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View Full Version : Jam Night ---not the same as practicing at home



curiousgeorge
05-19-2005, 08:17 AM
Hey guys,

Just got back from jam night at the local pub. I got up for 3 songs : Black Crowes-Hard To Handle, Weezer-Say It Ain't So, and Chuck Berry --Johnny B. Goode. I had the solo for Hard To Handle down to a tee, but ended up doing something completely different. I also hesitated at a few key spots. The audience really didn't seem to notice too much, cause I got a big cheer after my set... Screwed up a few times, but I redeemed myself in the end. The drummer was doing this stop/start thing and I was in the spotlight to solo unexpectedly. i shredded with all my might in the A minor pentatonic position (shoulda learned how to shred in the other positions or used a different scale or something. I HATE falling back on that box pattern every time!), but it came off pretty well. The crowd seemed to love it. However, I was fighting it the whole time just trying to stay alive! It's crazy, we spend all this time warming up before practicing and getting ready, but there is no way to tell when your name will be called at jam night, so you can't really prepare. Why is improvising in front of an audience so much tougher than jamming with friends or jamming to CD's at home? Maybe I drank too much...or not enough? Improvising the changes and solos on the fly is tough. I figured 'hey, I've been playing 13 years, I can handle it!', but I still play a lot differently on stage than I do at home. I pick different, I improvise different, just the whole feel is different. You can't even warm up beforehand! It's only my 3rd time up in front of that crowd. I wonder if it's the booze....I had about 5 or 6 drinks before I got up there. It's like, if I don't have enough, I'll be nervous and screw up, but if I have too much I'll just screw up from inebrieation. What do I need to do to improvise better in a live rock context? What are your thoughts and insights on this issue?

phantom
05-19-2005, 08:25 AM
Why is improvising in front of an audience so much tougher than jamming with friends or jamming to CD's at home?

My guess: Adrenalin

I'd say. Try it again, totally sober.
Try to keep control over your feelings and don't cramp up.
If you are sober, you'll probably will be more in control and you'll have more confidence.
When you are up there, think of music, besides all that "strange" surroundings try to listen inside you. Don't concentrate too much on serving the audience as it will block your "instant improvising" potential. Try stuff out live!
Do things that you wouldn't even dare to do when you are alone at home.
Don't play too save - as you said, the audience will not recognize if you yre off anyway.

Be brave.

curiousgeorge
05-19-2005, 08:33 AM
My guess: Adrenalin

I'd say. Try it again, totally sober.
Try to keep control over your feelings and don't cramp up.
If you are sober, you'll probably will be more in control and you'll have more confidence.
When you are up there, think of music, besides all that "strange" surroundings try to listen inside you. Don't concentrate too much on serving the audience as it will block your "instant improvising" potential. Try stuff out live!
Do things that you wouldn't even dare to do when you are alone at home.
Don't play too save - as you said, the audience will not recognize if you yre off anyway.

Be brave.

Hey thanks, Sven! I jusy realized how self concsious I am as well when there are hot ladies in the front row! :D

rmuscat
05-19-2005, 09:05 AM
it sounds so cool CG!!

well i second the phantom - be brave

Although i'm no expert in this field i feel the idea is simple looked at it from my perspective. Getting the solution takes time though.

I see it as "the bedroom attitude in front of 50,000 people"

so if you manage to place your mind musically in synch with your instrument, NOT in accordance to your location, not on the quality of the sound (within acceptible limits of course) or the people you're playing with (unless they dumbheads of course).

I think the way forward would be more gigs of this kind, more imagination when picking up guitar in the sense ALWAYS make yourself believe you're playing in front of 50K people :D


/serious off
also avoid thinking there's some satch, lane or vai in the audience lol moral goes down drastically ... if you see any of the guys in the audience ask the security to kick the guy out lmao, or in my case i'd ask the security to kick me out!

Bande
05-19-2005, 03:52 PM
I read the article trilogy written by Jamey Andreas about stage fright, and there were some very good points in them. These are the ones which I find the most important (at least for myself).

-The audience will only watch what you know, not what you DON'T know. In other words, there's no problem if you hit a bad note, nobody will start shouting and throwing tomatoes at you. I would say:the mistakes of the musician are actually the magic of live music! (Of course I don't mean every second note a mistake)-->so be brave

-Jamey says that if you feel, that playing in front of an audience is different for you that playing in your room, than you're having stage fright. Think this way: The audience came to your gig to watch you play, not to watch you getting embarassed!-->If you just concentrate on the music yo're playing and not on "ooooh, what if I hit a bad note" then there will be no prob.

To add something to what Rmuscat said: If you think there's a better guitarist than you sitting in one of the rows, ignore him/her! And if you play worse than he/she would? So what? YOU are on stage, not him/her!

curiousgeorge
05-19-2005, 05:41 PM
it sounds so cool CG!!

well i second the phantom - be brave

Although i'm no expert in this field i feel the idea is simple looked at it from my perspective. Getting the solution takes time though.

I see it as "the bedroom attitude in front of 50,000 people"

so if you manage to place your mind musically in synch with your instrument, NOT in accordance to your location, not on the quality of the sound (within acceptible limits of course) or the people you're playing with (unless they dumbheads of course).

