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Effortless Mastery

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Distant Cousin, Oct 22, 2010.


  1. I know a few people here have read this book. It's on the reading list for my improv class, and a lot of people also recommended it to me. It turns out my teacher for improv knows Kenny Werner personally! Crazy.

    Just read the first three chapters, and I can definitely relate to the low self-esteem, and feeling worthless when hearing a player better than myself. The five minute finger exercise he mentions is interesting. Not tried anything like that yet (not entirely sure how it would translate to bass), but I thought I'd take something from it and jam along to a song differently than usual.

    First song that came up on shuffle: Dark Shrines by Muse. I don't know the bassline to the song but I thought I'd jam along. I didn't really pay any attention to figuring out the exact line; just played around not really giving a crap how it came out. It sounded way better than when I usually jam along to songs! I hadn't warmed up, and my hands were cold (hurray for my crap house), but I was coming out with all these licks that sounded great; stuff I wouldn't have played usually, and some faster stuff than I'd usually think I could play.

    Seems like this book is helping a bit already!
     
  2. DrayMiles

    DrayMiles

    Feb 24, 2007
    East Coast
    I read it a few years ago.. A good book, and one that any muso should be able to relate to...
     
  3. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Still working my way through the exercises. The fundamental points are very, very sound.
     
  4. That book changed my life. I give copies out to musician friends as gifts all the time.
     
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Never heard of the book before. Sounds interesting. May pull the trigger for $13 just out of curiosity. Plugged in to hear a little more about it.
     
  6. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    What resonated with me, Joe, is the idea that, at least for many of us, we play worst when we care most (like when we really want to impress someone or when someone like Otiel Burbridge walks into the room- and we play better when we're not worried about how we sound or "if they'll think we're good" (like just playing with really good longtime friends). That the more we "care", the more tension and mental chatter comes into our playing, and the less we're really able to be present with the music. But as musicians, often our self-worth is tied up in how others percieve us - we want to be seen as "good musicians". And that desire ironically gets in the way of us playing and sounding our best.
    So that's a basis for the book, along with exercises and ways of thinking and examples to get to playing more from a less concerned, freer place.
    If that makes sense...
     
  7. BullHorn

    BullHorn

    Nov 23, 2006
    Israel
    Sounds good, I'll see if I can get me a copy. Thanks for letting us know about this!
     
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    That makes sense. And I think I'm going to order the book today... but, strangely enough, the above isn't really one of my problems. While I'm not all that comfortable admitting to any of my bass playing insecurities :ninja:, if I were to admit to one it would have to do with seeing players who are better than me. Or maybe more accurately, more successful than me. I can handle the fact that I'll never be a wooten, yet I compare myself a bit too often with the guys around me that get more (or what I percieve as "better") gigs than I do. I sometimes fall into the trap of putting the focus on what I lack, as opposed to what my strengths are.

    As for the playing worst when we care most part, I think I've stumbled upon a few things that work for me in those situations. I almost always do my best when I'm crapping my pants most. Played a gig in Paris a few yrs back with a somewhat well known musician. This show was the biggest show of the tour we were doing, it was where the most fans were going to be, and the artist's old band was going to be there and do a few songs. I felt the old bass player was technically more skilled than me (but I looked much cooler :) ), and anyhow... the night before I didn't get any sleep at all. Had every intention of catching up in the dressing room, but the dressing room became an open house. Packed with fans and friends from the time we got to the club in the early afternoon, to the time we hit the stage. The music was really complex and high energy. Didn't get my chance to review the material as I'm accustomed to before hitting the stage. Was a 2 and half hour set. I was absolutely horrified... went through a little ritual I have in a quiet corner, and it wound up being my best performance of the tour.

