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Dobro Lessons: The Mental Game of Performance

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Well by now, you're in the advanced
section and
you might be getting ready to do some
performing or some jamming.
So, what I'd like to do is talk about
something that took me a while to sort of
understand and
I'm still trying to understand but it's
the mental game of performance.
Learning songs and technique is an
integral part of being a great musician,
but, just as much is
getting your mind in the right place to
play and perform in front of people.
One thing you'll notice, and it's always
impressed me with say,
classical musicians, is they can sit in a
if you imagine a classical guitar player,
in front of 2,000 people.
Silently staring at them and play a
flawless classical guitar performance.
And now, part of that is due to the fact
that they've put in so
many hours and they know the music.
But part of that also is a focus and a
that you can maintain when you're in a
situation where there might be say,
a lot of pressure or, you're in front of a
So, there's a variety of ways you can do
Probably, one of the best is to make sure
you're practiced and feeling confident.
If you play the songs and practice the
songs you're
gonna be performing quite a bit, you're
gonna feel a lot better about it.
Sometimes, you get on stage, maybe a band
asked you to sit in and you're not
familiar with their music, well, you might
feel a little bit more pressure.
One of the main things that I try and
do, is think about the reason I'm up here
playing is to have fun.
That's one of the most important things.
The idea of trying to say,
show off or show people what you can do,
tends to almost have the opposite effect
on a crowd, I've noticed.
In the early days of me playing, you know,
you get on stage and
you wanna sort of prove yourself.
You wanna show everybody what you can do.
And what I've noticed over time is, first
of all, that made me really,
really nervous.
[LAUGH] So putting that kind of pressure
on yourself isn't the best idea.
So, generally, you don't wanna go up on
stage with a mindset that
you're gonna try to impress a lot of
You wanna go up there with the idea that
you're gonna have fun and
enjoy playing with the other people you're
playing with.
That's why we got into this.
And Bluegrass music is, is a perfect
example of that.
It's a folk music.
It's a music that people play for fun, and
we should be no different.
Even if we practice a lot and we wanna be
the idea of having fun is really gonna
help you when you get onto the stage.
Another aspect of this that might throw
you off when you're performing,
is if you make a mistake.
Now that's probably gonna happen.
It happens with me all the time, and it's
totally fine.
It's okay.
But how you react when you make a mistake
is something that is really important.
Making a mistake is not a big deal.
But if you let it throw you, it can be.
I learned a, a whole lot about this from
watching some of my favorite players.
Jerry Douglas, Bella Fleck, they don't
make many mistakes, but the very few times
that they do you'll notice a burst of
amazing playing right after a mistake.
And so, if you see one of these
professional musicians
ever make a mistake which is rare, but if
they do, be ready for some of the most
amazing playing you've ever heard right
after because that's how they function.
And you can take that to heart and I know
I did.
If ever you make a mistake, it's an
opportunity for you.
You can really take something somewhere
far from a mistake.
So turn it from something that might make
you nervous or
scared into some, into an opportunity to
go a different direction.
So, how you deal with these things in the
heat of the moment is,
is really important.
The main thing is stay calm.
This is no big deal.
It seems like a big deal when you're on
stage, but it's really not.
So, take your time, relax, and enjoy
performing the music.