Results 1 to 25 of 25

Thread: Play better when alone

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albany Oregon
    Posts
    29

    Default Play better when alone

    Hi, I pay really well when I pay my mandolins alone, but when anyone is nearby I seem to get nervous and not play so well. Any advice to help? Thank you all!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Rip off that band-aid! Play where people walking by can hear you, but aren't really paying attention to you. Then, play with a small circle of people at about your same level and whom you know well enough that you don't feel the performance anxiety. Eventually, you will be able to play in front of any size audience with some shakiness, but without negatively impacting your performance too much.

    Also, maybe posting some videos here or to Instagram or something is an idea... you can do multiple takes and then post the best one. Kind of an introvert's stepping stone to live performance.

    I've been there... unable to finish a song I knew by heart because there were 500 people staring at me. Not a lot of fun. But you can absolutely work up to it, and enjoy it! You'll be glad you did. My day job now involves lecturing to 150+ people multiple times a week, and it's one of my favorite parts of my job. It took some cringeworthy moments to get there, but it's doable.

  3. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Marty Jacobson For This Useful Post:


  4. #3

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    What you are going through is not uncommon. Unfortunately there is really only one way to rectify the situation - and that is . . . to play in front of other people.

    Just start slow and small. You can play just one verse or even just the chorus of a couple of songs in front of family or friends. Perhaps go to a nearby public place, like a park, a beach, or even a bench outside the mall, and just do some practice - there is a very good chance that 99.9% of the people won't pay the slightest amount of attention to you (very much like most of my gigs) but at least this way you will have the experience of having people around you while you play, even if you are not 'performing '.

    Keep it simple, but DO IT!

  5. The following members say thank you to MikeZito for this post:


  6. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Central Illinois
    Posts
    3,258

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
    Hi, I pay really well when I pay my mandolins alone, but when anyone is nearby I seem to get nervous and not play so well. Any advice to help? Thank you all!
    Been there done that !! Part of it my friend ! Keep playing around other people and this feeling will gradually diminish !!
    My two favorite pastimes are drinking wine and playing the mandolin but most of my friends would rather hear me drink wine! Adapted from quote by Mark Twain------supposedly !

  7. #5
    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,028

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Yup. You need to go play with others. Find a jam session and join it. Start on the edge and eventually you will get more confident playing with others.

    Depending on what type of music you play, see if there are some beginner jams in your area. Most bluegrass, Irish and maybe other music societies have designated beginner jams for folks just like you.
    1935 Gibson A50, 2018 Collings MT, 1989 Flatiron Performer A, 1929 Gibson A Jr., 1935 Kalamazoo KM-21, 2018 Eastman MDO-305
    http://ericplatt.weebly.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/LauluAika/
    https://www.lauluaika.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/Longtine-Pl...4404553312723/

  8. #6
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    This recent thread seems to be on a similar topic:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...king-in-public

  9. #7

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    i read you loud and clear my problem exactly but with all the tips and help offered here i feel better about it ty

  10. #8
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,916

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Simple procedure in three steps:

    1- get a metronome and play along with that. It's just a machine, but it will generate an irresistible magical force of company and rhythm. If you can't get a metronome, maybe you can get a ram pump...

    2 - now that you're able to play along with a machine, you must face it and play in front of one: get a video camera and feel the irrational thrill of the red recording light. Be sure to watch every movie you have made, basking in the warm glow of embarrassment inflating your head. After some hundred recordings you'll need to raise the dose and go on to step 3...

    3 - get on-stage in a stadium and play in front of thousands of people.

