Get Real

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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Tom Poore
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Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: South Euclid, Ohio, USA

Re: Get Real

Post by Tom Poore » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:41 pm

Peter Lovett wrote:I suppose what I am saying in a long-winded way is that my practice sessions are not a search for perfection as I doubt that at my age I will ever be able to achieve that but they are a search for being a musician. I could not embrace the "play it 5 times perfectly then move on" school of thought (didn't Sor or was it Tarrega play something 50 times without a mistake before he moved on) because there is no guarantee that the 6th time will fall apart. Nor am I practicing as though its a performance. Its not, there are times I am going to play something over and over to get a muscle-memory because its new. Thats not a performance, but musically, well yes, that is what I am trying for.
Perfection is impossible. That doesn’t mean we should give up on it. But we should have a clear idea of just what we’re striving for.

When I was young, I got interested in making my own telescope. (Alas, I never did it.) Reading about grinding and polishing a mirror for a reflector telescope, I encountered something called the “one-fourth wave rule.” It states that if an optical surface is polished to be accurate within one-fourth of a wavelength of light, then for practical purposes it’s perfect. In sum, it’s a threshold. Once you’re there, you needn’t push for anything more. To do so invokes the law of diminishing returns.

This is a good idea for musicians. Of course we need to refine our playing. But we also need our own version of the one-fourth wave rule. There’s a threshold that, once we reach it, then we’re by any reasonable standard playing as though perfect. In fact, beavering away past this threshold is self-defeating. First, extreme perfectionism is a black hole, destroying all that fall into it. Second, perfection pushed too far enervates all that makes a performance alive. I’ve noticed that my favorite players—Julian Bream in his prime, for example—aren’t the cleanest. Great playing always embraces the element of chance. Not everything can be planned, nor should it be. Smart performing artists learn to live with uncertainty.

I’m not arguing that we toss perfection in the bin. Nor is this an excuse for sloppy playing. Rather, we need a definition of perfection that comprises more than marksmanship. Like everything we work at in music, perfection is a evolving goal. The more we explore it, the more interesting it becomes.

Tom Poore
South Euclid, OH
USA

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lucy
Posts: 1830
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Get Real

Post by lucy » Sun Jul 16, 2017 1:58 pm

Sean Shibe wrote:
Fri Jul 14, 2017 4:00 am
I should also add that a practise session is as useful a forum for exploration as a forum for the pursuit of a flawless performance; the sole aim of technically perfect performance can result, in the short term, in a sterile interpretation. In the long term, more dangerously, it can lead to a general lack of imaginative musical scope.
Thanks so much for contributing to this thread Sean. I'm sure what you say is very interesting to us all. And I'd humbly like to say I agree that practice time is not just about preparing the way for a flawless performance. I think it's about exploring the music and deciding upon phrasing, tone colours, dynamics etc. as well as becoming better at physically playing the music.

I don't know what people views on this are, but my method is to gradually get to know a piece, over TIME, by playing it quite a lot, then I slowly decide upon what I'm going to with it, musically. As I keep playing it, rather casually, I might add, I put in, or play with, more and more expressive qualities, again over time, until I have built up an aural picture in my head, as to how I want it to sound. Then, I work towards achieving that. I certainly don't look at the score and attempt to play it as accurately and quickly as possible. The point about working towards the aural picture, is I have to improve my technical capacity to play the piece, in order to achieve it. I don't know how usual this method is. Any thoughts?
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

Leendavid89
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Joined: Mon Aug 21, 2017 9:55 pm

Re: Get Real

Post by Leendavid89 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:31 pm

I would say the most important thing to focus on with any instrument and performance is the music. Do you love it? Can you sing it? Does it touch something in your soul? If this stuff is there you can't go very far wrong. I think the music gets a little lost in the picture with many who play classical guitar. After all an instrument is just a representative of a particular timbre. Playing something over and over and not giving a crap about it is a recipe for disaster and a waste of time. Find music that means something to you and play that. Then you are on the right track no matter how many times a teacher tells you to play it.

PeteJ
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Get Real

Post by PeteJ » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:32 am

Nice essay, Tom, and I'd agree with what you say. This is one of the benefits of recording, that it puts one on the spot even when alone. I suspect that it helps a lot if you have to practice in earshot of other people. Also, it suggests that meditation should be a big help for performance nerves, since it helps us maintain an even state of mind through changing circumstances.

A family member is a natural performer and I asked him what he did on stage. The answer was nothing. Nothing at all. Just be businesslike and go with the flow. I like this approach. I tend to imagine there's a constant pressure to entertain and a need to be doing something more than just what one does while practicing. Another lifetime and I'll have this all sorted.

In the past I've been in front of an audience and not been able to tell which hand is which in my flustered state, or which way up the guitar should go, but only with the CG. The electric is a doddle. Just turn it up and blast the audience into submission. The CG is so damn fiddly.

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lucy
Posts: 1830
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 8:33 pm
Location: England

Re: Get Real

Post by lucy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:35 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:32 am
A family member is a natural performer and I asked him what he did on stage. The answer was nothing. Nothing at all. Just be businesslike and go with the flow. I like this approach. I tend to imagine there's a constant pressure to entertain and a need to be doing something more than just what one does while practicing. Another lifetime and I'll have this all sorted.
That sounds like a great approach!! I would never try and do something different to when I practice. That only leads to problems... I always tell myself to just play how I usually do.

Another thing is to forget the pressure on you and think more about it from the audience's perspective. Recently, I mentioned to someone that once I've practiced a piece over and over, it seems impossible to hear it as someone might for the first time; I just hear it differently, as well as it simply being a different experience for me, because I'm the one sitting there playing it.

This person (a world famous performer) replied that I need to remember how it was for me, when I first started playing the piece. They added that I should think of myself as a coffee pot! He said, "You are a coffee pot and what you are doing is filling people's cups, so they go Ahh".

That might sound like an unusual analogy, but I find it helpful, because it takes the focus off me and transfers it to the music and the experience of listeners...
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

PeteJ
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Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Get Real

Post by PeteJ » Sun Aug 27, 2017 12:17 pm

That's a useful thought.

Ceciltguitar
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2014 2:15 am
Location: Virginia

Re: Get Real

Post by Ceciltguitar » Sun Aug 27, 2017 10:38 pm

Perform often, 3 - 5 times a week. perform in different venues and in different types of venues. perform solo. perform duo. perform in larger groups.

Perform in casual environments where you are mood or background music, as well as in "concert" "performance" environments.

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