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Phasing out Performing
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Phasing out Performing

I have a gig in November I worked hard to get (just because the booking agent is stoned a little too often).  I'm thinking of making it my last.  

It's kind of a pain, and more than a little embarrassing to be playing some good, complex fingerstyle guitar, and suddenly your left hand just decides not to work.  It's kind of like the mule in the pack string that sits down, suddenly, and messes up the whole train.

I have a guitar group that I meet with on a monthly basis.  It's kind of like a writer's group where we present UNpolished pieces we're working on and give each other feedback and advise on difficult technical passages.  Over the past 7 months, we've all become better guitarists for it.  More than half of them don't perform, and play way better than I do.  This last meeting, I asked if performance isn't what drives them, what does?  The unanimous reply was "there's just so much to learn out there!  So much music to be written!  So many songs to arrange and put your own signature on!"  These folks prefer not to perform, not so much because of stage fright or anything else - it just doesn't make their socks roll up and down, or otherwise give them a thrill.

These answers were good enough for me.  I play because I enjoy playing.  I don't necessarily want to get "Out There" or famous.

Just thinking out loud.  I kind of grieve over it, but hey - I still play.  It still gives me immense pleasure.
Thanks for the "ears".

Guitar_grrrl
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12 Comments Post a Comment
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739070_tn?1338607002
I don't play an instrument but I can still relate to the grieving process. My job is/was a paralegal and before I was forced out on medical leave, I too had moments when my brain didn't work...usually mid-sentence.

Using my brain and my education to teach attorneys how the human body operates and how injuries affect it was what  I did and I loved it! It was hard to give it up but in retrospect I probably wasn't on the ball as much as I think I was during the last few months. I still plan on seeking contract work once my disability issue is settled to the extent allowed by the policy. Looking forward to use my brain once again is what is keeping me going. I enjoy it immensely just as you enjoy playing.

So, keep on playing for your enjoyment and to put your signature on song arrangements and know that we all have moments where we grieve what we once had. The upside is that we all still have so much more to contribute and we are still more than capable of living productive, albeit altered, full lives.

Wishing you peace with your decision.

Ren

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572651_tn?1333939396
Hi GG,
Coming to these crossroads are so difficult.  Ren is right in that others too have made decisions which are life-altering, thanks to this MiSerable disease.  The bigger picture really is about grieving and letting go of what we worked hard to attain.

I hope that left hand behaves again, and follows the right in listening to your brain and your heart in your music.  

wishing you well,
Lulu
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I know exactly how you feel. As a side venture I compose music and write song lyrics. I did for a while have a CD of my music for sale online (actually sold a few copies). But I was in it to create new music and learn new styles of writing not making money. But most of my joy for this is sharing what I have written with others. I can't tell you how many CDs I have given to people over the last 15 years.

But the last few years I just have not been able to compose like a use to do. The concentration and memory just is not there anymore. But I still refuse to give up on this. It just takes me a lot longer to compose something. I also think that by continuing to compose it helps my brain to fight the effects of what is going on.

Dennis
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I think you're right, Dennis.  The brain is like any other part of our complex systems: use it or lose it.  (Happen to have any of those CDs left?)

GG, I am sorry to hear that you don't feel up to par with regard to your performances, but I am happy to see that you seem to have as good an attitude about it as I think any of us could.  You are a treasure in God's eyes no matter what earthly attributes you may have, and while our time here often seems full of troubles, it is also filled with riches beyond measure if we open our eyes and look around.  It looks to me as if you are doing just that.  May He bless you in ways yet to be imagined.

Incidentally, do you have any recordings out there that might bless the rest of us?

Laura Lu, Ren, wise words & kind thoughts from you both, speaking of treasures.
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667078_tn?1316004535
I had to give up doing out door art shows. I can't do all the set up. tear down, and hours on my feet.

I had to take a break from painting I hope to get back but on my schedule. I used to hang 25 shows a year and do over three hundred paintings.

Also I had to drop out of curating a show next year.

Alex
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Dear L,

I really feel for you.  Music is your life line.  Does it really matter if your playing in a group and suddenly your finger s don't start to perform??  It could be a new twist on the music your playing.  I used to play classical guitar - many years ago - and I just love music too.

