#1
- Is it raw passion? Do you approach practice in a disciplined, structured way and enjoy it when you start to see results? Do you enjoy practice as well?

I keep playing because it's a challenge, and I want to write cool songs. This keeps me coming back. What about you guys?

I wouldn't exactly say I've hit a plateau, or some stage along my musical career, but it's a problem nonetheless. See, I have this constant feeling that I should be better than I am. Common theme, I'm sure. But after 3 years of my instrument I still hit other strings, have questionable intonation, hand cramps that prevent me from playing certain passages, and terrible sight reading skills. Oh, and I can't keep a beat very well.

I have fun playing in a group when I know what I'm doing, and can enthusiastically take on new songs (and work through them, albeit painfully), but I never feel like I have it mastered.

I guess I'm just looking for some advice because this mindset is really hard for me to get rid of, and I always start to wonder if maybe I'm just not cut out to play music (which in turn makes me anxious because it seems like I'm more focused on this than other musicians, who only seem to have fun, and all of this just reinforces that attitude).

p.s. Sorry for the whiney self-indulgence
#2
I've always just played. No matter what. Even if I can't think of anything new. While i'm watching T.V. or on the computer or whatever, I just play. Eventually something new comes out, then another and another and so on. Just keep playing and you'll find something new.
#3
I don't like it when I know I can do better at anything, whatever it is. That's what motivates me. I get right into it and work on just what it is that's causing problems until it isn't anymore.
#5
I kinda know you feel TS.
Although I've never played with a group of people.

For me though, the only thing that keeps me wanting to play guitar is by trying to find ways to improve my musical ability [thus, I lurk in these forums and read interesting threads trying to pick up anything useful].
Currently though, I'm starting to study more Jazz. Might be more difficult then other music, but will definitely benefit me greatly.
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#6
I was just talking to DiminishedFifth about this last night. To evolve we must change. At certain times in our lives we have to step away from what we know and step into what we dont. For example Ive taken some things about as far as I can take them, and now I no longer find myself moved by a certain style, so I venture into something I cannot do to find that joy of discovery again, and for me that might be studying a genre that interests me but I can't presently play that well.

Best,

Sean
#7
Studying to improve your knowledge and ability keeps the mind from stuttering or plateauing.

I remember years ago that I often had periods where I couldn't think of decent musical ideas, but gradually I started to incorporate experimentation with sound, harmony or methods of composition etc. and these have always kept me from falling into a rut. I can't actually remember the last time I felt dry of ideas through doing this, mainly because I'm always find new and interesting things to try out, and by finding new things, you get inspiration from them (well, in my experience anyway).
#8
The main driving force behind my guitar (actually any instrument at that) playing is the fact that I love music and the way it sounds.

Similarly to what Dayn said, I'm always striving to impress myself. If I can't impress myself, I'll just keep playing until I can. Then by that point I no longer impress myself and the cycle repeats.

And when I do hit a plateau I usually just let it work itself out. If it's something minor, then I just keep at it. If it's something major, I usually take a break and come back when I feel inspired again.

Playing with a group drives me as well, TS. In fact I hardly ever practice bass alone anymore, because I value much more the practice I get from playing with my band, my church bands, or just jamming with my brother or some friends. I feel like now I need something more than sitting at home running through scales or learning songs note for note. If I hear a lick I like I'll learn it, but most of my discovery occurs in playing with other people. You can bounce ideas off of them, they can bounce ideas off of you, and it teaches you when to play, when not to play, and how to follow along with dynamics, rhythm and tempo.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Aug 17, 2010,
#9
I play because I love music. Thats it really.

I enjoy learning sight reading because I see it as a different language. It's really cool when you see a note on the page and both your hands instinctively play that note. A few months ago that note on the page was a mark on a piece of paper, now it's part of me.

It's an amazing feeling when you learn a song you love, and bit by bit you progress from not being able to play that solo until you've got it down pretty good. Or playing rhythm to a track, and being in time with it and feeling like you make a contribution to the music.

