Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 26 to 42 of 42

Thread: Training the Mind

  1. #26

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    I would guess you don't practice with a metronome enough. https://clawhammerbanjo.net/the-immu...ve-practice-2/

  2. #27
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Rockville, MD
    Posts
    1,552
    Blog Entries
    7

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Only time and continued effort will help. Some us think too much, some too little, but there is always a tension between paying attention to how you’re playing vs how is the music going? In order to play a passage reliably you have to work on it, paying attention to detail. But we all know that the goal is to get past that, to being able to be “in the moment” live, whether solo or in a group.

    When you really have something down you can think about whether you put enough money in the parking meter, or more usefully, you are actively listening to other players, fitting with their time and style, and adding riffs where effective.

    I don’t think there is any formula, just more practice, more playing music with others. I like to play with the radio (stream for you kids), or along with recordings. I notice that if I am playing with people that are shaky or strugglng, I get distracted by how I wish they would play. Annoying habit of mine, as I can’t play everyone’s part.

    If I am playing difficult or showy stuff the risk of distraction is higher, because I need more conscious attention to pull it off. So the goal is to be able to ignore technique in performance, but that means you need plenty of it.

    Wynton Marsalis described giving a master class on jazz improv, and he asked players what they were thinking about while waiting to take a chorus. Typical answer was “thinking about what I’m going to play”. Wynton said that the goal is to be paying attention to the solo being played. What he didn’t say was that you need to be pretty far along to be able to do that with confidence, but it is good advice for any stage. The best solos take the previous solo and build on it, and it saves the trouble of having to decide how to begin a solo.

    I remember wanting to have a T-shirt made that said “ I played it better at home”.
    Blog--Miniature Orchestra
    Sound Clips--SoundCloud
    Videos--YouTube
    The viola is proof that man is not rational

  3. The following members say thank you to Tom Wright for this post:


  4. #28
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    537

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Several thoughts here. One very helpful, two analogous. This thread reminds me of Charlie Parker's comment about learning your instrument, then practice, practice, practice, and then when you get on stage forget it all and wail.

    The analogous(analogous for me anyway) one is typing on a keyboard. I watch my wife type and her fingers fly. She's fast and accurate. I asked her once if her mind was "thinking" each letter as she typed. "No" was her obvious answer. I wish I didn't have to think ahead of myself--trying to anticipate-- as I play. Often I find I play a passage fast and accurate the first time through and then from there on I begin thinking about it and it gets progressively worse. Still another analogy is golf. For those of you who get into that craziness, don't you find that your earlier rounds in a season are better than as the season progresses and you analyze everything to death?

    Perhaps "thinking" is the enemy!

  5. #29

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    I think it’s odd we can master a fork so much easier than a pick.
    Play it like you mean it.

  6. #30
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    charlottesville, VA
    Posts
    1,006

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    I think it’s odd we can master a fork so much easier than a pick.
    We usually hit the 10,000 hours mark pretty quickly with a fork, and at an impressionable age.
    Mitch Russell

  7. The following members say thank you to onassis for this post:


  8. #31

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    I've enjoyed the Bulletproof Musician suggestion, which has some free initial content.

    That let me to the Audition Hacker website, which has a free audition prep 101 series that is helpful.

    They are geared toward classical musician auditions, but I'm finding them useful in the context of developing a separate practice and performance mind.

  9. #32
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    25,908

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Quote Originally Posted by ProfChris View Post
    For me, when I have an audience the big thing is to ignore the mistake. Play through it and keep the performance going.

    If you do this confidently enough and later quiz audience members you get one of two responses:

    1. What mistake?

    2. (From experienced musicians) Yeah, I heard it but it didn't ruin the song and I doubt anyone else noticed.
    Another approach is when making a mistake, to repeat it so it sounds intentional. Of course, this may not always work.

    Everyone makes mistakes. Even Chris Thile. We just don't notice because he is excellent at covering up.

