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Tim May's L.A. Scene

Time Off!

Tim May's Bio

For this month's article I was asked to write about the kinds of things busy session players like to do in their "off time." Everyone has their own unique way of enjoying their time off from any job, and it is very important to allow time to let the brain and body rest. As guitar players, I find we share a common enthusiasm for music and guitar-related stuff; I also know that when we're busy playing all the time, when we get together informally we don't want to "talk shop" but prefer discussing virtually anything else.

As "hired guns" we are paid handsomely to play guitar for whatever record, film, jingle, concert or whatever the project may be. Sometimes we are totally in sync with what the composer, producer or artist has in mind, and sometimes we are asked to approach the project in a way other than we would naturally choose. Again, this business is all about FLEXIBILITY! While it can be very rewarding, the fact is- it's sometimes a tedious job with lots of pressure to perform at a very high level; in these circumstances, rest becomes very important in maintaining a good attitude and freshness in our playing.

I love the experience of playing other peoples' music, and I've learned a lot from getting another musical point of view, but I also enjoy playing and listening to music only for myself! I spend some of my free time listening and/or playing music that I love, with no consideration for anything else. I don't care if it's commercial, or if someone else doesn't like it or anything like that.

More than ever before, technology makes it possible to play and record quality music at home. One of my favorite things to do for a given tune is to record a play along track with bass, harmony, and drum parts. The sounds are great, and it's very enjoyable and beneficial to play and experiment with whatever I want rather than having yield to anyone else's tastes. I record with Digital Performer, but there are lots of other effective and affordable sequencers. Playing along with the various cable and digital music broadcasts is another of my favorite pastimes, as well as playing classical literature, or any new music that interests me.

Depending on everyone's schedule, it's also fun to get together with other musicians to play some tunes. My good friend and a great player Mitch Holder and I have been getting together like this for years! These impromptu sessions bring us back to the reason we started playing music to begin with- IT'S FUN! I also spend a good amount of time going out to hear and support my favorite players in the club venues. John Pisano has run a "Guitar Night" at various L.A. clubs for several years, and it's always nice to get out to hear some of the great players that show up!

The other point I want to emphasize is the benefit of TOTALLY getting your mind off music! While practicing and focusing on your music is a positive and necessary thing, my experience is that getting away from it- for just a few minutes, several days or more- is also very rewarding. I've worked on projects relentlessly, only to find that getting away from them for a while tends to give me a much clearer perspective when I do come back to them. It's a real discipline to pace yourself in a way that maximizes your creativity and productivity; this is often easier said than done. I like to get out and walk or ride a bike, or do some other kind of exercise, but sometimes lying on the couch is just what is needed!

We are a diverse bunch, and I'm always amazed at some of the things players are into other than music. From fishing to racing dragsters, flying glider planes or just "hangin' out", it's all good! Somehow it all contributes to our musicianship in the bigger picture of things.

Have a good rest!

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