hi all....  

have any of you ever stopped gigging in order to give more time to practice? if so what motivated you to temporarily change direction? and what feelings did you have at the time?

i did this several months ago, because learning more and more tunes for our gig in their simplest format was killing any time i had for personal improvement, i couldn't even beef-up the tunes. i felt overwhelmed...
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no, but i have stopped gigging for a while because i thought i should practice more before i subjected more people to my horrendus playing skills.  where i live gigs rarely last more than 3 or 4 hours and if you are getting more than three a week that is a real sign most people feel you do not need more practice.  so it is a real illusion that gigs are cutting into practice time.  its all about whether you want to be better before putting yourself in front of an audience again or not.
also i often think of my playing as a product so i will take time off to put together a new product to sell.  once i realized people were just not enjoying my totally mainstream solo piano product of all davis, coltrane...etc tunes in the market i was playing in.  so i took a little time off to make a new product... ie the new product included healthy doses of junk food ie, billy joel, elton john etc.  the new product was well recieved and much more appropriate for the market i was serving at the time.
interesting thread.

i learned how to play professional piano on stage, and i did that 6, 7 nights a week for over ten years.

when i quit that part of my life i realized that even though i had a lot of skills when it came to playing live, having a great time, adn entertaining, my tree of jazz piano/theory knowledge was lacking from the roots to the leaves.

so i spent several years after that period of my life trying to fill in the holes, and at this point in my life, i feel like i have a nice balance of "art" and "professional" in my playing.

i don't regret anything.

my one bit of advice would be to never stop gigging. if you're in a position to gig, do it.  every great player out there seems to agree that the important thing is to play. now, that doesn't mean you have to take the same kinds of gigs. you could take coffee shop gigs or something where you get to play whatever you want instead of say a retirement party for people who only want to hear cole porter.

but as you are doing this, open up the jazz piano book or something else and go through it as fast as you can.  learn some new tricks, fill in some of the holes in your jazz piano knowledge, and then use it on gigs.

sometimes new jazz knowledge can screw up your playing for a little while because you're thinking so hard about the new things you're learning, but it's a very good way to be screwed up. it doesn't take long before the stuff you're thinking of turns into stuff you just do without thinking.

so, keep on gigging, maybe change the types of gigs you're taking so you can play more of what you want, and get more focused on the things you feel like are lacking in your playing.

just thinking about this is a great step because a lot of people don't even get here- they just keep on playing and playing the same old bs that tey've been playing for 30 years or whatever. at least you are seeing that there is more you can do, places to grow, knowledge to garner.

keep it up!
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i don't play live very much anymore, but i know that the few times that i have recently it's really put the focus on things that needed improving more so than just sitting at home in my piano room.  there's things like "wow...i could vary my register and use the high end of the piano a little more" or "huh...my playing without the use of pedal sounds kind of shaky" that seem to be magnified when you're playing for someone else.  just my two cents.
thanks mike that was brilliant, the point about wanting to be better before putting yourself in front of an audience, i think this might be what i was struggling with.

ziggysane: ditto... when i was gigging, i suddenly realised there were avenues you could take that i would never have thought of whilst sitting practicing in my bedroom, the gigging actually broadened my musical mind.

scot: thanks for the tips.... i think what happened was, i was feeling overwhelmed, being asked to learn new tunes whilst also wanting to expand on tunes i already knew..maybe i was hoping to take the tunes from, very simple, to, very complex before going back to gigging... but as you suggested, that's probably unrealistic due to knew knowledge screwing up the playing..... i guess i could consider  working on 'one' small area, thereafter taking it to the gig, then learn a 'little more' then take 'that' to the gig etc...

thanks all.... great 'food for thought here'
another great thing about playing gigs is what you learn from the other players on the gigs.  i found that i played differently with different players.  sometimes i'd hear a guy play something i would not have thought of myself, and that would give me something to work on when i got home.
i agree doc.  i think fellow musicians are inclined to see the truth, and the errors in our ways.  i get much more from a band member's constructive criticism than from an an inebriated guy saying;
  "wow, you guys are really good!
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