    When on stage or in any other situation that causes anxiety, observe what you are thinking. Practice relaxing. Take deep breaths and realize that you are the most critical person in the room. No one is watching your every note and nuance. Except you. The more you do this, though, the better you will get at it.

    Also, look into mindfulness and meditation. And keep on practicing.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- 1937 Gibson L-Century -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  10. #33

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Quote Originally Posted by mandokismet View Post
    Hey everyone,

    I'm having three different mental problems:

    1. Thinking
    I'll be going on just fine, following the music and as soon as I have a specific thought I make a mistake. Particularly after a successful difficult part and I say to myself "that was great!" or "I'm playing well" or "almost finished with this section," then I'll mess up an easy part.


    I try to think about not only what im playing, but keep listening.
    Try to be in the moment, not outside it.
    Seriously, feel the music in your body. This helps me be in the music.



    2. Focus lapse
    I'm doing some repetitive chop chord sequence and my mind wanders and I mess up something easy. Or I'm playing something I've memorized and played dozens and dozens of times and then I'll forget whether a sequence is 4-5 or 5-4 and it becomes a guess.


    Listen, try not to be bored.
    I have had this happen a lot with excessive rehearsal repetition.
    Youre only human.

    3. Duet playing
    I can play something by myself. I can play it in a group. But playing with 1-2 other people is difficult, whether it's a friend or an instructor. Sometimes they must wonder if I even practice, the day after I nailed it practicing by myself.


    Im guessing, youre actively listening, and youre processing more info than you do in a larger group.

    What is your frame of mind while practicing, playing with friends for fun, or performing for an audience?

    Being in the zone kind of implies playing at the top of your skill level, but are you aiming for that mindset 100% of the time, even while practicing? Do you have different mindsets for different situations? How do you quiet your mind when you're no longer having to think about physical finger placement as much (they seem to just know where to go)?

    Are there mental approaches or resources you use to develop the mental side of playing?

    It feels like I'm at a transition point where the mind is limiting the actual skills...I find it amazing that anyone can play hundreds of notes in a row with no mistakes, let alone improvise hundreds of notes in a row with no unintended dissonance.
    I try to be in the music, not in my head. I sway, move my hips, head, etc.
    This helps with focus, listening, timing, and, solos.

    I dont worry about mistakes. Im going to make them. Yet, most are un noticeable, and, are fleeting.

    Repetition is hugely helpful, too. Slower tempos , for me, really help solidify everything, passages, progressions, lyrics, harmonies. Once automatic, speed is easier, and, my body takes over should my mind wander. In fact, at blazing tempos, i cant think, i just do. Its due to practice, scales and arpeggios that my hands know.

    Let go. Let go. Tension is mental. Be in the music. Sounds corny hippie dippy, but, i swear, for me, this adds so much to performance. Your bod and brain will sync.

  11. #34
    Yarrr! Miss Lonelyhearts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Weber Mandolins' old shop
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    I remember having these same struggles with losing focus and weapons of self-distraction. One of my fiddle students summed the problem up nicely: "My biggest obstacle is myself."

    Here are some ideas that helped me (and many students) work through this. I hope it helps.

    "Music isn't about perfection, it's about expression." Yo Yo Ma said that. If he's not aiming for perfection, then I'm happy to give myself permission to make mistakes, too, and focus instead on playing with feeling.

    You can apply to practice and performance. One of my early teachers suggested that rather than focus on my mistakes, I could simply notice them, without stopping, and then play what I expected to hear when that part came around again. This is a way to practice (a) physically playing through any mistakes without stopping, (b) not getting mentally rattled by mistakes, and (c) correcting mistakes on the fly (the next time round) by anticipating the sound you want to play (instead of whatever you did "wrong" before). Those are each separate skills, and they'll improve with repetition if you pay attention to them as you go.

