The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
What is mental illness? It’s having to come to a blog that no one reads to talk because I have nowhere else to turn. I’m not doing so good, which is an understatement (something I rarely make). In the video from a few posts ago she talks about how sometimes she wishes she could just hit the pause button and make her life go away temporarily. That’s exactly how I feel right now. I’m not quite at critical levels but I’m at dangerous ones and all I want to do is just get on with my life.
I’m frustrated with myself and I’m tired of everything being ten times harder than it needs to be. I’m tired of upsetting people because I can’t communicate properly. I’m tired of crying, I’ve cried for hours today and I’m crying now. I’m tried of not knowing the answers no matter how hard I look for them. I’m tired of everyone working half as hard and being 5 times as good even though they want it 1% as much. I’m tired of feeling so alone and confused. I’m really tired!
It’s hard because there’s always a part of me that even when I’m a soggy mess drenched in tears, frustrated at the world and lonely as all hell just wants to get back on with it all. I’m grateful for that part of me because I wouldn’t be here without it. I’m writing this because this is a big part of my life and my strength isn’t just from being stubborn or determined it’s in overcoming mental illness. I’m writing today’s blog post to tell my illness it will not win, it will not keep me from what I want. If I have to work 100 times harder I will, if I have to search the whole bloody galaxy for answers I will.
Today I reverted in my lesson to 6 years ago when I first started with Zak. I thought I’d overcome that and was making progress and I have but it seems it can just come back even so. I didn’t think it could and it shocked and filled me with a real fear. If I can’t get passed that then is it even possible no matter what I do to get over my tension and performance problems? I still like to think it is, I did do my exam, I have performed better overall recently and the signs are good in other areas but it’s also clear that I do not control this and when I’m afraid it will control me.
So Autism, anxiety and general mental illness I stick two fingers up at you. I will get back behind the drumkit, behind the bass and behind the guitar and I will fight. I will do it through tears if I need to, I will scream out my frustration and I will battle alone if I need to but I will find the answers, I will earn my way to where I want to be with dedication, hard work and problem solving and I will get what I want. This is my promise to you mental illness, I will win.
I’m reading a book recommended by a very inspiring drummer I’m following lessons by on Drumeo. The book is called Bounce by Matthew Syed and what’s fascinating about it is not what it’s teaching me but what it’s putting into perspective for me.
The book is about how natural talent is NOT the reason people are successful artists, sportsmen and women, musicians, scientists, memory experts etc. The reason is good old fashioned hard work but not just any hard work – focused, precise, intentional and organised hard work. It’s as much about opportunity as it is about putting in the effort and therein lies both the good news …. and unfortunately the bad.
So the bad news. If you don’t have the best teachers in the world you are highly unlikely to become the best at what it is you want to do. I said unlikely as there are other ways to be taught. Copying our inspirations and doing so constantly challenged or competing with others of like mind is another route to success. We can even do it alone but that depends on what the skill is and how good we are at both self-motivation and learning. There’s no short cut and time not spent well counts for far less or even nothing in the long term. It takes 10 years of dedicated learning (the 10,000 hr concept) and there’s no short cut, you can’t cram, you can’t skip bits, you can’t fake it because it’s experience you’re actually getting and it’s that experience you’ll use.
The good news! You don’t have to be born with super skills to achieve super skills. This is open to us all and if we’re willing and able to put in the work we too can obtain greatness. No one’s promising you’ll be number one but you'll achieve enough for it to be pretty damn cool.
Why am I excited about this book? Because it makes sense of everything I’ve been blogging about for the last few years. My concepts on how I learn, how I push myself, how I prefer constant failure because it means constant progress etc they ALL make sense now. What he’s teaching I already do. It also occurred to me there are two areas in particular I have done my 10,000 hours in without even knowing how important they would be to my particular journey.
The first is how I listen to music. My lifelong obsession means I’ve clocked FAR more music listening than other people but is that enough to be an expert? No, absolutely not. It has to be purposeful study or it doesn’t count remember. But there’s a twist in my story. I know for a fact I don’t listen to music like other people, I know this because when I discuss music they don’t recognise what I’m talking about until I specifically show them. So what’s different about how I listen and why do I do it? I “think” I know why but it’s just a theory. What’s different is that I don’t listen to music in a linear fashion, start to finish, the same every time. I listen to it not as a road to go down but as a river to swim in. Every time I listen I swim through the sounds, rhythms and combinations there of and it’s a different experience I consciously take it and there it is… I consciously listen to all the elements creating my own journey each time.
The reason I think I learned to do this was because I used music as a form as escapism. I would listen to music and create worlds in my mind within the music so like a movie if you put the same music over different scenes it will have a different effect on you. I created different scenes with the same music and so each time I explored it as a different experience, I explored the music and conciously focused on them always in a slightly different way. That’s my theory and it certainly explains why I create musical journeys and “stories”. But on a practical note I have listened to a huge number of genres throughout my life and I listen to a ridiculous number of different artists. Even now I’m always discovering new music, new sounds and I’m obsessed with the ideas within them.
