Escaping a rut, when everything you play sound like your same old stuff?
Ok, I admit it...I'm in a rut with my playing. I swear everything I play sounds the same and worse, sounds like crap to me! Ok I know I'm probably exaggerating a bit and seeing (hearing) things through a one way lens but I just feel like my playing is BLAH right now.
I'm sure others have experienced this (hence why I am posting here) and so I ask; how did you escape the deadly blahs!
I'm feeling the same, although for me it's like I hit a wall. Taken me years to become a not very good advanced beginner and I feel like i"m not improving. It would probably help if I had fellow musicians to jam with, but so far no luck. I'll just keep plugging away at my lessons.
Originally Posted by k5thbeatle
I'm in the same boat as you guys. I just can't seem to sound different or interesting, I go back to my old uninteresting mode. I really wish I could break out of it.. I'll keep practicing, hopefully it'll get better. I'm waiting for that AHA moment, so I can move on.
Originally Posted by crosstour
Years ago I had the opportunity to catch Q&A session with Steve Morse. This was at small music store and it wasn't advertised all that well so actually only about 20 people attended. I asked Steve this exact question. His answer was dead simple "Do something different". Learn a different scale, don't play for a week and then return, Learn a new song, etc... All these are good but I'll tell you to me when I get in this mode what kicks me out of it.
Once you can accomplish the basic mechanical movements, playing music regardless of instrument, is a mental thing. The reason you sound the same is because your right. You are you. So the only way to change it is to change how you think. For me the best way to accomplish this is to change what I'm listening to. If all you listen to is Metallica ([insert some band you like]) then guess what all the stuff you write is gonna sound like? So I listen to something else and not say Megadeath ([insert second band you like]). That's the same style of music and likely pretty similar. So I shift to maybe listen to nothing but completely different style of music for a week, forsaking my favorites. Sometimes even a style I hate. After listening to it for a while, I can start to pick out small stuff I like, even if I think the entire genre sucks. There is something to learn there. One of the reasons I like JamPlay is I can go take a lesson set on something completely different so I don't just hear it but have decent understanding of the basic of the style.
Now if you really want to break the wall. You HAVE to have a reason to play. When you first start something you have the new feeling with a lot of motivation. As soon as it gets a bit hard most with no real motivation quit. You are posting here so your not a quitter. The wall you hit is likely you have accomplished what you wanted to accomplish already not focused on anything in particular. Playing a band, or an open mic etc... are the best ways because it gives you hard deadlines (showtime, open mic night) to get something done by. Now if you say "that isn't me" I just want to sweep pick. Okay that's pretty specific, I'm sure you can find lesson here and elsewhere(assuming none of ones here help you) to get better at that technique. But if you say "Well I just want to play better". That statement is your problem, "play better" is totally generic. It's meaningless and subjective. You have to sit down and think what "playing better" means to you and attack it. If you want to sound like [insert guitarist here], then breakdown their style. Again some lesson here on them, but also lots of other free stuff on the net to help too.
Great comments Palico!
Myself, when I'm feeling like that its usually because I'm doing the same sort of thing each time I pick up the instrument. The classic example of this is to do some free form improv over your favourite scales and arpeggios and end up playing over very similar sort of licks all the time.
What I find helpful is to look at what I'm practicing and come up with quite a few different modes of practice. Some current examples I'm moving between are:
1. Loop station work where I record a backing and then record some improv over the backing then listen back to my improv.
2. Loop station work where I simply record say a 2 bar phrase that I find challenging and listen back and keep repeating this till I think I would be happy with the playing of the phrase on a recording.
2. Messing around on improving my playing with 2 notes at once. The sort of thing I might do is ascend the bottom octave of a scale holding each note for say 2 beats and put a basic improvised lead of some sort on top of that with the upper octave of the position at the same time.
3. I might let myself do some free form noodling so to speak but will focus on an aspect I haven't been working with a lot. For example I might go, I'm not doing a lot of legato trills so I'll try and put in legato trills as much as possible in this session. Or, my dorian improv is sounding to much the same so most times I play a 2nd or 6th I'll slide up to the note from a fret below to give it that jazz sort of flavour,... Theres heaps of these sort of variations you can come up with
4. Play through my finger style repertoire to keep it up to scratch.
5. Work on new material to add to my finger style repertoire.
6. A technical exercise routine like alternate picking, legato exercises and scale sequences.
Theres heaps of possibilities as to what you could chose here but this is the sort of stuff on my current list, and as palico is saying, it will very much depend on what you want to achieve. Coming up with a list like this also means you have to step back from the instrument and have a good conceptual map of what your doing to know different areas that may be useful.
Now, if I was simply doing one of these, I would probably be sick to death of it in a few days of half hour practice sessions and start to put the instrument down, but by having this variety, I can do say 4 of these in a day with half an hour each, giving me 2 hours at the instrument.
Does take some discipline though to say to yourself before the session, "I'm not going to do my same old noodling but will do ... this time".
Hope this helps.
Thanks. Might be best post/reply ever.
Originally Posted by palico
Go through the rest of lessons and find something you've never tackled before. Could be a new skill set (or to improve one) like fingerstyle, for instance, or a new genre of music (if you usually play metal, take a funk course). Or just learn a new song in an unfamiliar genre. Anything, really, so long as it makes you feel like you are still moving forward, however slowly. Experimenting with unfamiliar genres is always a learning experience for me.
Last edited by BradArmpitt; 12-28-2016 at 10:01 AM.
For what it's worth, when I'm in a rut, I mess round with alternate tunings, or just change the patch settings on my Zoom. Okay the "same" songs, but it sound very different...this has led to some neat ideas that have helped reduce the size of the rut I'm in
Just a thought...