My newish bass

So after a nice walk hoping rhat it would not rain I find rhe place and try out the rig.  The bass was light, which rang some alarm bells. But once I plugged it in and had a go they went away. This bass was comfortable to play and sounded good. I took her home and into my room. Played wirh her for a bit and got the tone I was after. It seems smaller than my gilmore but it’s  just the head layout.
I’ve  tuned it down to C standard and the  intonation is good. So now i can learn the low stuff without having to mess with tuning and it’s so nice to play i will use it alot I’m guessing.  It will also be good as a back up. Now i have to save my pennies for xmas when i might get something from the top shelf. I’ll see where the band is at.

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New stuff

I’m  checking out a new ( used ) bass today. I justified to myself on the grounds of having to learn songs in c standard tuning that the band intends to play in e. So i need a second bass to play the song in its original key, and as a backup or upgrade…. yeah that all sounds reasonable doesn’t it?

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Happy feet

It was pretty cool today. I was singing and pl
aying for the kids. But it wasn’t until gramps started up on the bass drum that they started dancing!!!!

Never underestimate the rhythm section. Regardless how simple it is!!

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I can still remember the days at uni when i could practice 8 hours a day, not that i did that often. These days between family work and study,  there is not much time to spare. With increasing access to entertainment to boot wifh on demand TV and movies it is far too easy to lay back and relax instead of picking up the guitar or bass for some practice. So how have i found time for music?

Well first of all is a bit of discipline.  This on demand stuff is just fhat – on demand. I can watch it anytime, the bus, in bed,  on the loo… places where i can’t play guitar comfortably.  So i relax on devices there, also try to not watch an entire season of something in one go. This leaves me with time to play. I’m not going to get in 8 hours any time soon, but i am getting a few hours more a week in by making sure i get a bit in every day. Sometimes it is only 10 minutes while I’m waiting for something, this is where having a guitar on the wall or stand is helpful. Other times i go into the garage with headphones on and have a longer session.
But just as there is time for multitasking  other things  you can find ways to practice away from your instrument. You see there are some things you can practice away from your guitar, take fretboard memorization.  You don’t need your guitar to work out where g is above the 12th fret. You can test youraeif by mentally visualizing notea, chords, scales  snd licks. By doing this you are laying down pathways in your brain that will enable you to recall this information  faster,  also you now don’t need to practice  them so much on your guitar. Freeing up time in your practice  sessions for other things.

Another thing i like to do is find exercises that are transferable. This is usually a technique like string skipping or legato, applied to other ideas like sequences or arpeggios.  Throw in a few different keys and chords and you can cover a lot of musical ground for less effort.

So if you are thinking you don’t have enough time to practice.  Think again.

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What is it that motivates you to play the guitar, or do anything for that matter. Is it wanting to be like your favourite guitarist? Is it the need to make your own music? Are you doing it to get girls (people do try this, you’ve all seen ‘that guy’ at parties) is it the  feel, the sound or the look?  Whatever it is that makes you want to  play the guitar, the real question is what gets you to REALLY practice the guitar. We all love picking up our instruments and playing, for what ever reason. But when it comes to playing in a deliberate way that will make you a better player, it seems to take a bit more effort and motivation.
Why is this?
There are different reasons for different people I guess. Not enough time, it’s boring. I’m already good enough. These are all poor excuses, even the last one. We all have room to improve, and if we are ‘good enough’ then we need to keep our standards up. Playing the same thing everyday will not keep you sharp, and will not help you develop as a player. The trick to keeping motivated when practicing is to keep your end goal in mind. Put a poster or massive sticky note on you wall, set an alarm with a message of you saying ‘play harder’ or maybe ‘how did that sound’, book yourself in to an open mic night etc, whatever it takes.
Even with this constant reminder you still have to learn how to practice properly to get the most out of every session. Playing scales up and down mindlessly has very little benefit (unless you enjoy doing only scales) and may bore you to tears very quickly. So get out your guitar, and set an intention for that session. Without a clearly defined intention or goal you have nothing to achieve. Then when playing your scales or technique, you have to focus on very small and specific things in your playing that you want to improve. This can be things like how relaxed your hands are. how synchronized they are. trying different sequences (always fun), what is you tone like. are you playing in time with the metronome (you had better be playing with a metronome!!!). Doing this will help identify where things are going wrong quickly and let you fix them.
So you are now paying close attention to what you are playing and you have worked out all the kinks, and have nailed it once. DO IT AGAIN!!! AND AGAIN!!! AND AGIN!! Yep, reputation is key to learning. When I get students to learn the notes in a scale I get them to ‘Say then Play’. First you read the note, then you say the note, then you play the note. This is because the brain has to build up networks in layers. You do it once and it is in your short term memory, you’ll be able to remember and repeat the task or information for a short while. With reputation the brain cements this knowledge into the long term and working memory. This way you ‘Know’ what you have learnt and don’t have to work it out again.
And that is my goal when I practice now. I want to “know” my stuff. I don’t want to have to think for a second while playing. I just want to enjoy the music and have the ability to express the emotions I choose to express, not just string a bunch of stuff together that sounds OK if I’m lucky. Because playing should be fun, not a torment. There’s time for thinking about music and time for playing it. So find what motivates you, immerse yourself in it and use it to focus your practice so that you can be at your best and enjoy your music more.
So what motivates you?
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Time to get back on the horse

