A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 10

The short charts were helpful today.For those who do not know what a short chart is; it is a chart of the sections of a song in basic form; sometimes just a label for each section. Almost any tune will fit a page or less with this style of charting.The success of a short chart depends on using proper visual triggers for the memory of a detailed line.Most of my short charts are just chords and/or section labels.

The list of difficult tunes is shorter today.Perfidia feels more natural to me now.As mentioned yesterday, the difference was not more or less difficult; it was just different.A short chart helped quite a bit with two other tunes.There is still a song or two on the list that I might throw away.I will wait another week though.I might get them up to my standard by then.

To organize the list closer to the ‘Official Performance Order’, I will rate the songs according to similarity.Fast tunes, funky tunes, bluesy tunes, beachy tunes; usually numeric or alphabetic designations work well.As an example: fast tunes – 1; funky tunes – 2; you get the idea.

Some people like to separate similar tunes.I do not agree with this approach.I think it keeps a mood from being developed as well as prevents the audience to be taken along a journey or logical path.This is just my opinion.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 9

I made a ‘Difficult Tune’ pile today.I will be eliminating tunes as I consider them equal to the ‘Easy’ ones.When there are not any ‘Difficult Tunes’ left, I will once again have a few sessions during which I play all of the tunes.I will start creating the ‘Official Performance Order’ after I have decided on the complete list for the gig.This activity could be as late as a few days before the first rehearsal.

I learned one tune wrong.Not completely, just a couple phrases that were not as written.I was playing what I expected hear and not what I was reading.Evidently, I was not reading very well.I know that never happens to any of you.

The right way is not easier or more difficult; it is just different.Listen to Perfidia.Notice the spaces in the melody that are a little different than you might expect?Those were my issues.

Sometimes, I find a chart for a song that I have not yet heard, as I did with Perfidia.I like to read them through and get comfortable with my own arrangement, then listen to an arrangement from someone else.This is just a weird thing that I do.Most musicians want to hear a tune from someone else before attempting their own arrangement.

I think they are just chicken.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 8

Is it really day eight?My index finger on my fretting hand was really sensitive this morning.I think it is sore from ‘Scuttle Buttin’; on the side where a pull-off would rub.

I am a little concerned that I do not have enough tunes on the list to cover two hours.I probably do have enough since I am not really rehearsing the improvised sections.This is probably just something for me to worry about; I seem to need a worry.

Not rehearsing the improvised sections too much is a good idea.We need to be aware of the harmonic ground we are covering, but if we play too much we can become stale and predictable.We need to practice enough so that we sound good though.

A string change is planned for the acoustic today.Old strings have a tendency to get stiff feeling and dull sounding.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 7

I am a little disoriented today.I stayed up too late last night reading musician interviews.I have been reading about and playing arrangements and studies by Emily Remler.I usually try to find something else to do musically that has me on my instrument but not over-drilling on the tunes for the gig.

I am still spending most of my time on the new tunes.My memory is continuing to improve.It is important to understand just how much information one is attempting to assimilate into a performance.Remembering one or two more measures per tune each day is good progress.That is all that is necessary to start connecting sections of tunes together.

Maybe we should call this: Memory Momentum.

As a side note, Claire and I have been developing our own repertoire.So far we have; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; The Alphabet Song; and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.I want to make a video, but she will not even sing for her mother.Also, she gets the ‘Deer-in-Headlights’ look when I turn on the webcam.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 6

A couple of tunes were focused on today.Scuttle Buttin’ by Stevie Ray Vaughn was one.Funny enough, I cannot remember the name of the second one.I have always had this problem of not remembering song names.As a matter of fact, I had that happen earlier today with Rebel Rouser; I had the title Freight Train in my head.This would definitely confuse other band members.

I need to make ‘Short Charts’ of a few tunes.They are long songs and I cannot get a smooth run through because I forget which turnaround comes first, which comes second and so on.Typical problem when you know all of the parts yet need to smoothly connect them.

My fingers are still sensitive but less so today.Wednesday has a busy schedule, so my practicing will be in the short down times throughout the day.

