How to Get Out of a Playing Rut
We've all been there. You lose the excitement of playing, you keep using the same voicings, it seems like you go for the same baselines or rhythms because it's what your comfortable with and your music stops advancing. You're in a rut.
Traditionalists may say, "No, this is how it has always been done and there is only one way to do it correctly", sorry but I tend to respectfully disagree. Yes, I play Bach traditionally, but I also know when to have some fun with it too. Just think if Bach, Mozart or Beethoven had the technology that we did, don't you think that they would experiment and try new things?
I love listening to all types of music. My brother played drums and guitar and used to listen to Kiss and Black Sabbath on his 8-track player. Listening to him growing up I learned that there was much more than boom-chuck boom-chuck for a rhythm. In my teens as I was learning Rachmaninoff and Beethoven I dated a young man who introduced me to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones. Later on Styx and Journey showed me that keyboards could play rock music and not always be in the background.
When I met my husband Andy we had been working at Lowrey for a few months and both attended a music trade show called NAMM. As we were leaving the hall one day I heard this wonderful music coming from the stage. Andy's head whipped around and I was walking backwards watching this band while everyone else in the Lowrey group ignored it and kept walking towards the doors. Here on stage was Blue Oyster Cult at one of the hottest musical trade shows on the planet and the staff at Lowrey had know idea of the impact that this group had on the music scene.
Last night Andy and I attended a live concert. The group was Blue Oyster Cult. In one night I again was reminded that Danny playing a bass line could become a melody, that Jules on the drums could have melody lines that sing, that when Buck plays the guitar it is effortless like breathing no matter how intricate his playing is, that Ritchie can go from keyboards to guitar with the blink of an eye with ease, and that Eric can tell a story that makes Godzilla come to life.
I have seen the versatility of each of these players on many occasions. They play a song called "Last Days of May" live and recorded, but at the NAMM trade show they were in the Peavey room playing an acoustic set. They played the same song, but with a completely different twist and it was amazing. Instead of the way they usually played it, Buck and Ritchie went into a Spanish almost Flamenco solo, the song does take place in Mexico. They went out of their comfort zone and it was magic. The members of the band are always exploring new avenues of playing styles and that is why their music is still being played and enjoyed.
Listening to music on youtube is one thing but going out and see a live band perform takes it to a whole different level. On stage and live, mistakes may happen, but the true artist goes with it and takes it into a whole different direction of playing. I'm not talking about bands that play with backing tracks and call it "production" and people playing to Ipods and tablets. I am talking about the lost art of real musicians making music together. As organists we tend to see soloists, but watching a band play teaches you how musicians interact and create new ways of playing something. You learn new voicings to use, baselines that might inspire you, rhythms that can change a typical song into an exciting song. For example: I play Carol of the Bells with a Latin flair.
If your in a rut, get off the bench, get some tickets and go see some live bands. Relax and enjoy the music and let it inspire you to try new things.