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  #1  
Old 10-18-2012, 11:37 AM
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Mighty_Joker Mighty_Joker is offline
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Default Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

Hi all,

An infuriating phenomenon I keep encountering when playing live is that I can't seem able to play what I play in practice, on stage.

For instance I can spend hours working through particular Jazz solo motifs or comping patterns, yet when I'm on stage in front of an audience the ability seems to have vanished.

I don't think this is down to nerves. My current theory is that I play a lot louder in practice due to wearing headphones, so when I come to the stage on a small jazz gig I have to play quietly which seems to dampen my ability. This is most notable during my chorus-long solos. My "chops" seem to have disappeared, when usually they are really quite good. Could this be a confidence issue?

I am reminded of a Vinnie quote about how sometimes he just goes for it regardless of the possibility of making mistakes.

Does anything like this happen to any of you? So far it hasn't really affected my professional life, yet it is annoying that my soloing isn't where I want it live ,when it sounds really quite nice in the practice room.

Any thoughts?

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 10-18-2012, 01:03 PM
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Galadrm Galadrm is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

I would say it happens to most non-seasoned drummers (as in drummers who haven't practiced 6 hours a day for 5 years, and haven't done hundreds possibly thousands of gigs sessions). If you tend to improvise fills like I do and it sounds like you do, then you probably will have trouble reproducing the same quality fills in a live gig as you do in practice. In my opinion however, it is a confidence issue where drummers don't feel confident enough (including myself) to play such great fills as you usually may in practice. This may be because these fills are on the very edge of you're ability, or for various other reasons.

A good way to approach improvising fills is to play the exact same improvised fill twice in a row, then you are conciously thinking about what you are playing (taken from a benny greb dvd).

However you did say that you reckon its not down to your nerves, so in that case, maybe try practicing how you perform, and this may be an extreme example, but no jazz drummer got good by practicing metal all the time and only performing jazz. All I am saying is maybe dedicate some of your practice time to playing how you would when you perform and then the other portion how you would normally play.
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Old 10-18-2012, 01:19 PM
dmacc dmacc is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

Could it possibly be you are inspired to play differently live versus practice? I know I am.
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Old 10-18-2012, 02:00 PM
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mikeyhanson mikeyhanson is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mighty_Joker View Post
My current theory is that I play a lot louder in practice due to wearing headphones, so when I come to the stage on a small jazz gig I have to play quietly which seems to dampen my ability.
I think there's something to this. I think that a drastic change in your listening environment can affect the way you play...at least until you acclamate yourself to the new environment. If you're playing loud with headphones, then suddenly you don't, there's a huge difference in what you hear, and it'll directly correspond with how you play. Playing in a small, intimate jazz setting is going to be a lot different than your room, as you well know.
Same with earplugs. A lot of guys don't wear them because they think it kills the sound. The cheap, store-bought foamy ones do, but custom-fit ones don't [or shouldn't]. I know that if I don't wear my earplugs, I can't stand the volume, so I wear them whenever I play or am around playing.

Anyhow, I digress. But I do believe there is a difference in how/what you hear and how it affects your playing. For example, I think you would probably find not so much of a difference if you, instead of practicing with headphones, played to the music through a p.a.. This would, of course, mean you would have to have one, but if you're in a position to try it, it might be worth considering. You can work on time as well as dynamics, from a more distant [and a bit more realistic to your other setting] source.
To me, there's a bit too much compensation when playing to music in headphones. It's at one continuous volume, so I have a tendency to want to match that volume and park myself there so I can hear myself "mixed". So I'm basically only working on time [and a little control] at that point, and virtually no dynamics, unless I am playing to something that has large dynamics and I try to match them.

Now, if you're talking about being in the practice room and wearing headphones that aren't playing anything, or are maybe talking shotgun headphones, that's different. I'm working off the assumption that you meant playing along with music in your practice room. If I'm wrong, forget the above and blame my caffeine intake.
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Old 10-18-2012, 02:53 PM
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Anon La Ply Anon La Ply is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

Joker, it seems to me that you'll be fine if you practice the patterns at gig volume.
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Old 10-18-2012, 03:03 PM
PeteN PeteN is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

There is a point in my progress where something might sound great when I am working on something on my own but when I go to add it while playing with my band it does not come out fluid and solid.

Plain and simple, you just need to work on it more.
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Old 10-18-2012, 03:47 PM
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Liebe zeit Liebe zeit is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anon La Ply View Post
Joker, it seems to me that you'll be fine if you practice the patterns at gig volume.
This.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteN View Post
Plain and simple, you just need to work on it more.
And also this. You won't do in a gig what you do in practice til it's solidly in muscle memory and can be initiated unthinkingly, I reckon
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  #8  
Old 10-18-2012, 03:48 PM
SkaaDee SkaaDee is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

In my humble opinion, using headphones in practice changes everything.
It cuts out the high end. You end up playing less nuance. Headphones are good for learning tunes but it's like removing the flute and violin sections from a symphony.
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:13 PM
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larryace larryace is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

At gigs... is it a possibility that perhaps your brain is saying....

I want to create, not recreate?

It's a whole different process in your skull between creating and recreating. Maybe your brain is just stating it's preference. Just a thought.

I try and practice some stuff for gigs, usually solos, but mostly, it's in vain. When I get up there, it's a whole different set of circumstances that I didn't rehearse for.

You have to rehearse the parts you really want to play, with the full band, to be able to play them with the full band it seems. I can definitely relate. I experience the same thing. Except I no longer try and work something out beforehand, because for some reason, I can't access it on stage. So I just try and get better at inventing on the fly. That's the only thing my brain will allow it seems.
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Old 10-18-2012, 04:44 PM
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topgun2021 topgun2021 is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

I read a study about studying where if you study to music or TV your mind related what you are studying to the music and TV show. Thus, the information you learned is easier to recall if you are listening to that music, or watching that TV show.

I fall under that category.
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  #11  
Old 10-18-2012, 05:09 PM
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Odd-Arne Oseberg Odd-Arne Oseberg is offline
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Default Re: Performing live versus what you can play in the practice room

For praticing with headphones I definetly recommend micing the drums and run it all through a mixer if possible.

As for playing live versus practice room, that's a conceptual thing that I feel relates to any musician.

I've played the guitar for most of my life and though I've always practiced a lot, there are a lot of things that happened when I started gigging every weekend. The first band played a variety of cover tunes and after a couple of months you pretty much knew theset list drunk and in your sleep. It 's a whole different type of comfort zone and after having done that for many years it's changed the way I practice and the level of quality, control and comfort I strive for when I practice.

I started playing drums quite recently and I was ablbe to bring that same pespective to my drum playing. There was a beginning where it was so physically challenging that it was hard to completely connect, but after I got my basic chops up to a comfortable level I found I was still the same musician as oin the guitar, with just some technical issues.

It all relates heavily to that of being a musician first and an instrumentalist second.

So the question I tend to pose is: Are you practicing with the useful application in mind, taking every aspect of playing music with other people into account when you practice?

I feel every little bite sized chunk should be practiced from every direction fully ingrained to be spontaneous, something you can be creative with and hear moving along even if you make a technical mistake and have full awareness of everything that happens as a result musically before moving on.

It's a slower process than how many musicians practice, but at least something real is happening. You know it and you can use it as it's just a slight twist on a technical and creative concept for you.

Other ways of practicing, though things happen over time, I tend to equate to standing in place, banging one's head against a wall while living in complete denial.

It only took me 25 years to get this. lol
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