I'm 33, I've been having lessons for about 6 months. I know I'm never gonna be up on a stage in front of 100,000 fans, where the women want to shag me, and the blokes want to be me. But I can live with that, it's all purely for my own personal entertainment.

I'd rather listen to music than sit watching endless rubbish on TV. Slowly but surely I'm becoming part of that music, and it's a real buzz.

Thats my motivation. I don't strive to be the best, I just really enjoy it.

Paul
#10
What keeps me playing?

1) Joy. I love playing music, it's my second favorite thing to do. I love being on stage, playing my sax, guitar, wind synth, flute, voice, bass or keys and connecting with an audience. It's a natural high.

2) Money. I play music for a living. If I don't play, I don't eat.

But if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd still play music, and I'd play as much as i do now.

A wise man once said, "If you do for a living what you would do for free, you will never work a day in your life." And other than a few "day jobs" I've had, I've never worked a day in my life.

What do I do when I get to a plateau? Ignore it I know it will pass. Often times when you feel stalled, your mind and body are recoiling for a forward leap. Let it happen.

Do I like practice? sometimes yes, but never no. Most of the times it is just what I need to do. Most of my current practice is on the guitar. It's my seventh instrument (eighth counting vocals) and it's exciting to make new sounds.

I also know that I am very good. Each year that I was in school, I was considered the best saxophonist in the state. I tend to believe the educators (at least when they tell me something I want to believe <grin>.

And I know, that no matter how good I get, there will always be somebody better than me, and somebody not as good as me. I don't consider it a contest. I just try to express myself to the audience the best that I can. Most of the time it works.

Life is grand!!!
#11
Quote by Notes_Norton
I play music for a living.
Are you with a band or is it mostly session work? Or something else entirely? I might be interested in getting some information from you about those kinds of things.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#12
Quote by LHOOQ
- Is it raw passion? Do you approach practice in a disciplined, structured way and enjoy it when you start to see results? Do you enjoy practice as well?

I keep playing because it's a challenge, and I want to write cool songs. This keeps me coming back. What about you guys?

I wouldn't exactly say I've hit a plateau, or some stage along my musical career, but it's a problem nonetheless. See, I have this constant feeling that I should be better than I am. Common theme, I'm sure. But after 3 years of my instrument I still hit other strings, have questionable intonation, hand cramps that prevent me from playing certain passages, and terrible sight reading skills. Oh, and I can't keep a beat very well.

I have fun playing in a group when I know what I'm doing, and can enthusiastically take on new songs (and work through them, albeit painfully), but I never feel like I have it mastered.

I guess I'm just looking for some advice because this mindset is really hard for me to get rid of, and I always start to wonder if maybe I'm just not cut out to play music (which in turn makes me anxious because it seems like I'm more focused on this than other musicians, who only seem to have fun, and all of this just reinforces that attitude).

p.s. Sorry for the whiney self-indulgence



I Just enjoy the process of learning/playing music. The way I see it, there is always something new to learn so plateaus aren't a concern.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 17, 2010,
#13
a plateau for me is a rest period...before i go to the next challenge...

my session/teaching work lets little rest happen..you have to keep sharp and current as well as keeping your "old tricks" ready..

i find fusion lines and progressions to be good material to use...you get to run jazz lines with rock elements against some very nice/ strange chord progressions... its like climbing a mountain...you stop every now and then .. before you go higher

play well

wolf
Last edited by wolflen at Aug 17, 2010,
#14
perhaps you really aren't cut out for it? I believe everyone is good at different things, personally.. i've always noticed my nack for music, and never seriously thought about quitting. There's times when it feels like you aren't making enough progress practicing. Usually that's your fault though, practice to improve what you aren't good at, don't practice what you already do well.

Example, you say you have a hard time keeping a beat? Invest in a metronome and practice with it so you can stay in time. It sounds like you can't be assed to motivate yourself to practice these things, do you take lessons? Not everyone can teach themself an instrument, think about this aswell
#15
Being in a band is what drives me, there's always stuff to work on. In the times where I'm not in a band (rarely), I work on writing songs and searching for solo gigs. So basically it's all about being ontop of my game for performance reasons.

