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Thread: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

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    Default What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    You ever have a time when you're not enjoying playing very much? I feel like I've plateaued lately - not making good progress on new tunes, not improving much on tunes I already know, my fingers just seem to tangle themselves whenever I try to improvise, etc. etc.

    What do you do to power through those times?

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    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Take some lessons. A good teacher can help with a nudge in the right direction for your style and level of ability. We have all been there ... be patient and play on.... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Try something totally unfamiliar, like playing, or just listening to, music in different genres, maybe not even usually associated with mandolin. If you're accustomed to learning by ear, maybe try to do some reading in TAB or traditional notation. Maybe a different tuning might re-inspire you. Or pick up another instrument.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    This is one of the reasons I have multiple mandolin-family instruments (flat- vs arch-top, piccolo mandolin, mandola, OM). When I experience the ennui you are describing, I pick up the instrument I have most been neglecting and give it a go. That almost never fails for me. I may also choose one of my favorite music books in a genre I have been neglecting and return to some music I love but have not played in a while. Together, these two things haven't failed me yet.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    I agree with Woyvel, trying unfamiliar stuff works.
    I also sometimes dramatically reduce practice time. I'll do just 3 - 5 mins each day but with complete focus. This stops me getting frustrated and practicing mistakes.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    For me that can occur if my enthusiasm to learn gets ahead of me. I solve it by stepping back and focusing intently on one particular skill or technique. I work on that technique with an emphasis of making it as musically satisfying as possible. I also play or practice in 15 minute segments as Pete Martin advices. Those two things keep me pretty much in the right frame of mind.

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    All good advice, I’ll add that sometimes you need to step away and take a few days/weeks and do something else. The time away might re-energize you when you’re ready to start playing again.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    For me that can occur if my enthusiasm to learn gets ahead of me.
    This is a big problem for me. When I went to Vermont to get my Strad-O-Lin set up and heard how good it sounded in the hands of someone with a high skill level, i felt very frustrated and impatient about where I am currently. I try to remember something I heard on this board somewhere "To sound like you've been playing for ten years takes about 120 months". Also on Mandolessons.com "See how far you've come". Patience, practice, patience, practice. A challenge.

    Focusing on one skill is a good idea. There are so many I need/want, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

    Sue

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Bigskygirl- I'm right there with you - I do find if put it down for a while ( sometimes more than a day, usually not intentionally just the rest of life is hungrier at the moment) but when I pick it back up, the joy returns.

    Or listen to something you haven't or even go back to an old favorite you hadn't heard in a while.

    This sticky Northeastern summer isn't helping either, staying in tune is elusive, and that doesn't help either.
    I try to get up early when its still cool and so far that is working, but slept in the last few days..
    "Mean Old Timer, He's got grey hair, Mean Old Timer he just don't care
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sue Rieter View Post
    This is a big problem for me. When I went to Vermont to get my Strad-O-Lin set up and heard how good it sounded in the hands of someone with a high skill level, i felt very frustrated and impatient about where I am currently. I try to remember something I heard on this board somewhere "To sound like you've been playing for ten years takes about 120 months". Also on Mandolessons.com "See how far you've come". Patience, practice, patience, practice. A challenge.

    Focusing on one skill is a good idea. There are so many I need/want, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

    Sue
    Hi Sue -
    I completely understand! Here are some thoughts I have. I have worked hard at eliminating the "someday I will be able to do that" syndrome. I have encouraged myself to get "beauty out of every single note". Maybe that sounds corny, but even one single plucked note can be played either poorly and thoughtlessly - or with focus, emotion, and beauty. I can get total joy out of the latter - and that inspires me! It is a very worn out phrase, but I think it is true: it is the process that provides the wonder, the enjoyment, the enthusiasm. Just mussing.........!