My point? I don’t just listen to music, I STUDY it and I have been doing this for 40 years. So why am I so good at coming up with melodies? I’m TRAINED to be. Why do I write so much? I’ve trained to. Why can I listen to music endlessly and not get bored? I’m trained to always hear it as fresh and interesting.
I was trained to write music decades before I even played my first note. What I’m doing now is picking up the skills that allow me to apply that knowledge and that is where my second skill comes in. I have struggled my whole life, I struggled at home, I struggled at school, I struggled with mental illness, I’ve found learning difficult because I don’t learn like other people, I spent 10 years fighting fire with my business. And what was I doing the whole time? Learning how to learn. I didn’t study like other people just memorising and repeating it back, I had to figure out how to learn and relearn FAST. I couldn’t just make friends and form relationships I had to learn how to interact with each person I met separately. I couldn’t just do easy tasks because my illness would make life impossible so I created games to help me do things, I learned how to get myself to do things I found incredibly difficult that normal people could just do.
What did I do in my business? I learnt how to be efficient, how to get over my perfectionism, how to create websites, how to write, how to design, how to stocktake, how to run a shop. I had no experience of any of that, I had no one to teach me, I had no idea what I was doing and I HAD to learn. I had to learn fast, I had to learn a lot and I had to do it in so many different ways, every single day. So I did and the more I did the more efficient I had to become in order to do it all myself. I learned very consciously and purposefully and it took a long, long time to do that and my failures actually served me very well it seems!
And what do I do now? I learn how to learn, I pick up on the successful and less successful approaches I try from my teachers and I build on them. I use online resources to push this further and I refine, refine, refine. I spent most of my life learning how to learn – consciously and purposefully and now I’m using that experience to help me work out how to balance the incredibly challenging task of learning everything I need to on these instruments.
There is no short cut. I have 10 years work ahead of me per instrument but because of my past, because I’ve already earned my 10 years in two very crucial areas I can juggle multiple instruments and subjects because I already understand how to multitask, how to learn how I learn, how to see the patterns and connections that will allow me to go faster and faster.
There is no way of knowing where I will be in ten years. I could be a fantastically talented musician and writer or I may be distinctly average or worse. The thing this book does is it gives me additional hope that wasn’t there before, it demonstrates that while there’s no guarantees my methods, my ideas and my strategies are all similar to those followed by the most successful people. It reminds me of the elements of success I do not have and forces me to confront that and compensate to the best of my ability. If reinforces the need to be focused, to not dither, to be clear on my goals and to dig in hard. Time will tell and if I do get anywhere near where I hope then that could very well give hope to others but at the same time it will also prove there is no easy route and that it can take decades to achieve what we want. My journey started when I was 5 and 40 years later I still have at least 10-15 years of HARD, HARD, HARD work ahead of me to even know if it’ll be enough.
I'm up for it though... that in itself shows just how much I want to be a musician.
First some good news. It will take time to really know but it feels like I may have got through the enormous wall I’ve been banging my head against for the last 3 years. The signs are good though, the “feeling” of constant tension (pushing on a door that says pull kind of thing) especially when doing something new or when I go past a certain tempo but even in general does appear to be going. Or at the very least it’s reduced by an incredibly significant amount.
I can feel it but it’s more than that, I can sense myself getting more control, I can relax more (still a mountain to climb there) and I’m picking things up not necessarily faster (although that too) but much easier, I fight myself much less. I’m able to do a little more in lessons but… it’s early days and I’ll need to see consistency before I believe that particular battle has, well maybe not been won but has certainly gone from being a war to a skirmish! 3 YEARS... even I can't believe I kept fighting for that long but I WANT THIS SOOOOO MUCH.
We will see!
The bad. My anxiety is so bad I burst into tears while hoovering just because I felt so overwhelmed with all my emotions dialled up to 12 and all flowing over at the same time without any break. I refuse to try medication and so I just have to ride it out, it will pass and until then I need to hang tight and fight (literally for my life). This really is no joke and only one person in my life knows just how serious it is, so it's also very lonely and isolating. Mental illness is very cruel.
I’ve been getting my head down into my drumming exercises which is helping as it focuses me but the second I stop it’s all still there. Well if I have to suffer I may as well turn it to my advantage, right? so Ive been working even harder than normal. I’m still not sure of this years plans as that got all thrown up in the air but I know eventually the dust will settle and I’ll have my goals, direction and focus. I hope it’s soon but until I know what my teachers overall objectives are it’s hard to align them with mine. I have no doubt I will be able to as we do both want exactly the same thing, it’s just I want that AND other things and I believe I can have both.
