How happy are you with your own playing?
What day is it? Oh, never mind 🙂
Who said I was happy with it?
I am delighted with my playing.
Because of the nature of ITM, my finger-work and reading abilities have improved tremendously in the last 15 months.
Does the scale of one to ten include zero?
On a good day? Nearly.
All the other days, miserable.
Not very, but then I figure if I liked my playing I’d probably have gotten bored with it ages ago, so it’s probably a good thing I don’t feel up to scratch. Keeps me putting the effort in.
Always room for improvement- and would love to improve my limited memory capacity! So many tunes and so hard to retain them all while learning new ones!
Really happy right now, I’ve set my goals and I’ve reached them. Now I’m in a phase of setting new goals.
The problem isn’t remembering tunes; I could hum, whistle or diddle several hundred from memory. The problem is getting my left-hand fingers to move quickly enough on the fiddle to produce the sound that I would like.
Good days and bad days.
In the last couple of years, the "bad days" had been more numerous but things are getting much better.
Sessions can sometimes be a hit or a miss these days. I’m beginning to understand the "It was OK when I played it at hame…" thing. 🙂
Anyway, in general, I don’t think any of us should allow ourselves to become too content with our playing levels. There’s always room for improvement and lots of new things to learn.
However, it’s a mistake to compare ourselves to others whether they may be better or worse. I’m at my happiest when I know I’m playing as well as I possibly can at my own level and I’m enjoying the music. A sort of "sweet spot" where everything just seems to click. Sometimes it can be quite elusive but it’s wonderful when it happens.
I like everything about my playing except my inability to consistently do what I know I’m capable of.
I concur with the second part of your comment. Consistency or lack of it is the biggest issue as far as I’m concerned.
Sometimes things seem to fall apart for a variety of reasons. Anything from feeling "off form" to my instrument(s) "playing up" (Or I blame them, anyway 🙂 ).
I actually like my own playing too when things are going well but I accept that there’s always scope for improvement and learning new ideas.
When practicing alone at home, I have good days and "meh" days. Not many that I’d call bad days.
The "meh" days outnumber the days when I think I’m making real progress, but every once in a while the clouds open up and a bright light shines down from the heavens, and I think I’m pretty good at this. Or at least not terrible. Just a few of those days every month makes it all worthwhile.
This is complicated by trying to move some of my repertoire from mandolin which I’ve played for years, to flute, where I’m still in the learning phase. It feels like a regression of sorts; a backsliding in competence playing this music. But I’m getting there.
I’m happy when I’m playing.
Self-critical, not complacent, but mainly enjoy playing and trying to make a good sound out of a tune.
Very familiar with "it was note perfect at home" - but not while out!
Not happy if I am made to play a tune faster than I think it should go, even if I can play it at that speed, but you do have to go with the flow in a session! (Somebody will knock me down for that!)
Once in a long while, I’m overjoyed with my playing - and I think I’ve finally got it. The rest of the time, I’m trying to recapture that feeling.
My left hand is fine. My right hand on the bowing? Fuget about it. Didn’t start fiddling until late in life, so I need to get meself out of the way. Never give up!
Reasonably. Like Ailin I sometimes struggle with consistency. My technique is generally not a problem. My inner, mental game can be off sometimes, leading to poor concentration and silly mistakes, like forgetting a part of a tune I know very well.
If you’re happy with your own playing, you need to raise your standards.
> If you’re happy with your own playing, you need to raise your standards.
there’s a difference between being happy with your current level, and being complacent. i feel satisfied with where i am and the progress i’ve made since i started playing again (a few months ago), while also being aware of areas i need to improve in, which i’m actively working on. i’m sure "you should never be happy with your playing" works for some people, but if i honestly felt constantly unhappy with how i play, i would just stop playing.
We’re all the worst critics of our own playing (or, at least most of us are, and all of us should be). I’m no exception. I’m not a huge fan of listening to myself play solo, but I started to tackle that a couple of years ago with my first solo album (which all has accompaniment, if not other melody players).
