So I had this gig this past Sunday and literally every one I tell about it pokes fun at me for my feelings towards how it went.
Maybe this only applies to those who play in a lounge/cocktail-type setting?

To start, I'm receiving my BM of Jazz Performance in the Spring. I'm an upright and electric bass player and take playing music very seriously.
The gig was a piano/bass duo at a brunch in a swanky hotel. We played for 3.5 hours. Now I don't play upright that often now so my agility and endurance has suffered. That being said, about 2 hours into the gig, I started getting tired and unable to play lines that came to my head, that started getting to me and I started messing up time and forms of tunes.
The gig ended. A lot of patrons had told us we did a great job and we had a substantial amount of tips (the owner of the hotel said a few words to us and dropped a 20 in on his way out).

But my buddy can tell I'm upset and when he asks, I tell him that I'm mad about how I played and that I should be better than that. His response was "no one was listening, it's not a big deal." To which I replied, "Thats not the point, I want to perform well for me. I want to make good music for my own benefit."
And it seems no matter how I try to convey this to someone, they all seem to say the same things: "No one was really listening. I think you're overreacting. Well, you got paid, didn't you? You should be happy about that."

So whats the deal? Should I just be content with getting a paycheck and be done with it or am I justified in wanting to be better for myself even if no one is allegedly listening?
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It's over simplified, So what!

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Be happy that no one noticed. Be happy you got paid, and be happy you now know how much you have to work on.
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Your attitude is the one every musician should have. Being "good enough" should never be good enough. However, instead of getting mad you need to analyze what went wrong and determine how to prepare yourself against getting that sort of result again. Did you stretch or exercise at all before your gig? How many breaks did you take? What was your diet like that day? Professional musicians must approach a gig the same way a professional athlete approaches a game. Upright bass is an especially physically taxing instrument so you need to be extra careful not to fatigue yourself too much.
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am I justified in wanting to be better for myself even if no one is allegedly listening?

Absolutely. That's a part of improving as a musician I suppose. But like one of the above posters said, don't let it drive you crazy.
No one is listening is a pretty huge insult. He doesn't speak for everyone. Keep doing what you're doing.

...modes and scales are still useless.

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I always beat myself up over every little mistake I make at a concert. I don't think I've ever been in a good mood after performing on flute.

I have no advice for you.
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Being mad about the past is just one big waste of energy. Think about the performance - Identify areas to improve - Identify how to improve - Then get to work

Time changes everything, but you can't change time, you can't edit the past. People who strive for perfection are great but those who expect it are naive.
If it's any consolation I would have certainly been listening closely and judging you intensely

...modes and scales are still useless.

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There are no wrong notes in jazz. Just some notes are more right than others.
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Playing for 3.5 hours straight is a feat in itself!

Don't get mad about a gig you've played. Practically every gig, performance, bit in the studio and band practice I've ever done there's been something I did that I didn't like. Just take some time to work out what it was and work on it.

TBH it's sounds like you just hadn't practiced enough recently with upright.
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Playing for 3.5 hours straight is a feat in itself!

Hell yeah. Still, it's admirable that you want to push yourself as a musician and want more than just a paycheck out of it, this is the difference between a musician and an artist. And don't worry about it 'driving you crazy' as some people in here have said, if that even could happen it'd only be extra artist points.
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I don't think that you should necessarily be mad about it. That's definitely a mindset you should try to curb, it's not very healthy. I used to have a pretty bad case of that brand of perfectionist thinking, being hyper-competitive tends to foster that approach to things. There's no reason to beat yourself up over it and get mad about it. You know what your flaws are and you know how to improve yourself to get rid of them. So go do that and be thankful that you are not apathetic to your shortcomings and could pick them out in the first place.
I'm very perfectionistic too, it gets so bad that I give up on entire projects just because I'm so hard to please. And even if I don't hate what I write, people complain that my writing style is overcalculating and bloated because I try to cover too many perspectives at once. It completely ruins the joy of being creative.
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Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE at Nov 19, 2013,
I didn't notice the 3.5 hours part, wow.

Yeah if you usually feel well-prepared going into live performances it was probably just due to the eternal length of this one. That's a whole Hobbit movie!
If you don't want to be perfect at something than you don't truly love it, in my opinion at least.
Just means you've got another chance. Look to the next gig, use this one as motivation. Maybe it wasn't perfect, can't even tell you how many gigs I haven't played as well as I've wanted to. But in the end, that gig has already happened. Might as well not dwell on it and just do your best the next gig.
I doubt anyone noticed. I've had some pretty bad **** ups live, and no one has ever noticed, not even my band mates. The volume covers up alot.
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No one is perfect. Know where you need to improve and do it. Don't let your negative attitude creep in all the time, if you're constantly negative, not many musicians will want to perform with you, even if it is in the pursuit of perfection. Balance and all that innit.
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I hate myself after playing any gig ever because even if I mess up just one note, that one note shows that I suck at bass. You're totally correct in thinking the way that you are.
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when I spend my time striving to place the crown upon myself?
Use it as a lesson to learn from. There's no point in just beating yourself up over it. Learn from your mistakes and move on. I'm sure you can Google a few quotes on that.

On another note, the worst gig I've ever done was an outdoor festival where the wind blew over my drummer's cymbals and pretty much messed up an entire song. This was right when a girl I was into was watching too. She ended up coming up to me afterwards wanting the D anyways so it was all good.
The key to performing live is when you mess up, act like you didn't, but note where you did. As long as no one could really tell you messed up then you're solid. When you get home rest up and practice until you get it right.

Beating yourself up about it will only drive you insane.
You should have taken adderall prior to the gig

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As long as you don't let your disappointment stop you from carrying on, I don't really see the problem.

Also, never let the crowd know you messed up. If you play a wrong note, just play it 3 more times; it's JAZZ.
Last edited by psyks at Nov 20, 2013,
I was going to come in and be an asshole and say something like: "Wow you messed up at bass? Maybe you should just quit the whole music thing." But everyone is actually trying to give advice so yeah basically just what other's have said don't beat yourself up too badly about it just remember where you messed up and just focus on nailing it next time around.