I think the way forward would be more gigs of this kind, more imagination when picking up guitar in the sense ALWAYS make yourself believe you're playing in front of 50K people :D


/serious off
also avoid thinking there's some satch, lane or vai in the audience lol moral goes down drastically ... if you see any of the guys in the audience ask the security to kick the guy out lmao, or in my case i'd ask the security to kick me out!

Hey, thanks for the input....however, I think it's probably more of a physical thing. Also, I was probably a little too buzzed for my own good. That probably didn't help! I'll have to cut my consumption down beforehand I guess...Here's a quote from a Butthole Surfers tune: 'alcohol....it burns my living soul!'. How true! :p

perth
05-20-2005, 06:40 PM
i think playing in front of people demands as much time as other things you may be practicing (such as practicing to a metranome). try to play in public as often as possible. it doesnt always have to be jam night. it can also be at the park on sunday, at some family gathering (especially christmas!!), or if you have the time and live in a friendly neighborhood walk around to local buisnesses and play for them (also good for getting used to pr).

everyone cramps up sometimes. just do the best you can, and laugh when it doesnt work (or make the same mistake twice and call it jazz). :)

SostenutO
05-20-2005, 07:50 PM
Stage Fright is our friend. Nervous energy is the best thing any of us can have while performing anything. However, nervous energy must be handled. Most people use nervous energy to do something like moving side to side, putting their hands in their pockets, shaking their leg, biting their lip, etc etc. However, this energy should be used for its real purpose: to perform/play better than ever! Once you can understand how to control this energy you will learn to become more comfortable infront of people. And in a larger sense, like Bande said, the audience won't know when you mess up, they don't know if it was an accident or something planned. And either way, mistakes are nothing to worry about. They are lessons in playing. The best way to learn is to make mistakes, and you shouldn't be afraid to either.

Los Boleros
05-21-2005, 02:02 AM
I love gigging on Saturday nights as apposed to Friday nights cause I have all day to prepare for it.

My preparation day consists of this:

Eat healthy all day and drink lots of water. Don't Drink any alcohol all day. Get out early and go for a run, I that expending the energy in excercise calms my nerves leter in the day. Take a nap. Preforably a Hot Tub. After Lunch, pick up the guitar and start with stretching excercises for about five minutes and then proceede to playing Short intervals of speed picking with breaks inbetween and repeat the finger stretches. I do this for about twenty minutes before turning on some music to jamm to. I usually like to start by playing to songs that I will not be playing that night in hopes that it will inspire me to something different. Take a break. By now I am ready to slow my body down with some Yoga stretches and relaxation. I try to keep the rest of my day as easy as possible to free my mind of any stress. This is a good time to mow the lawn or wash my truck. I don't pick up my instrument again until about a few hours before the gig. I then grab a set list and think about the solos for each song and run through them trying to imagine the rhythm in my head.

Get to the club and check equipment and do a sound check. after sound check I will go to my truck and hide there untill it is time to go on. I will usually warm up my voice in the Truck slowly but right before I go on stage, I like to let out a loud scream. (I find this is good for the nerves) I walk into the club and it is usually pretty packed by now. No time for chit chat, straight to the stage. Plug in and go.

Well that's my story and it's all true. I know that is ounds a bit superstitious, and perhaps even a bit neurotic but it works for me. I don't always have the benifit of having all day to prepare and on those occations where I gig right after work, I don't seem as creative. I think the biggest issues to deal with before a gig are not really the music issues but the mental issues. You want to have a clear head and a booste of confidence. Tell yourself that you know you can do this because you have done it thousands of times before.

mattblack850
05-23-2005, 12:01 PM
I love doing the Jam nights that I go to!! It's so much more a relaxed atmosphere than appearing in your own show, if someone messes up it doesn't matter, it only proves their human, and that, to me, is what Jam nights are about! Experimentation, jamming with people you would not normally get the chance to play with, etc..... but most importantly, have fun!!

curiousgeorge
05-23-2005, 04:23 PM
Yeah, it is indeed a blast! Thing is, Los B, there is no way to tell who you will be jamming with or what songs you'll be doing, so the only way you can really prepare for that is to practice jamming with a buddy, or along to CD's I guess. I remember a couple weeks ago, I joined in on a triple guitar jam for My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama (Zappa), which was crazy fun, everybody trading solos and getting into it. There's a lot of room for improv on songs like that.

Los Boleros
05-23-2005, 07:45 PM
Yeah, it is indeed a blast! Thing is, Los B, there is no way to tell who you will be jamming with or what songs you'll be doing, so the only way you can really prepare for that is to practice jamming with a buddy, or along to CD's I guess. I remember a couple weeks ago, I joined in on a triple guitar jam for My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama (Zappa), which was crazy fun, everybody trading solos and getting into it. There's a lot of room for improv on songs like that.I hear you. I still maintain that the biggeest issues are mental. Keeping a straight head is gonna work out better 80% of the time. Jamming along to the Radio will help train your ear to what ever the Jamm nite will throw at you but improvements in this area will take time and on the day of the jamm, you pretty much got the chops that you got. I would work on limbering up and practicing to the Radio and taking care of your body. Also too, if you really want to sound like a champ, prepare your own progression that you are familiar with and bring it to the table. You may catch the other guys off guard and that will not only make you sound better but increase your confidense.

My .o8 cents