My current plan regarding the exam has changed a little and now the idea is to not pick the songs easiest or that I like most but pick songs that will serve my ultimate goals (short term & long term) best. I may not do the exam at all though, if my teacher isn’t behind me then I will wait but in all likelihood by the time he does think I’m ready I won’t think it holds enough benefit. However if that happens it really doesn’t matter I will move forwards one way or another as well as continuing to strengthen my foundations, fill the gaps and get myself out of this beginner phase once and for all!
But back to the current plan, I’ll “assume” I’m going to do it and evaluate (with my teacher) the elements, skills etc that I’ll need to focus on, work on, develop and learn in order to reach the point where I have enough ability I can apply them to the exam songs. Only THEN will I start learning the songs themselves, that will inspire me to kick my own behind to get there. One more step in the plan but one designed to drive me even more and it's something I learned from doing Grade 7 so I'm simply applying it again. My thought process currently is to do this with exercises & songs suited to my current level within each technique/skill etc and then keep pushing that up as FAST as possible. I hope to work on that with my teacher because he'll have ideas too and experience that matter very much to me. I can't learn without listening! Learn-grow-go ... so work first and then when the time is right I'll go for it but the goal is to make that time ASAP.
Again we will see!!
Finally I’ve asked my bass teacher if we can take one song and really push it, slowly but surely which is totally the opposite approach to what I just described for drums but there’s a reason for that. It’s a song with both slap and finger style, not too hard but still a challenge to get solid. In this instance I see sitting on this song as a way to work on the technical side of my slap and fingerstyle and my confidence. I believe by focusing on this it will open up both styles of playing to much faster development afterwards. I’m never against going slow – as long as ultimately it will make me go faster, it’s just a question of evaluating if long term I’ll get to my destination faster one way or the other and being careful to select the right project for the method. In that regard all I can do is know ME best, use my experience and judge when I think I will get more from one or the other. We will only be doing this half the lesson so there will still be plenty of progress in other areas too and he's already working with me on my bass targets for the year. It's actually a little scary as I feel even more accountable now but that's good right!?
I trust my teachers, they are amazing at helping me learn but I trust my methods too. I've spent 30+ years teaching just one single student... ME and I've learnt a lot in that time. You should see me clean the house (on the rare occasions I do!) none of my kids or my hubby can understand how I do it but I can do it 10 times faster and yet still 10 times better than they can combined. My method is exactly the same I’m applying here, exactly the same as I applied in my business (I could always do my staffs jobs 20 times faster, it was so frustrating) and the same as I did in my old accountancy job (my boss got cross at me for doing his job and mine more efficiently while he was on holiday because his boss picked him up on it, I SWEAR I would never have done that on purpose, it’s just who I am). I organise better, shop faster, I can solve just about anyones problems (except mine, haha no I do solve mine it's just a little more complicated) and I'm superbly efficient when I want to be.
It just takes time to work out what the most efficient methods are to apply to my current situation as it's far more complex because I’m learning a LOT that all needs to be connected. However I'm learning more about that every day by paying good attention to what my teachers tell me and evaluating which elements work and which don't and WHY and applying that knowledge to my personal teaching method.
One final thing. I had a teacher I hated at school who taught Social Science, he hated me right back and I couldn't learn from him. Of course that was all my fault (only teacher who I didn't get on with like a house on fire was him) and his prediction for my final grade was an F. I moved school and they didn't do Social Science so I took it upon myself to do the exam independently. I taught myself and did the projects I had to, completed the assignments and took the final exam and got a C. I did this while battling problably my most severe episode of depression & anxiety ever. My point is I've always struggled to learn like my peers and yet I have 10 GCSE's grade C or above, A GNVQ Advanced in Art & Design and an A in A-Level Accountancy. I can learn it's just I have to figure out HOW to make it work for me. Good teachers (my accountancy teacher was amazing!) make my life easier (my current teachers ALL fit into this category) bad ones make my life so much harder but I get there either way.
The thing I find hardest about being who I am is my inability to communicate. I'm literate, reasonably so, I can express myself and I can explain things in detail (too much often) but I still can't get the thoughts in my head to make sense to other people.
They nod and agree and express words of acknowledgement and then reaffirm what I'm thinking back to me but it's NOT what I'm thinking. I use the same words as them and yet the meaning and context is different, what they're saying is not even close to what I was saying. To make matters worse things have so many meanings to me depending on the context of my feelings or thoughts at a given time. This makes me very specific in my meaning when most people are very general in theirs. It's actually left me afraid to try because more often that not they'll misunderstand and I have no way of correcting or explaining.
How does this affect my musical journey? Unfortunately quite badly. I can't explain what I need, I can't explain why I struggle, I can't explain what people can do to help me and sadly in most cases people don't want to help me. WAIT... no I'm not being a victim. They are NOT ogres who are selfish and mean, on the contrary they're good people who care a great deal but they've got life to worry about and my complex layers of problems are just too much extra baggage.