    Noticing mistakes is different from beating yourself up over them. The goal is to simply be aware when something sounds different from what you expected to play. But instead of scowling, shaking your head no, or triggering the voice of the snarky critic in your head, just acknowledge the unmet expectation.

    For stubborn mistakes or shortcomings in your playing (e.g., sloppy rhythm), don't give yourself permission to keep making the same mistake or continuing to play sloppy. No one else is going to fix this for you. It's up to you to pay attention and change what you're doing to make the music come out more like you expect it to.

    But it also helps to understand that there are no mistakes, no wrong notes. In The Perfect Wrong Note: Learning to Trust Your Musical Self, William Westney says mistakes are really just "unexpected events." When we talk to ourselves, the words matter. In my experience, it was easier to quit stressing over mistakes when I quit calling them that and recognized them for the musical detours that they really were. It even led to finding more interesting variations and improvisations.

    Many musicians treat "practice" as a time to concentrate on mechanics and technique. Certainly in the beginning of learning an instrument, this is important and useful. But even at the very first lesson, the purpose of everything you do is to make music, to be musical. Rather than belaboring some mechanical skill (scales, arpeggios, tremolo, etc.) for its own sake, listen for how those drills can be musical. Irish fiddler Kevin Burke tells a story about doing a sound check in the studio once, and the engineer asked him to play a scale. Kevin did as he was asked. The engineer said, thanks, but just a scale please. Kevin played a scale. The engineer said, no, you know, just a simple scale, eight notes, up or down. Kevin had to laugh when he realized that he was putting in all the twiddly bits, triplets, smears, double stops, and so on that to him are part and parcel of the music he plays.

    Learning to play music is mostly about learning to listen. The more closely you listen, the more you hear, and the more you find ways to be expressive. Again, listening is a skill set and it improves with careful repetition. As musicians, what are we doing when we're listening to ourselves play? We're paying attention, not to the mechanics but to the sounds. Filter out distractions, notice anything and everything that's relevant to the music, delight in details and nuances, and embrace the larger, overall sound. Listening is active, not passive, we're not a spectator but a rapt participant. Listening is responsive. We let the music stir our sorrows and joys, our solitude and our intimacies. And then we return the favor, imbuing the music with whatever is stirred loose. Being responsive also means being adaptive and flexible as the music unfolds and as other people shape the music. We listen to other players’ pace and groove and blend with them.

    Listening like that helps you learn how to go in the zone and stay there. I remember, years ago, snapping back to earth in the middle of a set of tunes and realizing that I had been so inside the tune that I wasn't really in the pub anymore. Of course, the sudden "zoom out" threw me off the tune. But the other players kept it going and I eased back into it. This was a big turning point--I now knew exactly what it felt like to be in the zone. This is no small trick. By definition, you aren't in the zone if you're aware that you're in the zone. But I had briefly found a state of fierce relaxation, so inside the tune that nothing else registered and playing was easy, effortless. It was the same feeling I'd had pitching in baseball or playing hockey where the inning ends or the goal siren sounds and you wake up not knowing how you just did what you did. Psychologists call this "flow" (see the book, Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi). From there on out, I kept catching myself coming out of the zone, and each time I'd think about what it felt like. I'd reflect on how I'd slipped into the zone and then recreate those conditions again and again until the zone was a familiar place.

    You can set the stage for getting in the zone. Let yourself go loose. Take a deep breath. Notice being anchored through your feet and/or butt so your body is standing or sitting easily. Take another deep breath. (Half a beer might help.) Close your eyes. Open your ears! Play a tune that you know inside out. Hear it in your mind's ear and let your hands go on autopilot. If you drift to thinking about mechanics ("is that on 3rd or 4th fret?" "what chord comes next?" etc), bring your focus back to the melody unrolling in real time and follow it like a hound on a scent.

