Tag Archives: song

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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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/