People in general like me a lot but I'm also a burden and aren't we all taught if it's not making your life better cut it out? Well they usually do and I don't blame them, sincerely I do not, I am overwhelming but that doesn't mean I don't feel hurt, I don't feel lonely, I don't feel rejected and I don't feel like... I'm wrong. I'm broken. I'm complicated. I'm difficult. I'm the odd one out. I'm not worth it. I'm nice but I'm not good enough to deserve your understanding and compromise.
It's hard for me to accept the only thing I am is Autistic. I'm kind, I'm loyal, I'm funny, I'm determined, I'm passionate, I'm sensitive, I'm curious, I'm smart, I'm thoughtful. I am worth it it's just few people understand me well enough to know that or if they do I just demand too much effort to justify it in their lives. How can I not understand that even if I don't deserve it. I came across this video and the weight it lifted from me was so big, it really resonated and I realised I can't help my fear. It's part of who I am, of what I am. I have to stop feeling like I'm being irrational.
Some things I learned from this because I'm always learning!
a) My fear is ok, it's not good, it's not wanted but it's not irrational. As she says I need to fix it top down and I can't do it alone.
b) I must find a way to adjust the structure of my lessons if I want to be more productive. Being pushed is great, it's working and I'm doing so well I do not want to change that but there's no balance so the fear is never evened out and I need more structure to support my mental state.
c) I understand now a lot more why the fear is there and I can begin the work on it and with it. It serves me very well but I need to find a way to keep some fear pushing me without it shutting me down at other times.
d) My fears have nothing to do with ego, in fact my ego is so damaged by my fears that it's something I need to work on. If I didn't always feel like a failure and expect to be one maybe I could look for, achieve and embrace success as well as the progress I already hold on to and enjoy so dearly. Part of my action plan needs to include me succeeding not just embracing the failure for the progress it represents. There's a big difference.
My overthinking is also natural and is connected to this problem but that part I already suspected to be true. That's a trait I will not dampen as it's one of my greatest assets which I use constantly to problem solve and create but I need to learn how to gain more control, to wield it and stop it controlling me emotionally.
Finally, my mind has worked like hers many a time (you'll have to watcht the video to understand this part!). I've seen my own "penguins" and I understand what she says, it can be a curse, it does cause us problems and it's very hard to understand it but the otherthinking part of our brain can be such a blessing too! Being Autistic can be such a blessing we just need people to care and help us fit in with the rest of the world and sadly I have no one to help me. I've become very self sufficient for that reason and I'm actually very brave for someone with ASD and I do a lot of very rash and unusual things but that doesn't mean any of them are ever easy or that they come without consequence.
I'll probably blog a lot more this year as I work through this problem as I think maybe some day this might help others if I can succeed. It will help me to have somewhere mostly private to share my thoughts as I fight what's going to be a long, difficult and very deflating battle. It's never easy facing our fears. I'm very brave and I push through my fear all the time but being afraid of someone not because of who they are but because of who I am is really hard. It reinforces the "I'm the problem" mentality and thus fear. I consider my teacher to be one of the most special, caring, generous and nice people and kindest friends I've ever had so if anyone will help me do this it's him, and of course hubby.
Ultimately my fear is my teacher will reject me or be angry at me and that I couldn't bare because I care so much about him. I'm in a Hobsons Choice situation but I have to do find a way because I know he want's to help and I know I need to get through this. The question is how do I help him do that without making the whole thing yet another overblown complicated drama and losing someone who's been one of the most amazine people in my life.
I often ask myself what do I want, not in a throwaway fashion but in a 6 year old’s curious fashion. Why… but why… but why until I dig down to the fundamental reasons and that allows me to make choices. Sometimes harsh choices, it allows me to plan, to understand the context and price of those choices. I want to play instruments, I want to write music I’m proud of, why? Because I love music more than I love anything in this world, I NEED to play. Because understanding it, being a part of it, exploring it, experiencing it is my passion and who I am. I believe in choices, not excuses which means I do it or don't but I own the decision without regret and with purpose and reason. That's far harder than it sounds though.
I suffer from terrible mental illness and it’s my belief that my ASD affects me physically as well as mentally. They will limit my dreams by a long way if I cannot find a way to get around them, I can't choose not to have them but I do still have a choice. I can choose to acknowledge their limitations and do the best I can or I can find a way around them no matter how much it hurts me. The question I had to ask myself is what's more important and WHY and the answer is playing because it's who I am. So I will do what needs to be done even though I do not know how.
Today I had one of the most painful lessons I've ever had. I knew it was coming, I knew what I'd set myself up for and I knew why. It hurt me unimaginable amounts, not because my ego took a hit (if it was about ego I wouldn't have set myself up for this in the first place) but beause it left me confused, scared, lonely, lost and directionless. It pulled the very small (but faulty) security rug from under me and left me with the truth I needed to hear but had dreaded and forced my hand. I had no regrets because it did what I needed it to do for what I want - choices not excuses. “Either I will find a way, or I will make one” has become my motto and it's serving me well but without action they're empty words. Normally I at least havea an idea of what to try and I'm willing to take action but I have absolutely no idea what to do this time. I really don't known how to fix this and it seems no one else does either. So I can choose, accept or figure it the hell out. I choose to figure it out because I know what I want. Being that sure is so powerful but it's also a curse because it makes life so much more complicated and hard!
