Sad News

Today brought sad news for me and many others; an icon from our pre-teen and teen years died at the age of 50.

One of my earliest cassette tapes (remember those?), was of Michael Jackson’s Bad.  My favorite tunes were Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, and Man in the Mirror.

One of the coolest guitar arrangements I have heard was Man in the Mirror by Tuck Andress.

I can Moonwalk.  This was really hip when I was in middle school.  It’s probably not so impressive now.

One of the sweetest posts I’ve seen on FaceBook today is from Arika Dorsett.  She stated: “Michael Jackson died!!! How sad…he was such a big part of my childhood…very sad…I hope he knew the Lord….”

Not all the other comments were as considerate.  Shameful.

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/

Argue with Your Teacher…and see what happens

Greetings,

Earlier today I had a student that presents a challenge each week to my ability to explain music concepts without resorting to sarcasm. This is a young person, so I am sure that the student is being sincere with their comments and ‘challenges’.

Adults exhibit some of the same behavioral traits and when we meet at the crossroads I respond with ‘OK’, and say nothing more. I know that adults have better memories of those little moments and eventually the adult student will get big eyes and say; ” So, that’s what we were stuck on when…”

Children, on the other hand, need to be ‘bonked on the head’, so to speak.

Today’s challenge was: ‘I can’t play at 60bpm, it’s too slow’ in response to my suggestion that the student played better at 60bpm instead of the 70bpm that we had just attempted. This is how we determine a player’s personal speed limit. A personal speed limit is the highest speed at which we can play something without mistakes.

Knowing this child’s tendency to need proof, I then set the metronome at the ‘Final’ tempo to be achieved, 122bpm, and directed the student to count off.

FAIL!

Since Mr. I. B. Fast quickly came to the conclusion that his personal speed limit was under 122bpm, I then proceeded to demonstrate my personal speed limit for our song.

I moved the metronome to 150bpm and played the section of the tune flawlessly.

Then I played the section at 180bpm just as flawlessly.

Pressing onward, I moved the metronome to 200bpm whereupon one could notice that my wonderfulness was wearing down and I did not play quite as well as 180bpm. (Frankly, I was surprised I made it as high as 180bpm.)

So, while I am certainly faster than this student, I too have a personal speed limit and I think things were much more clear on a few levels after this demonstration.

By the way, the song was “Sweet Child o’ Mine” and we were working on the Intro. Give it a try at 180bpm one day. It sounds quite silly.

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/

Dis-Orientation

Greetings,

I have been working on a severe weak spot in my playing over the last few months. I have had the most difficulty with a certain improvisational concept: arpeggios.

Arpeggios are really just ‘Broken’ chords. Arpeggios are what we do when we are first learning chords. We form the chord, then play each string individually to know whether or not it is ringing clear.

I am working on playing all arpeggios everywhere as they appear in a song. While improvising, a musician usually plays a mixture of scale-like lines and arpeggiated lines. I have spent most of my time until now playing the scalar type of lines.

To improve in the least amount of time possible, I am working through a song improvising with only arpeggios. This is similar to what I ask many of my students to do when facing a playing issue; focus only on what you are not doing well and leave the good playing alone until the not-so-great stuff is a lot better.

The only example I can imagine at the moment to give you an idea of what my problem feels like is this: imagine that all of your strings are reversed. Instead of your strings being 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, & 1, imagine that their order is now 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.

Go ahead and play a few ‘Chords’ this way. Try playing a song this way and discover some new sounds.

If you do not play an instrument, spend a day using the hand opposite of that which you would normally use.

Leave a comment to let us know your thoughts and feelings during this experiment.

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/