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Old 07-27-05, 06:48 PM
fiddlegirl fiddlegirl is offline
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Smile Musicians and ADD

I'm not quite sure which category this would fall into, but since I'm in college I figured I'd put it here.

I'm a 25 year old female and in my last year of pursuing my bachelor's degree in violin performance at a very well known music school on the east coast. I was diagnosed with ADD and depression at 14 but was never treated properly. I had taken lots of different anti-depressants (currently on Zoloft which works GREAT!) but never dealt with the ADD until last year. I realized my grades were all over the place, I couldn't practice and I was having panic attacks brought on by stress, which was caused by my procrastination and inability to focus on anything. I was so frustrated that I dropped out of music school and quit playing my violin altogether.

I sought out a psychiatrist and therapist, and was diagnosed again with ADD. I am taking Adderall now as well and for the last two semesters, I have earned straight-A's and have been able to practice consistently and see progress in my playing. I was given a neuropsychological evaluation as well, which revealed a learning disorder in mathematics (like dyslexia but just with numbers). Music and math are interrelated, which explains why I failed various harmony and composition classes

I'd like to talk to some other musicians out there who are dealing with ADD/ADHD. Are there any other musicians out there? How do you deal with practicing and actually focusing your practice time?

I have a very difficult time dealing with criticism (constructive or destructive) because my music is so personal to me. How do you handle critics, whether it's someone you know or just a review in a newspaper or magazine? My confidence is quite low as a result of the ADD and depression, and although I perform often, it's hard for me to not criticize myself.

Anyway...hope to get some feedback from other musicians!

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Old 07-27-05, 09:50 PM
Hyperion Hyperion is offline
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As a theatre major, I basically went through five years of nothing but constant (usually) constructive criticism. You just have to realize that it's not a judgment about you personally, but think of it as a positive instruction on what to do. You don't know how many times I've been at rehearsals that went into the wee hours of the night, where everyone's exhausted, and you put everything into a scene, only to have the director yell "ok, let's do this one more time, and this time let's not completely suck at it, ok? My dog showed more expression licking its own ***, and my pet rock had more energy." You just have to step back and try again, and try not to get frustrated or panicky or worried. Just keep going until you get it right.

Also, it helps to remember that everyone, even the truly great ones, always need hundreds of practices, hours of work, countless amounts of criticism, before they get it right. When you see a musician or actor perform on stage, realize that they didn't have it right the first time. What you're seeing is the result of trial and error, lots and lots of error. But just remember: Everyone screws up in rehearsal, that's why it's called rehearsal. All that matters is that you get it right for a performance.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
- Bertrand Russell
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Old 07-27-05, 11:02 PM
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crime_scene crime_scene is offline
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what, you gotta be perfect??? who's perfect??? even golf PRO's have coaches!!!!

I'm an amateur musician and I look at all the criticism as a learning opportunity, especially if it is not personally directed. (nobody like someone saying: hey YOU. that was HORRIBLE, why are you HERE?)

Oh and I have a great story to tell you. My music teacher invited me to a rehearsal of a soloist who was going to perform the next day.

The rehearsal was relaxed and easy, very little to complain about really, the whole thing felt very solid.

On the day of the performance, however, he was quite tight (nerves) and his playing reflected it, and so his rehearsal was the better performance of the two.

And this was someone who made their living as a musician and a soloist. Cuz in the end they are all just people trying to do the best they can do give a good performance. Sometimes it comes together and is a total thing of beauty, when you're in the 'zone' and sometimes, you have to work for every phrase and it feels very 'off'.

One of my best tips I got from a conductor/trumpet player was...just focus on the music, get into it, let everything else go. That was an awesome piece of advice and really helps in the quality of output.

Hope this helps, even tho I"m not ADD.


only dead fish go with the flow...

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. (Robin Williams)
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Old 07-28-05, 02:38 AM
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livinginchaos livinginchaos is offline
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hey, fiddlegirl -

I am also a musician, I minored in music (emphasis singing) in college.

Every single session with my vocal prof, we taped. Do you tape your coached sessions, fiddlegirl? If not, I highly recommend it.

When I listened to the tape, I could really hear what I needed to work on and what I excelled at. Also on the tape, was my vocal prof telling me how to fix what needed fixing (so I didn't have to try to remember) and telling me what worked, what I did well, which helps to balance out the constructive criticism.

I listened to the tape a few times before each practice session and pick only 2 things to work on. I would practice until I got them right. Next time I practiced, same thing - but I would find 2 other areas to work on. This is what helped me focus during practicing, plus frequent breaks.

Constructive criticism is to help you. It's not telling you that you suck, it's just telling you what you need to work on to be better. No one's perfect, everyone has lots of things they need to work on, tweak a little. Look at constructive criticism as more of a goal to achieve rather than something that's negative.

Webster's Dictionary definition of constructive criticism:
criticism or advice that is useful and intended to help or improve something, often with an offer of possible solution

Best wishes!!

Leonard: “You’re using chocolates as positive reinforcement for what you consider good behavior!”
Sheldon: “Very good! Chocolate?”
-The Big Bang Theory (sitcom on CBS)
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Old 07-28-05, 11:45 PM
ashley ashley is offline

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I keep trying to write a response to this but I think I'm too scatter-brained to help. This is how my music gets when I'm not totally emersed in it. I go at it (violin) for 3 months or so and just....blah.
What I'm trying to say is:
1. I can't focus on practicing either
2. I don't perform at all because the people, the instrument, and breathing are too distracting.
3. Music is personal (especially when it's what you plan to do with your life) but critiques of it are not. I want to say more on this when I'm better collected... lol
These signature things always distract me
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Old 08-19-05, 07:52 PM
fiferjanis fiferjanis is offline

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Practice/performance tips for the attention-challenged

I've been a pseudo-professional musician for probably 20 years, and have taught others for about 10 years. I tell my students not to do the whole "practice for 30 minutes a day" thing - it's boring! Who wants to make time for 30 minute blocks (or more) when there's more interesting stuff to do?

What I've found is it's amazingly like muscle-toning. Instead of lifting a lot of weight once, lift a little weight lots of times. Throughout the day. Throughout the night. Whenever - just a LOT. I would leave my instrument(s) in a high-traffic area of work or home, or keep it with me all the time, and just pick it up every time I walk past. Play through the tune, or problem spots I've marked out as needing practice, play through at least once (or a few times, 'til you get frustrated/bored) and then go on to something else. It only takes a moment, and before you know it, you've put in a LOT of practice throughout the day, and it didn't put a dent in the rest of your activities. Also, this keeps your brain starting and stopping, so it's always in there churning - much better than practicing a lot at once and then forgetting what you practiced/learned.

For performances - I pretty much practice so much it's muscle-memory. If there are a lot of distractions and you're not looking at or reading music, find a fixed point somewhere and focus on it. A tree-branch, a light-post, a brick in a wall. Tune out the dynamic and fixate on the static.

As for taping and self-criticizing your practices, I'm all for that too. Your own worst critic is you. Make several copies of your sheet music, and take out a fresh copy when you listen to yourself periodically. Mark down problem spots, and what you hear, and what you should do to correct it. Ask other people what you should do to correct it if you don't know (and you just know it sounds wrong). Then, when you're passing by doing your repetitions throughout the day, go over just that section.

If you like watching t.v., keep your instrument near the sofa or t.v. and play during the commercials. I tell my drum students to do paradiddles or whatever rudiment they need to work on during commercials until the show comes back on. It's an instant 3-5 minute mini-practice right there.

Now - if I could only get into practices/methods that worked as successfully in other areas of my life...
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