This is what my heart wants with all the passion in the world so I will do what I need to (even to myself) to get it. I just wish I didn’t always have to do it alone, I wish it didn't always have to be so hard and I wish I was stronger because it hurts like hell.
But then I also wished to be a musician and I've been given the chance to do that.... IF I can keep on fighting and find a way through. Moral - be careful what you wish for!!!
Study Resources I Use To Compliment My Teachers
I study around 3000 hours a year and I get around 80hrs of combined tutoring so while the lessons obviously guide me on a large portion of my private study time there’s only so much they can cover in that time. The truth is there’s soooo much to learn across everything I’m doing it’s not possible to cover a fraction of it in those 80hrs so the rest is up to me.
That is daunting because often a) I don’t know what to learn and b) I don’t know how to learn … well to some degree.
I’ve been learning long enough now that to some degree I’m learning how to spot the holes and weaknesses and the areas that are falling behind. Sometimes that’s rehashing over old ground to get it up the level it should be or sometimes it’s expanding on areas or filling in the gaps.
To do this I use resources and a lot of them and they work very well. I will emphasise they don’t come close to replacing a teacher (a good one anyway) but they have incredible value on top of or even better in combination with my teachers. I use them to compliment my other learning and to help me learn more faster.
So here are the ones I’ve so far found to be the most useful.
Drumeo – I will absolutely say it’s so worth the money, the lessons are great, it’s well organised, the teachers are the best in the world, they teach WELL (very important), it’s fun, it’s interactive, it’s creative in how it teaches and varied. It offers great resources and lots of them and it’s constantly being updated. Don’t even think about this one, it’s an investment but make sure you USE it.
Hudson Music – it’s a book store with books and videos that are mostly interactive through their apps or online store. I tend to treat myself now and then when they have a sale and I have a collection that will take me years to work through BUT I get them as both technique aids and (mostly) idea *sparkers*. There’s so much gold in those books but first you need to learn how to see it, how to look past the lesson and see the concept. How to recognise how that concept and then be applied to other exercises or be used in any situation. Creative thinking unlocks a world of joy in these books and the interactive nature of them is a bonus (audio of the exercises, linked videos, embedded backing tracks). I just need to get my technical chops up a few levels before I can really benefit but even that in itself inspires me to work harder.
Udemy – This one can be awesome or terrible, it varies course to course so read the reviews, watch the samples and try to get a feel for the course before you buy. I would never pay full price for these (there's generally nothing that you can’t get from you YouTube for free) but during the sales they’re very cheap and then it’s worth paying for the structure they offer that YouTube definitely doesn’t. I’m doing courses on Orchestration, Sound Design, Guitar Techniques, Audio Engineering, Composition and all sorts of fun stuff. Make sure you get one for your level though, I’ve bought a few out of my comfort zone and they’re too hard to follow.
Interactive Magazines – I subscribe to a few magazine apps from Future Music that I think are incredibly good value. They have printable lessons, embedded audio and the content is brilliant. Well laid out, easy to use features and very cheap. They also do offers now and then when you can buy all the back issues at one really crazy low price. There are some great online magazines too but I find these less convenient than having it on my phone ready to go at all times.
Scribd – this one is controversial but the truth is I could never afford to buy all the books, articles etc I can get from here and I treat it as a library. I do often buy the books I find most useful though, sometimes an Ebook sometimes a hard copy. I prefer to own the real thing but for most of us who can’t afford to pay $70 for a single book (when they are hundreds I need) this is invaluable.
Truefire – I LOVE this site, I LOVE their lessons but I don’t subscribe. It’s great value especially when you buy on sale but I like to own the lessons, download them and watch on the app. I tend to buy their $5 deals which are out of this world bargains but I also buy some more expensive courses I know I’ll get a lot from. The teachers are world class, the lessons and resources are very good (mostly) and they’re fun, well structured and easy to use. BUT they are not for the beginner guitarist. You’ll need to be intermediate at least and even though a lot will be a little too hard but there are hundreds to choose from so there is plenty to work on. I find I can’t get past the first few Andy Timmons lessons not because they’re hard but because he’s given me so many concepts to work on I want to really focus on that before moving on.
YouTube – This one is obvious but I’m putting in there because I do use it a lot but it tends to be for when I’m really looking for something specific.
There are a lot of free resources and paid ones out there, Scotts Bass lessons is one I’d love to try but at the moment I can’t justify the cost. Bass isn’t enough of a focus for me and the workload my teacher gives me plus the books I have is enough but it does look good and his free lessons are superb.
These are just the ones I use and KNOW work for me.