    The things that work for me in those situations are first, remembering what an old acting teacher of mine once drilled into our heads. Being nervous and scared is awesome! It's energy. It's proof we're fully alive and there's nothing wrong with it. The trick is to learn to channel that into our performance. I think the knowlege that it can be helpful as opposed to hurtful is all I sometimes need on order to do that. Some of the greatest performers of all time had to be literally pushed onto the stage. Laurence Olivier is one of the most documented.

    The other thing is kinda personal, and can cause some eye rolling, so I don't talk much about it. Prayer. Been in the habit of praying for many years, and I shoot a very sincere prayer out asking to be freed of my own crap. I ask to be focused on sending love to the audience, and know that my performance is going to be exactly what it should be for my highest good, and the good of all who I'm performing for. It's usually a few minutes of talking to myself quietly, that I like to believe is going to a higher power of whatever sort... that works. I believe in powers greater than me in the universe, and I feel this connects me with that, whether it be inside me, or out. Fer what it's worth, I don't believe in a bearded guy sitting in the clouds allowing me to kick ass just because I requested it. It's a bit more complicated, and at the same time a bit more simple than that actually.

    Blah, bla, bla.... I've said more than I wanted. :) Will order the book now and probably revisit this thread when I get around to reading it.
     
  9. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I think you'll enjoy the book.

    I've adopted Maynard Ferguson's pre-gig prayer:

    "May I be an instrument in Your hands;
    An inspiration to the audience;
    and a joy to the band."
     
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I like it. Will shorten my prep by about 5 minutes. :)
     
  11. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    You've just made a trumpet players' day a lot better. I like that a lot.
     
  12. monroe55

    monroe55

    Mar 17, 2009
    Are there any other Philosophical music books someone may have read and recommend? Whats with that 10000 hours theory or Vic Wooten's "the music lesson"? Anyone read these and care to offer some suggestions? I plan on ordering Effortless Mastery asap. Thanks to the OP.
     
  13. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    "The Music Lesson" is a novel, but very philosophical, and IMO offers some really great lessons and thoughts about Music and playing.

    My honest opinion - it's not a super-great novel, but it IS a super-great book of ideas that can change how you approach playing, for the better.
     
  14. monroe55

    monroe55

    Mar 17, 2009
    The best philosophy book was "Jaco :the worlds greatest bassist";)
     
  15. bottomzone

    bottomzone

    Oct 21, 2005
    Great book, as is the DVD!

    A Groove is a Terrible Thing to Waste! :cool:
     
  16. ryco

    ryco

    Apr 24, 2005
    97465
    I enjoyed Werner's Effortless Mastery.
    It didn't really help me with music per se, but it did introduce me to meditation, which I have been practicing ever since!

    That was almost ten years ago. I'm sure one helps the other (music & meditation), but as far as the 4 step exercises I've never gotten past step 2, which is fine with me!
     
  17. sackvegas

    sackvegas

    Dec 1, 2006
    Great thread thanks for posting
     
  18. plangentmusic

    plangentmusic Banned

    Jun 30, 2010
    Manhattan
    Read it. Some good points. Too many people think of practice as "hours logged" which will result in improvement. That only works for the first year or so. After that, the practice has to be meaningful.

    Some points I don't agree with.

    Overall, I think it's an article stretched into a book.
     
  19. TimK

    TimK

    May 27, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland
    There is a series of books by Dr Timothy Galloway called "The Inner Game of Tennis". It was the 1st one and he has done one for Golf and I think music too. The ideas can easily be used in any task. ie, music, golf, tennis basketball, whatever.

    I have read the Golf book and it is really good. Lots of cool ideas about how to seprate you Concious "self" (brain) from your "unconciuos self (muscles, nerves etc...)

    It teaches you how to "get in the zone" to take a metaphor from sports. You learn to trust your body and not let your mind distract your body from doing what it (your body) knows how to do. Kind of like leaning all your scales and theory, and the forgeting it all and just playing
     
  20. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    Try "The Inner Game of Music" Barry Green. Green was the principal bassist with Cincinnati Symphony for many years.
     

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