Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Prep for Playing With Others; Add Variables to Your Practice Routine

The largest adjustment for me since adding jamming with others into my guitar journey is learning how to interact with a someone vs. a something. I’m not talking so much about the tension and satisfaction of making music with others as one reader puts it. It is more along the lines of someones are variable and somethings are not.

When I practice against the metronome and backing tracks I've become used to their predictability and my ability to control everything. My short experience playing with others showed me there is a lot less I can control other than showing up and doing my best. Everything else is about adjusting to changing variables in order to complement the playing of others. Hopefully the end result is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s difficult; for me anyway. But, the recipe for dealing with difficulty in this hobby is practice!

Since I don't have others to jam with at every pactice session I'm trying to get better at dealing with variables by playing through an amp whenever possible rather than through my quick practice rig and headphones. Although convenient, I realize that interacting with digitally modeled amps through headphones is a much more controlled environment than a real amp and room dynamics. The amp also seems less forgiving and thus better highlights aspects of my playing needing improvement.

Another set of variables I've added is getting family members into the mix even though they tend to enjoy listening to music more than making it. Since this is summer break from school, all I need is to hear someone complain they are bored and I pounce. This has meant learning a couple of Avril Lavigne songs but hey, if someone is willing to sing something I’m willing to learn it so I can get some more practice!

If you have picked up the guitar later in life, playing with others is a great step. Do it sooner than later. To help you prepare, explore some options to add more variables to your practice routines. You'll be glad you did!

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