However the thing is there’s no magic recipe in any of these, none of them will make you a better player/writer etc that can only be done by you. These are the tools you can use to do that but you have to know how, you have to have the drive to work through them and you have to pick the lessons that will benefit your goals. Don't just learn hard, learn SMART.
A year well used in the end
It's been a tough year and as with much of the world I'm in lockdown for Christmas but I'm also more fortunate than most being in Australia and for that I am grateful. So music journey update for the end of the year, what I achieved, what I didn't and what my plans are for next year.
What I achieved:
I took my grade 7 drum exam and passed, I took a hell of a risk this year and even now I'm still amazed I got through it. I wouldn't have if it hadn't of been for my teacher but we did it and I'm thrilled because it did exactly what I intended it to, it forced me to confront and make big progress on many of my weakest areas. It made me organise myself, find a more effective way to practice and forced me to put in far more time and effort than I did last year. I didn't just pass I changed who I am as a player and a student and that will continue to benefit me. I did a cover of Reelin' In The Years for my xmas cover and that was a LOT of song to take on. Every instrument kicked my behind but I'm happy enough with how it turned out. It was never going to be great but it wasn't offensive and that's all right I reckon! I've made really great progress on bass now I'm applying the right techniques and studying the right material. My rhythm guitar has improved a great deal, my timing is better and I'm starting to understand a lot more. I wrote music I'm proud of, I entered my first competition, I took on new genres in my writing and pushed myself. I learnt some sound design and my mixing and production are slowly improving. I look back at the player I was at the start of the year and I've come a long, long way. In that regard I'm incredibly happy. I think I did well.
What I didn't:
I'm still an inconsistent sloppy player on everything, I'm still struggling with bends on guitar, nice clean doubles on drums and using the correct fingering on bass. I've improved greatly in all these areas but we are now in year 3 for some of these things. I didn't cover anywhere near enough new genres in my writing and I'm still writing pretty boring basslines for the most part. My writing is definitely lagging in terms of progress behind my techniques and I need to see it filter through. I'm still learning new songs unbelieably slow and I'm very slow to learn in general although I do feel like I'm finally breaking through that wall. Next year will tell I guess.
I've got THE song to write and that pressure is huge, I'm not ready but I don't have a choice. I hope to do my grade 8 drum exam and I'm not aiming for any partular mark but I would like to do better (even by one mark) than this year and keep that pattern going. I think it's good just to push a little harder each time but beyond that it'll be enough pressure this one on it's own! I want to start writing more genres, more interesting parts, continue to improve my technique, become more consistent and work on my confidence. I want to really start to improve and use the rhythm guitar more, finish some songs I've been working on for a while and release another album and I want to work on my sight reading.
I'm so lucky to have the teachers I do, I say this all the time but I genuinely can't stress it enough. My guitar teacher goes out of his way to help me understand my way of learning and we've made amazing progress because of it this year as we finally figure it all out. My bass teacher has a lovely manner, he's patient and very enouraging but also pushes me just enough. I can't let myself be pushed as hard as I do on drums but none the less he's got great progress out of me, I'm happy anyway. I've never met any teacher who's so commited to their students as my drum teacher and he's brought me further out of my shell than I ever thought possible. He helps me so much and he's so patient because I'm a difficult bugger.
Finally ..... I've decided I know who I am as a musician after all this time!
I've decided I'm a drummer. I didn't choose to be one, I am because it's what fits me best. Not what I enjoy most (although I adore drumming) but learning drums although no easier than the other instruments feels so natural, it makes sense to me and I feel comfortable doing it to a degree I don't on the other instruments. When I play I feel most at home behind the kit as well. Guitar will always have my heart, we're an incompatible couple who struggle but I don't care because I love guitar and I will force myself to be a guitarist. It may be what I'll become but it'll never be who I am. Bass feels like a friend to me, I enjoy being around it but only for shorter periods of time. It's so easy to learn bass and I find playing fun and comforting but not all day! Writing has never been a primary draw for me, I enjoy it but I find writing to be something that has to command me, I can't wield it by choice. I'll always be a multi-instrumentalist and writer but drums are my real home and the place I'll feel most myself. I didn't expect that when I started, not at all but often we discover strange things about ourselves and at the end of the day we are what we are.
Goodbye 2020, it's been a really tough one but it's also brought me a long long way.
Time To Start Composing
This is proving to be a tough year and my fear is the axe is about to fall on much that I hold dear soon but I keep my hope up and I have my music which keeps my mind focused and my heart strong. I've had support like I've never known in my life though so there is a nice side too.
I still have all three of my teachers who are dearer to me than ever and my guitar teacher became a dad for the first time. It's been so amazing to see his personal life grow as he has seen my musical one grow but for now no lessons while he adjusts to the new routine. I miss them but this year it really is about the drums. That's where my focus is so here's the update on this journey.