Obviously if there's money involved, it's a helper, but I put in as much effort into non-paying gigs as I do paying gigs.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#16
If by plateau you mean as in no longer progressing technique wise, then that hasn't been a problem for me to except. I've been playing for around ten years now, the first few years we're getting familiar with the instrument, the new few with music itself, then after that I strived to be the best I possibly could. The last few years, I doubt I've improved at guitar in a technical sense as I've seen my time practicing decrease but I've shifted my focus to piano/synthesizer and vocals and other aspects that will improve the overall quality of my music. I'm perfectly comfortable with being somewhat stagnant, and continuing to write songs at this level, as long as I improve my creative horizons and compositional skills.
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#17
Quote by Wiegenlied
If by plateau you mean as in no longer progressing technique wise, then that hasn't been a problem for me to except. I've been playing for around ten years now, the first few years we're getting familiar with the instrument, the new few with music itself, then after that I strived to be the best I possibly could.


That's an interesting point, I've been playing for around 10 years too. I don't really think about my technical skill "plateauing" anymore, I guess it's harder to tell over time. What has improved though is my understanding of the instrument. I have noticed this year that I'm a tad faster than previous years, but it's not really how I gauge how good a guitar player I am anymore. I'm just trying to be the best guitarist for the situation.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#18
Yes, exactly. I know I'm constantly progressing as a musician but at this level its hard measure improvement on an instrument. I know I'm a lot cleaner sounding then before, but to be honest I don't know if I could play up to par speed wise as I use to when I was practicing 4 + hours a day.

The fact of the matter that the music I write and prefer to play isn't really technically demanding. But I still throw in weird time sigs, tempo changes, and apply a lot of theory that isn't seen in most music today. Keeping in mind that I need to be playing something that I can sing to at the same time. I think although, my point is I'm very comfortable at the level I'm at, but if I were to play the music I was interested in back in high school, like children of bodom and the like, I'd probably have to sit back and improve my chops for awhile.
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#19
I just enjoy playing, a lot more than when I first started. I used to yearn for stardom and platinum albums and travelling the world with an awesome band playing at 200bpm, now i'm quite playing simple chords alone purely for my own satisfaction.

Reaching a plateau in my playing occurs a lot, but where it used to be "Oh god damn I suck I will never be able to play this, curse my dopey fingers and poor level of musical ability!" it's now "Hmm, I need to slow down and practice this properly". There is no greater satisfaction than that feeling you get where you've played the same lick/song 100 times and it just isn't working, then on the 101st time something clicks and you see it differently, then you start playing and it all comes together and you're like "**** YEAH! I'M THE KING!".
#20
What keeps you playing?
My very first week of playing I wrote my first song. I thought it was amazing. After a month I'd written a handful more and they were better. This pattern carries on and will continue to. The knowledge that my songs will improve with every week, month, year.. as will my playing keeps me going. It's an exciting prospect when you think about it.

How do you combat plateaus?
Depends.
Sometimes I've broken a plateau by completely ignoring all the music I normally would listen to for a while; force myself to write a piece in a style I'm not comfortable in.
A couple of times I've tried playing my songs on a keyboard instead and see if that opens up any new avenues.
Another thing I've done loads; stop playing. Just put the guitar done for a number of days. When I've come back to it, after the initial warm-up stage, things start to flow so quickly it's sometimes hard to remember them all.
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#21
I kept going coz i always saw other kids playing songs that were easy,and making themselves out to be the best,so that kept me going That and guitars a lot better than playing computer games :P.
#22
Always trying to improve, and learning harder songs, being in a band, going to gigs.
and i just really like music. :P
those both keep me motivated and help combat plateaus.
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#23
i form bands but i like to practise extensively...i have exercises from my lessons

i also like to play covers but i would imrpovise over them
#24
I love improving and playing better. I focus most of my musical drive on piano now, but guitar is still great fun as well.
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