Disoriented while playing?

VirgoStorm

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I have had disorientation happen due to kit being setup on a non-level surface. We had a gig downtown, closed street setting. Streets are canted to facilitate rain runoff and drainage.
Interesting comment. I had a similar experience at a festival gig this summer where the stage was leaning backwards about 1/2 a bubble.

Very tiresome to play on and almost lost my balance a couple times while seated on the throne.
 
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Of course check with a doctor. If I were to make a guess, I would ask about the volume of the jam and whether or not you were wearing ear protection. At a prolonged volume you could get disoriented.
 

Cann_Man28

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All good responses so far. One suggestion I would add that I think will really help you out long term is to record the band in these settings. You can use your phone, or even better a zoom or tascam portable recorder. When you listen back, listen for a few things:

1) when do you like your playing? What about it do you like? How can you do that more often?
2) how do you lock in with the bassist? Try to focus only on the drums and bass.
3) how do you lock in with the comping instrument (typically piano or guitar)? Focus only on the drums and piano.
4) Who is the soloist locking in with? Focus on the soloist and the piano, then the soloist and bassist, then the soloist and drums.

Doing this listening exercise will help you in many ways. First, you will sound better more often because you will learn what you are doing that works. Second, you will figure out what is happening. Sometimes that confusion can occur when the bassist and drummer are locked in but the soloist is not listening for example. Third, you will sharpen your ears to hear the interactions better so you can get things back on track more quickly when you are in that situation again.
 

Nechama

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All good responses so far. One suggestion I would add that I think will really help you out long term is to record the band in these settings. You can use your phone, or even better a zoom or tascam portable recorder. When you listen back, listen for a few things:
Thanks - I do have a recording of the last session and will give this a try.
 

Corbin L Douthitt

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I’ve had an unpleasant experience twice while playing at a jam session, hoping someone can tell me what’s going on and what I can do about it.

Both times I became disoriented as to time. Rationally I knew that I was keeping time (because I was locked in with the bass player, for example), but I couldn’t feel it or hear how my time was in sync with the music. I’ve heard that pilots can become disoriented so that they can’t tell up from down - this felt like that.

Editing to clarify: This wasn’t a problem of being lost in the form. When that’s the case I can still hear the rhythm of the tune and the shape of the phrases, and I can tell if my time is in sync with the music. I lost all of that. My brain knew that I was playing hi-hats on 2 and 4 but my ears couldn’t hear it.

This has never happened to me in other settings. I’m a beginner and quite nervous about playing in public, so maybe it’s just stage fright. But if anyone’s had this experience and overcome it, would love to hear how.
if you are EXACTLY on with the music- you might not be able to hear what you need for feedback. I play to tracks at church- if I am 'on top'.. I can't hear the beat..as long as you aren't dizzy- get your blood sugar and bp checked...
 

cobaltspike

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As other people have said get your blood pressure and blood sugar checked. Also, I have had a problem kind of like yours for a split second when the pa was blasting in my ears so loud that it was causing a momentary problem but for that just use hearing protection. I would definitely get checked out by a doctor just to be safe.
 

senecaty

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Honestly, it sounds like it could be related to blood pressure, dehydration or a minor panic attack. I’d chat with a professional in a white coat either way…
 

gra7

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I agree - and from experience with what @senecaty and @cobaltspike has said above. If you are feeling stressed and/or nervous and are dehydrated, your mind can play tricks on you especially in heat. However, in 2014 (I was 42) I suffered a few dizzy type episodes while on stage. I thought nothing of it, other than drinking more water - but it turned out my blood pressure was not the best and it's under control now for me thankfully. Please consider getting yourself checked out.
 

Nechama

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All good responses so far. One suggestion I would add that I think will really help you out long term is to record the band in these settings. You can use your phone, or even better a zoom or tascam portable recorder. When you listen back, listen for a few things:

1) when do you like your playing? What about it do you like? How can you do that more often?
2) how do you lock in with the bassist? Try to focus only on the drums and bass.
3) how do you lock in with the comping instrument (typically piano or guitar)? Focus only on the drums and piano.
4) Who is the soloist locking in with? Focus on the soloist and the piano, then the soloist and bassist, then the soloist and drums.
This was very valuable, and I think I know what’s going on.

The first time I felt disoriented I was playing a shuffle for the first time, and although I was playing the downbeat on 2 and 4, I did something weird with my hi-hats that put accents on other beats where they didn’t belong. The second time there was a novice horn player who played for 5 minutes with no discernible rhythm, phrasing, or sense. (I’m not judging. That’s probably how other musicians describe me. ;) ) I couldn’t hear any connection between the music and my time because for a good 5 minutes there was none, and by the time the experienced horns came in I was lost.

So what’s happening is, if anything muddies the time when we start the tune, the combination of that plus the stress of performing and trying to keep track of lots of things leads me to disorientation.

No reason to think it’s a medical issue - never happens in any other setting. And it’s not volume-related. This is jazz in a small room played at a volume that allows people in the room to be heard without shouting.

Thanks, @Cann_Man28!
 

Cann_Man28

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This was very valuable, and I think I know what’s going on.

The first time I felt disoriented I was playing a shuffle for the first time, and although I was playing the downbeat on 2 and 4, I did something weird with my hi-hats that put accents on other beats where they didn’t belong. The second time there was a novice horn player who played for 5 minutes with no discernible rhythm, phrasing, or sense. (I’m not judging. That’s probably how other musicians describe me. ;) ) I couldn’t hear any connection between the music and my time because for a good 5 minutes there was none, and by the time the experienced horns came in I was lost.

So what’s happening is, if anything muddies the time when we start the tune, the combination of that plus the stress of performing and trying to keep track of lots of things leads me to disorientation.

No reason to think it’s a medical issue - never happens in any other setting. And it’s not volume-related. This is jazz in a small room played at a volume that allows people in the room to be heard without shouting.

Thanks, @Cann_Man28!
I am happy to hear that helped! Remember, don't forget to make note of what you liked and listen to how you locked in with the bassist through all the crazy soloing.
 

Nechama

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I am happy to hear that helped! Remember, don't forget to make note of what you liked and listen to how you locked in with the bassist through all the crazy soloing.
There was very little that I liked - I was playing brushes with all of the swing and finesse of an elephant tromping through the underbrush - but the few moments that I liked were all in response to the experienced players.
 

BennyK

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Mass of heaving drunks , cash register singing like a Chopin concerto ... a " good night " . Billy Joel in my head " .... man ,what are you doing here ? " I look down and see this fellow behind the kit . Sure looks like me , but I'm somewhere else .

You are not alone .
 
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sputnik62ms

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I've had some similar experiences in the past, and there are a few things I think have been the problem:

1. Not enough water. My theory is that your brain works on electrical impulses, and the more water you have 'on board', the easier it is for those impulses to travel from one synapse to another. I can definitely make a link between being dehydrated and finding playing much harder.
2. Lights. I've never been diagnosed as having any form of epilepsy, but my brain definitely 'misfires' if there are lights in my eyes - even if they're not flashing. But if they are, I'm in real trouble!
3. Poor on-stage mix. I find that if my brain is having to 'hunt' for any particular type of sound (guitars especially), the process of playing becomes very difficult. (Especially true if you get a bad mix through your in-ears.)

Keep drinking the water!
 


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