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musician psychology?

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by rorykins, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. Hi Justin.
    your response to my last question was super helpful and informative, so i thought i would pose this question to you.

    I just got back from playing a gig with a local legend of sorts, a singer songwriter who has been doing what he does for over 30 years. i got the call yesterday and received 3 mp3s to learn of his songs to play tonight.
    no rehersals, just arrive and play. one day notice.
    I play with the drummer all the time, so we locked it, but i missed a change to a chorus and when the guy called to play a well known cover I had never learned before, i naturally missed a few changes and notes.

    Over all, under the circumstances, it was a great gig and people loved it. but i feel bad about missing those parts.

    Often i feel like i "blank out" on a song or two and fudge it up.
    am i being too hard on myself? Is there some musician psychology to get over trying to play every note correct?

    Thanks alot, keep up the awesome work.
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    You're not being hard on yourself, every one of us wants to avoid those moments of missing a change, etc. But they happen. TO EVERYONE. So the universal "truth" of that fact is something you can take comfort in. I make mistakes like that in front of 50,000 people sometimes. I've even done it on TV for millions of viewers.

    But what you can do proactively is avoid those moments of self-criticism that follow those mistakes. And for me, the way to do that is to be so present, so in the moment, that the next note/chord/whatever becomes the focus of your entire being.

    Not in a forceful way with unpleasant or visible effort. But in a calm, focused, peaceful way. With the intended aim of creating a natural negation of any unpleasantness you just went through so that the audience doesn't even perceive that YOU had a judgement about that clam you just made.

    BUT EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY, so that you don't get hung up on it.

    This touches on the area of personal philosophy/improvement a bit, and I certainly have my own way of improving that focus, that inner peace, being in the present, if you will. But whatever gets you to that point, that's the thing that can really turn the tide of self-criticism, doubt, over-evaluation, etc.

    It's finding out how to live comfortably and elastically on a line of successive moments from one to the next in life, and therefore, in music.

    No regrets, just commitment - for better or for worse.

    I hope that didn't all sound too theoretical, but that's the best way I can describe it here.

  3. Thanks again Justin.
    very helpfull, I wont let mistakes derail me.

  4. John C. Reilly

    John C. Reilly

    Feb 24, 2004
    Taking a moment to let your advice sink in. wow! I'm almost looking foreward to my next screw up so i can practice the technique you have described.
  5. Skeevenmac


    Jan 27, 2008
    Knoxville, TN
    The best advice I've heard/given is to relax and to trust your hands to go where they need to. As far as that well known cover that you've never learned, now you know a song to learn. =)
  6. casio


    Aug 1, 2007
    It mostly burns down to muscle memory, and knowing your band. But the main thing is being confident and not letting anyone in the audience know you missed. Having an understanding band helps (that means none of those "WHAT?!" faces).
    Nobody can cast stones on this subject, no matter how good you are, mistakes occur.
    Dont let them get the best of you, the rest of us don't! (yeah right) :D
  7. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Strong advice, y'all. Very good.

    Stand proud, regardless of the mistakes! And don't play it up, keep those facial reactions and body language in check.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Most definitely do that. If the audience knows you scared yourself with a clamato, it takes away their confidence in you. Next thing you know the flopsweat starts, then you're f'd.

    And give your band members the same respect you should give yourself and don't look over at them and make a face when they make a mistake, either. Bush league.

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