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Hitting a Wall?

Postby owen.hans » Mon Jul 02, 2018 3:54 pm

How do you guys deal with “hitting a wall” in your playing? Such as losing all motivation to practice or touch an instrument?

Thanks!
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby bloke » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:01 pm

1. Don't quit.
2. If no scheduled performances nor scheduled lessons, set the instrument down for a few weeks.
3. Become more engaged in other disciplines and other interests. Take on non-tuba-playing projects which have been put off by procrastination or other reasons.
4. Re-embrace the tuba when your own desires to do so demand it. You'll probably find that you're playing as well as you did when you put your instrument(s) away, if not better...and with your "wall" having fallen out of your way.
Last edited by bloke on Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby CC » Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:09 pm

bloke wrote:1. Don't quit.
2. If no scheduled performances nor schedules lessons, set the instrument down for a few weeks.
3. Become more engaged in other disciplines and other interests. Take on non-tuba-playing projects which have been put off by procrastination or other reasons.
4. Re-embrace the tuba when your own desires to do so demand it. You'll probably find that you're playing as well as you did when you put your instrument(s) away, if not better...and with your "wall" having fallen out of your way.


+1
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby TheTuba » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:38 pm

For me, I practiced probably less than 20 times on two years. That all changed when I entered region competition and heard this one amazing tuba player ( he made 2nd chair state in a 5A band). At that moment, I knew that I would do whatever it takes to be like him, walk in and make state thinking the audition was easy. It was a "moment". You'll know when or if you get it. Whether it's a audition, listening to a heavy tuba emphasis piece at a concert, or hearing a solo on tuba that changes you on practicing, it should come.
BTW, after that, I started practicing every day without fail.I got way better than I should've been for only having 3 years on tuba.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby ren » Mon Jul 02, 2018 5:49 pm

For me, as I have hit the wall more than a couple times. The wall (outside of non music related factors), always came down to a feeling that my playing was not improving enough to warrant continuing on the path I was on.
Obviously when you spend many years studying and performing this is a frustrating moment and it can be hard to shake. Some folks take a practice break, and come back refreshed. But that can be a trap because not practicing for extended periods will make you even more frustrated when you come back to the horn. Sometimes you need to analyze your practice habits and change them radically. If your spending a bunch of time playing excerpts give them a break and find a new etude book. If you religiously play a certain warm up, throw it away and pick a different set of warm up routines you are unfamiliar with. Change does not always equal progress, but its easy even for pros to find themselves in a maintenance practicing situation which over time loses its luster and the brain checks out. Change is good, change is required for progress and may even be required to prevent atrophy. I wish you the best with it.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby Doc » Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:04 pm

bloke wrote:1. Don't quit.
2. If no scheduled performances nor scheduled lessons, set the instrument down for a few weeks.
3. Become more engaged in other disciplines and other interests. Take on non-tuba-playing projects which have been put off by procrastination or other reasons.
4. Re-embrace the tuba when your own desires to do so demand it. You'll probably find that you're playing as well as you did when you put your instrument(s) away, if not better...and with your "wall" having fallen out of your way.


THIS^^^
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby ren » Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:37 am

One the other hand, you could quit. People do it all the time to feed their families and find other dreams.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby MikeMason » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:11 am

I’m a big fan of TED talks. Two come to mind. “The power of quitting”, and it’s opposite,”grit”. Both highly recommended.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby timayer » Tue Jul 03, 2018 7:46 am

1. Putting the horn down for a time isn't quitting; it is taking a break. Breaks work wonders. I would take week or two-week long breaks during college once a year. I don't think it hurt my playing at all. I took 3 years off to get a law degree and picked it back up after. I think I got to be a far better player after all that than I was when playing 8-10 hours a day in college. I just took another long break as a result of moving, starting a new job, and having a child who I doubt would appreciate me practicing while she sleeps. I'll get back to it soon, and I'm pretty confident I'll still be able to hack out Bordogni #1.

TLDR: Tuba will always be there when/if you want it.

2. Is it the tuba as a whole? The music you're playing? Other things going on in your life? (NOTE: NOT seeking that information; for you to ponder yourself).

2a. If it is the music you're playing, then play what you want for a while. Pick out a piece you like and focus on that. No scales, no exercises, no etudes, nothing. Just sit down, get the lips warm, and work on playing a piece that inspires you. Don't make it a chore.

3. Schedule yourself time to go to a conference or schedule a lesson with someone with whom you've never studied. See if that shakes the feeling. In anything, you can get in a rut. It is a huge motivator and can clear out your head to spend a day or two in close contact with like-minded people.

4. If you have the resources, rent, borrow, or otherwise work your way into a larger-than-normal room and play in there. You'll get to hear yourself resonate in ways that you don't when practicing at home. I would guess a majority of people on this board, when finding themselves alone in a concert hall, wouldn't take the horn off their face. It's a fun experience.

