Let the Dollar Decide?


Have you ever noticed how many of your decisions are based upon how much money something costs?In addition to that thought, here is another that I find interesting: Have you ever given or have been given a distance to a location in terms of time?

(e.g. a place being 30 minutes away, what if I drive a rocket ship?)

A price tag is just one part of the transaction; the other part is what do we gain or lose because of the transaction.Gaining or losing may each be beneficial as in examples of gaining free time or losing weight.

Today, Celeste and I went to get our Christmas tree.I wanted a certain type of tree and I wanted it to be tall.We purchased our first house in April 2008 and this will be our first Christmas in it.At the apartment in which we previously lived, I could hardly get a 6’ tree to fit the stand and have a topper and not poke the ceiling.

8’ ceilings rock!Just think of the tree I would have if we had 12’ ceilings!

Anyway, we walked around and found the tree we wanted and I purposely did not look at any prices while we searched for our tree.Of course, so I would not embarrass myself, I did check the price of our ‘chosen’ tree before signaling that we had decided on a tree.

I was somewhat surprised that the tree was within the budget I had set.It was not within the budget my wife had set, but I have a job.I can get whichever tree I want, thank you very much.

I have noticed how long I remain undecided on an item or service we have decided to purchase when I am comparing price to features or benefits.I am coming to the realization that the only thing that really matters is whether or not the services or goods I purchase are of a greater benefit than detriment.Certainly, the purchase price, if it infringes on your cash flow too heavily, would negate all benefits offered simply because it outweighs them. If the prices are not too far apart, why not just get what suits your need the best?

Where am I going with this point, as if there is a point, you may ask?Well, I will tell you; I do not like to go see live music or perform in clubs or restaurants because the benefit is too small and the cost is too great.



Then, here.

Is it just me, or should there be separate times for the music to be played so those there to listen may listen, and a separate time and, preferably, place for the mindless chatter and plate clanking in which restaurant and club patrons engage.

It is a heavy price indeed to spend many, many hours developing a talent that is not considered worthy of respectful listening.No matter which genre a person or band plays.

Would you be surprised to learn that I blame the musicians?


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Time Management


I am reading a book called: The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.It is not about time management, per se, but rather about living one’s life according to one’s own requirements, and ridding ourselves of all of the behaviors and attitudes that waste our lives.

While I really prefer not to mention such thoughts, the irony of Mr. Ferriss’ last name consisting of two double letters and how time would be saved by using single letters and achieving the same pronunciation made me giggle.

Yes, I am weird.(By the way, does everyone else need to spell weird both ways to decide which to use?I think the ‘I before E’ rule should be ignored.)

Anyway, in his book, Mr. Ferriss makes quite a number of challenges in regard to my daily habits regarding work and communication.What is most interesting to me is that he actually presents them as challenges in which the reader is to participate.

I have not yet accepted any of the challenges, but I am certainly considering them.A particular challenge that is specific to my ‘need’ to stay ‘topped off’ with information is the ‘Low Information Diet’.

The start of this challenge is to live an entire week without any newspapers, magazines, audiobooks, TV, talk radio, books (except The 4-Hour Workweek) or online news.


Then, we are to develop the habit of asking ourselves; “Will I definitely use this information for something immediate and important?”This saves us the time of refreshing our memory of something later thereby making our first exposure to the information useless.Think of all the time you have spent reading or doing something that does not put you closer to a goal in your life.

I do that A LOT!

(Stay with me here, I will actually attempt to put you closer to a goal of yours by the end of this blog post.)

Finally, and I have a real problem with this as well, Mr. Ferriss asserts that we should develop the ‘Non-Finishing’ habit.In other words, if what you are doing, reading, watching or listening to is boring, pointless, or otherwise not what you would prefer; stop!There is no need to waste your time or patience.

I will find the ‘Non-Finishing’ habit a difficult one to develop because I have always bought into the idea the ‘finishing what one has started’ and ‘perseverance’ as honorable traits.

Mr. Ferriss’ point is that we waste entirely too much of our lives engaging in pointless activities that help us and others in no real way.I agree; we should all take note of exactly what we do during the course of a day, week, month or year and judge each activity in light of what we truly want in our lives.

Most of us want more time to do enjoyable activities in life.I certainly have not been enjoying all of the activities I participate in during each week and I am seeking ways to either eliminate them or have someone else do them.

So, if you do not have enough time to play music or whatever you truly want to do, find something else to not do.

Or call me if you need a part-, part-time job.