    These steps do two things for you:
    - they help you accept that you are going to screw up
    - they help you aquire skills to screw up in a way that sounds awsome
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  11. The following members say thank you to Bertram Henze for this post:


  12. #9
    Registered User Frankdolin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    near Boston, MA
    Posts
    379

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    All great advice so far! I would just add that most folks won't even know "what" your playing and will be intrigued. They'll think your the best they ever heard and won't notice any flaws unless you really can't play. Your likely better than anyone there. I'm 64 and never cared what anybody thinks, which I know isn't for everyone but works for me. Be confident. Represent. Have fun!
    Last edited by Frankdolin; Mar-09-2020 at 7:14am. Reason: spelling

  13. The following members say thank you to Frankdolin for this post:

    Cobalt 

  14. #10
    Registered User Cobalt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    United Kingdom
    Posts
    176

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Frankdolin View Post
    All great advice so far! I would just add that most folks won't even know "what" your playing and will be intrigued. They'll think your the best they ever heard and won't notice any flaws unless you really can't play. Your likely better than anyone there. I'm 64 and never cared what anybody thinks, which I know isn't for everyone but works for me. Be confident. Represent. Have fun!
    Yeah, I not so long ago had an experience at a jam session where a fairly accomplished guitarist and singer was completely unfamiliar with the mandolin, anything I played was intriguing new knowledge, if nothing else. And among non-musicians, the chances are even greater that the mandolin will be an unfamiliar experience.

  15. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NC
    Posts
    3,896

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    My willingness to humiliate myself publicly far exceeds my stage fright

    Seriously, all the above recommendations are good ones. I’m the “adult supervision” for our church’s youth band. As long as I’ve rehearsed well and really know the songs, I don’t get nervous in front of the youth any more. I feel similarly playing in church on Sunday mornings, but will admit it took a while to get to that point...
    Chuck

  16. #12

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    One great way to get ready for performance is to record yourself and listen back to what you play critically. You will learn (and fix) many things that way.

    Even better, join the Song A Week group and regularly post videos to YouTube. It's way easier to play a tune for a crowd than it is to make a video of yourself playing it that you can bear to watch.

  17. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Southeast Arizona
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Some of the best adviser I got was from a fiddle playing friend who said " We are musicians, not surgeons. When we make mistakes, no one dies".

  18. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to JimKo For This Useful Post:


  19. #14
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Durham, NC
    Posts
    1,020

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by JimKo View Post
    Some of the best adviser I got was from a fiddle playing friend who said " We are musicians, not surgeons. When we make mistakes, no one dies".
    As a surgeon who plays mandolin and other instruments, I resemble that statement!

  20. The following members say thank you to John Soper for this post:

    Cobalt 

  21. #15

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Find an open mic and do it fifty times. Make your worst playing good enough no one notices. My daughter is a professional viola player in LA. They have to sight read in recording studios. Her worst has to be close to perfect, but she says the music isn’t very demanding, and you don’t last if you can’t do it.

    I’ve often defined professional as those that can be their worst and you don’t know it, like a swimmer that wins even though they are three seconds off their best time.

    But the only way I know of getting comfortable is to be uncomfortable a lot. If you can’t find an open mike, play in a park or a downtown street. Comfortable is different for each person. Some never get there but are great anyway.
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

  22. #16

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by JimKo View Post
    Some of the best adviser I got was from a fiddle playing friend who said " We are musicians, not surgeons. When we make mistakes, no one dies".
    -aaah, but you can save someone’s life with a song!

    Actually one strategy would be to organise a dinner party and when people are sitting around quietly you accidentally kick this strange case that someone has left on the floor.
    You say, what is this strange case that someone has left on the floor?
    And your partner or friend says, I don’t know, it was probably left behind by the builder/electrician/whatever, why I believe it’s a beautiful mandolin. They say to you, here, you played rugby at school why don’t you have a go?
    You are relaxed because they are expecting something by Van Halen, so slowly at first, you play something by Bach and your friends are astonished and astounded and relieved.
    What beautiful music they say.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Mar-09-2020 at 12:52pm.

  23. #17
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Albany Oregon
    Posts
    29

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Thanks everyone! I will try some of your good suggestions. I've been thinking about all you have said and I think with me it's more a matter of calming down and relaxing, taking a few breaths and just going for it. My plan is to post some videos of me playing my nice Weber here in a few weeks to see what people think. And as the weather gets better go to the park where people are and play. I think I'll try to do street music this summer. No one dose this in our town.

  24. #18
    man about town Markus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison, Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,944
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
    And as the weather gets better go to the park where people are and play.
    While you can play on the street with a case open in front of you, I would start by finding a nice sunny park bench on a nice day and play for yourself there. Have a short list of 5-8 songs you're comfortable with, when you get to the end of them start over.