Well that was an interesting year or so. Guess who is now the proud dad of two beautiful little girls? Plenty of memories, good and bad and a whole bunch of growing up. It has shown in my music writing and given me someting more to write about. I don’t however (cute they are) want to only write songs about hou much I love my family. I will have to figure out how to use these new life experiances to compose some emotive music.

Had to laugh, looked at my last post where I was invited to teach singing and had some concerns over it I am now (other than Jenny who teachrs privatly and has a waiting list) the first choice singing teacher at my school. I even feel comfortable in the role. My next singing challenge is working out via research and experiment a warm up and method for singing metal.

\rant\ what is this ‘screamo’ i hear about? To me that sound quite derogatory. It is METAL regardless on how the vocals sound. These vacalist work hard, very hard at producing that sound, and to just call it screaming is not giving enought credit. How many pop singers end up with a hemorage? (some I know) but anyhow \end rant\

I want to ensure that if I have students (or when I want to) who would like a bit of growl, that they can do so without fear of ending their singing carerrs early.

Now one of the main reasons I have been thinking this is that I have been working with a few people on a metal band. We sort of have a singer but haven’t tried him yet. This band has been great for me as it has been challenging. It is experimental in regards to harmony and timing more than enything and has made me write in a new way. i will come up with some riffs and then ‘Break’ them. We are aiming for either a ‘gent’ style or something with alot of ‘free’ form in it. To start wtih I have been using serialism and odd time signitures to achive this. But being able to play this music and sing to it has been an issue for me. I would love to get what is in my head out there, but have to be able to do so. Hence the warm up and focus on metal singing.

I have pretty much cemented my busking set, which is nice. It is added to on a regular basis by my singing students. If I have to learn their songs I may as well use them. And it gives me something different to sing that I wouldn’t normaly try. Liek county…. I can sing it well (at least I think so) and find that the accoustic songs I write have (vocally) a country feel. Who would have guessed…. But I am writing more and more and have set up a studio for myself and just need to make tome to work on these new ideas. I did have ot laugh on the weekend  with a set of lyrics I wrote. Tried a chord progression just to see if it fit and of course it did. It fits everything (D A Bm G, that chord song) So I will have to come up with something else. I know that it is a great progression, hence it would not be used so regulary, but I believe I can do something a bit more original.

Ok I have ranted on for long enough. I will expand on some of this later but just wanted to get my keyboard warmed up.

Untill then.. See ya

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Interesting Weekend

Well some things got in my way so I didn’t get as much done as I would like. I spent most of one day cleaning the house and trying to find a key to sing the day you went away in. I ended up with G but am having trouble getting the low note so may go to Ab or A. I did however have a moment of inspiration and had to record the idea down. It was good to be able to put the lyric and guitar part down at once even if they were a bit shaky, the idea is there to go back too. Even so I had trouble sleeping that night with more ideas coming into my head. Probably just should have got up and did something with them at the time. They are still kind of there and I am hoping they will come back fully when I review what I put down.

I still didn’t really decide on a second cover to write but came up with a covers set list while waiting for a lift. I want to get a list that I can play solo so I can busk with it for practice and add the original stuff. Then be brave and get some gigs, (which may be easier said than done)

I think the most interesting thing that happens was when I approached the school for some brush up singing lessons to add to the what I did in uni they offered me a position to teach singing as I am a ‘”natural musician and would be fine” My only issue was curriculum, but I got a few books and tried some stuff and will take it on next term. I have always found the best way to enhance your understanding of something is to teach it.

As for teaching on the weekend, transposing was an interesting topic to cover with one of the girls. She balked at a song to learn as it was too high last week but still learned it. This week I showed her how to transpose by either moving everything down so many frets if all barre cords, moving up with a capo and showing her comparative keys. With the CK you work out what key you are in and write out the scale, then write out the scale of the key you want to transpose to. ie C to G



you just line them up and play the chord the is underneath.

Also I think I may have just started a band in the last 5 minutes…..

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