Now it’s time for a little reflection, as a musician I often fall into the habit of rewatching old videos from previous shows I have performed on and I do so with a critical point of view. Doing this allows me to pick up on my strengths as a musician as well as my weaknesses, which gives me a chance to see where i’m falling behind or improving in areas such as: Musicality, Musicianship, Showmanship etc. So far looking back at my old performances I have managed to distinguish common characteristics in my playing that were either non existent, still needing work or worked on too much, and i’ve managed to list a few.
Strengths: Theory knowledge, Tone, Technique.
Weaknesses: No musicality, Poor Stage presence, Being overly critical on a performance and grimacing at the slightest mistake.
My stage presence in my videos was very rough around the edges as I was still trying to amass the courage and confidence to move around and put on a show for the audience, which often lead to doing bizarre things like kicking my leg out or jerking my head up quickly. I have been aware of my stage presence since level 3 a couple of years ago and have been constantly working on ways to conquer my fear of people laughing at me if I mess up in any way, and up until last year (which is 1-2 years after this initial realisation) I had only made slight improvements by being more expressive with my movements on stage, although they were subtle and I didn’t walk about at all. However this year I finally made a breakthrough during a gig at college where I started dancing in time with the music and being a little more interactive with the audience, which only left me with good feedback at the end of the show. Watching the footage from that gig has given me a more recent idea of my stage presence and what improvements can be made in the future, because, even though I made a breakthrough that means I can’t slack off just because I made progress. On the next show I aim to perform with more confidence and flair. Another thing I noticed from looking at my old videos is that whenever I made a mistake I would make a face similar to a scowl, which highlights to the audience the fact that you’ve made a mistake somewhere during your performance that you weren’t best pleased with. However, during my performances I have started to pull faces regardless of whether I’ve played the wrong note or not, this is because whenever I play music now I tend to lose myself in what I’m playing
Below is a link to a recording I did 4 years ago on a level 2 course at college. At this point the only theory knowledge I had obtained consisted of: The major scale, the minor scale, Dorian pentatonic scale and basic chord triads.
This is the first videoed performance I had ever done up to this point, and as far as all of the previous statements I have made regarding myself as a musician, I feel that this video highlights the all of my weaknesses perfectly. The problem areas are apparent from the beginning of the first song as I clamber onto the stage with a very awkward air about me, this shows my sheer lack of stage presence through my naturally shy nature. Everything except from theory knowledge has stayed the same since the previous recording as I had managed to learn more about modes and how to apply them, although I hadn’t quite utilised it in a live setting at that point.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwFLEGVZJ64 39:04 – 47:03
This performance was recorded a roughly 4 or 5 months after the previous recording, and straight away you can hear a comparable difference between the two. My practice back then focuses entirely on technique and tone as I was an avid viewer of guitar lesson DVDs which specialised in technique and little on musicality, which lead to my realisation that in the music I want to write, technique is only a means to an end instead of the basis of a track. As far as theory knowledge goes, in the space of a year, I had definitely experienced a few revelations that had helped me immensely in the learning process which is evident in the video, although in comparison to more recent performances, the amount of theory knowledge in this video is only basic knowledge to me now.
In the video below I have shown an improvement in my theory knowledge, tone and technique which is evident in my solo as I show a great a improvement. In the time between this link and the previous links I posted prior to this example I had spent an immense amount of time practicing and working on these problem areas to get the best possible results (which I spent 6 hours a day doing). I couldn’t of picked up on these problem areas if I hadn’t of looked back at the previous link with a critical perspective, this is proof that self evaluation can be helpful in a productive sense by providing inspiration and motivation to ignite an urge to constantly better yourself through hard work and perseverance.
This next video is an example of me trying my hand at songwriting for a show at college. For this gig we had to center around playing Jazz standards, but as my group were short on material, I decided to take it upon myself to write a piece to flesh out our set list a bit and try to do something outside of my comfort zone. Up until now the other videos showed a lack of musicality in my playing, but composing a piece really highlighted these problems and pushed me to learn more about how music works – albeit at this point it was to a basic degree. My tone and technique however seems to have been neglected in the meantime, as I hadn’t stuck to my 6 hour a day practice regiment for a few months, this is a result of my lazy personality taking the reigns, with the addition of my brief descent into having a dislike of music in general.
This is one of the more recent performances of mine, and as you can see straight away I am more comfortable on stage compared to the tricky video I referenced earlier in the blog, I look less awkward and more open around the audience, which is evident from the act and dress on stage (Christmas jumper as it was December at the time and slippers). I would say that wearing slippers on stage has helped to promote a calm mental state for me as I feel like i’m at home as opposed to standing on stage in front of a load of people, and also they have sparked up conversations with a few of the audience members who were perceptive enough to notice them, which also benefits me as I am getting familiar with the audience leaving less to be afraid of. I also move a lot more on stage in this example, due to my gradual rise in confidence deriving from the handful of other performances I have done. My tone and technique has suffered yet again due to my short attention span and the many distractions I have at home as well as in college (games, books, anime etc), which I am currently trying to correct by restricting what I do to certain times of day and focusing primarily on music.
Since I first picked up the guitar 9 years ago, I have noticed myself almost having a battle with music as I have a tendency to either progress rapidly or stagnate dramatically when trying to learn new things. But after examining my development over the years through these videos, I have managed to deduce the following traits I need to work on the most to further develop myself as a performer and a musician.
Strengths: Stage presence, Chemistry with other band mates, Flexibility in playing styles.
Weaknesses(things I need to work on): Tone, Technique Musicality, Motivation.
I have already begun working on a regime that will help put me back on track with my song writing, performance and technical ability which will probably take up around about 6-7 hours a day If I can keep it up. The pictures below are of an idealized timetable I wanted to adhere to a few years ago, but instead of the 10 hours I had planned for each day, I could only keep my concentration for 6 hours at most.
This is the timetable specifying what areas I should work on each day. I chose to put certain topics (like fretboard) at certain times as they need the least amount of concentration which I could work on when I had to be away from my instrument (Breakfast, lunch, dinner etc).
And below is the criteria I can choose from for each time slot listed above. Each lesson’s criteria is decided by my before hand – like a teacher’s lesson plan – going by what I think I need to work on the most.