It’s a flummoxing phenomenon during practice, but it’s real!
Find out why falling prey to this common practicing mistake is so detrimental and what to do about it: Nailed it in practice, but in the performance, at the lesson – not so much!
Why, oh why!?
So, I’m curious if this has ever happened to you: You’re practicing. You’re nailing it. You’re sounding great. You’re sounding awesome, so you’re beginning to feel really, really good about your upcoming lesson, or your upcoming gig. So you pack up go to the gig or or to the lesson then you step on the stage or you enter your teacher’s studio and you play the piece that you felt so confident about and you’re falling apart!
It’s not doing what you thought it would do. You’re faltering. It feels as if you’d have never really known it and you ask yourself: “what’s wrong with me?” So don’t worry, this is very common. This is typically what happened. You most likely didn’t know it as well as you thought and here’s why. When you practice it at home, ask yourself if you had a bunch of false starts. But you fixed them and then went on and as the practice progressed you got better and better at it and didn’t have that many false starts to begin with. Now after a pretty good practice session, the last few times when you practiced it you nailed it!
But the truth is you had to get it wrong a whole bunch of times before you eventually did get it right and after that long extended practice session when you played it the last time that’s what’s sticking in your memory. That’s why you’re getting up from the practice session going I’m good. The truth is that next day after that really successful practice session when you sit down and practice it again, you probably will have those false starts again until finally getting it right.
So what happened at the lesson or at the gig is exactly what would have happened if you would have sat down for another practice session. We just kind of erase all these wrong false starts in our minds. So what’s the remedy? What’s the way out of this? How can you test yourself to make sure that you’re truly ready?
First, refine your practice. Avoid false starts to begin with. Avoid falling into “error loops”. I’ve done other videos on that topic.
Second, do the test. Test yourself. Test yourself if you’re gig or lesson ready and this is how you do it: You practice, do your thing, whatever… take a break. Take a long break. Come back next day. Then you sit down and you got one chance. You’re cold. You’re not warmed up. You haven’t played it a million times wrong or right or whatever. You just get to the bass cold. Can you play it in your mind? Can you hear it before you start playing? Can you do something like talk yourself through the sections of the tune? And now for the litmus test, can you play it correctly right out of the gate on the very first try?
If you really want to go all in with that test, hit record on a camera because then you’ll know. And if you’re nailing it… you’re ready. If you don’t, you just need a bit more practice. Also make sure that you keep your tunes warm because they don’t stay warm and ready to go forever. The takeaway? Practice in such a way that you nail it out of the gate when coming to the bass cold. That is your litmus test whether you know it or not yet.