Time

Music and Media to Incite Insight and Invigorate Innovation
Timing is everything, well time is anyway.

I thought this suitable because I needed a subject and this is one.

It a cliché because it’s true.
Whether in humor, a silly punch line or witty comment delivered at the right time for a laugh.
Or in music, when the spacing of the notes flow and feels right.
A song you can sing or let reverberate around in your head space radio, and carry with you through out the day.
The melody or lyric, sounded in just such a literal time space that is music, so as to elicit interest or give personal concepts meaning, validation and vigor.
Or perhaps in life in general, a word of encouragement or insight gained from reading or study, shared at the right time can make a difference.
In all of these instances time is involved.
To provide encouragement or offer insight, we need information of just such a sort, which requires reading and observation at some level.
To make music sound musical, practice is obviously involved.
Humor seems to arise as if from nowhere, but it too is built on past experience and thought processes even if one does not write jokes as a practice.

All involve time.

PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE

I recently began to try and play some music I had committed to memory years ago.
I remembered I knew it then, but but now? This particular music fell out of practice as other interests encroached upon the time and energy that was devoted to music.
Some times that was other music, too often it was not.
Presently irritated, frustrated and somewhat despondent about the loss of my ability to just start playing these pieces again, believing, once I had learned it, it was mine forever.
I thought I would not forget something I spent a considerable amount of time to memorize.
This is not the case.
I have forgotten more than I know!
Someone once told me, referring to B.B. King and myself in the same thought no less, that “he had forgotten more than I’d ever know about the guitar!”
As I was a brash young guitarist amped up to make it as a musician, it seemed to this person a pertinent point to make.
Not really knowing his motivation for saying such a thing, other than some confluence of events that equated all of us in that instant in his mind.
The statement stuck with me.
However the lesson it now intones has more significance.


If you don’t use it you lose it.

It is easy to remember the concepts involved in music, reading it, fingering on the guitar or keyboard, how it sounds, or is supposed to.
But if it is not actively engaged with regularly, it will suffer want, which can of course lead to discouragement.
Which can lead to ‘why bother’ which has been a go to preference too many times, leading to a lessening of interest in keeping that particular music and the necessary skills to play it, alive.
Revisiting some of the more complex music I once pursued and reorienting myself toward it has proven a challenge to maintain enthusiasm and take the time and energy to hear it come from my hands again. But it has also been one accepted gladly, as I am still having a go at it.
I choose to struggle with this at present because I can see where having this once again as a part of my skill set can contribute to a more involving musical future.
Despite possibly being seen as a resting on my laurels kind of affair, it is in fact a jumping off point. To not only maintain the status quo, but to advance it as well.

To stay active on ones instrument of choice is a good thing.

Even if it is currently only to maintain flexibility and prove that the feasibility to make advancement remains intact.

Music and Media

The particular pieces I am reacquainting myself with are from 2 very different musical era’s and obviously, 2 different people. One is by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) a classical guitar composer, which title appealed to the idealist in me “Fantasy Op.7” It is also in an unusual time signature 6/8, for some one like me accustomed to 4/4 rock n roll. In fact when I first undertook to learn this piece I ignored the time signature all together, primarily focusing on the notes and fingering. Despite this blatant ignorance of an instrumental part of the music and barely knowing how to read music,

I some how managed to make it sound like music.

The other piece is from a guitar master named Guy Van Duser who has the brilliance to arrange music from stride piano players to the guitar. In this case a tune called “Snowy Morning Blues” by James P. Johnson sometimes referred to as the “father of stride piano” This title also appealed to me. Again I had learned the music but due to lack of practice it was no longer available as a part of my repertoire of pieces I could play competently. But I wanted to once again.

Insight and Innovation

I have discovered in reorienting myself with this part of my musical past and the musical past in general that my abilities have also changed.
I can not stretch my fingers like I used to.
The fingering suggested by the music in some parts of the arrangement required a deeper dive into the music notation and not just follow the tablature as presented.

Because the guitar is structured in such a way, alternate positions are available on the guitar to play the music in more than one position on the instrument.

