Monday, January 23, 2006

Maintaining a Long Performance Set

I had one of those "just shoot me" moments last night. Ed returned from the NAMM show to find my fretted Glissentar on his porch, and he called me at about midnight to let me know (About fifteen minutes after I had fallen asleep, of course). UPS had started to ship it here, and then shipped it back by mistake. It seems that there were two tags on it: Mine from when I sent it to him, and his for sending it back to me. How can they make a mistake like that with all the barcodes and scanners &c.? Shouldn't the scanners have a "Wrong tag, dip-wad! This has already been delivered!" error message, or something like that? Very frustrating. UPS told Ed he should have crossed through the old tag. My reaction? How about UPS doing that, or perhaps removing any duplicate tags? You know; how about UPS doing their job correctly?! Anyway, it's now on its way back to me. What I find most irritating however, is that my $2,000.00, one-of-a-kind, custom made, fretted eleven-string Glissentar electric classical guitar SAT OUTSIDE ON HIS PORCH ALL WEEKEND!!! Ever wish that just once the Lord would smite all of your enemies? And all the other slackers while He's at it? You know, the people who make life just that extra little bit more difficult and frustrating? The ones whose sole missions in life seem to be to irritate people and turn perfectly good food into... excrement? Yeah. Me too. All the freaking time. Jeez Louise.

Like any headslapping incidents in my life, if I step back I can usually find a reason for it being advantageous. In this case, I am very close to finishing up with my metronome slow-play routine through my set, and having the Glissentar around would have distracted me from that. By the time it gets here, I'll be done with it.

While I've been performing this difficult and time-consuming chore, I have begun to realize that my set is just too long to do metronome work on all of the pieces anymore. I can only do two to four per day like that, and with circa fifty pieces, it takes weeks. So, I have started to eliminate the older and easier pieces from the list of pieces to slow-play. This go-round I eliminated fifteen pieces, meaning I can play them comfortably down to half speed with the metronome.

Since I want to start working the Glissentar into my set ASAP, I came up with a painless way to do it: Each time I slow-play through my set on the six-string, I'll follow up with only the previously eliminated pieces on the Glissentar. Eventually - by the end of this year - I want to have only my "crowd pleaser" pieces and problematic pieces left to do the routine with. That should make the project both less daunting and more productive. While musing about this I realized that maintaining a very long set for performance is a lot of work, but it can be managed effectively with a little thought and planning.

First of all, performing at least three times per week is absolutely required. At least it is for me. Otherwise I lose my edge. I actually perfer to perform four times per week, which is why I'm in the process of adding one or two more weeklys. By the end of this year, I want to be performing five or six times per week just to see, a) if I can do it, and b) if I get burned out on it. So far I still grin like a little kid every time I go to a gig - I love performing - so I just don't see any downsides to doing as many of them as I possibly can. We'll see.

One of the main reasons I need to perform - other than maintaining a performer's edge - is because performing for an audience brings me to a higher level of concentration than I can reach playing at home in the studio. There's a symbiosis whereby I get something from the audience as I perform for them. Once I got to performing three times weekly, my technique improved markedly.

I have also found that I need to practice performing in the studio too: At least 1/3 of my set list plus the crowd pleasers every day. Then there's the metronome work. I've only been doing that once every four to six months, but I want to make it a regular part of my daily routine once I get the list of pieces that need it down to a managable level. Before I go through this metronome hell again though, I have some new pieces on my "to learn" list that need to be taken care of.

OK. Back to Taneiev.

Because PETA wouldn't approve, that's why (Yeah, that's the ticket).


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