Category Archives: music

The Point

Whatever the point may be is different for all of us. Some of us want to help others with a particular issue or set of issues. Some of us want to help ourselves to a certain desire or accumulation of successes or experiences.

Recently, I discovered that I was making myself unavailable for a work circumstance that I have been asked about on a few occasions. The reason I was making myself unavailable was that I believed that what was required of others was more than they were willing to offer in return.

What I have learned is that we should take the time to explore what we are willing to offer in exchange for whatever we are trying to achieve. Someone somewhere is likely to find what we offer and the level of exchange for which we offer it to be attractive enough for each of us to achieve our desire.

Considering all of the musicians I have met and worked with, one might imagine that some of us could work together frequently enough to keep us all busy. However, I have found just two people to be willing to be involved in my odd projects without adding what I consider to be undue requirements.

Interesting to me is that the willingness of these two musicians is less about the music or the money, but more about their attitude regarding the balance between their desires and mine. Their questions about each project are usually: Where is the gig, when is the gig, how long is the gig, what is the song-list and pay-scale.

What these musicians want, I am guessing, is a low conflict musical situation that meets their desires regarding time and income, while offering a quality interaction between us as we perform. They are also quite willing to rehearse, which is quite a rare quality in the musicians that I often meet.

I receive a great deal of reward working with these two musicians. The greatest reward is open communication. I can tell them what is important to me in our rehearsals and performances and what is not important. They are also willing to tell me what they think will improve our performances. They each have played many gigs in many different styles of music and know their instruments and its role in different musical circumstances.

So I am finding myself becoming more willing with each passing performance a growing desire to return to the original point of my work: to teach AND perform music.

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/

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Music Quotes

The other day I sorted through some music related quotes of various people.  I am interested to know which of these resonate with you.

I have put my favorites in bold.

-Justin

A painter paints pictures on canvas.  But musicians paint their pictures on silence.  ~Leopold Stokowski

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.  ~Berthold Auerbach

Without music life would be a mistake.  ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

 

Music is what feelings sound like.  ~Author Unknown

If in the after life there is not music, we will have to import it.  ~Doménico Cieri Estrada

Men profess to be lovers of music, but for the most part they give no evidence in their opinions and lives that they have heard it.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.  ~Ludwig van Beethoven

My idea is that there is music in the air, music all around us; the world is full of it, and you simply take as much as you require.  ~Edward Elgar

 

Alas for those that never sing,

But die with all their music in them!

~Oliver Wendell Holmes

 

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.  If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.  ~Charlie Parker

 

Life can’t be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years.  ~William F. Buckley, Jr.

Play the music, not the instrument.  ~Author Unknown

Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.  ~Robert Fripp

You are the music while the music lasts.  ~T.S. Eliot

Music is the universal language of mankind.  ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer

Music rots when it gets too far from the dance.  Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music.  ~Ezra Pound

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.  ~Victor Hugo

Music is one of the best ways to enjoy the present.  It’s not much fun to look forward to hearing music or to remember what a song sounded like last week, but music right now absorbs you and places you in the present moment.  ~Sonnett Branche

The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial.  ~Leonard Bernstein

Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.  ~Paul Simon

A jazz musician is a juggler who uses harmonies instead of oranges.  ~Benny Green

The notes I handle no better than many pianists.  But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides!  ~Artur Schnabel

The pause is as important as the note.  ~Truman Fisher

 

Silence is the fabric upon which the notes are woven.  ~Lawrence Duncan

 

An artist, in giving a concert, should not demand an entrance fee but should ask the public to pay, just before leaving as much as they like.  From the sum he would be able to judge what the world thinks of him – and we would have fewer mediocre concerts.  ~Kit Coleman, Kit Coleman: Queen of Hearts

It is incontestable that music induces in us a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of the invisible.  ~Victor de LaPrade

Music is a friend of labor for it lightens the task by refreshing the nerves and spirit of the worker.  ~William Green

Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music ~Sergei Rachmaninov

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/

Headbanging…against a wall!

I think I have finally solved an issue that has been driving me nuts for the past two years.

I decided in 2007 that I should experiment with making lesson videos.  The idea being an extension of a Yahoo! Group that I created about three years ago as a way for me to develop week-long support for my students.

The Yahoo! Group allowed me to post audio files so students could hear me playing sections of songs at a slower tempo.  Many of which are still available at my SoundClick page.  We could also discuss any subject related to music and learning guitar on the discussion board.

The point now is that I should soon be able to provide week-long lesson support on video.

Here’s to the progress of a snail.  Cheers!

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/

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/

Eureka Moments

Greetings,

I had a eureka moment recently regarding my study of improvisation. I discovered that I spend entirely too much time making myself technically capable of playing certain concepts, but nowhere near enough time playing these concepts musically.

I have always heard that we should strive to play musically when learning new concepts; I just took it to mean that we would be musical eventually. Well, I was wrong to think that this would happen naturally. I now realize that I must make a conscious effort to be musical very early in my study of a new concept.

What has happened in your lessons that really ‘Flicks the Switch’ in your mind and makes something easier that you ever thought possible?

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/