For example: Near the end of Sor’s Fantasy Op. 7. There is a pedal G note part The G gets played continuously through out several bars, at one point the score suggests a D note on the B string and a B note on the E string this is a 5 fret stretch. Trés Difficile (very difficult for me)
The same notes can be played at the 12th fret and still allow the pedal G note to sound.
Given my current abilities, this is a useful work around.

In Guy Van Duser’ “Snowy Morning Blues” arrangement a similar stretch was asked of my fingers. This time it was a 4 fret stretch but one that could be accomplished by another fingering.
It has an open A string as the bass, B on the G string, and C on the B string. An A note is to follow the B on the G string as is and open G string after that.
By fingering the A note on the D string and the C note on the G string and the B note on the open string the same combination can be effected and my hand isn’t quite so overextended. See the tablature below.

I was able to transpose the notes with out reading the music but it was still helpful
Summary

As a result with the careful study of the notation, a work around presented itself and I felt a sense of accomplishment in applying myself to the task and gained a deeper connection with the music and my abilities as a result.

So this would suggest, with a little digging and will power, alternatives to certain difficulties can be overcome and further develop musical skill.
It is a struggle some times to go deeper but by doing so even at a seemingly microscopic level, improvement can be made and we can become more invigorated by investing in the process rather than giving up because a certain challenge has presented itself.

Mais Non?

Not in the mood to practice?

productivity and attention

So its a fairly well known concept that to be good at something you have to do it a lot. This is not always easy to do. Focus often suffers for a number of reasons.

  • Tiredness
  • Motivation
  • Complexity
  • Fear

These are the few that I came up with as I am tired, not unmotivated but challenged by the complexity of blogging and fearful of putting it out there. Well the blog has been here quite awhile and I am now earnestly making a go of it. Fear has been supplanted by momentum as I just started a you tube channel, ‘guitarbeau’s youtube channel’ posted a music video for a contest submission, and directed viewers to this site so… I have motivation to make it worth the trip, as well as some momentum which some have argued is more important than motivation.

Just get started and what follows is a result in the direction one is going. Obviously results may vary depending on the amount of interest and attention given to the effort, but it will stimulate focus by ‘just doing it’ or ‘do or do not, ‘there is no try’ if you prefer to get your act going via quotes from pseudo otherworldly guru’s! There is in fact a ‘try’ just like there is a, ‘taste it you might like it?’ So as this is about practicing a musical instrument when unmotivated or unfocused read on.

Try it with your eyes closed

So I maintain a schedule for practice or try to, it is sometimes difficult to get with my self imposed program. But learning music is a must do for me, as is improving my ability on the guitar and keyboard. In a previous post I mentioned and referenced an article that made some fine suggestions for improving the ability to learn, As the subheading here suggests I found another way to make that happen as well as find a new way to obtain focus on the effort of musical education and improvement.

Its not that difficult

I was struggling to get going one morning so I thought I’d feel my way around the keyboard and see how much muscle memory had become apart of my skill set. Turns out, it was quite a bit. Not that I am flying through the scales at break neck speed, even with my eyes open. But I can find the way with my fingers and ears better than anticipated or that I thought I’d remember.

but wait there’s more

Not only did I impress myself with this version of practice but discovered a component to scale sequences that I had not encountered before. Going through the cycle of fifths and corresponding harmonic and melodic minors related to each I discovered the relative minor scale of the major can lead to the next scale degree in the cycle of fifths.

Briefly and as it relates to the keyboard

Starting with the C major scale and then playing the relative A minor scales, harmonic and melodic, the G major, the fifth from the C, of course is found left of the A (minor), making it easier to find “in the dark” so to speak. G major then is related to E minor or vice versa left of which is the D which is the fifth from the G, got it? And so it went until I reached the scales that for me still require a visual reference from which finger to begin so back to my chart I go to get um, my footing!?

In summation

So the crux of the matter is, focus can be started many ways, and while practicing with your eyes closed might seem daunting to try at first, it can yield beneficial results when done with the intention to improve our musical proficiency. As can just about any endeavor. Just get doing it, or not.

