Now that I'm progressing well, I decided to video myself playing, to send to friends and relatives who have been anxious to see and hear me play. BUT, the second I hit the record button, everything I've learned pretty much goes out the window! Its like I'm playing at the same level I did at about one month! It's very frustrating. I have to record foggy mountain breakdown about 20 times just to get one descent take. But when i play without recording it, i play almost perfectly. I have lots of respect for those of you who play in front of a crowd! This really isn't a question. I just needed to vent!
I know exactly where you're coming from! I find recording just as intimidating as playing in front of others. In some ways even more so as every slight (and not so slight) imperfection is recorded in hi-fi quality for all time! It's hard to get a 'take' that I feel happy with.
It's all about confidence. My tips; 1. Play in front of other as much as possible. I've played at folk clubs and trad. sessions at least once a week over the past year or so and that's helped to reduce my levels of 'stage fright'.
2. When recording I record a couple of times through the tune as a warm up where I tell myself that mistakes are allowed - even encouraged as it's only a practice run through. Often that makes me relaxed enough to get a pretty good recording straight off.
3. Really, really, really know the tune well, so if your mind goes blank your fingers carry on anyway.
there are lots of names for it, but I call it "red light syndrome". I can't count the number of times I've seen really good players "freeze" when the red light goes on in the studio.
I raised my kids (they all play music) to realize that most people will play in front of people, at about 50% of the level that they play when they are at home practicing comfortably by themselves. My kids grew up playing in front of us (other family members), but it's a whole different thing when you know there could be 1000's of eyeballs on you.
I think it's the same "syndrome" but magnified anytime you are being recorded.
I've always tried to be twice as good as I think I NEED to be ... it helps me play on recordings better .... sometimes ...:)
BUT, the second I hit the record button, everything I've learned pretty much goes out the window! Its like I'm playing at the same level I did at about one month!
Yeah, been there -- and just last weekend! A few months ago I bought a mike with the idea of finally recording myself but it sat on my desk all this time; pre-red light syndrome, perhaps. Took me a while to screw up the courage to finally do it and sure 'nuff, that ain't me on the picture tube there! That's a guy whose tone is way off. Spastic fingers. And oogly! When I find out who that guy is I'm gonna kick him outta my house, or at least forbid him from using my laptop.
Yes, this happens to me all the time when I try to record video lessons. Thank God for editing software. It's pretty easy with audio only, but with video it is harder to get a good seamless edit. So I just do the best I can. When I make a mistake or say something stupid I just pause for a while and when I edit the bad part gets cut out. Sometimes there are natural breaking points where a fade out/in works. Otherwise it's just a jerk (me) in the video.
I know how you feel... back when I started recording I often ended up with 50 aborted takes or more, and ended up having to "cheat" by putting the pieces together or editing out the mistakes. The best advice I can give you is to hang in there and eventually you'll get used to the "red-eyed monster". I've been recording for a year now and I can now produce a decent recording in one or two takes. Eventually the camera will become less intimidating and you'll be able to keep your wits about you.
I really enjoy your stories! My biggest problem, is with the first 3 to 4 notes. I've really tried to pay attention to myself when the red light is on, and I notice I'm much more "tensed up" when under that red light pressure. Plus, I find myself playing the song much faster. Not long ago, I went to a small town music store to buy my dream guitar, and there were some old timers there gathered around the fireplace jamming country tunes. Thinking they could use a banjo player, and thinking I was "all that" , pulled a banjo off the wall, got some pics and waited for my turn. Long story short, i suddenly forgot EVERYTHING I ever knew about playing a banjo! I looked down at my hands, and they were shaking like a leaf! I couldn't form a simple chord. I started sweating profusely. It was awful! Needless to say, I loaded up my new guitar and got out of there. I'm going to start playing for anyone I see. I tried to play my banjo today for my aunt on the phone and tanked horribly, but as soon as I hung up, perfect! This condition is so sad, it's funny! But I guess the more you do it, the less likely the red light yips will hit. Same thing happens when I golf. Practice swings are perfect, and when I hit the ball, it goes straight right!
My biggest problem, is with the first 3 to 4 notes. I've really tried to pay attention to myself when the red light is on, and I notice I'm much more "tensed up" when under that red light pressure.
