The other day, I sat down to listen to a recording of my trio. I heard myself make tons of mistakes, and my time seemed to always be rushing ahead of the beat.
I wondered, “When am I going to be good? I’ve been practicing this stuff for seven years, and I’m still not there!”
I bet a lot of musicians listen to their gigs an think the same thing. But when you listen to a show, try to look at it from a couple of different perspectives.
1. Did people enjoy the show and get their money’s worth? In the case above where I was feeling critical of my own playing, we had a great show. We sold out of CD’s and got $160 in tips, which is pretty good for a jazz trio playing at a small club. Maybe I thought my playing sucked, but people really liked the band.
2. Jazz is not learned overnight. I watched a video of a great local keyboard player last night. He is a little younger than me, but his skill level is far beyond mine. I was browsing his website and I saw that he had been playing piano since age 4. That means he has been playing keyboards for probably around 35 years. DUH, that’s why he’s way better than me. In another 28(!!!) years, I still might not be as good has him, but I wager that I’ll be pretty dadgum good.
3. Listening to recordings of yourself play is important. When critiquing your own playing, make note of the things you’d like to work on or do differently. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, don’t let it get you down. Get excited about practicing to improve.