The Zig Zag Scale

Finger Exercise warm up

This is a finger exercise that will challenge you and perhaps add a new component to your musical vocabulary. Its a fairly straight forward structure, despite the name, almost chromatic in nature. So the simple animation provided below will give a good sense of how it is to go. It can be played anywhere on the fret board. The animation suggests the low end of the fret board. So begin by working up the neck

  1. 1st finger 1st fret E string (F note)
  2. 2nd finger 2nd fret A string (B note)
  3. 3rd finger 3rd fret E string (G note)
  4. 4th finger 4th fret A string (C# note)
  5. 4th finger 4th fret E string (G# note)
  6. 3rd finger 3rd fret A string (C note)
  7. 2nd finger 2nd fret E string (F# note)
  8. 1st finger 1st fret A string (A# note) from here begin the pattern anew next note on the D string
  9. 2nd finger 2nd fret D string (E note)
  10. and so on across the fret board.

Depending on where on the fret board you try this, find corresponding chords to play along with it.

Zig Zag scale finger exercise animation.

Guitarbeau, Musician Teacher Northwest Tucson Marana

On Teaching

Teaching is an art, requiring many things, understanding of the subject matter, skill with related articles of usage, patience.

I have had many opportunities to reflect on and realize this.

Why?

Knowing how to do something does not mean one will be able to explain to someone else, how to do it. Or be understood.

I am reminded of something I read in Readers Digest years ago.

“An education is something you give to yourself”.

To me that means, despite the best efforts of teachers, the most interesting of presentations and the most comprehensive materials, we learn because we want to.

In many cases we learn things like walking, talking, driving, writing, all because we have to. But when the subject is something we want to do , then we choose to educate ourselves.

So when there is a desire to learn, and there are, always increasing and evolving methods with which to acquire an education, the means to do so are many. How best to proceed?

There are many ways to acquire a skill, one of the most needed though is patience. On the part of anyone involved. Whether teaching or studying, a mindset of patience helps immeasurably.

We can also learn by teaching.

Our own knowledge is enhanced by showing another how to acquire skills within our interest.

If you are a life long learner, show someone what you know and prepare to be enlightened as you uncover a new way to look at that base of knowledge you have as you share!

So regarding learning anything let alone music, why use a teacher when there is YOUTUBE, the internet, CD’s DVD’s, Books?

Reasonable question, and a committed student will find these methods useful at times as well, to pick up a new tune or technique. However there are some things a teacher can provide more responsively:

Encouragement, if I can do it you can!

Incentive, someones going to hear me I better practice!

Observation applying the instruction, am I doing this right? this can lead to faster more relevant progress.

Having a teacher also shows a sincere commitment to see the effort through.

I am currently accepting new students for the guitar and electronic keyboard.

I have been playing and learning the Guitar for 36 + years and have been developing my Keyboard abilities for 9 years.

I teach musical skills by way of rock and pop and original music.

I can teach you how to read music, tablature, and learn songs by ear.

I have developed a tool useful for understanding some of the more complicated music theory concepts to a single page, as in notes, modes, scales and chords.

One of the main benefits that I provide is that I come to you,

(Marana, Northwest Tucson)

I am also patient, an ability necessary to acquire and advance musical skill. If you prefer a by the book approach I can accommodate that as well.

There are many avenues to learn by. We can use whatever method you deem appropriate. No long term commitment necessary, if you just want a single lesson that is ok. If interested email or contact me at:

Guitar and/or Electric Keyboard.

idealist@idealisticaspirationsunltd.art

Or call & leave message please 520-288-5617 Bill L

Thank you for your consideration.

Ok, Where I begin?