    “There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.” ― Albert Schweitzer

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Logan View Post
    Hi Sue -
    I completely understand! Here are some thoughts I have. I have worked hard at eliminating the "someday I will be able to do that" syndrome. I have encouraged myself to get "beauty out of every single note". Maybe that sounds corny, but even one single plucked note can be played either poorly and thoughtlessly - or with focus, emotion, and beauty. I can get total joy out of the latter - and that inspires me! It is a very worn out phrase, but I think it is true: it is the process that provides the wonder, the enjoyment, the enthusiasm. Just mussing.........!
    Agree totally with this. What I have found is similar. I go back to a tune I really like but haven't played in awhile. Breeze through it....then slowly take it back apart and try to make every note clean. If you are paying attention you will see how hard that is. Gets your focus back.....and when you do nail it you know it. In itself exciting.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Go to a jam and play with other people.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Personally, I don't sweat it much. I've been through so many up/down playing cycles that I know it will be back soon enough. No need to force anything, IMHO. Enjoy doing other things for a few days/weeks. It's just part of the process.
    Mitch Russell

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    Registered User chasray's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    What helps me is to slow everything down. Way down. Then build back up gradually while enjoying being relaxed. That might not make sense but it helps me.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    A few days off sometimes does wonders...
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    When I do not feel motivated I check in with my philosophy.

    Am I comparing myself with others, instead of comparing myself with where I was?
    Do i have some kind of crazy idea a of an inappropriate performance goal, when I know all I really want to is to chase beauty and play music with friends?

    Then I go back to noodling and practicing. Just making pretty sounds on the mandolin.


    Another idea to kick re-start motivation, for me, is to purchase a tune book. A new tune book waiting to be explored is a gigantic motivator.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    not a donut Kevin Winn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Go play your guitar for a couple days...
    "Keep your hat on, we may end up miles from here..." - Kurt Vonnegut

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Plateaus are neccessary phases of procedural memory reorganization. Once that is done, a sudden leap in ability is sure to come, if you just don't give up.
    It's much like that "weeds" scene from African Queen - open water is near.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Put the instrument down. Step away. Take a break. Focus on something else: a different instrument, an art project, a book you've been meaning to read, a new recipe to try, the movie on your watch list, whatever. Come back refreshed and resume your journey.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Quote Originally Posted by BadExampleMan View Post
    You ever have a time when you're not enjoying playing very much? I feel like I've plateaued lately - not making good progress on new tunes, not improving much on tunes I already know, my fingers just seem to tangle themselves whenever I try to improvise, etc. etc.

    What do you do to power through those times?
    Time for a break ! May be over practicing ! After a brief break I seem to improve !
    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 !

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Agree with some others here, plateaus happen. All the above suggestions are good and have done them. And sometimes it's just enough to go back to the basic tunes you first learned and just play them again. To try to re-capture the joy of being able to get a string of notes out that sound something like music. Just turn the brain off and pick.

    FWIW, was hitting a wall recently and just seeing Howard Rains on Facebook playing some tunes from Cole's on mandolin helped get me working on stuff again. It didn't hurt that he gets a great tone from him Kalamazoo KM-11.
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    Gummy Bears and Scotch BrianWilliam's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Pick up a fiddle: when I do, it makes me feel really good about my mandolin playing

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    I think your question of "how do you power through" is not the right question. There are some times you can "power through" for a short period of time, but you pay for it in the long run. I have those times when I'm not into it. I can only say what has helped me.
    • Remember that unless you are trying to be or become a pro, this is supposed to be fun and fulfilling. If it's not, it's not. Go with that and don't worry about it. If you are having fun, you will do it. If you're not, go do something that is fun and come back to it later.
    • My biggest motivator is performing and preparing for performing. If I am in a music ensemble, I find prepping for practices and performances keeps me really focused.
    • Another motivator is lessons. If I am working with an instructor I respect, I want to come back the next week and show him progress.
    • I like the advice given about changing things up. I have gotten out of funks by trying new instruments and different kinds of music. There are so many great possibilities out there.
    • One thing that has dawned on me after way too long a time is that listening is practicing. If you don't feel like playing, get some recordings and listen to them, a lot. That gets in your head and when you get back to your instrument, it finds its way into your hands.

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  38. #24

    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    If I don’t feel it, I take an hour off.
    I put on a pair of shorts and the anxiety is already building up.

    Then I go for a long run, often make it an hour and a half.
    Get back, rehydrate and set the metronome to very, real, extremely slow, and film the performance.

    By this time I’m too tired to mess up.
    -whatever works for you.

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    Default Re: What do you do when you're Just. Not. Feeling it?

    Quote Originally Posted by chasray View Post
    What helps me is to slow everything down. Way down. Then build back up gradually while enjoying being relaxed. That might not make sense but it helps me.
    Yes. Makes a lot of sense. Slow it down to where you have complete control over the notes and timing. Then gradually increase it to the speed where it sounds best.

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