Bad playing days

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Bad playing days

Post by MagnumH » Tue Jul 14, 2020 4:39 pm

Do you get those days when you just can’t seem to play that well, no matter what you do? How do you deal with those days when they come along?

I definitely had one today, I think just due to tiredness, and just went for a short 35 minute session the fundamentals (long tones, tonguing exercises, lip slurs) before packing away and opening the wine.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by sterb225 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:18 pm

Generally I put the horn down right away, give some thought to what isn't working and then come back a little while later with an emphasis on what was actually OK. After a little while with the OK stuff I can start to work on the stuff that wasn't so good and find a path forward.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by Burgerbob » Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:29 pm

I try to isolate the reason it's happening. Almost without exception, they are

1. unusual tension- usually keeping me from breathing the way that works well

2. dehydrated- contributes to the above, and also means my face and other muscles are just not able to move the way they should

3. forgetting my routine- for me, that means set-breathe-play, in that order. If I'm rushed, tired, cold, nervous, traveling, the above two, etc. this can go out the window and my playing will revert almost instantly.

There can be other mental factors as well, but the above are usually what it boils down to.

Since I know that, once I know things aren't going well, I can evaluate- do I need to drink water? Take a walk? Stretch a bit?

I think once you can identify the factors in those days, you can overcome them 90 percent of the time with a bit of thought and work.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by imsevimse » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:27 pm

No I don't. When I was young I had days that was bad when I was not balanced. Maybe too little sleep and hungry or nervous or something. I had days when the warmup never was sufficient, when I never felt ready to play but it doesn't happen anymore and I don't know exactly what's changed besides the things I counted.
If I'm not sick then my playing is not worse than it was yesterday and that goes for every day as long as I practice :good: I still get better at the horn so progress happens. With no practice then my playing will be affected of course and that happens fast.

Last edited by imsevimse on Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:00 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by biggiesmalls » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:54 pm

If something about my playing isn't working after my warm-up, I spend the next 30 minutes reading and playing through The Breathing Book by David Vining. Works every time, usually for a long time.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by harrisonreed » Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:01 am

Yes, but these days are all related to being dehydrated or stressed.

I can feel it -- dehydration makes the mouthpiece seal differently and everything worse.

If I'm hydrated and not stressed, my playing is fine.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by ArbanRubank » Wed Jul 15, 2020 4:56 am

Switch mouthpieces, of course. lol
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by afugate » Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:49 am

When this happens to me, it's generally because I'm allowing a bad habit to slip in. Generally, that's in my embouchure so I become very deliberate about what I'm doing.

Fortunately, it happens far less often these days.

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Re: Bad playing days

Post by Doubler » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:25 am

All the above. I back off, try to analyze, go back to basics, KISS, and if it's too unproductive, I put the horn down and go back later, maybe the next day. Sometimes I'll spend a little time with my P.E.T.E., just to be doing something. I believe the unconscious mind works very hard at learning, and that the proper amount and quality of sleep is invaluable to the process. I also believe that stumbles are part of the learning process, perhaps transition moments.
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Re: Bad playing days

Post by ArbanRubank » Mon Jul 20, 2020 8:56 am

When the infrequent event of having "a bad day" does occur, I still try to leave the studio with something that inspires me for the next time, rather than a feeling of dejection. That inspiration can come from tuning in to a favorite artist and finding something he does that I might be able to work into my playing next time. It lifts me back up and gives me something new to accomplish. There is no trying. There is only doing or not doing. Where did we hear that!
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