Maybe I will be motivated for a long session tonight.Not likely though.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 5

Good progress today.Nice cool weather too.I have a nice music stand on the way that is better than the flimsy folding one I am using now.Well, I am using the coffee table because the folding stand is almost useless.

I am having a short session today because my fingers are getting sensitive.I am playing all of the tunes on my acoustic.It is an easy playing acoustic, but an acoustic will never play as easy as an electric.

If I can keep this schedule going I will be in great shape for the gig.I am also working a little each day on the music room.The new house and all of the work involved made me ‘Mean Man’ so I have been on a two month hiatus from working on it.I should have it functional when I have it functional.I made myself crazy by putting deadlines on projects.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 4

I discovered that I am lacking stamina during my practice time today.My memory is getting in gear.However, after about 90 minutes of playing I start to mentally wander.Granted, most of my practicing has been while glancing at printed music.

There is the usual starting and stopping that one does while polishing the transitions within a song.The alphabetical order of the setlist is working well.Just having an order of any sort accelerates the ‘Run Through’ of the set, which keeps the focus high.It also allows for less sorting than playing during practice time.This means that my 90 minutes today contained probably 85 minutes of playing and 5 minutes of page turning and thinking.

The eventual goal is 120 minutes of playing and zero time spent thinking or backpedaling.

I still have not been able to reach the drummer with my morning calls.This is annoying; if I could leave a message and be called back I would be happy, but I am never called back.I need to get the rehearsal schedule aligned so that I know I can use these two players and not need to find a spare player.That would be nice.

The hiring party requested a photo for their website.I am seriously considering just sending one of me.I seem to replace players every gig so why would I waste time getting band photos if the band will be different in six months?



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 3

Today I worked on the new tunes again.I will also be adjusting the list to alphabetical order this evening.It is a personal issue.OCD.

I have added a few tunes to the list because of the upcoming list pruning.I find it to be a good idea to make a list of as many tunes in the style you are playing then play as many of them as you can for a while.Then start going through the list throwing out the songs that just are not coming together or are just not very interesting.

This is a much easier way of making a final list that trying to pick your favorites.By the time you are truly ready to perform at your utmost level, you will hate all of the tunes in your list anyway.

Now for lunch and to the pool!



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 2

Today, I played through roughly two thirds of the setlist.Some of the tunes I just need to remember better, some are new.Sometimes every tune I play feels wrong.Today was like that and I find that frustrating.

What I really need to do is arrange the setlist in the order I want to play it.This is helpful in that I will be rehearsing the set rather than individual songs.This is not altogether more interesting, but it keeps the mind challenged and focused.Playing the same tunes alone can quickly get boring.Boredom is the enemy of good preparation.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 1

Prepare to be overwhelmed.I am currently preparing for a gig at the Virginia Ten Miler scheduled for September 27, 2008.

On a whim, I have decided to make a note each day concerning my progress.Hopefully, we will each gain something from it.At worst, I will write a lot of words and completely bore everyone.

Today, I did nothing, at least nothing for the gig.We went to a birthday cookout for two of my wife’s friends.I like them too, but they are still her friends.Claire and I started a nap under a tree and Celeste and Angela painted their hair blue.

On schedule is to have some photos taken of the band members.Oh yeah, let’s try to get that arranged.(Sarcasm)Never mind the fact that I still do not really feel confident that I have chosen the proper musicians for the gig.(Long, long story; maybe I will write it tomorrow.)

Until rehearsals occur, I will spend most of my preparation time rehearsing on my own.Basically, that entails playing the intended tunes until I want to throw them all out and start again.

I felt this way Thursday.

The rehearsals are tentatively scheduled for the third and fourth weeks of September.I hope we can find the right days.I hope we can find the right times too.The absolute most difficult part of working as a performing musician is the scheduling.We hear of that with big names as well.

Keep in mind that I have also decided that I will do minimal editing of my writing on this series and I would like to have some feedback.Frankly, I think that in previous posts I have been so thorough and final in my writing that there were no loose ends to upon which to contemplate and discuss.

I also hope to show a balance of love and hate of this process.There shall be much complaining; yet I will make a valiant effort to share the joys, whatever these might be.Just so that you turn away from music performance before you have given it a proper effort.

Here is to our future!

At least the next 36 days.