Wandering on the Plateau

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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Rognvald
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Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rognvald » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:37 am

In a lifetime of musical performance, I have experienced a long line of plateaus. I define a plateau as a period in a musician's life when, for whatever reason, he is playing at a certain level and cannot move forward. There is no amount of practice time, performance or reading/studying/advice of a teacher-friend that will help you move to the next level. Even after a much-needed voluntary vacation from performance, you're still wearing the same boots. And then one day, you sit down and play and you are forever changed. After a recent, long, forced hiatus from music, I am playing again and have climbed from two previous plateaus--one dealing with sound and the other in technique, where I struggled without satisfaction or change before I stopped playing. Have you been to the mountain? Would you care to share your experience? Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

CactusWren
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by CactusWren » Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:02 am

When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

-Jacob Riis

Briant
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Briant » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:04 am

CactusWren wrote:
Wed Aug 30, 2017 5:02 am
When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.

-Jacob Riis
Thats why i avoid Tambora technique :D

Rasputin
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rasputin » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:08 am

:lol:

Rognvald
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rognvald » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:24 am

I have known several good musicians who have suffered burn-out by trying to assiduously work through these periods of stalemate(no pun intended) and believing that they can force an outcome by sheer industry. There is, in life, too much of a good thing and a temporary break in your schedule with a re-evaluation of your goals can be very helpful. If you are performing, it might be difficult but you can still retool your off-stage hours to your benefit. Many times, we find ourselves blindly playing the same music and whatever magic it once held, now becomes a rote exercise. We lose our imagination and creativity and, even at a rudimentary level, this is counter-productive. The plateau is real and unless you can recognize it, you will spend many wasted hours in the chair wondering why you are not making real progress. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rick Beauregard » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:08 am

Not a performer - yet. But I suffer student plateaus (or maybe valleys) all the time.

I look back. Listen to videos past and realize how far I've come.

I look forward. Remember my 10,000 hour goal and just get another hour in.

I try to detach from any expected result and just play. I don't have to sound like David Russell, or even better today than yesterday. Just play. Something fun. Easy. Soulful.

And I go back to process. Slow it down. Speed it up. Learn it back to front. Play the phrase until I get 5 times in a row perfect.

Then one day I realize: I'm on a new, higher plateau.

Maybe plateaus for performers are different. Maybe just spend time with your audience basking in their praise. Don't judge. Just say "thanks."
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
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Rognvald
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rognvald » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:44 am

"Maybe plateaus for performers are different. Maybe just spend time with your audience basking in their praise. Don't judge. Just say "thanks."
Rick Beauregard


Rick,
unless you're playing in a concert venue . . . don't expect praise. Most practical venues for a CG players: restaurants, wine festivals, weddings, etc., you'll be lucky if one in a hundred is listening. And, many times the sounds in the room are so deafening they'll never hear you play. At one wine tasting I played at a very exclusive country club, the talking and general din was so loud after the first hour, I was tempted to mime playing to see if anyone noticed. I didn't, however, but cancelled my third set and told the manager the music could not be heard from three feet away. And, I was playing "miked" through a Fender KXR60 piano Amp. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rick Beauregard » Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:54 am

Rognvald wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:44 am
"Maybe plateaus for performers are different. Maybe just spend time with your audience basking in their praise. Don't judge. Just say "thanks."
Rick Beauregard


Rick,
unless you're playing in a concert venue . . . don't expect praise. Most practical venues for a CG players: restaurants, wine festivals, weddings, etc., you'll be lucky if one in a hundred is listening. And, many times the sounds in the room are so deafening they'll never hear you play. At one wine tasting I played at a very exclusive country club, the talking and general din was so loud after the first hour, I was tempted to mime playing to see if anyone noticed. I didn't, however, but cancelled my third set and told the manager the music could not be heard from three feet away. And, I was playing "miked" through a Fender KXR60 piano Amp. Playing again . . . Rognvald
I hear ya. Pun intended. That is, I always make a point (as a former performer but not classical guitar) to acknowledge the performer at the wedding/restaurant/busking corner and tell them how I enjoyed their music. I do that to help reward their work, but more to train others I may be with to appreciate the performer and the work they put in to be there. Someone in that audience may be listening. Seek them out.

I also coached my son, a singer song writer. I'd see him backstage bummed at not playing to his expectations aoften surrounded by adoring fans. Once he learned to let the last oerformance go and just say thanks, he enjoyed performing much more.

I don't presume to be coaching you Rognvald. But other readers might benefit. Yours is an excellent question.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
_/)

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tormodg
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by tormodg » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:16 am

Plateaus are strange things. I picked up CG again after some years of hiatus. My technique was very rusty yet I stubbornly wanted to play the same old pieces I was used to playing before my long break. Thanks to my teacher I managed to go back many levels and slowly work on basic technique again. That was about 6 years ago. I work full time and have two kids so this is just a hobby (but I do have a BA in guitar performance from 25 years ago).

Last Friday I played lounge music at the registration for a conference (about 100 people) and it went really well. Many of the pieces I played were olden goldies from before. I was a bit stressed before the event, but calmed down during warm up and had a fantastic time. It was surprising to me that people actually came up and asked about my guitar and the music *during* my playing, but I smiled and nodded and chose the friendly approach.

It feels really great to realize that I have passed through several plateaus (or levels perhaps) in recent years and I appreciate every single practice session I have put down. Yet I don't fret if I go for days without practice if that's what my work schedule and family life dictates. I guess the "plateau" I'm at right now suits me just fine. :)
2017 Yngvar Thomassen spruce
1994 Alhambra 6P (cedar, battered, broken and repaired)
+ various steel string and electric guitars

Sold: 2014 Alhambra Linea Profesional (spruce)

Rognvald
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Re: Wandering on the Plateau

Post by Rognvald » Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:55 pm

"t feels really great to realize that I have passed through several plateaus (or levels perhaps) in recent years and I appreciate every single practice session I have put down. Yet I don't fret if I go for days without practice if that's what my work schedule and family life dictates. I guess the "plateau" I'm at right now suits me just fine. " Tormodg


Tormodg,
For many of us who have had a serious and committed past in music, life can get in the way in the present. Jobs, marriage, house payments, children, health, etc., have a deleterious effect on practice time and performance opportunities. Kudos to you for finding a balance in your life that allows music, if even sporadically, to enrichen your life. Your experience with performing repertoire that you mastered in the past, with which you have struggled recently, is a very common experience and one which I am presently dealing with in my own musical life. However, I have found that the "plateaus" are far less common now as I am rebuilding skills I had once mastered. The sad reality is that many talented musicians abandon music for more lucrative professions ,at some time in their life, as the realization that they will not become the latest "Guitar Phenom" with worldwide performances becomes readily apparent. Performance opportunities, for most, are limited and generally poorly paid. The struggle is long, the material rewards few, but the compulsion for the beauty of music remains life-long for those of us who have been touched by the power of music. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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