Tuba can be a pretty confining instrument. The body of music written for it is as small or smaller than anything else out there. We don't have the luxury of ready-made 5 centuries of music written for our own instrument's quirks. And it is physically demanding. That can result in frustration. Trying to power through can be counterproductive. There is nothing wrong with taking breaks, and taking a break doesn't mean you stunt your growth. There are A LOT of ways to work on being a better player that don't involve the horn - listening, reading, singing, going to concerts, score study, etc. And there is also nothing wrong with investing available time and/or resources into doing any of the above if you really want to keep tuba an active part of your life.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby ren » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:28 am

timayer wrote: Trying to power through can be counterproductive.


It can be extremely counterproductive.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby Doc » Tue Jul 03, 2018 8:55 am

timayer wrote:1. Putting the horn down for a time isn't quitting; it is taking a break. Breaks work wonders. I would take week or two-week long breaks during college once a year. I don't think it hurt my playing at all. I took 3 years off to get a law degree and picked it back up after. I think I got to be a far better player after all that than I was when playing 8-10 hours a day in college. I just took another long break as a result of moving, starting a new job, and having a child who I doubt would appreciate me practicing while she sleeps. I'll get back to it soon, and I'm pretty confident I'll still be able to hack out Bordogni #1.

TLDR: Tuba will always be there when/if you want it.


I've taken breaks, and it helped me tremendously. When I started playing music as my second job instead of my first, it became less tedious (less like work). For while, I played or practiced very little because of my day job schedule. When I finally got busy playing again, I was able to fix some things in my playing that I previously struggled with. The fresh approach with a clear mind was the key to that working.

2. Is it the tuba as a whole? The music you're playing? Other things going on in your life? (NOTE: NOT seeking that information; for you to ponder yourself).
Sometimes difficult to answer, but beneficial to figure out, IMHO.

2a. If it is the music you're playing, then play what you want for a while. Pick out a piece you like and focus on that. No scales, no exercises, no etudes, nothing. Just sit down, get the lips warm, and work on playing a piece that inspires you. Don't make it a chore.


I found old piano music (tunes from the 1920's-1940's) and big band song books. But I mostly played tunes by ear for my own entertainment. As an aside to that, I often record my playing so I can critique myself, but I recorded stuff strictly for the purpose of my own entertainment.

3. Schedule yourself time to go to a conference or schedule a lesson with someone with whom you've never studied. See if that shakes the feeling. In anything, you can get in a rut. It is a huge motivator and can clear out your head to spend a day or two in close contact with like-minded people.


You know the definition of a rut?
A grave with both ends kicked out. Get out of your rut (in any aspect of life), stop dying in that area, and get back to living. If, in fact, you are in a rut, change something up.

4. If you have the resources, rent, borrow, or otherwise work your way into a larger-than-normal room and play in there. You'll get to hear yourself resonate in ways that you don't when practicing at home. I would guess a majority of people on this board, when finding themselves alone in a concert hall, wouldn't take the horn off their face. It's a fun experience.


Time alone to honk in a large hall is crack for tuba players. Go smoke a rock. Get the whole cookie. Record yourself while you're getting tuba high.

Tuba can be a pretty confining instrument. The body of music written for it is as small or smaller than anything else out there. We don't have the luxury of ready-made 5 centuries of music written for our own instrument's quirks.


Technically true, but I would further challenge the OP to look at music in a less limiting way. That's looking at it as a classically trained, classically minded instrument player (and I am one, btw), but there are a number of us would be bored to tears if we only played pieces written for tuba. Some of it is wonderful, but much of it is not amazing, inspiring, or entertaining as music. If, however, you look at the tuba as merely the vehicle for expression/communication (and you can love the tuba as the instrument of your voice), and you don't limit yourself to playing "tuba" music, the possibilities become enormous. If you hear a beautiful melody/song/tune, play it on your tuba. It doesn't matter which instrument it's "written for." How about laying off the "classical music" stuff and play some other music you like. Big band, jazz, dixieland, country, pop, reggae... Play the melody, harmony, bass lines...whatever blows your skirt up or bakes your bread. In the same way there is this false notion preached around universities that you have to play CC to be serious or taken seriously, you have to be a classical musician playing classical music to be a real player. Both are absolute hogwash. If you haven't developed your aural skills to the point you can play by ear, then you have some different-than-normal, get-out-of-your-rut training ahead of you.

And it is physically demanding. That can result in frustration.


We ain't gettin any younger playing these big things.

Trying to power through can be counterproductive.


AMEN...

There is nothing wrong with taking breaks, and taking a break doesn't mean you stunt your growth. There are A LOT of ways to work on being a better player that don't involve the horn - listening, reading, singing, going to concerts, score study, etc. And there is also nothing wrong with investing available time and/or resources into doing any of the above if you really want to keep tuba an active part of your life.