    As stevedenver says above, let it happen. We probably can't make flow happen, but we can learn to let it happen at the drop of a hat. For me, it took a few years before I could naturally slip into the flow, and it's an ongoing, never-ending learning curve (with occasional reversals along the way). I've been backstage and heard world class musicians come off after their performance full of self-doubt and criticism. "That was terrible! I wasn't warmed up! My fingers couldn't find the notes! They'll never bother to come to another of my shows!" These are veterans of the stage who know what flow feels like, and they struggle just like us mortals when it doesn't happen.

    Still, the more you do this, the easier it gets to slip into flow and then let yourself stay there even as a slice of your awareness flickers over other things--"what's the next tune? that crash was the barista dropping a tray of pints. that's an obnoxious ring tone!" Also, one of the best things about flow is that, because you're so inside the tune, you can't be self-conscious and nervous when you're there. The more experience you gain noticing distractions but staying inside the tune, the easier it is to do this even when the distraction is "2,000 people are listening to every note I play and I just pounded on a G sharp where the tune usually features a G."

    Others in this thread have mentioned meditation. Mindful meditation can really help. I like to apply it directly to playing music. Playing music in the zone, in flow, is a wonderful form of mindful meditation in itself. And that can shape how we practice and how we play/perform.
    Oops! Did I say that out loud?
    Once upon a time: fiddle, mandolin, OM, banjo, guitar, flute, whistle, beer

  12. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Miss Lonelyhearts For This Useful Post:


  13. #35
    Yarrr! Miss Lonelyhearts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Weber Mandolins' old shop
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    A P.S. to my mega-post above. It helped me a lot to think about my intent when I sat down to play. Most of us want to play well every time, whether that's in practice or performance. But I was stuck in wanting to play perfectly, or at least mistake-free. Then I read Effortless Mastery by jazz pianist Kenny Werner and he pointed out that what we tend to admire most about great musicians is how effortless they sound, no matter what they're playing. So instead of aiming to be perfect, I went for effortless. It instantly helped me relax (your playing won't sound effortless if you're tense), and things like tricky fingerings or "advanced" techniques soon worked more smoothly than they ever had before.

    Sometimes, when a skill is new and unfamiliar, it feels difficult, and that can lead to a sense that it must be physically difficult to do. But most of us have had the experience of woodshedding on some tricky bit until one day it's so familiar that you can do it in your sleep. And then you look back and wonder why it ever felt so hard. Maybe it helps to start out knowing that most of the movements we make and the sequences of notes we play are small, simple bits. It's not like we're pole vaulting or free-soloing El Cap. So let yourself feel how little effort it takes to play.

    Plus, even mediocre playing sounds better when the musician isn't working so hard at it.
    Oops! Did I say that out loud?
    Once upon a time: fiddle, mandolin, OM, banjo, guitar, flute, whistle, beer

  14. The following members say thank you to Miss Lonelyhearts for this post:


  15. #36
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    22,844
    Blog Entries
    51

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Record yourself while playing at home. It seems to simulate very well the performance anxiety that so contributes to all the problems being discussed. Just knowing your playing is being recorded amps up the difficulty.
    Indulge responsibly!

    The entire staff
    funny....

  16. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:

    Cindy 

  17. #37

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    I've had a few meditation lessons over the years and it is often described as follows: The brain is one of your tools, it's not "you". With time and practice you can tell your brain to stop chattering all the time. Your inner brain and fingers know perfectly well how to play the tunes if you've put in enough time. Shutting up the brain lets them get on with it. That's the theory anyway ! I make lots of mistakes but they're getting less frequent as I learn to relax, get used to playing with others and try not to think what I'm doing.

  18. #38
    Registered User Cindy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Hyde Park, Ma
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    One of the best things about playing music is that you can't think while playing. Sometimes after a good jam I have to remind myself what I'm worried about.
    On the other hand, it is hard not to think. If I'm playing with one other person, it's hard not to think about how my playing compares, and watch her to get tips.
    I surprised myself recently by playing well while looking out the window watching the squirrels, not thinking. I need to practice that.