Grieving is a natural process that we all go through, when we are not able to do the things that we used to be able to.  For me off roading on my bike.

November is a long way off, who knows maybe your left hand will perform and you will shine through - you have the inner strength!!

The French have a brilliant saying as I'm sure sure you will understand - c'est comme ca.  It sums it all up in three simple words.

Thinking of you and sendiing beaucoup de bisous a toi.

Debs xxxxx



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I also can relate.  I graduated with a music education degree.  I played guitar, piano, and saxophone.  Actually, what created the most problems for me was that I couldn't find a job in the education world in music.  So, I looked into other areas that I could teach.  I played for enjoyment, but then found that playing an instrument became impossible for me.  I can't explain it, but my hands became so stiff and tired that I couldn't even play through a tune.  As far as the saxophone, my mouth gives out way too quickly and I don't have the air strength to play.  I gave up music altogether, but found a joy for teaching kids with special needs.  

Now, I'm certified to teach language arts, have written a book, and have never looked back.  I ended marrying a musician, so it works better this way.  It's either feast or famine as far his contributions go (I bet you're all to familiar with this), so stability with my paycheck really helps.  And I love what I'm doing.

Incidently, I went for several months when I was able to get back to playing the piano and guitar for enjoyment--I think that the Copaxone really helped.  I'm probably in another relapse, but I do look forward in getting back to playing again.  I guess what I can suggest is to keep your music groups going and playing for enjoyment.  When I was away from it for so long before (many years), it made playing on a more professional level a very distant option.

Life can certainly deal curve balls sometimes!   I think that you have taken a very positive attitude toward what has been thrown at you, though.  
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Im so sorry your having a hard time with playing... I sooo understand what your
talking about.  I too, have had to struggle with should I play in public or just simply
for my own pleasure, and about 7 months ago, I completely stopped playing gigs.
I do still pick up the guitar, not nearly as often as I use to, not because I dont
want to, but for the simple fact that I feel like have lost what I had, my fingers dont
move as fast as they once did, my timing is off.  It saddens me. but I will continue --
because, Like you, I love music, I love playing,  It was my life, as long as I can still
hold it, I will play it..
Best wishes to you,
Keep playing.
Cyndi
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738075_tn?1330579444
Thanks for all the support, folks.  I didn't realize there are so many musicians among us - you've been holding out!

And, yes, Pastor Dan, and anyone else who's interested, I do have a CD available on CD Baby under Lisa Chupity.  There are little clips you can listen to on the site.

I'll keep playing until, well, who knows?  Maybe not on a performance schedule, but at least with my friends.  It's easy in a band, the other band members can cover for you if the hand stops working momentarily.  But I'm a solo player (one of those "lone wolves").  I figure I can still post stuff on i-tunes, etc. (after a bazillion takes in the studio LOL).

Thanks again, all,
Guitar_grrrl
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What would we do in this world w/out the things we love, and our passions.

This is a good reminder of why we have to keep on with what we do, for as long as we can, no matter the performance glitches.  So glad you'll keep playing if even w/less public attention.

Proud of you G-Gurl - I'll check out your tunes on those clips

-shell
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338416_tn?1260996698
I can really relate to this!

I still do outdoor art shows, but it's becoming a lot harder.  I have to take off so much time to get ready for the show, then recover from the show, that I'm not sure it's worth it.  And if it's outside, I worry about it being too hot for me.  Then there's the cognitive problems associated with taking money and talking to customers - phew!  

And I'm learning to play the stand-up bass, and I've experienced exactly what you're talking about - my hand stops working.  Usually my right hand, which is the plucking hand.  My fingertips on the left hand are numb, so getting the calluses hasn't been a problem - it's keeping the right hand in time with what's going on.  Sometimes it just stops, and sometimes it seems to be stupid - it just won't react as fast as I want it to.  I'm not sure how much of that can be eliminated with practice.
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I played saxophone and bass clarinet in college, and started noticing a problem with producing enough air.  And my embochure started acting weird - I'd have a weakness in my right cheek, so that it would puff out, no matter what I did.  I guess it was one of those early symptoms...
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