I hadn't realized it, but, yes I do.
    Many years ago one of my cousins pointed out to me that I do almost everything with my head tilted to one side. Apparently because I have mono-vision (one eye near-sighted, and one eye far-sighted), my head naturally moves to help compensate for my effected eye, in almost everything that I look at.

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  27. #16
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Great idea for a new thread; Jam Face. I’ve got one, a jam face that is, but I’m not posting it. Not first anyway.
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I make a ton of weird faces while playing and have resorted to wearing sunglasses to hide behind while playing.. ��
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  30. #18
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    When I solo, I move my jaw around like Gabby Hayes or one of those old guys with no teeth. It looks ridiculous but I've decided I'm better off concentrating on my soloing, rather than my "image."
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Yea, I am guilty of the same. I have never seen it on tape but I can tell my face gets contorted while playing.
    A funny aside, years ago while playing in a pretty hot jam at Mt. Airy NC, a teenager interjected "DAD!......DAD!....you have BANJO-MOUTH AGAIN!"
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    There are probably other weird things I do that I'm not aware of, but I know my main one is a habit of staring up at the ceiling when trying to remember how a tune starts. Or when "recovering" a tune that I sorta know, but haven't played in a long time. As if I'm going to get some kind of celestial help from the Tune Gods.
    I feel 'ya ... I have been asked many times if the words that I'm trying to remember are on the ceiling .... Yes, of course they are, and sometimes on the tops of my shoes!
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  36. #21
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I guess many of these are the reasons for all those headless Mandolin player videos.
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  38. #22

    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    I guess everyone has their own little "quirks" that happen subconsciously. I used to pucker my lips. Had no idea I was doing it until my wife poked fun at me and pointed it out. I also used to quietly grunt while playing, which I discovered myself while recording a practice. I've consciously worked to stop doing both, but these days I catch myself 'vocalising' the notes with my mouth every so often, as if I'm singing the notes of whatever I'm playing at the time. It was really hard for me to stop doing these things, and I have no idea why. For a while, it felt like I didn't play as well when I was trying not to pucker my lips.

    I'm nowhere near good enough to play/perform for anyone, and have no aspirations to in the future, so I guess I can let these little things go and focus on the aspects of my playing that really need help, not what my lips are doing.

    Edit: Another weird thing I notice myself doing - I tend to turn my head to the left and point my right ear down at the mando. Like I'm trying to hear it better or something.... I think I prefer my right-ear-only sound . Who knows...

  39. #23

    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Bottom line -- if you can market those facial expressions and quirks -- it's a good thing. If you scare people away, well, you might wanna tone it down a little.....

  40. #24
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    I guess many of these are the reasons for all those headless Mandolin player videos.
    Absolutely. I'll say that covers the majority of cases. Other reasons are:
    - the camera focuses on instrument parts and on what the hands do (technique videos - that has been my reason for doing headless videos sometimes)
    - the player wants to remain facially incognito - you don't want people in the street pointing at you after you had 1 million clicks on YouTube (my videos have a long way to go yet for that)
    - some players are reluctant to show even their relaxed face in a world where Barbie and Ken set the bar (I have made peace with my face in the mirror every morning, so it was a small step to accept watching my own videos).

    There are alternative strategies to headless videos, too.
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    Default Re: What on earth are you doing?

    A friend of mine video taped me playing banjo at one of our UK Bluegrass festivals. From the way my mouth's moving,i look as though i'm chewing a wasp !!. I suppose that i was aware of it,but i didn't think that it looked so bizzare,
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