Posts tagged: play

Due to Technical Difficulties…

What do you do when life drops a plateful of challenges in front of you? What if the music – or at least the music-making – must stop for a bit? Well…you adapt.  :-)

As mentioned in our last post, there are numerous things you can do to get your music fix, even if you can’t directly feed your playing addiction. We’ve been making our way through a few techno-medical challenges in the PartTimeMusician (PTM) command center, and while they’ve certainly made things a bit more interesting around here, we’re making our way back to a more normal (whatever that is!) balance of music-listening and music-making as we go along. We’re also beginning to put the technical hurdles in the rear-view mirror, and by this time next week, they should be nothing but a humorous footnote in the logs. Well, that’s the plan, anyway.  :-D

For those who have contributed to the backlog of material that is crying out to be shared with our greater PTM family, thank you! And thank you all for your patience, kind thoughts, prayers, and common love of making music. As often as it’s said, it’s true: it’s all good!

Keep playing,
Mark

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Playing injured?

Every one of us experiences periods where we suffer some injury that affects our ability to play our instrument of choice. Whether caused by playing or not, it affects our playing…and raises the age-old question of “what to do about it”. There are many things you can do while injured to improve your musicianship, but the one thing you shouldn’t do is just ignore it.

1. Stop, Look, and Listen

The old advice for safely crossing a street applies just as well to injuries. Assuming this is an injury that doesn’t require immediate medical attention – and if it does, skip this step and go DIRECTLY to step #2 – stop playing and assess what is wrong. When does it hurt? What happens? Jot notes, tune into the feedback your body is giving you, and above all, put down the instrument. Continuing to do something that aggravates your injury will only make things worse. As the old joke goes, when you realize you’re in a hole, the first thing you should do is stop digging. :-)

2. Seek qualified medical advice

I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), and if you aren’t either, you should consult one. Sometimes docs don’t understand your particular issues/concerns if they haven’t played your particular instrument, but whether PTM or not, you doctor probably understands the mechanics of the human body far better than you or I ever will. Take your notes – and maybe even your instrument, if it helps explain the symptoms and how they present themselves – and explain your injury to a qualified medical professional. Get their advice, then follow it.

3. Listen to good music

While you have to lay off the axe, step up your listening…and your listening skills. Since you can’t practice/play for a bit, take this opportunity to strengthen areas you may overlook normally.

Listening to pop music is a great way to informally give yourself some basic ear training. Really listen to that lead singer. Notice anything? At the risk of ruining a lot of music you may currently enjoy, you may notice that they aren’t quite as in tune as you realized. Doing this improves your pitch when you pick up your instrument again, far more than you may think.

Hip-hop and world music offer excellent opportunities to improve your sense of rhythm. Often-varying tempos and beats give your mind a workout and expand your appreciation of a set of skills you may be weaker in using.

If you’re typically a classical player, listening to jazz may help you hear improvisational riffs – and give you ideas you can employ in many different settings. Jazzers listening to classical may open other vistas for riffs, help with technique, tone, etc.. These (and other) genres offer lessons in nearly every measure, every phrase, if you listen for them.

4. Be patient

This one may be the most difficult advice to take, but it’s critical that you give yourself adequate time to recover. Rushing back to any activity that aggravates or re-injures only makes things worse than if you’d taken the time to heal properly. Do it right the first time and you’ll be happier, play better, and overall, play sooner.  :-)

5. Ease back into it

When you do get the doc’s go-ahead to resume playing, don’t just jump back into it; build up gradually. This ties into step #4 about being patient! Build up slowly – maybe more slowly even than recommended – to ensure you don’t overdo it. Just as you’d never stand on the ground and expect to jump to the top rung of a ladder, you shouldn’t expect to just pick up where you left off before your injury. Build up slowly, safely, and the results will be worth it.

Disclaimer

Don’t use the internet as your doctor, and don’t use anything you read on the internet – including here – as sound medical advice. The internet provides a wealth of information (including some written by doctors), but seeking qualified medical advice should never be an afterthought. It’s impossible for a layperson to accurately diagnose a medical issue based upon some article(s) read on the ‘net, no matter how informed said layperson may be. Do your research, take your notes, and find a good doctor. Your body will thank you for it, and so will your music.  :-)

All the best,
Mark

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Can Videogames (Finally) Help You Play Better?

Music videogames stir strong opinions in some musicians, and Part-Time Musicians (PTMs) as a group are no exception. But with the latest round of gameplay improvements and controller updates, have we now reached the point where playing a music videogame can really improve our music-making skills?

This is a large topic that can be approached from several perspectives, and we’ve covered two of those before (see From virtual musician to real musician and Videogaming helps your mad music-making skillz!), but this zeroes in on the typical configurations that are seen in most homes – or the setups that the Rock Band folks hope soon will be.

In this article from our friends at cnet, Dan Ackerman puts Rock Band 3 to the test and finds that it comes very close to the “real thing”. And while they take a slightly different tack, Dan notes that the people behind First Act are working to close the gap between “play music” and playing music, too. It’s a great article that has had me mulling since I first saw it, and I suspect it will you, too.

So what do you think? Will music videogames eventually get to the point where (we) real musicians use them as a training aid? Or will adding sophistication spoil the fun for the larger market and kill the games before we get there? Are we already there?   :-)

Drop us a line and share your thoughts! And whether you take an occasional videogame break or not, keep that music coming…

All the best,
Mark

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Joke of the Day: Pipers

I’ll admit I’m not a great fan of bagpipes, although they do seem to sound “just right” on certain pieces, like Amazing Grace when performed at a funeral. I really do choke up when I hear it.

But this isn’t about choking up; this is about humor! So with that in mind, here is the Joke of the Day:

Q: Why do bagpipers walk when they play?
A: To get away from the sound.

Keep playing (unless it’s those pipes),  ;-)
Mark

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Quote of the Day: Author Unknown

Although it has no attribution, this quote was too good not to share.

“Play the music, not the instrument.”

It’s rich with meaning, isn’t it?  :-)

As you play – regardless of instrument, technique, or venue – remember that it’s the music that you’re playing.

All the best,
Mark

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