I'm currently studying for my next drum exam, I'd love to say I'm full of confidence but I'm not however that is entirely expected and I as always made the conscious choice to push myself in order to obtain what matters most ... progress. It never gets easier but it always rewards me.
We are now just 1 year away from the anniversary song/gift which seemed forever when I started this blog. But the reality is I'm actually only a few months away from starting to write it and I am very far from the musician I need to be even though I've actually exceeded all my initial expectations by a long, long way (what was I thinking!!). It just goes to show just how much goes into all this. So I'm pushing myself extra hard because I have one chance to have a happy ending to this five year challenge and I'll do all I can to make that happen. It really matters to me.
My bass lessons are so much fun, again they're uncomfortable but that will always be the case beacause of my many ridiculous issues but I do thoroughly enjoy them and I can feel the benefit big time. This teacher (Andrew) is perfect for me and pushes me as well, he has me reading music not tab, working on my timing, really pushing my technique and studying different styles. We're currently doing slap which makes me very happy!
Drum practice is so good and lessons are tough but I look forward to them so much each week. I genuinely have the best teacher I could have hoped for, I don't make his life easy and he doesn't make mine but that's because I told him not to and I'm so passionate about drumming now. I'm very happy with the progress I've made this year but I'm also frustrated that I'm still struggling with so many basics. I see my son progress and it just cements how hard it is for me - fair - no - but that's life, I have gifts in other areas and I accept that and just try to work harder to compensate. I'm still hopeful one day my determination will pay off and I'll stop working against myself all the time. My hope is that my work ethic will be so ingrainded by then it will continue to carry me a long, long way. As far as I'd like to go? No, not a chance, I'm just not blessed with the talent for that but far enough to enjoy a huge chunk of what the music world has to offer. More than enough to keep me busy and happy and give me the tools to explore music as I'd love to.
In other areas I'm studying sound design, orchestration, EDM and obviously continuing on with guitar studies. I'm focusing on phrasing, Blues and rhythm guitar and we're looking at concepts which I then play with. It seems that way of working suits me. I still love guitar and I miss putting time into it but I have to balance out my goals as a whole and put my focus where it's most needed at each stage.
I've released more music into the world and of course as with this blog told no one it's there! I really like it and I know the few who've found it do too (the stats tell me they do!). I entered my first scoring competition which was a very big step for me. It was a big one so no chance of winning but that was never the goal. But the main thing is I'm still doing this, I'm still pushing myself more and more, I'm still loving every second of it and I'm still so grateful that my life took this strange and unexpected turn. Most of all I'm grateful for the teachers who are helping me make my dreams come true and for my hubby who supports this crazy life of mine. So until next time stay safe in these tough times and keep those dreams alive but most of all recognise and appreciate the wonderful things & people in your life even if sometimes it feels like the sky is falling. It does help.
Stepped it up again.. and again... and...
New year, new decade, new teacher, new exam but same old passion and love for what I do.
So first things first, quick update on where I'm at.
The drum exam... passed. It was as bad as I thought and I really hated it but all that mattered was that I did it and the icing on the cake was that I passed. I am very proud of myself. I'm doing another this year and I'm even more afraid because I know how it felt, I don't want to feel like that again but that is precisely what will drive me. The additional progress it will force is worth more than the few tears it will cause.
I have a new bass teacher, finally took the plunge and he's a lovely teacher who I'm certain will get me in shape over time. I'm really looking forward to this but it absolutely has added another layer of work and stress but also enjoyment (otherwise why do it?)!
Still with Zak (guitar teacher) and we're having the best time. I'm really progressing even though I still struggle but it feels good to make the progress we do and this year I'm absolutely ready to step it up. A lot of very important factors finally fell into place last year that's making things a lot easier on me.
Still with Simon (drum teacher) and he terrfies me but in the best way haha!! Simon can nudge me soooo far outside my comfort zone it's crazy and he's such a lovely guy and I enjoy our lessons even if they are painful too. So I have three wonderful teachers, very defined goals, some brutal sticks at my back and lots of amazing things to achieve.
Still writing of course! I'll save that for the next update.
I've spent the last few months mentally and physically preparing myself for this years work. It's mostly about building mental stamina not just to do tasks for long periods but to target areas of weakness without building stress. I still have a way to go but it's working and I'm achieving much more these days as a result. A bit like building any muscle, push until it feels a little sore, stop, rest, reset, push. It's very effective but it takes a lot of dedication and patience and of course if you don't want to really do it then it's pointless.
I'll leave it there and get on with my bass exercises, guitar routine and this weeks drum homework. It's not just a life I signed up for it's one I've designed and I love it but IT IS HARD!!!
Living In Musical Bliss
I haven’t totally abandoned this blog so I thought I’d put an update on here now and then as to where this crazy journey is at.