I am recording a second album now, but it’s mostly duets with various folks (plus accompaniment). I can listen to my first album every now and then, but I got pretty sick of it all during the recording, editing, mixing, and mastering process. If I listen to it in the background, I like it. If I listen closely, I hear things about my playing that I don’t like… But such is the nature of being a musician, I guess.
In sessions, I have my ups and downs. There are nights where I feel like it’s a struggle all night, and there are nights where I feel like I can do no wrong. The difference in the music that comes out is probably negligible, but my impression of my own playing is intimately tied to my enjoyment of the evening.
Having, a few years ago, realised and accepted my technical limitations, I’m pretty happy most of the time with my playing.
It could always be better in terms of consistency and it’s probably hardly ever error free but as long as it’s enjoyable to me and anyone I’m playing with (or anyone listening) then I’m happy.
What I’m not particularly happy about is my tendency to underpractise.
The music you hear in your head is always the standard, as it should be. And it’s always better than the music you actually make. If it’s not that way then you don’t grow.
That’s the way it is with every accomplished musician I know.
Not sure about that, David. There’s no way I can hear anything in my head that sounds as good as, say, the London Symphony Orchestra, or even a fiddle bow being drawn over an open G string. The sounds I hear in my head are thin and overtone-free by comparison.
There are a lot of factors that go into that statement,work time,spare time,family time and does time exist…..personally I find that if I can not always just focus on playing jazz or big band ensemble ,I stay fresh and upbeat about music generally,which is why I have taken up whistle,very addictive…..the comment Im happy when I’m playing….sums it up for me
technicaly I’m almost unbeatable as a classical musician of Irish heritage but sliding notes are really tough and I wish I could do better ornaments on slip jigs. I also wish I could play airs with more feeling- because I do have a heart, and feel unsure about the balance of heat andtechnique
Dia dhaoibh! Greetings!
I got up at 5am Did all the ablutions, cup of tea etc.
Had a few tunes on the flute.
Had a few tunes on the whistle.
Had a few tunes on the fiddle.
Had a few tunes on the harp.
I’ve started my day doing what I love, and whatever happens afterwards cannot take that away. I’ve worked flat out since. If I cannot play later, no worries, I’ve had my start.
I don’t worry about assessment; that’s for others to make.
Am I happy with my playing? You bet your life I am! It’s a glorious gift bestowed on us.
Play because you love it! Enjoy it!
All the best
Infinitely variable - I have days when I think ‘I’m really pretty good at this’ and others I think ‘you really suck at this, put it back in its case and do something useful’. Probably most days ‘ok but could do better’. C’est la vie.
"Am I happy with my playing? You bet your life I am! It’s a glorious gift bestowed on us."
Like me, you appreciate your gift.
Christy, and maybe many others Greetings!
WHY PUT YOUR INSTRUMENT BACK IN ITS CASE?
I don’t want to seem ingenuous but instruments are there to be played; not hidden away!
Here in my humble abode are 3 fiddles and 1 viola hanging on pegs, a ‘cello stands in the corner; 2 guitars, 1 classical, 1 steel strung, 1 mandolin are on stands There’s a couple of harps too. They’re all begging to be played! I’m not right good on them, but hey! you don’t know who’s going to drop in do you?
AND there’s a flute or whistle in every room OUT THERE TO BE PLAYED! Even on the cupboard next to the loo!
Why hide away what you profess to love? Cases are for transport. Look at your instruments, hold them, love them … maybe pick them up and play them in a spare moment. I do!
All the best
> If you’re happy with your own playing, you need to raise your standards.
Toxic thoughts, you cannot be happy with anything in life if you just repeat the above sentence and replace "playing" with any other subject.
My two cents, if you allow yourself to be happy with your playing you will actually become a better player.
You can still be "Happy" and enjoy life whatever your circumstances. This includes your level of muscial ability.
