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Controlling your mental state.

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by DBCrocky, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    I don't know if I've ever seen a thread about the mental state(s) of performing (by this I include practice, live, and/or recording).

    For me, it's a balance of two mind-states.

    The first is an hypnotic state, whose focus is totally on the moment, the feel of the jam, responding to what's happening musically etc.

    The second is a a conscious state, that is keeping track of where I am in the song, what changes are coming up, and trivialities like making sure I don't fall off the stage, etc.

    When I get sucked into the first state at the expense of the second is when I miss changes and play clams.

    I'd like to hear how others think about and/or manage their mental state while playing.
  2. Piggy8692


    Oct 2, 2010
    Northern Utah
    I've always kinda felt the same way. Like the perfect blend between pure focus and total relaxation. It's nice when it comes without trying to control it.

    I can think of playing live and knowing what parts or songs I need to relax on so I can feel the coming changes, whereas other parts i really need to be focused so I don't miss them. It really is a good topic I think.

    For me, for the most part I play metal and on the parts that are a little more intricate, I could care less who's in the crowd or what side of the stage I'm on etc. I'm completely enveloped in the music. But when it opens up a little bit I can feel free to move around the stage and head bang with friends in the crowd.

    For recording, It's a lot more focus on my part. It needs to be perfect, or at least my version of perfect... So I use my 'bass tunnel vision' I tend to write with feeling so it will come out on the recording.

    Great topic. btw
  3. I like to be totally relaxed when I'm playing. I don't get nervous on stage, because I've prepared for the moment. My parts in the songs are well-rehearsed, my equipment in in good working condition and ready to go, and my set list is easily accessible. One thing I've got into the habit of doing is to write down the first note to be played for a given song on the set list. That's where I begin the song, and the rest is pretty much autopilot. One thing I do have to be on guard for is my breathing. If I get too focused on my playing I forget to breathe! I remember almost passing out one time from forgetting to breathe!

    It's a bit like playing a sport. If you're focused yet relaxed, and confident in your abilities, then you'll be all right. :)
  4. Ug. I think I'm jaded. Those 'trance-like' states are gone. Now, it'll still make me feel good when things gel, but I'm still focused on it all. That 'trance' feeling has been replaced with a 'things are poppin' and people are digging us' realization.
  5. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    Trance, schmance. I just play. Usually I'll get it right, and sometimes I won't. When I don't, my whole band gives me crap, and so I practice that part until I can't forget it.

    I'll give you a great example, and it's not even on bass.

    12 string main riff "Wanted, Dead or Alive" by Bon Jovi.

    All you have to do is go to the wrong fret ONE time on that, and you have very little hope of recovering. When I say "you," I mean "I." I will get psyched out, and start desperately looking for a place to put my fingers!

    So I rehearse the hell out of that part, even though I've been playing it for three years.

    And, MOST OF THE TIME, I nail it now.

    If I do brain fart?

  6. Robdrone


    Jul 27, 2012
    Lancaster, PA
    I do the exact same thing... The first state is so enjoyable that you begin to eschew the second state even though it is still necessary for certain passages. I've found that with my current project that the more time that goes by the more time I get to spend in the first state. Luckily in most of our songs there are vocal cues to follow and our lead vocalist is good about doing them faithfully which helps tremendously.

    Good topic.
  7. Slowgypsy

    Slowgypsy 4 Fretless Strings

    Dec 12, 2006
    NY & MA
    For me, first is knowing the material. When I get to a gig, I've got the material down solid. I believe if you don't have the material at your command, it'll only increase the stress level.

    Food and drink. I eat something before a gig. I don't do coffee or other caffeine type things. I might have a sip of wine. These are all things to get my body into a relaxed and comfortable state.

    I meditate. Done it for decades. Doesn't necessarily mean sitting cross legged for hours humming. It's simply an exercise for your mind, to pay attention and be mindful of what you want to pay attention to and be mindful of.

    Add everything up... you're in the zone. That magical state where you are the music. Hard to describe, but when you're in the zone... you know it.

    Just my $.02
  8. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    For me its a bit different every time.

    Usually, a couple times during the show I totally space off. I mean I'm in the middle of song thinking about work.....I'm not even on stage. We're always doing new songs and sometimes before a show I can't remember how my part goes at all for the new songs. Usually I remember when the song starts. I can fake it pretty good, so if I go blank I do that.

    For me, at this point, the most important element to concentration is routine practice and not assuming I know the part. I have a pretty large set list that I've learned in a relatively short time, so I need to keep going over it. Once in a while a part of a song comes to me when I'm driving and I test myself to see if I know which finger on what fret etc. in my own head. If I can sing the part, that's a good sign.

