Practicing Woes - Suggestions Welcomed
Okay, it seems like every time I have a guitar in my hands, people keep interrupting me. If I say "I'm gonna be practicing for the next two hours" and then go practice, all of a sudden, that's the two hours in which every inane piece of gossip, info, or anything else must be imparted upon me. It's even got to the stage of talking until I stop playing guitar and look up, then there's a quick "oh sorry, I forgot you said you were practicing." In short, I'm getting very little done and it's just frustrating the hell out of me. Particularly so this week - I have a band rehearsal tomorrow and my first (and maybe last, the way my prep for it has gone) lesson with my guitar tutor and potential guru in all things jazz. Neither have been sufficiently prepped for.
I'm playing tunes tomorrow I don't know the heads for (I know the changes, that's cool, but I don't know the lead lines and can't sight read them). I'm paying Â£50 (incl. my travel costs) for a lesson I haven't had the chance to do much prep for, and the guy is insanely busy and shouldn't be messed around.
It's not even like it's a subtle "you suck at guitar, shut up" kinda thing either, cos it even happens if I'm playing my electric unplugged and can't be heard in other rooms.
I don't know, it just sucks right now - I'm trying to work hard and stay on top of organising my own practice schedule, but I can't do that while I'm getting hassled like this. I already switch my phone off before I go practice and am thinking of looking for new digs. Anyone else had this experience of people who just have to wait until you're practicing before bugging you about everything, however utterly pointless? Any tips? And is this why guns are legal in America?
I just wish I could look back at the end of each week and say "yup, I've progressed on X,Y,and Z. And I haven't progressed on A,B, and C, but that's my own fault." As it is, I'm looking back on last week going "yeah, I was supposed to practice but had to go to the shops, and then I was supposed to practice but had to listen to an interminable speech about the local bus service, and..... :cry:
It's partly my attitude - once I get wound up properly, it takes a while to cool down, and I'm not good at being faux-aggressive straight out of the gate. I'm firm about my practicing, but I don't react strongly the first time I get interrupted. But the constant interruptions end up screwing with my focus completely. Even when I get things done, I come away knowing I could have done more if left alone. Basically looking for some kind of "yeah, Hendrix had the same problem - that's how the whole guitar getting smashed phenom actually started..." moral support, or somesuch. Loving the jazz, and loving the work, but hating the lack of consideration I get for my goals right now. :roll:
I don't have a solution, just sympathy. I have tried saying over and over that if I'm in the music room playing music you can assume that's what I want to be doing. This must be something that non-musicians just don't understand. Sometimes I can't even make it through one song before I get interrupted with something like "come and look at the joke that somebody emailed me."
Maybe if you're making money at music, you could explain that you're working and that you can't just go play without practice. How about a sign that you can put up when you're practicing?
G'day from The Colonies, Scrybe...
The only way to "practice" is to keep something new in front of your mind. Going over the same stuff is tedious and isn't even in the least bit inspiring. Although this may seem bleedin' obvious to some...it certainly isn't to others that are actually in the frame. That's why the outside is able to intrude. It's sorta like TM (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)...you gotsta drop off the extraneous crap in your head.
What I do...is to look at whatever set of chordings I'm going over and I'll only focus on one particular chord change. I plan to alter it. Change the timing...it may only be softening the stroke of the pick for better dynamics...I dunno...something that's different, in any case. Add a note...drop one, whatever. Wait for it to come up. Concentrate. Everything else will go away. In time, you'll find yourself "setting up" these subtle changes with a prelude of sorts. When you can really do this...people will BEG to hear you!
Hope this helps!
"Feel what you play...play what you feel!"
I don't know what your living situation is... roommates, family, rooms available?
Saying that... here are my 2 cents:
- It is time to have a serious discussion with the people that keep interrupting you and talk to them about how important this is to you. Whether you have an upcoming gig, make money or not, or just practice for the fun of it, you should be able to slot a certain amount of time to yourself, with no interruption.
- It is not only their responsibility to be quiet. If you are practicing in a 'public' area, then you can't expect people to shut up around you. You have to take part of the blame and find an area to practice yourself. If you have a closed off room to practice in, go in and put a "practicing, do not enter" sign on during these times. Discuss with the people that during this time you really need them to not open the door unless absolutely necessary.
- You may not have to relocate - maybe just for practicing. There are a lot of studios, schools, churches, etc that have practice areas that you can borrow or rent.
- A headphone amp and a set of noise reduction headphones sends a big message to them that you are in your own world and don't want to be disturbed... and you won't disturb them either.
- If your only option is a public area... have you contributed to these bad habits? If, even once, you have participated in the gossip or discussions during your practice times you have opened the door for them to do it. You can't expect them to know when they can and can't talk to you - when you are "serious" practicing or not.
My Fingerstyle Guitar Blog:
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I know whereof you speak, Scrybe.
Our family's instruments are set up in the corner of the living room.
When the kids are practicing, everyone else makes best efforts to not interrupt them. as with when they are doing school homework.
But when I'm practicing, it seems that is the exact time that I need to be asked about the bank accounts, the car, can I go and see to the laundry/dishes/whatever.
So I end up practicing after everyone else is asleep, which is not the optimum time for my brain to be learning things.
Fortunately, I have no committed time to be good (or better) at playing. I'm happy if I can keep up with the kids. :P
I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep
Scrybe considers having kids to aid practicing.....then concludes the time investment is far too long. :wink: :lol:
But that;s exactly what I mean - I put my guitar in my hands, and that's the precise moment to ask me to turn the heating off/go to the shops/tell me about the budget/whinge about the local bus service/etc. I put the guitar down, all of a sudden, I'm less interesting. Pick it back up and once again I'm little miss popular. I tried practicing late, but the cold's no good for my hands (and I'm guessing weather in Winnipeg gets worse than Liverpool!). It's so annoying.
Anyone else had this experience of people who just have to wait until you're practicing before bugging you about everything, however utterly pointless? Any tips?
When I'm in "serious practicing mode", the doors to the cave are closed, and the ringer to the phone on my desk is cut off. My wife and kids learned early that intrusions during this time were tolerated only in the event of major calamity. I. E. Intrusion 1: "I'm practicing. Please come back later." Intrusion 2: "If the house isn't burning or flooding, and you're not dying, GET OUT!"
The key is to have the signals like closed doors, and make it clear beforehand that interruptions for trivial things will not be greeted kindly OR with civility.
Playing guitar and never playing for others is like studying medicine and never working in a clinic.
I find that studiously and deliberately ignoring people when I'm practising (and I do mean SERIOUSLY practising, as opposed to noodling/messing about!) usually works, especially when I've said something along the lines of "I'm going to be busy recording a song - please DO NOT DISTURB ME!
I have been told that continuing to play when someone's waiting to speak to me is rude - to which I answer, "and standing there glaring at me while I'm playing is equally rude. If it can wait till I've finished this song (I have told everyone, more than once, please don't ask me to do anything apart from CPR until I've finished the song I'm playing!) then it's not that important and it can WAIT!" (usually with added profanities, but this is a family forum.)
It wasn't so bad when I had a practise/computer room - but that is now a bedroom. One of Marilyn's grandsons is staying with us, and my daughter, Kayleigh, has moved back in for a while. So - nowhere to play except the bedroom. By the time I've taken whatever guitars in I need, sorted out the computer - plugged speakers in, dug the headphones out from wherever they're hiding, found the capo and the slide, plugged in enough extension leads for all the plugs I need, found the keyboard, arranged things to my satisfaction, and warmed up - there's not enough time left to record anything!
And I can't see the situation improving - if and when Kayleigh moves out, Marilyn's grandson will take her bedroom - leaving my computer room free, yes? No. She wants that for a spare room, for any other grandkids or kids that might want to stop over. Only thing I can think of is, I need a bigger shed - with power points!
So, I can sympathise, but the only advice I can offer is tell everyone when you're practising, and tell them this is YOUR time - and if they take it up with inanities, you can never get it back. Either that, or make a joke out of it - I actually put a sticker on my tele last year which read "please do not disturb unless WWIII breaks out, as being hit over the head with a Fender Telecaster is guaranteed to ruin your day!" It was one of those removable stickers - I wrote it out myself, and added my usual three smileys; if I was practising with the headphones on (which I do more often than not, unless I'm playing along with the radio) I'd wait till I could pause for a second and then point to the sticker.....then shut my eyes and continue.
:D :D :D
"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)
My advice is to focus on what's important not what's urgent. For my business the easiest thing is to spend my time answering urgent emails and responding to staff questions, but the important things are to train my staff so they can work independently and to spend my time advancing the interests of the business.
I'm sure the same is true for musicians. The difficult and important tasks of advancing technical skills will always be harder than dealing with the urgent day-to-day interruptions of roommates and text messages. It's important to be able to separate yourself from these distractions and schedule certain hours to practice, by either having a locking door or a separate location to practice, and being able to leave your cell phone out of sight.
My interruptions are mostly my 2 and 3-year old daughters who run into my study as soon as I pick up my guitar (my 6-year old son is busy playing Wii and happy for me to be somewhere else). I'm not a serious musician so they can't be denied, but if I were a serious musician I'd have to make the choice of having a practice area where they couldn't reach me and where I could practice without distractions. No one will ever place the same value on your practice time as you do, it's not rational to assume they would, so it's important to be selfish when pursuing the goals that are important to you.
Get yourself a t-shirt made with "Do Not Disturb on pain of death" in big red letters on the back. Only ever wear it for practice.
Get yourself a t-shirt made with "Do Not Disturb on pain of death" in big red letters on the back. Only ever wear it for practice.
Awesome suggestion! I'm well doing that! :mrgreen: :wink:
Thanks for all the comments, aragorn you're spot on. It is annoying, but I probably facilitate it by not being completely firm from the get go, been trying to change that. Also discovered that, if need be, I can actually take my guitar (electric, unplugged) to a cafe and get some work done there. If the interruptions continue, I'll probably just pack up my guitar, walk out, and do just that. After a few times of doing it, I think the message might sink in. I'm not a professional musician yet (at least not full time), but I want to get to that point, and I have to put the groundwork in now if I'm to do that, so I gotta start thinking and acting like a full time professional now.
Couple of suggestions I haven't seen-
Headphones while practicing the electric. If you can't hear them (or pretend you can't), they can't interrupt as easily.
Sit in a place where you've turned the chair toward a nearby wall. If you can't see them, they can't interrupt as easily.
Lock the door.
Go somewhere else.
There's probably a connection to the phenomenon that triggers my wife to think of urgent stuff to tell me about just as I've nearly left the room on my way to do something after quietly sitting there for half an hour.
(indeterminate, er, intermediate fingerstyle acoustic)
I get my best ideas just from noodling around on the fretboard.Some songs just came out that way,but wouldn't have if I'd been practicing seriously.You don't have to practice 5 - 10 hours a day,so limit yourself just 1 hour-1 1/2 hours of serious practice and the other times noodling around.You'll learn more than in hour of good practice time and won't get burned out and frustrated that way.Just take time to learn the chords and scales and you'll do fine.
...But that;s exactly what I mean - I put my guitar in my hands, and that's the precise moment to ask me to turn the heating off/go to the shops/tell me about the budget/whinge about the local bus service/etc. I put the guitar down, all of a sudden, I'm less interesting. Pick it back up and once again I'm little miss popular...
Ahaha, thats a strange little phenomenon, isn't it? I've had that, and it feels like the whole world is conspiring against you improving or something. Like stated before, maybe its time to sit down and explain what "practice time" is to all the people that wont leave you alone. Also, you might consider one of these:
Surprisingly great tone, considering.
the better i play, the dumber the conversations. i just avoid people.