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its not stage fright...

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by tomtrb, Jun 7, 2001.

  1. tomtrb


    Apr 17, 2001
    Last night I got invited to jam with some older guys - late 40s early 50s (I am 21). They were horrible. No jamming at all. Just muddling through some songs completely deviod of energy. Anyway, I played like crap. It called for country style bass, which I am not very familiar with, but the thing is, I played horribly even when the stuff was super simple. This seems to happen whenever I play with anybody - or most anybody. If they suck, then I suck. If theyre pretty good, then I will play better. I know this is a common phenom. but this is rediculous. Im no Vic, but at home I can burn through scales and arpeggios and play original chordal tunes and Bach pieces, but I dont think I have ever in my life played at my potential with other musicians - save one (a drummer - awesome). I guess I really dont have a question to ask. I guess its just like headroom, you have to be able to play like a God in order to sound decent.
    The bad thing is this. Now they probably think I suck, and rightly so. I couldnt even keep up with them b/c there was no.... power in the music. So anyway, how do I become a musician that makes others play better, instead of one who depends others to play well?
    Just ranting,
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    TomTRB, it takes practice to play with others. It is actually much harder to play with others than to play alone, because you are forced to stay with them or get with them in the song or else you must lead them and make them stay with you.

    So much more co-operation is involved and you must listen very carefully to what is going on. It is a very interactive process, not like playing with a CD or with a metronome which are both very much under your control.

    Too, the CD and metronome do not judge you. You may think you are doing well because your feet aren't being held to the fire by real, live humans who have expectations for you. If you have developed bad habits in your practcie sessions, they may show up with a real, live group. This is good, not bad, because you will know what your weaknesses are and be motivated to work on them.

    But that said, the experience is so valuable. If you can get up your courage to go back, do so as soon as possible. You will get better at interacting musically each time. Also, you will see what adjustments you need to make in your private woodshed sessions so that you can play better with your group.
  3. I think J.O. nailed it, it takes time for even the greatest players to get in the groove with each other. They may have stunk and you may have stunk but good players will know that it will take more than one practice for things to lock together.
  4. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    I'm no stranger to the 'stage', but I've never played my bass in public and that's one thing I'm afraid of. Like, things I can play at home in private I'm afraid of getting up on stage and just blowing the whole thing.

    I say this because I can practice scales and stuff for hours on end and then get to my lesson and have to play for my teacher and I'll totally forget them, knowing that I know them. It's a pychological thing I'm sure.

    I guess my teacher sensed this and now sometimes he actually turns his back away from me when I'm playing something. LOL....like pretend I'm all alone. I don't think this is a good thing to do, but..heh. :)

    Luckily, I'm slowly curing myself of this. I analyzed why I can play some things so well at home: It's that I tend to 'lose myself' at home in what I'm doing..in a sense that nothing else exists apart from me and that bass.

    I tried this at my lesson. There was an exercise I had to play. I focused just on that, just on what I was playing. Nothing else in the world existed. I ended up playing it perfectly. My teacher was amazed. It made both of us happy.

    It's also nerves with me and I'm getting to be less nervous.

    Hope everything's working out nice for you, tomtrb :)


  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    A one shot experience is no indication of your potential to play in an ensemble situation.

    You start out simple, like root notes if you must, and then you soon find the pocket as you get a feel for the drummer. As Jason said, it comes with time and repetition. Unlike playing alone, all the musical events going on in a live group aren't preductable and they don't revolve around you. If you keep it up, I guarantee this experience will not repeat itself, (unless you hook up with musicians who simply can't play cohesively).

    It took week in and week out practice, several times a week, to get to where I could competently step into a jam situation. At a few auditions well after I felt fully capable in jam sessions, I wasn't hired because I was told they don't want the bass driving the music, (or "driving the bus" as they say).

    Keep it simple for the time being and see if the other musicians begin to gel. In time, you will find spaces in the music where you can plug in the money riffs you're playing alone at home.

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