Music Lessons for Justin 1

Today, I had my first lesson with Barry Marshall.I really liked having someone just tell me what I needed to know rather than having to figure out everything myself.

He challenged my understanding of a few common musical concepts.It was interesting being asked questions that I could not answer.It was not as though I had no idea of what he was talking about, but rather that I was being shown new perceptions of common musical tools.

As an example, usually when discussing keys, we are told that the key of C contains the notes: C, D, E, F G, A, and B. Correct information, but this is content.The underlying principle, one which I learned today, is that a key signature is: the number of accidentals needed to make a major scale.In the case of the key of C, the response to this principle is: zero accidentals.As I was told; you know it, but you do not perceive it in this principle-based manner.

The basic premise of Mr. Marshall’s teaching seems to be actually defining concepts of music and using these concepts as tools.This opposes the usual avenue of piling on content without considering principles of thought that allow for expansion of concept and usage by the student.

I agree with this manner of teaching because it is essentially teaching a path of thinking.I, however, need my path of thought lengthened as we all do now and again.


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A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 36

Whew!  What a day!  I did sleep late, but I still arrived on time and we were ready to play at 7:15am.  Oddly, the temperature dropped a bit as the sun was rising.

We did receive positive feedback from runners and bystanders.  I hope we get to play again next year.

There were quite a few runners this year.  I think there were more than last year, but I have not learned how many yet.  The organizers are doing a great job and I am especially glad that they are interested in having music groups along the course.  Last year, there were four bands and this year there were six.

Let me know your thoughts of this series of blog installments.  For the next event, I will use fewer days to write about.  I think a daily update for the entire course of preparation is a little slow for reading.



A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 35.5

Yes, I know that today is the thirty-sixth day, but I did my math wrong and I have no excuse.  Plus, 37 days are just not as catchy as 36.

I have a contingency plan for rain.  Since we are located at a bank with a covered drive-through, we will just setup there.  We will not be very visible from the road, but we will definitely be heard.

I went through my packing lists today and I have all of the stuff ready to go.  Now I just need to be sure I get up a 5am.

In case you are wondering which sort of items would be on a musician’s list for a gig; here is my list:

Personal Rig
Amp Stand
Guitar Stand
Guitar Strap

PA System
Hand Truck

Amp Cover
Business Cards
Canopy Tent
Folding Table
Transparent Tape

Oh yeah, and a van.


A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 35

I made more lists today.There is a twenty-seven item list just for me.This seems a bit silly, but when you break things down into the smallest parts, there seem to be quite a number of them.I even have ‘Picks’ on my list.Funny thing about getting older…

Tomorrow is ‘Packing Day’ for all of the stuff to be arranged and ready for loading.As well as string changes and cable testing and other seemingly small but ‘gig-killer’ concerns.Imagine showing up at a gig and not having the setlist, or picks!

I am concerned about our current weather conditions.I hope we have not been through all of this writing, practicing, planning and rehearsing just to have the gig cancelled because of the weather.I was informed several days ago that if there were any questions concerning the weather that we are to go ahead as planned until further notification.

Let’s hope for the best.


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A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 34

I spent a bit of time working on improvising today.  Not over any of the tunes on the list, but using essentially the same ingredients.

I made the set list for the gig on two pages with a large font size.  This makes it easier to see when it is taped somewhere near the floor; such as on a monitor.

In case you do not know, a monitor is a wedge-shaped speaker cabinet that faces the musicians onstage.  Big name musical acts use in-ear monitors that are like super wonderful ear buds like one uses with an mp3 player.  They are super wonderful though, and expensive too.

I did get my first lesson scheduled for next week with Barry the musician I mentioned a few installments ago.  I will probably get clobbered with information.

There are just a few more days until the gig.  I hope to see some of you out there.


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A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 33

I set up the PA today and worked on amp and effects routing.  Sounds really exciting doesn’t it?  Well, it is not really very exciting, but I do not want any surprises at 6:30 Saturday morning.

I programmed two songs into the JamMan.  I made a list of about ten songs and after thinking a bit, I decided to eliminate some of them because I think I can program them on-the-fly just fine.  Others were eliminated because the parts that I would have programmed were not very interesting and would create the potential synchronization issues.  I just did not consider them to be worth the risk.

I am a bit interested to learn if the extra controller for the JamMan is as much fun as it would seem.  With it, I can program multiple sections of tunes and switch between them during a performance.  There are a few tunes on our list that would be great candidates for such an arrangement.


A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 32

Tonight’s rehearsal was very long.I should have eaten before we started; oh well.We did play through the entire list.It was much more fun with the whole group.

I need to have my guitar and JamMan levels high in the monitor mix.We tried a few tunes with me setting loops and we would get out of sync.These guys have been playing long enough that I am sure that the problem is not a lack of skill.

I think what I need to do over the next couple of days is practice setting up the PA with all of my stuff.I want make sure that I have all of the signal directions and levels sorted out before the morning of the gig.We need to be at our locations by 6:30AM; a very early time for musicians.

I had an interesting experience today.I played a 1964 Fender Stratocaster; which was recently purchased for more than $15,000.Frankly, I was more impressed with this than the $50,000 Martin that I held a couple of years ago.The Martin was new; the 1964 Fender is definitely not in production anymore.The rarity makes it more exciting.


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A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 31

I feel more confident today that we have enough prepared material for our allotted time.  Although, the bass player gave me an indication that he might request a pass on one tune.

I am still concerned that I will not notice the time until the end of our list and then realize that I have no tunes and twenty minutes left.  However, I suspect that this is just my mind playing games with me; a bit like the nightmare of finding yourself in the middle of your school’s hallway with your trousers at your ankles.

I did not do any programming of the JamMan today because I wanted to play straight through the set as I will during tomorrow’s rehearsal.  I also have the onset of my allergy season and I cannot think very well.

Tomorrow should be a hoot.


A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 30

Practice today was sporadic.I am just so happy to have some time off that I just do not want to put in serious time practicing.I did play a few tunes that had been troublesome just so I can keep them fresh.

I will play through the entire set tomorrow (Sunday) in preparation for Monday’s rehearsal with the rest of the group.I might even program a few tunes in the JamMan just to see how it goes during rehearsal.


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A 36 Day Diary of Gig Preparation 29

I have the PA system secured for the gig.It is a simple, but loud pile of parts.Sound dissipates really quickly outside, so a good deal of power is needed to carry a clear sound.We do have the advantage of a building being behind us.Then again, it will probably cause a reflected and delayed signal to be sent to the band.That would make life difficult.

Personal rehearsal today was really fun.I am really getting along with the JamMan.I should map out some programming ideas over the weekend to be ready for rehearsal on Monday and hopefully a second rehearsal during the week.

I noticed today that playing the set took longer than it has in recent sessions.Two reasons for this would be: a) some time spent thinking, looping with the JamMan, and playing a song or two more than once; and b) the songs just being longer because I am improvising over certain sections as planned for the gig.

As I have mentioned in previous installments, I am careful not to practice improvised sections more than necessary.The reason for this is that I do not want what I play to sound ‘tired’.The idea is to practice these sections just enough to know which ‘ingredients’ I will be using during the performance.This lends a by-the-seat-of-the-pants feeling to what I am playing, but not being completely cold to my harmonic context.

Incidentally, I would like to have our performance recorded in video for both archiving purposes and for the learning experience of observing the performance as only video allows.I am not sure how ‘high-tech’ I want to go with this idea.


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