    I often practice on my deck - a 3rd floor deck high above a nature trail that runs at the back of my property line. It was nice outside, so I ran through some instrumentals myself. Over the course of an hour mostly people just passed by, but a few gave thumbs up, applause, and a couple even sat down to listen for 10 minutes.

    I regularly play out with a band, am always happily surprised when going slow through tunes I'm learning on the deck gets appreciation. I bet you will find some people who think your playing makes them happy, I bet some little kid passing by will dance ... I'd really suggest a quiet park bench.

    Note: I love playing jams with others and highly encourage you to pursue them. Bring something to take notes on, write down the tunes and after a month of practice - head back!

    I also highly recommend metronome, drum machine, or backing tracks work at home to solidify rhythm before/between jams. It's hard to just play through your mistakes, but it's an essential musical skill. Once you can play through mistakes you'll start to notice that only half the time anyone notices you made a mistake [unless you're in a band, then they hear them all as do you].
    Collings MT2
    Breedlove OF
    Ellie eMando
    Schmergl Devastator

  25. The following members say thank you to Markus for this post:


  26. #19

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Great question. Here's how I did it:

    Kept playing alone. Played informally in front of people. Played with unintimidating friends. Kept at it. After a while, it felt okay. Then fine. Now it's fun.

  27. #20
    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Canterbury, Kent
    Posts
    745
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeZito View Post
    What you are going through is not uncommon.
    It's not just common, it's normal. It doesn't even sound like a problem. Surely the only people who play better when there's an audience are those who are already very good?

    How to get better at playing for an audience is a slightly different question. There's lots of good advice in this thread and the one linked by Cobalt. Taking it one step at a time seems like a good strategy. Realising how normal this process is may help put it in perspective.

  28. #21
    Hands of Pot Metal
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Forest Grove, Oregon
    Posts
    1,442

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Record yourself. Get comfortable with understanding your level of playing. If it. sounds good enough to you, it will be fine for ev everyone else. Then take it out for a stroll to a nice friendly jam.
    Play it like you mean it

    Not all the clams are at the beach

    Arrow G
    Clark 2 point
    Ratliff CountryBoy A
    00-21 (voiced by Eldon Stutzman)

  29. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Surrey, BC (Vancouver)
    Posts
    416

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Bertram Henze View Post

    2 - now that you're able to play along with a machine, you must face it and play in front of one: get a video camera and feel the irrational thrill of the red recording light.
    If I've learned one thing from sci-fi movies and TV, red light= evil. (Even the kid's animated The Land Before Time movies support this - evil carnivores have red eyes.) )

  30. #23
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Surrey, BC (Vancouver)
    Posts
    416

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Try not caring. I found that by just playing brashly, singing loudly and carefree (maybe even trying to annoy) loosened things up. Maybe I don't play any better, but it's a better experience. That alone might make my playing better. ..?

  31. #24
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    0.8 mpc from NGC224, upstairs
    Posts
    9,916

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyV View Post
    by just playing brashly, singing loudly and carefree (maybe even trying to annoy) loosened things up.
    That pretty much explains the existence of rock music...
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  32. #25

    Default Re: Play better when alone

    I play almost every morning the sun is out in my backyard. The last year and a half, a small one bedroom house was built on the back half of the lot. I got a lot of compliments from various workers. They even turned off their radios. From various comments by dog walkers, etc., I cover about six backyards, so I always keep that in mind. Had I known, who knows if I’d have done it, but no one has complained.

    I also have taken my mandolin to open mic, even when I could barely get through three fiddle tunes, so I built up a confidence early on. People are relieved to not hear another bad guitar player. They don’t seem to mind bad mandolin as much. One of the hardest things, but one of the most productive, is to develop musical friendships. There is not much difference playing with/to two or three and a small gathering. From that to a large audience is not too big a stretch.

    Another thing that might help is realizing most non musicians are simply agog you can play anything at all. I’m like that with anyone who can sketch a landscape or a face. How do they do that?
    Silverangel A
    Arches F style kit
    1913 Gibson A-1

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

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