Progress and the Big Plateau


I received an e-mail recently in response to my request for blogging subjects.I have included the some of it below because the writer made some great points on which I will share my opinion.

Good morning, Music Guru, (What a great start!)

…For me, the past couple of months have been just a big (ol’) plateau, what with the normal beating-head-against-wall stuff that happens…  What I have learned is that, even if you have to take several steps “backward” the key is to keep playing anything at all, not give up on yourself, and not quit; besides, the benefit of going back is that you learn how stuff that was hard or impossible a month or a year ago has “become” easy, which is a great confidence booster and really shows that there IS progress.  Believe me, I almost walked away on a couple occasions, but I am just too (darned) hard-headed—and, I’ve wanted to play too badly for too long.

I think a lot of people get frustrated and quit before they give themselves a chance at music in general as well as their specific instrument.  And as you may remember from when you were learning a million years ago, guitar is hard—on the fingers as well as on the brain.

Yes, the learning plateau happens to everyone.As a matter of fact, I have seen some musicians never go beyond a certain plateau.Others are learning all of their lives and their music shows that growth, but times of slow progress happen to everyone.

Sometimes I have felt that the effort is not equal to the reward.I have stopped playing for weeks at a time because I simply did not want to play any of the same songs or soloing concepts.

I started taking lessons from Barry so that I could rid myself of a several particular plateaus in my playing and understanding.There were concepts of improvisation that were just driving me crazy.What is interesting to me though is that I was on target with a few ideas and how I have been redirected is not terribly difficult; the new concepts just did not occur to me.

I believe that the writer suggesting we go ‘backward’ in our studies is a great idea.I often suggest it to students who have stopped practicing some songs when we add new songs.We need to visit old obstacles in the new light of greater skill that has been acquired with other concepts and songs.I am certainly going ‘back’ to quite a number of songs that I had real trouble playing as long ago as nine years.NINE YEARS!

A serious study of any subject is filled with twists and turns that lead us to both obstacles and solutions.The only motivation we have is to know we will be better tomorrow if we practice today.



Music Lessons for Justin 7

Today was lucky lesson number seven.I guess that makes sense.

Anyway, I have officially gone off the deep end and have no idea what I am doing.I actually have some clue, but it is one of those instances where being able to truly understand the concept I am learning is just inches away from my grasp.

Do any of my students have moments such as mine?Let me know!

We looked at a few of the tunes that have driven me crazy over the years.Tunes like: A Night in Tunisia, Woodyn’ You, and Well, You Needn’t.I am excited to think about how much better I will sound playing these tunes in the coming months.

Even though the path is becoming clearer, the level of practicing and work skyrocketing is becoming clearer too.

Think of this: I now understand that I should think of the vii, iii, vi as the ii, V, I in a minor key, making Gm7b5 to C7#5 the ii – V of Fm which is the relative minor of Ab.



P.S.I will be abandoning my lessons as fodder for my blog.Let me know if there are any music related subjects that you would like to read about and I will put something together for you.Thanks.

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Music Lessons for Justin 6

Well, if that doesn’t beat all.I have spent years trying to get my wig straight about improvising over certain tunes, Four being one of them.Today, I finally sounded like I was playing over specific chords and keys and not like random junk.

Sure, there is plenty more work ahead, but at least I do not feel like an idiot anymore.

Now, I just need to get a practice schedule and agenda together.This will help my practicing be more efficient and focused.



Music Lessons for Justin 5

This week, even though I have had very little time to practice, has produced a few small breakthroughs.Where we are taking one scale and using it in a number of different ways has become something that makes much more sense now.

Recent practices have been rather exciting for me because I am starting to hear myself make musical sense without developing a headache from all of the thinking.This is not to say that I am trying to avoid thinking, but rather that my previous and inefficient efforts required more thinking than absolutely necessary.

One of the concepts that give me trouble is the ‘Always from the One’ concept.This is not like the timing concept that I give to beginning student who are trying to connect their chords.This concept about thinking of everything I play from the point of view of the current chord’s root note or naming note.

This concept is not very difficult over a single chord vamp; which is why I need to practice it this way first.Playing on a tune with new chords every two beats at 220 BPM is difficult.Frankly, such a situation is usually impossible for me to sustain.

A song we have started to work on is Four.I have played what is called the Head of this tune for years.The Head is just the melody and chords of the tune before and after any improvising or solos.It is one of the tunes that I have wanted to sound competent on for just as long and I am happy to be working toward that long awaited goal.


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