  19. The following members say thank you to Cindy for this post:

    gfury 

  20. #39
    Yarrr! Miss Lonelyhearts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    North of Weber Mandolins' old shop
    Posts
    230

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Cindy, I get what you're saying--that when were immersed in playing, our conscious minds aren't doing their usual monologues. But the point the OP was getting at, and what seems to be true for many of us, is your statement, but flipped end over end: I can't play when I'm thinking.

    I warn my music students about this, because lesson time tends to be heavy on thinking about playing--learning new concepts, analyzing what works and what doesn't, etc. But being conscious of the mechanics gets in the way. So it's a given that neither the student or myself is going to play as well as when we just cut loose and let the subconscious take care of playing (which we also do during lessons, just not as much as when playing out).

    When it's time to play a tune over and over to really get it into your fingers, I suggest to students that they turn the sound off on the television and watch a show (sports are good), read the funnies in the paper, or just stare out a window at a bird feeder or passing traffic and just play.
    Oops! Did I say that out loud?
    Once upon a time: fiddle, mandolin, OM, banjo, guitar, flute, whistle, beer

  21. #40
    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    7,933

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    I will paraphrase FDR and say, "All you have to worry about is worry itself." Worry that you will screw up makes you screw up. Worry that you have screwed up will make you screw up again. Stop worrying. Music is supposed to be fun, not nerve wracking.

    I read something once about professional golfers, that they can make mistakes just like any other golfer, but the difference is a regular golfer will let a bad shot ruin the rest of the hole or even the rest of the game, whereas when a pro makes a mistake, he is right back on his game the next shot.

    When I make a mistake playing, whether it's solo, 1-on-1 or with an ensemble, I just keep going. I try to keep it about playing the tune, nothing else. If the tune is in my head, my fingers find a way. A lot of the time other people don't even notice when you make a mistake. If you keep moving it can sound like an improvisation. If you choke up, though, then people know it was a mistake.

    I think of it like being in a stage play. If you forget a line, you improvise until you get back on track. If you are just thinking "What's my line?" and you forget, you're stuck. But if you are really IN THE PLAY, it's a story, you are a character and that character is reacting to something. You know where the plot is going, where it needs to get to and you are that character. You'll have something to say that makes sense.

    When I'm playing, I know where the tune is going. I know my role: rhythm, lead, harmony, fills, etc. I'm IN THE TUNE. I come up with something. Getting good at cover-ups can help you get better at not needing them!

  22. The following members say thank you to John Flynn for this post:


  23. #41

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    A couple of books I've read or am reading on this mental journey after posting this...

    The Inner Game of Music: overcome obstacles, improve concentration and reduce nervousness to reach a new level of musical performance by Barry Green (if you play tennis or ski, this is the third in a mental focus series) - has the concept of two minds, one that is the potential of your practice and skills and the other that is the negative detractor so that Your Best = Potential - Negativity. Argues that you can improve the most by eliminating the negativity rather than just focusing on your potential.

    Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown - not so much about performance but about optimum learning and memory decay. Rather than pounding on the same piece over and over, argues that you should alternate between pieces/skills AND quiz/test/recite/recall anything you've learned and practice again after a break. Just trying to read, review and memorize is a harder path.

    Peak : secrets from the new science of expertise by Ericsson, K. Anders - haven't read yet but checked out of the library

  24. #42
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 pc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,680

    Default Re: Training the Mind

    Quote Originally Posted by mandokismet View Post
    The Inner Game of Music: overcome obstacles, improve concentration and reduce nervousness to reach a new level of musical performance by Barry Green (if you play tennis or ski, this is the third in a mental focus series) - has the concept of two minds, one that is the potential of your practice and skills and the other that is the negative detractor so that Your Best = Potential - Negativity. Argues that you can improve the most by eliminating the negativity rather than just focusing on your potential.
    I can recommend Sian Beilock's book "Choke", where it is revealed that the "two minds" ar really what is known as procedural and declarative memory.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •