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Egos. I hate mine!

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(@threegtrz)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 106
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I believe I have a small one, I don't play 20 minute solos and the soundman is always telling me to turn it UP; but it is an achingly fragile ego. When the band is playing out, feedback from the audience is like a super-vitamin. If the audience is indifferent (or worse, distracted), it's murder to me. And on the occasions my wife comes to a gig and isn't enthusiastic enough to suit me, I just want to lay my stuff down and call it a night.

"There is no smaller package in the world than someone who is all wrapped up in himself."

Very true words indeed. Still, I wish I could develop a tougher exterior. In the real world, we're not playing to an audience, we're performing in front of a gathering. At a bar, beer garden, wedding, etc, the band is part of the scenery and not the lynch pin of the evening. That's what my right brain tells me, anyway. My left side is the more emotional one and wants people dancing to every song.

It gets worse for me in September, too. Maybe it's the dwindling daylight hours.


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(@slejhamer)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 3297
 

I hear you.

We just started playing every week at church. They apparently like us enough to have increased the frequency from every-other-week, but there are days when I wonder why we're playing at all. Yeah, of course there are times we just don't groove, but when we do it's frustrating to see the congregation not getting into it.

Now, I know it's not about us, we're just there to help lead the worship service, but I'd like to know that the music is moving people ... I wonder if the pastors ask themselves the same thing about their sermons - Am I boring them? Do they hear the message? Why aren't they shaking their butts?

Well, maybe not the last one ...

That being said, we had a GREAT second service this past Sunday; the sanctuary was overflowing and we could hear them clapping and singing along to our upbeat songs (it's rare that I can hear them over the band.) So I'm kind of on a high for now ...

Anyway, the good news is you are playing out ... maybe some of those events you're playing at could have used a DJ or a CD player instead, so take it as positive feedback you're getting the gigs and being asked back.

8)

"Everybody got to elevate from the norm."


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(@musica23)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 278
 

Some would say that I have NO ego as I am shy to play even in front of my husband (and, on some days, my guitar teacher!). I shun the spotlight. I refuse to play on cue. A dear friend was on the phone with my hubby while I was playing the other day. He had the audacity to bust in on me and tell me to play an impromptu "Happy Birthday" to the unlucky listener! Imagine my sheer terror at his intrusive demand.

However, this sort of behavior really indicates a HUGE ego. If I didn't care so much what others thought, I'd play in front of anyone anytime. They could just leave if they didn't like it.

I'm very unhappy with my ego. I haven't even tried to seek out jam partners since I started playing again (over a year ago)! I admire you folks who have the fortitude to play out. And with a band! What if they like their performance but not yours??? You risk ruining the entire gig for the night by actually playing in a band. (I'm not trying to scare anyone...)

So here I am stuck with myself, jamming with no one, forced to assess my own performance. And Lord knows I've been told thousands of times that I'm my own worst enemy. Looks like I (not to mention me and myself) am in a no-win situation. :?

I do carry one shred of hope with me most of the time, though. I never forget what my teacher (a burnt-out lovable pothead, and a damned fine human being and guitarist) once said: "Guitar playing is 90% attitude and 10% skill." This has helped me immensely to overcome my fear of inadequacy as a guitarist, never mind that it's probably untrue. Also, one of my own thoughts (taken from almost every musician in the world): I'll never sound like fill in the blank and I don't want to...I want to sound like me. (This isn't always true, but I purposely think it anyway.)

You probably won't hear me, but I think you're doing great! :D

Love and Peace or Else,
CC


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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

Great replies Musica23 and Slej!

I think Musica23 nailed it with the ego assessment - there's no harder path than the shy perfectionist.

One of my all time heroes on these boards is Trev/Hilch/Barnabus who had the courage to start posting sound clips of himself very early in his development, and was happy to say "look I'm terrible, but here it is, I'm enjoying myself, and I might get better one day...". And of course he has got better too, at songwriting and at playing. A lot better. Plus he's now successfully collaborated with several others here too, by simply having the openness to say "I can only do this bit, can anybody else add the rest?".

But I just noodle around and wait until I have a really good clip to post. And as I improve, the bar keeps moving just a little bit further away. It's always just another couple of weeks away before it will be good enough. It's so dumb really! :(

The thing is that nobody actually minds other people producing imperfect performances - it's actually reasuring for everybody else. The best houses you can visit are not spotless, but look lived in and comfortable. The chairs sag a bit, the floor doesn't look like you could eat off it, the magazines haven't been tastefully arranged to impress, etc. Nothing worse than an immaculate house where the owner keeps leaping up to empty ashtrays, straighten things, or flick imaginary dust away. The most pleasant house to visit is probably one that's a bit scruffier than your own, but not quite to the point where you feel that you're actually going to catch any unpleasant diseases.... So let's all relax about our slightly scruffy music, and stop inventing imaginary critics who write sniffy reviews of our efforts.

Perhaps us tentative perfectionsists need to start a 'Scruffy Scraps' corner of the Hear Here forum and all post our cheerfully wobbly and unfinished bits of noodling. I'm sure it would be quite therapeutic, and fun too. 8)

Cheers,

Chris


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(@kent_eh)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 1885
 

So let's all relax about our slightly scruffy music, and stop inventing imaginary critics who write sniffy reviews of our efforts.
I was just reading the latest issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine, and a quote from Martin Sexton regarding recording some songs on his new album live jumped off the page at me:

"A few mistakes, whatever -- It's music. It's not a freakin' science exam."

:D

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

I was just reading the latest issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine, and a quote from Martin Sexton regarding recording some songs on his new album live jumped off the page at me:

"A few mistakes, whatever -- It's music. It's not a freakin' science exam."

:D

Nice one. :D

I hadn't heard of him before, so it was an enjoyable detour to go to his site and hear some samples. Liked his voice and his style, so I'll add him to him to the long list of people whose music I should look out for. Thanks.

Chris

EDIT: Geez, now I'm even spelling my own name wrong....


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(@boogie)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 467
 

To add to kent_eh's comment, read my review of the Patterson Hood show I went to last week ( http://forums.guitarnoise.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=35348 ). Patterson has been in the music business for quite some time and tours with his band all the time. His acoustic show had him a bit worried. He even commented on his concern about playing alone. He made mistakes, but it did not fluster him. He had fun!! And so did we!! It was an eye-opener for me. I can be kind of hyper-critical of my mistakes. In my practicing and playing this past week, I've been more relaxed and less critical of mistakes. I've even made a few 'mistakes' I liked.


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(@threegtrz)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 106
Topic starter  

Great input from everyone.

For Musica, I'll relate something I read about Jim Morrison. He was so scared of the audience in the early days, he only sang with his back to them. All that power and influence, and he was so afraid.

Regarding imperfections, some of the coolest recordings have mistakes deliberately left uncorrected. The first Van Halen album is full of stumbles. Led Zeppelin had musical and recording goofs all over the place. My all-time favorite is the live version of "Smoke on the Water" from 1973. After the second chorus, the great Ritchie Blackmore screwed up the main riff; one of the easiest things for a guitarist to play! But to me, these are all jagged edges that are necessary to make the band sound real.

One more thing. I'm a multi-instrumentalist. I wrote and recorded several tunes, including a heartfelt ode to my wife. When I had her listen, she was less than indifferent. Her only comment was that my singing was off-key in lots of places. My song failed to touch her soul, and I was completely devastated. I quit playing and wouldn't even look at my stuff for a couple of months. Then I discovered places on the internet like Soundclick where other musicians from all over can hear your stuff and be objective. So I posted my mp3 files and got some objective feedback. That, combined with forums like this, got my feet back on the ground and made me feel better about my little hobby.

Since then, I have learned that your spouse doesn't have to like what you do musically no matter how hard you try. I have learned that I am no balladeer; I took the sappy lyrics and melody out of that song and changed it to some dark folk allegory. I like it much better.

Get out there and find folks to jam with. If you have a teacher, you are already doing so anyway.


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(@ignar-hillstrom)
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Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5384
 

Personally I don't think that screwing up a riff adds character or soul, it's just screwing up something that should not have been screwed up. It's one of those things I really can't stand, nor understand, about guitarists. Mistakes happen, sure. We're all human, sure. But why do all musicians try to be as good as they can and learn their skills to they can properly communicate whereas guitarists just seem happy to screw around and sometimes even boast about their lack of skill?

My music is filled with mistakes, and I don't edit them out, which is real easy to do these days. I'm not proud of those mistakes, but I would be less proud of dishonesty. One day I'll be bale to truly play flawlessly and then I'll be happy. And until then I need to practice. As for ego, you won't find a bigger ego around town then mine. It's the way I am. I *hate* playing in front of others, but I don't think it has to do with that. Many of my fellow egomaniacs are quite eager to play out live.

I guess that is more a realism thing: they just don't see the ego-bashing coming, I do.


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(@simonsez)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 31
 

Interesting thread!
Musica- wow your post sounded like it could have been written by me. On the very few instances of playing with a band it was a nightmare as i didnt feel adequate enough that i felt i held back too much to the point of not playing well. It is this fear (or perfectionist attitude) that has always been (and still does) hinder my playing. After a 2-3yr haitus i am enjoying the guitar even more and actually playing in front of my wife is not a problem as i am getting less concerned about whether i am playing good enough but merely trying to play better each time. I have struggled with self-esteem in my youth and i would guess that it still has some part to play in my guitar playing. I feel now that i want to play with and front of others and that if i cant play something 'it is ok'.

happy playing


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(@scrogdog)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 95
 

Well, I am definitely not a great player. Just a hummer and a strummer as I like to tell people. But people enjoy to hear me play at parties and cookouts and stuff.

I'm not sure how to say this in exactly the right way. I used to be a lot more shy about my playing and my mistakes. When I was a lot younger, however, I had a very good mentor in my positive thinking father. A lot of people poo-poo the notion that positive thinking can help your life. I heartily disagree. It surely can. It can also surely help your playing and confidence.

It is not the end of the world to make an error. Keep on keepin' on. A lot of times I'll feel a couple of mistakes that are hardly noticed by others. So… after a time I just didn't let anything get to me.

If you can somehow reach that point, you will find a whole new freedom to your playing. I promise you.

One of my guitar-playing peers used to call this kind of fear the “prepared to flinch mode”. :) I know exactly what he means. Don't play in fear. Play with freedom. The difference is stark and very noticeable by others.

Like all things, it is hard at first and easier as you go along. Try positive thinking today!

In that sense, guitar playing is indeed 90% attitude. Go get ‘em tiger! ;)


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(@musica23)
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Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 278
 

Scrogdog wrote:

One of my guitar-playing peers used to call this kind of fear the “prepared to flinch mode”. :) I know exactly what he means. Don't play in fear. Play with freedom. The difference is stark and very noticeable by others.

I understand and agree!

Also, that's exactly how I took the 90% thing my teacher said. My attitude affects my entire world (and sometimes others...especially those close to me, but even strangers). If I feel I'm playing well, I probably am (by my standards anyway). This positive attitude stuff can be used in just about every area in life.

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's remarks on this topic! I sometimes dislike being human, but when I see that we all are, it makes it a lot easier. :D

Love and Peace or Else,
CC


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(@scrogdog)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 95
 

This positive attitude stuff can be used in just about every area in life.

Absolutely - you can take that to the bank. Positive thinking has had a profound effect on my playing and my life. I am almost a born-again style positive thinker spreading the word where ever I go! lol

Given that, I will leave you with the words of the great poet-philosopher Wayne Gretzky. ;)

"You miss 100% of the shots that you never take."

Now... anyone for the Little Train That Could?


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(@dogbite)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 6353
 

all those who feel shy raise your hands...........
I see.
playing guitar is like that.
'hey, look at me!," it shouts.
that is why I am not a front man.

the perfectionist troll under my bridge often gets in the way.
I hate missing the note in my head with my fingers on the guitar.
(I am happy to have a note in my head, sometimes).

what I have learned is :
the more you play the better you get.
playing in front of people is easier each time.
you play worse in front of people at first.
after a while you play better in front of people.
and most important of all

only one person hears your mistakes
and that is your self.

how many hands do I see?

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=644552
http://www.soundclick.com/couleerockinvaders


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(@chris-c)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3460
 

:D

One hand raised here!

I'm usually very reluctant to play in front of others, and always seem to think that I need more time....

One thing that I've been putting off doing is recording some of my playing, and what I laughingly call my 'singing'. It can be grim reality time when you hit that playback button.

So, this week I finally vowed to write a song, and sing it and record it and post it at the Sunday Songwriters Group forum here. The theme for the week was 'keeping it simple', which seemd to tie in perfectly with all the doubts and fears that we mentioned above.

If you'd like to check out just why I've been reluctant to perform in public the awful reality can be seen (and heard on mp3) at this link:

The Perfectionist Beginner Blues

Cheers,

Chris


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