i should be embarrased but i'm more puzzled

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by thunderbyrd, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Dec 21, 2004
    central ky
    ok, admitting you got a problem is the first step to healing and all. I must tell my embarrassing tale. the past two Christmas's, my pastor asked me to play a solo in "Silent Night". all I do is just play through the verse and the chorus (wait a minute, does silent night even have a chorus?) once. when I learned it a couple of years ago, it probably didn't take more than 5 minutes or so to pick it out.

    before I "performed" it in public, I played through it many, many times. you know, putting that muscle memory into play. and when we played it, about 7 or 8 notes into it, I couldn't remember what to do next. so I scraped out something. it was substandard.

    next Christmas, I got maybe 15 notes in and -boom- it was gone. so I scraped out something else.

    in the year past, most of the time when I pick up my guitar, I run through the melody a time or two. but I don't really feel confident with it. I don't know why I screwed it up before, so i don't know how to fix the problem.

    how do I fix this? if I play it 1000 times in a row, I believe I could still blow it.
    Mr. Neutron and JayFreddy like this.
  2. BB

    BB Poster Extraordinaire

    May 17, 2003
    Great Pacific NW
    Sometimes what seems easy is not. I can certainly relate. You know the answer bro.... do what you need to do. My answer would be just one more thing to screw you up!
  3. hopdybob

    hopdybob Tele-Afflicted

    May 28, 2008
    i understand, maybe wrong, that when you have to play this song , you think, things don't work out.
    but what did the people who heard it say?
    sometimes when people expect something from somebody, one can block because you don't want to disappoint them by saying no and the pressure to perform good is high, but the fun gone.

    the only ones i play for is my wife, if it would be someone else i block.
    so good for you that you can perform for others!
  4. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Afflicted

    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England
    My wife's a pianist. She says amateur musicians practice till they get it right, whereas professions practice till they can't get it wrong.
  5. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 6, 2006
    Dallas TX USA
    I don't know the answer to your question, but it's something I have struggled with too.

    I taught myself the modal forms, several varieties of each, where the CAGED forms are, how they line up together with pentatonic and blues scales... And then when I go to play specific melodies, I ignore all that and let my ears guide my fingers.

    For example, I have known how to play the solo for Comfortably Numb note for note for years... Thought I had it down cold.

    Last week I was teaching it to a student and I realized that there was a better way to play it...

    The old way wasn't "wrong", all the nltes were there, but it suddenly dawned on me that if I used a different set of positions and strings, it actually sounded stronger, and more like the original in timbre and feel as well.

    Im not sure why it took me years to come up with a more sensible grip... The original grip i had worked fine.

    And I'm not sure how you would teach that as a skill... Either to yourself or to others.

    I try to listen for timbre, as the string numbers will usually reveal themselves that way, then I can choose the frets from there, but that still leaves the choice of finger...

    Once I have the note, the string, the fret, and the finger, it's harder to forget...

    If I'm simply playing straight by ear, I come up with more "creative" grips that dont always stand the test of time... And are easier to forget...

    I'd be interested to hear how others approach this problem...
  6. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Holic

    Sep 4, 2019
    Binghamton NY
    Sometimes when I’m trying hard to do something right I can play it 50 times and each time gets worse than the next, I’m frustrated and I’m too focused on getting it right which is causing me to mess up even more. Once I put the guitar down and come back 15 minutes later I end up playing it way better the first time than I could before. I think sometimes we get tunnel vision and it’s better to take a break or start playing something else for a bit because when you go back to it after a break your in a better state of mind to take it on again.

    It would probably help to break it up into like five note chunks rather than praticing the whole thing. Work on the first chunk, the second, than both together, etc.

    If it helps you can tab it out or write notes out or standard notion, whatever you use. Even if you don’t plan on reading it off the paper you will reenforce it into your brain by writing it out. Seeing all the notes laid out in writing might help you to find different areas and fingering on the neck that you might prefer using too.

    You could record yourself playing it too, that always helps.

    You can work on a backup plan Incase you can’t find the melody and just practice some improve over the chords of the tune.

    If something happens this year than 95 percent of the folks there won’t notice and if they have a problem than they can get up there and play it ! Haha
    Mr. Neutron likes this.
  7. CK Dexter Haven

    CK Dexter Haven Friend of Leo's

    Jun 7, 2017
    Try working on it a bit each day starting now, just pick up the guitar and go thru a section, as it gets closer start concentrating on cleaning up transitions etc. Then put it together, run it a few times and go.
    You should develop better MM this way as well as becoming more confident- comfortable w/ the material.. doing numerous back to back ” full runs” is not the way most professionals rehearse music, dramatic parts or even athletic endeavors. Break it down.
  8. Seasicksailor

    Seasicksailor Friend of Leo's

    Jun 26, 2012
    Bristol UK
    I think it could be that you know it too well but superficially? It's like learning a poem by heart. If you learn the words just in terms of how they sound and not in terms of what they mean, if you get stuck at any point, it's nearly impossible to recover. If you learn the words more deeply, you can always remember the general meaning and that can guide you to the right spot.

    Sorry if this is vague... typed in a rush!
  9. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2014
    If you just ‘believe’ you could still blow it, it’s not real, Its just an idea in your head holding you back.

    Practice it, record it, hear it back and know you CAN do it right again and again and again. ‘Know’ that it’s not true.