    Sometimes its just ***, its been a bad week and you do what you have to do. Sometimes I play the best when I'm like that.

    I haven't figured out the head trip at all.
  9. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    This is why it was important to me to be in a band that gigs alot. We gig enough so that I don't really think about where I'm at in a song or what changes are coming up. It only happenes from the live experience it doesn't happen in the basement.

    I still get nervous before any show even the tiny bar shows. The day I stop getting nervous is the day I know something is wrong.

  10. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    The 400th time you play "Brown Eyed Girl," try these:

    A. Focus on a particular technical issue (say, chasing a specific tone w/ right hand position, or really working on stopping notes to emphasize the snare).

    B. Focus on what a good time the crowd is having (especially that gorgeous brunette over there--the one with the amazing smile).

    C. Some combination of A & B.

    OTOH, I've done some extremely last-minute sub gigs where I've been overwhelmingly focused on making sure I hear where the tune is going and that I'm set to deliver the 16th-note melodic unison line that's looming over the next 4 measures. On those kinds of jobs, the hard part is to think ahead to where the easy bits are, so that I can dance around a bit, project more of a sense of getting lost in the music, and focus on that gorgeous brunette over there.:)
  11. twhitedc


    Feb 19, 2011
    There definitely are varied states of bass-mind.. But for me thinking is for writing and playing is for playing.... and recording is all about concentration mostly because everyone else's time / money is on the line. I find the more I think, the worse I play... Once I've written or learned parts I play them best when I'm just grooving... If I'm thinking about When's the change? or What is that fill? Or where was I playing that A last practice? I tend to be more in my own head, distracted, and way more likely to grab some sour notes, or miss the change I was frantically trying to nail.
  12. RedMoses

    RedMoses Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2012
    Overthinking is what makes me miss parts, when you think too much about one thing, you loose your focus and you are not inticipating the next change. Chances are you have practiced enough where you will feel the change coming (if you dont then you havnt practiced enough), so all you need to do is relax and NOT think, allow your training and conditioning from playing those songs over and over to do thier thing.

    Turning off the "Thinking" can be very difficult, its much like meditation and takes practice, but its muscle memory, the more you do it the better you get at it.

    Stop thinking and just "Be" the Bass player that you are.
  13. MarTONEbass


    Jun 19, 2009
    Norton, MA
    You need to read The Inner Game of Music. It will help, I guarantee it.
  14. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    Just for reference, I usually play in bands where improvising is mandatory, so I can't just drill a note-for-note arrangement in until I don't have to think about it. Not that there is anything wrong with those that do.

    Thanks for the book reference, Mar. For others, here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Inner-Game-Music-Barry-Green/dp/0385231261
  15. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Never thought about the topic all that much. Generally what I do, no matter who I'm playing with or for, is pretend I'm subbing BG and backup vocals for a national act, where second-by-second playing+singing has to be 10/10 and no excuses. (And mistakes... absolutely out of the question.) BTW I do the same thing during solo practice at home -- I pretend everything I play to an MP3 is for a 10K crowd with a national act I really respect who called me at the last moment to fill in, and the last thing I want to do is let her down. If you make a habit of this at solo practice, you can transport it to band rehearsals with little effort, and from there to live work with almost none. Because it just becomes part of your normal M.O.

    I'm not saying this is the right way for everyone, not even recommending it. It's just what's proven to work best for me over the years. I think personality has a lot to do with it. Classic Type A, take-no-prisoners here, lol...........
  16. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    What is with the obsession with brown eyed girl with TBers.

    I have never played it it a band and never will.

    I'm out enough and I don't hear any cover bands that play that sort of thing.

  17. klokker


    Jan 7, 2009
    Steele City, NE
    We play it at just about every week. It's a request, that's why. The guys I play with have been playing it for decades and like playing it too.

    But the point is keeping your head in a game when you've played the same song a million times.
  18. DBCrocky


    Oct 18, 2011
    Cary, NC
    Because it's about anal sex.

  19. 4StringShooter

    4StringShooter Banned

    Jun 26, 2011
    London, Ontario, Canada
    GBX Member #1

    After being a Front Man, Bass Player for over 30 years, I dont get nervous. The ONLY thing that bugs me is a slack-assed Musician who doesnt learn their part, and doesnt seem to care. THAT, bothers me THE most when playing.
  20. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I haven't put BEG in a setlist for years, yet it gets requested at almost every gig.