Monday, July 12, 2010

Conquer Your Fear of Music: Be Playful

New music making is a fraught process. The fear of making a mistake can be paralyzing. The fight or flight response may kick in almost as soon as you pick up a mysterious new instrument: foreign, out of tune, or ill timed sounds are scary. What is scarier sounding than fretting flat? Sounding Sharp.

What's the solution? Going very slowly, very gently, and listening. Taking music lessons, perhaps. Having someone to guide you through the process may assist not only with getting better, faster results, but also with helping you get through that flight or flight problem. The latter is very important to the former.

However, it's tricky:

Taking music lessons is a humbling process. This creates not a little bit of fear in the lesson studio. Imagine that, in a way, a music lesson is like going to the doctor or psychiatrist. You are submitting yourself for examination, evaluation, diagnosis, and a prescription. Or, let's call it, in today's jargon: a wellness plan.

What creates the fear for some here? The better analogy is probably the therapist. Listening to and playing of music is a highly personal, deeply emotive human behavior. Our own personal musical experience is deeply emotional: in some way, it exists in a murky place, deep inside of each of us. And can be very scary to have someone, anyone, a stranger, particularly an 'expert' look deeply inside you.

This is why, on my lessons site, I call my lessons 'seriously fun':

I try to make sure that both the student and I remember the operative verb for making music: to play. To remain true to the spirit of the verb, I endeavor to find more creative and playful ways for students to interact with their instruments and to be musical, all the while cultivating fundamental skills. The more I work on this, the better my students get.

'Don't Practice...' perhaps I will start to encourage my adult students, instead to "play." Kids seem to have no problem finding a playful place to work on their musicality, but the upwardly mobile set that I see in D.C. do. One of the most important things I do is

Cultivate a playful practice on your own by thinking of your practice as exploration. When you make your next mistake, and the hairs go up on the back of your neck, do this:

Laugh at yourself. You made a boo-boo. To err is human. Thank goodness you are not a robot.

You breathe!

So, breathe through the impatience and frustration, and then listen to the sound of your mistake in you mind. What happened? The only way not to repeat this mistake is to be sure you understand the nature of it: those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.

Perhaps, if you can, repeat it so that you can understand the nature of your mistake.
Who knows?
It's possible that you will actually like the sound.

In jazz, there are 'no wrong notes, only poor choices'. What kind of choice did you make? How was it different than the choice that you intended? Is the problem musical or technical? Left hand or right hand?

Then, after you evaluate that mistake, figure out what you need to correct in your performance: slowly, gently perform the musical passage you are working on one time. Breathe between repetitions, and during the playing of music. Repeat as necessary.

If it's not working, put the guitar down... go for a walk... listen to some music....

Then, gently and very slowly, come back and try it again.


dcguitar.com
Advancing Guitar Lessons:
Washington, D.C.
Professional Musical Fun
for Beginners and Beyond

Follow me on Twitter: @diddleybow

Popular Posts

Jam Classes

.38 Special #mm 12 Bar blues 930 club accra acoustic guitar adele advancing guitar lesson aeolian Aerosmith agbekor alexandria VA amazon.com American Idol Andy Summers arlen roth Arlington arlington guitar lessons arlington VA augmented sixth chords baritone slide guitar barre chords Baseball bass bass wanted beginner beginner chords beginner guitar lessons Blink 182 blink-182 blues blues guitar Bo Diddley bob seger breast cancer breast cancer benefit brian eno CCR changing chords cheap trick chord transitions chris martin classic rock coldplay comping count basie country guitar creativity creedence clearwater Revival CSI D.C. david bowie dcguitar dcguitar.com dcguitarlessons death metal derek trucks Diddley Beat diddley bow dire straits dorian drumming earl slick easy guitar ECM eddie van halen electric guitar elvis costello every ewe falls church VA fear of music fever finger style guitar fingerstyle guitar first chords folk guitar Foo Fighters forming chords franz ferdinand freddie green free beginner guitar lessons free concert free downloads free guitar lessons free guitar tab free guitar tablature free music free music lessons fun fundraiser funk funk guitar gear review ghana gimme shelter girl talk gospel music guitar guitar accessory guitar anti-lesson guitar effects guitar hero Guitar Lesson guitar lessons guitar lessons washington D.C. guitar review guitar slide guitar tab guitar voice leading guns n' roses Hallelujah Hank Williams harmonic experience harmony hendrix chord hey jude holiday raffle Home how to practice humor hybrid picking Improvisation ipod management ipod playlists it might get loud jackass guitar lessons knoxville dcguitar jam class chuck berry johnny b. goode jam band jam class jambalaya Jazz jazz comping jazz guitar jazz guitar lesson jazz theory Jeff Buckley jim hall Jimi Hendrix jimmy page Joe Perry john mayer johnny cash johnny marr joke Jonny Buckland julia cameron k Keith Richards Kids music kinewe Law and Order led zeppelin left hand muting lesson video lessons live music blog live music review Lost lou reed lyrics Margot MacDonald mark knopfler masters of the telecaster merriweather post pavillion Michael Jackson Mick Goodrick mick jagger modes muscle memory Music music lessons music review music theory music theory lesson music videos new gear new music octave displacement online guitar lessons open position palm muting paul mccartney paul simon tribute show strathmore peggy lee performance anxiety pete townshend Phillip Phillips phrygian physics police tour Polyrhythms power chords presale code proud mary Purple Haze radiohead rave ray brown reading music red house reggae relaxation rest strokes rhythm changes rhythm guitar rhythmic displacement right hand muting ringo starr rlington VA robbie fulks robert johnson rock guitar rock guitar lessons rockband rockville MD rolling stones roxanne scales Scarborough Fair slide slide guitar slide guitar washington dc guitar lessons "washington dc guitar lessons" arlington va smart playlists solfege songwriting stay positive stephen davis Stevie Ray Vaughan Stewart Copeland Sting stride guitar strum strumming surf guitar surfaris take me out to the ball game taking back sunday talking heads tear teardrop the artist's way the beatles The Black Keys the edge The Grand Candy the hold steady the national The Police the rolling stones the smiths the white stripes the who thebravery tina turner Tour triads twelve bar blues twitter twitter guitar lessons u2 van halen Venus Virgin Fest voice leading W.A. Mathieu walk the line washington washington D.C. washington D.C. guitar lessons washington guitar lessons waterfall Weaving weaving rhythms weezer when the saints come marching in mississippi john hurt who windham hill wipeout writing youtube zen guitar lessons arlington va dcguitar jamclass zz top

Jam Class and Lesson Rates

DC Guitar's Jam Class offers top notch group and private guitar, bass, songwriting and music theory lessons for the Washington, DC Community.

Please email for current lesson rates.

Be sure to ask about Jam Class, too.