    Taking breaks and coming back gives time for your brain to embed it. Def. good advice above.

    If no one noticed or commented, it’s not even a problem to worry about. If I started to worry about all my screw ups at gigs no one mentioned, I’d be a gibberish wreck in an asylum. The exact moments of all my screw ups get seared into memory and I will ruminate on them in the hour or so after a gig but have to consciously say to myself.. ‘f**k it.. just more experience’ and laugh at the whole situation and move on. It’s human and humans are far more concerned with their own mistakes than the mistakes of others, so I use that rationale to know that my mistakes are meaningless to anyone else but myself. Helps break the cycle.

    Is there some funny key change or chord changes or could you play the melody straight and get away with it?

    I would put the changes on a looper to nail it in practice but also get to the root of the scales or modes needed and improvise a thousand variations. I’d practice ways out of a screw up and to perhaps own an improvisation.

    If at the end of the day, the prospect is still not fun, you could simply avoid it and see if a flautist or similar wanted to pick up the solo.

    Of course instead, you could own it completely... jump to your feet, dial the marshall to 11, hit a fuzz and rock out... finish playing with your teeth in a cascade of wah induced feedback before kicking the stack to the floor.
    Mr. Neutron likes this.
  10. Togman

    Togman Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Apr 28, 2004
    Cambridgeshire, UK
    I know this has been discussed fully in another thread - use a music stand.

    If you have the music/tab/notes sitting in front of you it could be just the 'safety net' that you need.
  11. SecretSquirrel

    SecretSquirrel Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Jul 2, 2015
    Make sure you know what the chords are behind the melody — and try relating the melody notes to the chords, to add some context.

    Hope that helps! That mental glitch in performance sucks, and one remedy for me, even if it's a rote melody solo, is to have the chords in mnd as a reference, then 'playing to the chords'.

    Another advantage to knowing the chordal context is, if you still flub and forget where to go, you can improvise your way out better.

    And yeah, I agree, a music stand is acceptable in this instance.
  12. teletail

    teletail Tele-Meister

    Aug 25, 2019
    West By God Virginia
    If what your doing isn't working, you need to try something else. How do you relate to the solo; do you think notes or fret position? Whichever you're using now, try the opposite.

    Also, maybe you really do need to just play it 1,000 times. I have solos that I have literally played 1,000 to get them right. I'll play them 10 or 15 times in a row using a metronome, increasing the speed a little each time.

    Last, as someone else mentioned, write the solo out. You can't forget it if it's written down.
  13. ale.istotle

    ale.istotle Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Mar 22, 2016
    I would steer into the skid. If you forget your place launch into an 8 minute solo with an ecstatic look on your face and tell him the you 'caught the holy spirit.'
    Mr. Neutron, strats62, Axis29 and 2 others like this.
  14. basher

    basher Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    Jun 7, 2007
    Washington, DC
    This! If you fall off the solo as written, improvise until you can climb back on. Or don't climb back on! Being able to do that gives you a bazillion ways to play the thing correctly instead of just one right way and a bazillion wrong ones.
    57fenderstrat likes this.
  15. Mark the Moose

    Mark the Moose Tele-Holic

    Sep 4, 2018
    Erie, CO
    First, I would get the music out because the visual cues reinforce memory in the learning process. Next, I would break the melody into phrases and practice each on its own. Alternate singing and playing each phrase 3-4x, singing also reinforces memory. Finally put it all together, and if you are still concerned about a memory lapse just bring the notated melody or tab (or even just the lyrics) with you and put it on the floor or on a stand.
  16. Matthias

    Matthias Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Jun 30, 2003
    The trick I have heard but not really followed is to practice knowing where the relative notes are and not think about fretboard positions. It’s how a lot of folk players learn on mandolin/fiddle/etc so they can listen to a jig or a reel once through then just jam along. As long as they can hum it, they can play it!
  17. codamedia

    codamedia Friend of Leo's

    Apr 4, 2009
    Western Canada
    ^^^ this ^^^

    Just to add a couple things when preparing for a performance...
    • If possible, run through the song several times at the volume you will be performing at.
    • Run through the song several times in the position you will be performing. EG: If you sit during practice but need to perform standing up... stand up to practice. (and vice versa)
    ale.istotle likes this.
  18. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 22, 2017
    Is the issue that you're forgetting the piece? Or are you flubbing the lines?

    If the former, then it seems like a relatively easy fix, no? I know someone posted something about hating music stands on stage. Whatever your take on that, it seems like no one could reasonably object to a music stand in a church.

    If the latter, then I suspect that whatever impromptu fill you used worked and no one even noticed. It's such a slow, solemn piece that I'm sure anything you played sounded nice. Of all the things we have in this world to worry about, I wouldn't sweat this one. You'll sound good no matter what you play.
  19. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    I completely agree and add this. Learning involves a myriad of neural pathways. It requires the formation of new synapses (connections between neurons). Practicing with the music open reinforces learning. You not only develop what folks here call muscle memory, you develop what could be referred to as a visual memory. If your goal is to play Silent Night flawlessly, employing multiple learning strategies has to help.
  20. memorex

    memorex Friend of Leo's

    Jan 14, 2015
    Just noodle around chromatically until you find your way back into it. Tell people you're doing it Jerry Garcia style.
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