anyone else overly-critical of their performance

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by smitcat, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. smitcat


    Aug 5, 2003
    Ithaca, NY
    I had a gig last night with my cover band. It was our guitar players bday, and the whole show was based around it. We went on stage, and there were a ton of people, 2 photographers, as well as video and audio recordings. I know i messed up a couple small things here and there, but one song i completely played the wrong part. Now i feel like i messed up so many more times, and that my performance was terrible. I know a lot of it comes from the fact that i am a perfectionist, and when i don't perform well i come down on myself too hard. Anyone else have this problem?? And if noone cares, thats fine, i just needed to vent.
  2. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I used to be. I just prepare, practice, and play my butt off. If I mess up, hey I'm human. I used to sweat the smallest little error, even if imagined (sometimes they are). Now, my perfect to screw up ratio is about 8.5 to 1.5. I can live with that.
  3. Eric Grossman

    Eric Grossman

    Nov 3, 2004
    St. Louis
    Endorsing Artist: Hipshot Products and SIT Strings
    I've been playing for 25 years, and I've played over 1000 shows for sure. I have yet to play a perfect show. For me, as long as the audience is vibing, I'm cool. I do sweat the big mistakes, though.
  4. I just remember that 9 times out of 10, the audience isn't going to notice most mistakes anyway, like a wrong chord change or missing a beat. It's the big mistakes that tend to tick me off, like someone stopping early or the singer forgetting a verse in the middle of a performance. Frankly, being the bass player in a three piece and not being the lead singer, I consider myself to have things relatively easy ;)
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    The only mistakes I don't have patience for, are the ones that show that people aren't putting in their time.
  6. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    A few thoughts...

    The little guy that sits on your shoulder and criticizes everything needs to be ignored. He's getting in between you and the music. You can either pay attention to him or pay attention to what's going on around you, musically. Which do you think is going to help you stay focused on the music.

    "Perfectionism" - music is INTERACTIVE. If all it was about was playing exactly the same thing in exactly the same way every time you play, you can sit in your room and do that by yourself. The farther you get from playing a part and the closer you get to playing what you are hearing, the closer you will be to making actual music. If you think that the great classical solosists are just pushing buttons when they see a dot on a page, you are sadly misinformed. The notes may have been written by Bach, but they are HEARING every single note they play. That's why it can be so affecting. tha's why it sounds different when different musicians play the same piece. I would spend less time worrying about whether or not I played my part "perfectly" and more time listening to how you all sounded as a group. Were you making music or were you all just playing the "right" notes at the same time?

    "Coming down too hard" - beating yourself up about a bad performance is just another mechanism to avoid working on the problem. Being as objective a listener as you can be (to yourself) is a great thing - going over a performance for areas of weakness, for things to shed, for areas to pursue improvement is a great thing. That's what performance can do, point out the areas that need additional attention in the shed. But merely to say "Gee I sucked" and make a big show of lamentation and venting and wishing things could be better does exactly the same thing as thinking "Gee everything sounded great". All you can sound like is what you sound like. and the only thing that changes that is the quantity and quality of the work you put in. Why waste the energy? Why not use it to do something that will ACTUALLy make a difference?

    Expectations - it sounds like you were mentally putting a lot more emphasis on this gig (birthday, photographers, video) than other gigs. That can tend to magnify your expectations. Again, all you can sound like is what you sound like. Somebody here has a quote, the difference between an amateur and a professional is that the former practices something til he gets it right, the latter practices something til he never gets it wrong. As others have said, the more you work on something, the easier it is to do, the more confidence you have in doing it. My teacher says something that it took me awhile to realize was true. The difference between the times you feel you play badly and the times that you feel like you played great, the actual difference in your playing was very small. The things that you really KNOW, can HEAR, those stay with you, all you can play is what you can play. There is nothing that magically gives you more ability or magically takes it away. You can FEEL better about one of those situations or another, you can let that FEELING interfere with or reinforce the focus you have on the music. But your technique, understanding, aural clarity, these don't change.
  7. smitcat


    Aug 5, 2003
    Ithaca, NY
    Thank you for your post. That is probably one of the most insightful things i have ever read. I have thought about it and talked with a few people from the crowd, and realize that I was making way too big of a deal over it. the bottom line is that i had a great time, and it was a night i will remember. I will look back on this post from time to time.
  8. Mel Monihan

    Mel Monihan

    Mar 30, 2004
    Great post ED. I printed it out so I can read it whenever I need to.
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hey I'm just passing along stuff that other people helped me to understand.

    Bottom line is that the music is the music, all this other **** is just stuff we make up in our heads.
  10. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta / Macon (sigh)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
  11. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND


    Great post Ed. :)
  12. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Yup. Good one, Ed. "The Music is the music."

    He's put up like fifteen hundred posts - maybe we should number the posts and paragraphs, print'em all out, guild the edges, and bind'em in a black leather cover.

  13. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY
    I'm like anal when it comes to me playing because I always mess up, but my friends say it still sound good, and I can't ever tell if they're tellin the truth or being nice or relaly have no
  14. jja412

    jja412 Fine gear enthusiast

    Feb 2, 2004
    St. Louis
    and I know it, so I just laugh it off and keep practicing.
  15. There used to be this weird phenomenon about shows. When I thought I had the worst performance- felt like I didn't play a thing right, I just wanted to slink off the stage and hide for a while- those are the nights when you have 30 people telling you how great of a show, how great of a band, how fantastic of a musician you are, your amazing stage presence...

    Play a show that feels good, walk off feeling like king shizzle- nobody says a word.

  16. How right you are. Wierd really. I don't think about it used to consume me...and I didn't enjoy myself as a result.
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I used to feel the same way.

    But now I'm right in line with what Ed said.

    Part of that all started when I got rid of a nice bass with an active pre-amp, an amp with a ton of tone controls and picked up a simple P-Bass and an amp that is just as straightforward.

    The simplicity forced me to just get into the music and stop fretting about "my" sound. Now I just play. Now it's all about the music.

    Thoughts by two guys I admire have really inspired this in me...

    "Half of learning to play is learning to listen" - Stevie Ray Vaughn

    "The very most important thing to remember is that music is meant to be fun, and make you happy, and make others happy. If you lose that, you’ve lost it all. I think that music is a gift. It belongs to no one. It just flows through us if we let it." - Tommy Shannon

    If you are thinking too much about screwing up, or dwelling on mistakes, you've already lost it.

    Like Ed so eloquently put it, "I would spend less time worrying about whether or not I played my part "perfectly" and more time listening to how you all sounded as a group. Were you making music or were you all just playing the "right" notes at the same time?"

    Right on Ed!!!
  18. BassmanA440


    Feb 3, 2005
    I have a freind who is supposedly overcritical of himself when, it is actually a way of trying to coers complements. I sounded like sh##. No you didn't, you sounded great. after a couple of weeks I started saying, yup, you sound like sh##. :cool:
  19. Thunder_Fingers


    Jun 24, 2004
    I tend to have low expectations to myself, so i always get pleasantly surprised when people tell me it went good... exept that time i was stupid enough to meet up with an brand new bass with brand new strings(about a 3 weeks ago :p)
  20. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i get ticked at myself for stupid mistakes every once in a while. more than usual i just laugh. acually i've been known to noticeably laugh if i or someone else makes a real clunker, a lot of times that breaks any tension and the audience seems to get a kick out of it too (if they even noticed anything at all) ;)