...and HALLELUJAH!
Last edited by Doc on Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby timayer » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:05 am

Doc wrote:Technically true, but why would someone look at music in such a limiting way? That's looking at it as a classically trained, classically minded instrument player (I am one, too), and many of us would be bored to tears if we only played pieces written for tuba (much of it is not amazing or inspiring music). If you look at the tuba as merely the vehicle for expression/communication (and you can love the tuba as the instrument of your voice), and you don't limit yourself to playing "tuba" music, the possibilities become enormous. If you hear a beautiful melody/song/tune, play it on your tuba. It doesn't matter which instrument it's "written for." If you haven't developed your aural skills to the point you can play by ear, then you have some different-than-normal, get-out-of-your-rut training ahead of you.


I had a long response, but I'll try to be concise: I agree. We should play everything. But there is an extra level of frustration sometimes when using another instrument's music. A brilliant and satisfying phrase for an oboe player may be a source of immense frustration for a tuba player. It would be nice to have tuba rep as extensive as violin rep. But given that we don't, we should all play what music we can from any source.

And to your point - Engaging in that exercise CAN be very satisfying.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby Doc » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:17 am

timayer wrote:
Doc wrote:Technically true, but why would someone look at music in such a limiting way? That's looking at it as a classically trained, classically minded instrument player (I am one, too), and many of us would be bored to tears if we only played pieces written for tuba (much of it is not amazing or inspiring music). If you look at the tuba as merely the vehicle for expression/communication (and you can love the tuba as the instrument of your voice), and you don't limit yourself to playing "tuba" music, the possibilities become enormous. If you hear a beautiful melody/song/tune, play it on your tuba. It doesn't matter which instrument it's "written for." If you haven't developed your aural skills to the point you can play by ear, then you have some different-than-normal, get-out-of-your-rut training ahead of you.


I had a long response, but I'll try to be concise: I agree. We should play everything. But there is an extra level of frustration sometimes when using another instrument's music. A brilliant and satisfying phrase for an oboe player may be a source of immense frustration for a tuba player. It would be nice to have tuba rep as extensive as violin rep. But given that we don't, we should all play what music we can from any source.

And to your point - Engaging in that exercise CAN be very satisfying.


My computer farted out on me while trying to complete the post. See above edit.

Being the position that we are in as one of the newest instruments on the block, we have limitations as you describe. We just have to find other ways to make music. And you're right about the challenges inherent in some of that, but those challenges can help us become better musicians, better instrumentalists, better readers... aw heck, you already know what I'm talking about.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby timayer » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:26 am

Doc wrote:aw heck, you already know what I'm talking about.


Next time you're in New Hampshire, we can chat about it over a venti at Starbucks. My treat. :D
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby Doc » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:29 am

timayer wrote:
Doc wrote:aw heck, you already know what I'm talking about.


Next time you're in New Hampshire, we can chat about it over a venti at Starbucks. My treat. :D


Sounds great!
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby owen.hans » Thu Jul 05, 2018 10:01 am

Thank you everyone for your responses!!

The biggest issue in my situation is that I am currently at a pretty large music camp and still have a week and a half to go. I’m a lot more motivated than I was a few days ago, but taking a short break would probably be best for me however I cannot do so because of the activities at this camp, and I must prepare for an orchestra auditon in late August.
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby bloke » Thu Jul 05, 2018 11:16 am

owen.hans wrote:Thank you everyone for your responses!!

The biggest issue in my situation is that I am currently at a pretty large music camp and still have a week and a half to go. I’m a lot more motivated than I was a few days ago, but taking a short break would probably be best for me however I cannot do so because of the activities at this camp, and I must prepare for an orchestra auditon in late August.


Then take all of the "orchestra audition" stuff you've been working on, and shove it under your bed for a few days.
Work on other things...Revisit things you worked on in the past, or work on totally new-to-you things.
Also (seriously) make sure your valve section and mouthpipe aren't filled with crap, and that your valves are all moving as they should (speed/range).
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby Tubaguyry » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:25 pm

Find a nice secluded spot out in nature, bring a piece of lexan/long clothespins/etc. to deal with the wind, and plop yourself down and play only the fun stuff that makes YOU happy.

If that doesn't work, just put the horn in the case and forget about it for a while, until you ache to play again. A few days, a few months -- whatever. It doesn't really matter. If you're really any good, it won't matter how long since you last played -- years, even -- you'll be just as good as ever within a couple of days of picking up the horn again. If you AREN'T any good, then why waste all of your energy worrying about something that is out of reach for you, anyway?
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby windshieldbug » Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:04 pm

Well, as many of you know, I ACTUALLY HIT A WALL.
And coming out of the coma, I found that playing for fun is a whole lot less pressure! :shock: 8)
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Re: Hitting a Wall?

Postby owen.hans » Thu Jul 12, 2018 5:55 pm

Thanks everyone for your replies!!!

I’ve been at a music camp for the past 3 weeks or so, so pretty much my plan of attack was to just play whenever I really had to. I just spent all my time enjoying the new people I met.

As for just blantantly quitting, I don’t plan to, especially after I made 1st chair in the NC 9/10 all state band this past year.

Thanks for the encouragement and tips!
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