So this is a new endeavor for me (blogging), hopeful that it will generate some interest, both for myself and anyone who finds this here. My reach for musical proficiency began in earnest one Christmas after receiving a plastic rifle as a gift. I immediately strapped it over the shoulder and began to strum it as a guitar! Infatuated with music making, I continued a never ending, albeit intermittent climb to musical aspirations that remain forever on the horizon. As a child singing along with a limited but formidable number of 45 rpm records, I would channel Elton John’s ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ at the top of my lungs whilst enjoying the sonic sugar high with headphones on. Those outside the headphone induced delirium I was enjoying,  thought otherwise about my present abilities to carry a tune. I don’t remember the exact phrasing used to quash my efforts at out loud singing ‘practice’ but it did and still does give pause for concern. Though I can, given the right opportunity, publicly display skill in this regard (singing), There is a struggle to put it out there. But do continue the search for opportunity to do so.

Sometime later I received a much desired acoustic guitar, which was not as easy to play as the aforementioned rifle, but I would soldier on as it were with the help of a lovely young guitar teacher Miss Staci Misiti, if I remember correctly. She would walk me through the ‘Mel Bay’ learn to play guitar method. Once I broke a string and thought the guitar was forever broken, I cried like a little baby, emotional memories seem to last forever. Time passed interest waned but never left. A few acoustic guitars later, I got my first electric guitar and that was the real beginning of my musical journey. Armed with a proper desire to learn to play, to impress girls, I got lessons from the local guitar hero and began to get an education in rock that I was not privy to before. Being the oldest I had no elder brother or sister to inform my ears of music that was available besides top 40 radio. My Teacher at that time Marc Schumman (Marc Ferrari in the 80’s I think) Began my musical sojourn into hard rock guitar with bands like Aerosmith, Van Halen, Ted Nugent etc… Practicing in earnest I impressed my teacher but still didn’t quite understand the music he would try to teach me. I being a KISS fan new nothing of Led Zeppelin. An overlooked bit of music history that time had no problem helping me to correct. That and friends who would become the source input for the sonic impetus driving much of my formative musical training.

My first band. Me and Bob Alcott formed ‘Red Freaks Don’t Smoke’ He new what it alluded to,  I did not, and still don’t. They say 3 chords can say so much, but we only knew 3 notes before we took our show to the patio, at which time we were promptly hailed as guitar heroes via the ‘tossing of the proverbial empty bottle’ at our stage. This was not the last time some one would think so much of my stage presence as to throw something! That one really hurt, not the first one though. We were noticed, and there is no such thing as bad publicity! (Stone to the side of the head not withstanding)

Many, many lessons and practice sessions later with maybe 3 songs under our belt, we audition a drummer to round out our trio. The guy showed up with the biggest drum set I’d ever seen and a professional ability that far out weighed our own. I guess my sales ability on the phone and overt optimism about what we were capable of got him to show up. Why he stayed that afternoon I’ve no idea, but first time with a drummer and I was hooked. Rock n roll even our basic version of ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ in the garage that day sold me on the unflappable desire to continue this course and try again.

Again and again. The impetus to make rock music had borrowed deep and there were quite a few others that also entertained this obdurate wish to annoy our families, from the basement or, the neighbors from the attic on a Sunday morning. Restating famous guitar riffs and songs that got ever faster and harder (dynamically). We bore the names of our tribe, Warlord, Blitzkrieg with honor. And a determined preoccupation to not be associated with any other style of music than the ‘hard rock’, which been channeled into our brains as our fingers and feet would follow as best we could, to impress ourselves as well as, the beer drinking population that would tolerate the caterwauling we were capable of.

And so it went on, Wedding Receptions, Clubs, Pubs, Battles of the Bands, Private Parties, Writing and Recording, Teaching, Jamming. I always enjoy trying to make a performance a thing to behold, rehearsals could get discouraging depending on many things, not the least of which was how often we could get together. Once a month is not going to cut it to perform regularly, too often and it may sound uninspired. Then there are the leaders of the band that can be demanding to the point of  dictatorship, that can be demoralizing. And yet to get out there and play, make something happen sonically as well as the myriad other ways music can affect us is still the main goal, of wanting to be a musician in the first place. Of course it can also be for private amusement, one does not need to want to perform to want to play. But I think if you develop something to the point that it makes you happy, you will probably want to share that at some time to make another happy.

À la prochaine (until next time)