That’s not to say one shouldn’t want to improve and further his/her skills and ambitions in whatever field they choose but that’s not strictly necessary either.
For instance, I enjoy swimming, cycling, and walking but I’ve no desire to be competitive in any of these activities or even set any particular goals… Mind you, I like to swim at least 40-50 lengths in a session(not the musical kind 🙂 ) if I can and when I wasn’t very well a couple of years back I was rather chuffed that I could still cycle just under 20 miles in a round trip.
So, in my opinion, there’s a subtle difference in being happy as far as enjoying your playing is concerned as opposed to being happy with the level of your playing. Of course, if you are happy enough in yourself and things are going well then your playing will be better too. At least, it will be at the higher end of the standard that you are capable of at that particular time.
I should add a caveat that "artificial or induced happiness" may not improve your playing… 🙂
Anyway, talking about happiness , here are a couple of examples. 😉
The Rev "If I listen to it in the background, I like it. If I listen closely, I hear things about my playing that I don’t like…"
David L "The music you hear in your head is always the standard, as it should be. And it’s always better than the music you actually make."
I’d agree with both those and I think they’re related in some way. Certainly if I listen to my own playing closely, I think it’s not great. But if I zone out a bit and listen to the flow of the tune as a whole, then I often think, hey that sounds good and it means something.
Likewise you have tunes and bits of tunes go around in your head, but what you hear too is the overall flow and feel of them, rather than the minute detail.
>That’s not to say one shouldn’t want to improve and further his/her skills and ambitions in whatever field they choose but that’s not strictly necessary either.
That’s a totally different subject from happiness. Being happy about a level of playing means that you’re happy with the achievements you’ve already made, that does not exclude that there are still achievements to be made.
If you’re saying that you’re unhappy with your current level of playing because there’s still room for improvement you are:
1. Neglecting everything you already achieved, which is on itself something to be happy about
2. Setting yourself up for being unhappy forever with your level of playing because there is always something to improve upon
I’ve already seen people around me stop with playing because they were unhappy with their playing. Constantly comparing themselves to people at a different level, and beating themselves up over it. These are toxic thoughts.
People differ, and perhaps I see my glass as half full and work better with a positive attitude and others rather would see the glass as half empty. But surely, if I would ever teach someone music, I would teach them to celebrate their achievements and enjoy their playing rather then beating themselves up over what they cannot do yet.
All in all it’s this. Much happier than I did a while ago. ( I remember it was two years of sitting in sessions before I played a note and even longer before I played two in a row.) Not as happy as I will be after a while. Philosophically I’m not a guy who dwells on it. I learned a long time ago that the enemy of "good" is "better". Sure we all want to improve, but spending too much time worrying about about it absolutely guarantees that we’ll never be happy with where we are. Life is too short for that.
Bluebell Polka this morning was mince! Otherwise happy with our stint at local Farmers’ Market, tho not much collected in the bucket. No worse than last time when we got 8x as much dosh playing similar tunes for same length of time to same standard: what’s that aboot?
Happy yes, satisfied no.
There was a period of time, when my skills were at their heigth. Sadly, age and infirmity slows one down. Having the particular problem of "trigger finger" now on all 4 of my Left hand fingers. The ligaments are tightening up, and my fingers ratchet open and closed. Does make playing difficult and a bit painful at times. Trying various excercises but no relief yet
By the third pint I am Sooooo Happy with my playing and it can only improve
Milo got it about right. I don’t think that constantly wanting to improve is necessarily a toxic thought. And I am continually grateful for my current abilities because, on average, I have more fun playing music than doing just about anything else in my life. But if you ever stop wanting to improve, it seems like you become complacent. I wouldn’t say that my desire to keep improving makes me "unhappy" with my playing, but I wouldn’t say I’m "satisfied" with the level that I’m at either.