Yeah, what I eventually did is to play the same tune over and over and over until I fell into a groove. I think I have 20-some minutes of a tune that usually comes out to 57 seconds (2 A parts, 2 B parts. at what should be 120 bpm). After I don't know how many reps I got a useable version and stopped. I edited out the first 23 takes and kept the last 57 seconds! When a recording session becomes a practice session --
These are some thoughts I put together a while back on performance. They may be a little off topic, but I think some of them are useful here.
Things to consider when playing out
1. Play songs you know. Save your practicing for at home.
2. Don’t apologize and start making excuses even before you start! You are setting yourself up for failure.
· Have you been sick? Just start playing, they don’t want to hear about it.
· Is this a song you are just working on? Save it for another time.
3. Plan your set. Make your two best songs the first one and last one. Get off to a good start, and finish strong.
4. A simple song played well is a lot more fun than a complex song that you screw up. If you are having fun your audience will relax and have fun too.
5. Most of your nervousness comes from worrying about how you are going to look (vanity). Try to really give them something they will enjoy. You are not there to show off, but to help them have a good time.
6. Nervousness gets (somewhat) less with experience.
7. Use the open mic as a learning experience.
· What worked? What songs did they like? Which ones did they sing along with, start clapping to, give the loudest applause for?
· What didn’t work? Why?
· Take note of songs you would like to add to your set.
· What did they like or dislike in the other players?
· Introductions should be interesting, entertaining, and short.
8. Using a pickup? Check your battery.
9. Listen before you leap. Don’t be afraid to just go and listen a few times while you are getting up the courage to perform. Go to several venues and find the one you think you would be most comfortable with.
10. Don’t push it. If amplified, let the amplifier do the work. If not amplified, don’t push too hard. Be comfortable and you will sound better.
11. Different venues, different approaches
· Open mic vs. open stage
· Acoustic vs. electric
· Blues Club vs. Coffeehouse
12. Practice for performance. If you always play sitting down you will be surprised how different it is playing standing up.
Hi Rick! Thanks for the comments. By the way, I really enjoy your instructionals on YouTube! Where is your sponge? I don't see it on your banjo hangout picture! I think it's a good idea. For some reason (old age) the arm rest on my banjo is always hitting a nerve on my wrist. I'm going to try the sponge idea myself! Take care
· Have you been sick? Just start playing, they don’t want to hear about it.
Right on! When I click in for a tune and the performer starts rambling on about how he chose this tune, the other tunes he's working on, his pet rabbit, rabbits as pets or rabbit food I just click right off again. Even if I may enjoy this persons music I don't care about his cold -- or his rabbit. If you promise a tune, play the tune and leave out the trappings.
I know this subject appears tangential to the subject of the thread, but let's say you're nervous about playing and choose to fill the in with palaver. Bad choice. Either a. ramble on but cut it out of the posted tune or b. keep it to yourself!
Yeah, I've heard it called "Red Light Fever" and I think it happens to nearly everyone.
I think I've figured out what's up with that or with "stage fright", which is quite similar.
In the beginning stages of learning a tune, you HAVE to use your conscious mind to tell your fingers what to do in order to play the tune... and as long as nothing distracts you, you're fine.... you can play the tune.
BUT, the thought that you are being recorded, or that someone is watching and listening is a distraction... all of a sudden your mind is focusing on WORRYING rather than on playing... and your fingers are left without direction, and they screw up.
Actually, there are at least two.
ONE, you have to overpractice anything you want to record or perform in public. I can tell when a tune is getting distraction proof when I can daydream while playing it and not even miss a note. When you know it that well, a little stage fright, a little red light fever isn't going to derail you.
The other thing is to just settle it in your mind that you will NEVER be perfect.... you will always make little mistakes.... but the thing is, you can make those mistakes smaller and smaller until nobody else would notice them, or at least, no non-musician would notice them.
So, when you hit the record button, just think... this doesn't HAVE to be perfect... this is just a record of my current playing level.
And record a bunch of songs at the same time... and only make the best ones public.
Also, learn to do a little editing in Audacity (if that is what you are using to record. If you make a false start, just start again, and if you pause for a second, it makes it easy to select and erase the false start.
When you know how to edit out mistakes, it makes making a mistake less critical... so you can relax, and will make less mistakes, and will hardly ever need to edit anything!!!