Tag Archives: musician

Preparing as a Substitute Musician

I have a band called, Rock & Roll Fantasy. It is a five-member Hard Rock outfit and we have a gig at an event called Day In the Park. Day In the Park is an annual event that is held in a local park (hence the name) with many vendors and organizations having displays. I have played that last two or three years as a solo performer; this is the first time with a group.

Our bassist is unavailable for the date because he has requested the day off for a gig we have September 29. So, we needed a substitute bassist. Luckily, I know a great guy and bassist, Ken Harris who was gracious enough to agree to play with us for this one date.

We had our first rehearsal with Ken on Tuesday, August 28 and he did a splendid job; especially since we just called him a week or so ago.

This week, I was asked to sub for a guitarist in an oldies rock band called, the Olde Stuff Band.

Here is a video:

The gig is this Saturday and the setlist was just confirmed today. The songs are not difficult, but I will certainly be taking a good bit of time to get comfortable with them. One thing that I find to be a bit of a challenge is playing tunes in keys other than what is in my head. Also, sometimes the key changes are extreme enough to make big changes in how things sit on the guitar.

One example of an extreme key change would be Old Time Rock and Roll, which is originally in F#. This group plays the tune in the key of D. In the key of F#, the first chord is on strings six and five, with the second and third chords on strings five and four. To play in the key of D, all of this is in reverse.

This is where knowing your entire instrument and having a solid understanding of keys is imperative. Eventually, I take all my students through the process of developing the ability to play any tune in any key. It is very important if your desire is to play either a wide range of music, or if you will be playing with vocalists to be able to play in any key.

Short charts are also very important; having everything charted in some way definitely keeps one’s head from exploding trying to remember all the tunes and the new keys.

I will write a post-gig entry to let you know how I think I fared,

…off we go!

-Justin

http://guitarlessonslynchburg.com/

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Practice: Who has time?

Funny thing about being a musician and not having time to practice. I have spent the last two weeks implementing new ideas for my teaching business. I am very excited to be able to more for my students than ever before. However, my practicing has taken a backseat to all of the other activities I am doing to implement the new ideas.

I think I have practiced a total of 2 hours over the past ten days.

Most people think that musicians spend a lot of time just playing music; well, not so much. As a performing musician, we would need to do a lot of promotion and planning of events and other logistics. As a teacher, we need to engage in all the same activities just with different types of customers with different needs.

Teaching and performing are often the part-time, fun jobs we do after the regular 9-5 of developing opportunities to play or teach.

-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/

Who Likes Music

Simple enough question, isn’t it?Well, yes and no.

Everyone likes music of some sort.What is interesting to me though is some of the strong feelings of what music is and what it is not.I am not addressing the Rock vs. Rap deal that has been going on for ages.Google ‘Noel Gallagher Jay Z’ and see a recent example of what is happening.

Well, OK, maybe I should address the Rock vs. Rap deal.Music: Melody, Harmony & Rhythm.This is how I define music to students.Simple and accurate; Wikipedia has a nice page about it too.

(For the spelin’ empayrd; plz note the spelling of RHYTHM.It governs the universe. Thank you.)

Old folks have been asking about the Melody in Rock since it started.This is because early rock singers were not really singers at all.Rather, they were guitar players.I think what has been going on with the Rock vs. Rap deal is essentially the same issue.

By the way, I shall make a great point here concerning the popular ‘Rock has singing/melody, but rap does not’ argument: Modern Group with Singer; Modern Group without Singer.

‘Nuff Said.

(By the way, the water-on-drums trick was done decades ago.)

Anyway, the point is that we all have different views of music.It has been said that there are two kinds of music: good and bad.This has been attributed to Duke Ellington.I don’t know I wasn’t there, but my thought is similar and goes like this: There is well-played music and poorly-played music.I like the well-played kind.

I woke up a bit ago to start writing this article and I had AC/DC playing in my head.Actually, I got up to blow my nose; it is allergy season, but I thought that sounded far less cool.Incidentally, it wasn’t any particular tune I was hearing in my head, but rather a ‘jam’ that sounded just like Angus Young.Then, of course, specific AC/DC tunes popped in my head.

Even though I do not listen to AC/DC very much anymore, I still like them.I have liked many different styles of music.I even went through a period of listening to rap starting with the Fat Boys (I used to ‘Beat Box’) and the Beastie Boys continuing on until I won’t tell you when.

OK.L.L. Cool J is Here.1991 (When)

I think that it is very important that we open our minds to at least trying different sounds.As mentioned earlier, there is well-played and poorly-played music.Maybe the first group you hear from a particular style is not very good.There are many different shades to sounds and music styles as there are colors.As an acquaintance of mine has said: ‘If we all were sent out to get a red shirt, almost each one of us would return with a different shade, and we would all still consider the lot of them to be red.’

I agree.

So as an experiment for yourself, pick a style of music that you do not believe you like, and do some research of different groups or personalities of that style.Then, go about listening to some of them.I have found YouTube to be a great source of discovery and reminiscence.Keep in mind that some styles cover decades.You may find that a particular decade is better than others.

As an example, I like country music from the 1970’s and some early 1980’s.I do not like the sappy 1960’s nor do I like the cookie-cutter 1990’s to present.I also like Western Swing, sometimes called Hillbilly Jazz.

Let’s see; my list so far is: AC/DC, Rap, Country, Western Swing, and as many of you know, Jazz of all sorts.Is your musical net wide or narrow?As an aspiring musician, what should it be?

-Justin

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