This is a great topic, because 1. it’s not about ear vs. dots, and 2. playing music is a very personal thing. We put so much time an effort into it that it becomes part of our persona. If someone else criticizes your music, it can feel like a very personal insult. So the one person who can honestly give you really useful constructive criticism without potentially hurting your feelings is yourself. (To be fair, you CAN have the kind of relationship with another person where you can take constructive criticism without taking it personally, but it generally has to be someone you trust, and it’s often a relationship between a student and teacher…)
I am terrible and I’m sure you would all agree.
If I’m overcome with passion, (a bit rare that) I tend to play a whole lot better.
Some days, the moon and the stars align, the pipes are in perfect tune, and it is magic! Other days, not so much. But any day I play at all is better than a day that I don’t. It still gives me pleasure to play even when things are not up to snuff. Making music is its own reward.
The moralizing gets a bit much at times. Different people have different goals, and their lives are about different things. If you’re satisfied playing Irish Washerwoman well enough that the kids can dance around the kitchen to it, so be it - there’s no moral imperative for you to improve your playing; it’s enough to enjoy it.
> Milo got it about right. I don’t think that constantly wanting to improve is necessarily a toxic thought
Not being happy about your playing because you can improve is what I called a toxic thought, and that’s very different to the spin you’re giving it now.
there’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve - the comment people are taking issue with said that you should never be happy with your playing, which is quite different.
i’m sure there -are- people who actually aren’t interested in improving at all, which is fine if that’s what they want, but you can be happy with your playing and still see how it can be improved.
Boyen, I think you and I are using the word "happy" differently. And I don’t really want to argue the semantics of the word "happy", since that tends to get out of hand on discussion forums. I was basically agreeing with you after you pointed out that my first statement was "neglecting everything I have already achieved", and "setting myself up to be unhappy…" So I just refined my position a bit to express that, yes, there is a lot of joy that I feel from being able to play as well as I can, currently.
But I am not using the word "happy" as the raw emotion. I am using it more as "not content to stop here…" To me, being "happy with my own playing" is not saying "playing makes me happy" (which it does), it’s saying "I think I’m good enough, so why bother improving…"
Since I plan to continue trying to improving until I can’t play anymore, how would you state that more succinctly without using words like "unhappy" or "unsatisfied"? (I’m sure there’s a succinct, eloquent way to say it without making you worry about my toxic thoughts… 😉) I don’t feel like I’m as good as I have the potential to be, but I also don’t feel like I’m setting myself up for a life of misery because I will "never be good enough". I think of it more as a life of growth and positive change. And I certainly feel like my constant desire to refine my playing and change things that I don’t like about my playing are what drive me to keep getting better.
BTW, I never said that you should never be happy with your playing… (Howard Jones was the one who said you should raise your standards if you’re happy with your playing). But I did say that we should all be our own worst critic, and I stand by that statement ⏤ but I don’t mean that we should always be judging every note that comes out. We play music because it’s fun. There’s a time and place for being a critic of your own playing, and that’s generally during practice times, when we’re trying to make ourselves better…
Fair enough seems like we mean the same with different words.
I’ve never linked improving to satisfiedness/happiness or its opposites. Wanting to improve on things I do is pretty much a fact of life in everything I enjoy doing. The link to happiness is alien to me, but maybe this is a language barrier.
Funnily enough, if anything, the things that I’m most happy with are also the things I want to get better at the most.
>> the things that I’m most happy with are also the things I want to get better at the most.
Not happy at the moment as I had a humbling experience at my last session (I’m still a newbie and hardly play) and I’ve lost all confidence and motivation.
I’ve been making woodwind instruments instead and waiting for the thirst to kick back in. I realise I need to initiate this and not wait around anymore.
I’m not happy at the moment but lost motivation a while ago. The session scene here can be so fraught with weird politics that it doesn’t seem worth trying to get better.
That’s strange Dr Spear, there were comments on how well you were playing last time you were round our way.
Shame you feel that way, Michelle and Dr SS. Hope it all comes good again for you.