As far as teachers go I’m still with my guitar teacher, it’s been over 4 years he’s had to suffer my playing! We're trying to conquer my rhythm and soloing demons this year and I''m making fabulous progress even if it's incredibly hard. I'm still no natural! I’m no longer working with Tom but I do miss him and I’m sure he’s up to all kinds of crazy stuff, I'll always be grateful that he started me on this crazy path. I have been working with an awesome drum teacher called Simon for over a year. He enjoys torturing me but it's all for a good cause as I would estimate 80% of my total progress on drums has been since he started teaching me. He's got me working on a lot of skills daily and I've now begun applying that approach to guitar too.
A quick overview of what’s been going on.
1) I’m still practicing daily, pretty much all day, every day. So that did stick but these days it’s instinctive and I’ve spent the last few years digging in hard to establish routines & build up my work ethic.
2) I’m still writing. Constantly! Whether I want to or not, the more I learn the more I hear ideas & the more they adapt to become my own. I try to limit how much I write so I can stay focused more on developing technique & learn theory.
3) I’m taking my very first exam this year. My grade 5 drum exam from the Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus. I am terrified but that’s why I’m doing it. Still using my fears as a way to slingshot my progress forwards. Told you it works!
4) My guitar playing has come on huge leaps & bounds and while I’m very far from being good I have learned to navigate the fretboard thinking in “numbers” (scale tones) and chords. It took a long time but in the end I found a system that worked around my memory issues.
5) My little ‘home studio’ has been constantly evolving and I now have a fantastic set up & collection of instruments, effects pedals and recording equipment. It’s a room you’d never want to leave so I pretty much don’t!
6) I’m still on Instagram but I’ve scaled back a lot to focus on my learning. I have a lovely bunch of followers and I’m still refusing to use hash tags, or play the ‘game’. It works well for me, I support everyone I follow and I accept I get back what I do and that’s that. Generally speaking I get a lot back so it’s all worked out well.
7) I did it - I put my music out to the world .... but I didn’t really tell anyone 😂. There’s a EP on Spotify, Bandcamp & iTunes called Transcendence Of The Mind. My artist name is The Accidental Musician (no surprise there!). It’s on there because it’s a landmark along the way of my journey. Most songs were recorded within a few days but I’m proud of it none the less. I’m not embarrassed about any music I’ve put up anywhere. At the time it was a great achievement and any learning involves taking steps. We should never be ashamed to look back, that trail is the magic behind success.
8) At this time my future lies not in success, not in the commercial sense. I don’t have my sights set on being in a band, writing professionally etc. I may, but it’s not a goal. My goal is the exploration of music itself through writing. I learn so I can explore it in my writing, the two are intimately connected and there are millions of songs I could write in all genres, styles, tempos, some signatures. Hundreds of techniques to try out and mix, stories to tell, emotions to play with, theory to test out, rules to obey, to bend & to break. My passion grows daily, my love for playing grows daily, my enjoyment grows daily & its alllllllllll about playing. I intend to learn as much as I can and if I happen to leave a legacy of music others enjoy - great. If not - who cares, what a wonderful life I led.
So until the next update - come follow me on Instagram (accidentalmuso) if you want to follow all this more closely.
Or go check out the music, you’ll see I have a long way to go but also that I’ve come a long, long way since I started this blog. I hope it inspires you to chase your own dreams.
Here are a few songs I've done recently, Make It All Come True was gift and Cold Fever was just FUN! It really needs vocals and some shred lead but my chops aren't up there yet. The other two are 1min quick song experiments.
Every time I update at the moment I say I'm busier haha! But it's true, the more I can do the busier I get but as my wicked teacher says ...."it's all good"!
So song wise they're coming together faster. They're definatrly more varied and far better with timing. My bass playing & drums in particular are improving but I'm still really making the same song because I can't tap into my influences music genre wise.
So I've asked Tom if we can go back to learning, well technically I want to do both learn & write but learning is now too priority. I say learning, obviously I always am but I mean with more teaching from him and more directional. I've chosen Funk as a genre because it's going to be tough but if I can learn funk on drums and bass that will set me up nicely to learn others.
That and I love funk on drums & bass most!!!
I'm now starting to learn some funk with Zak on guitar too - yay! But all this means a lot more homework - plus the songs need to keep coming - plus everything I was already working on - plus god knows what but I'm sure there's more.
I love it though. Love it, love it, love it! Sometimes I get stressed, I often doubt myself, I get very overwhelmed & frustrated but never do I stop loving it 😊
I love my two teachers so much and I love that they're so different. Tom is always upwards and forwards and Zak is stick with it till you nail it. Neither are rigid but generally speaking that's the difference in them & it's a great balance (and push) for me.
So I'm still working on blues stuff at the moment and my new challenge is to spend 1/2 hour every day getting my arm moving constantly - even when I'm picking to think of it in time and to get the flow. It's so hard and is NOT coming naturally to me but we've been here before when I used to spend an hour a day getting used to 16th note picking. I'm generally very good at doing my homework because I respect that it's for my own good.
Tom has given me that start of a song which I have to learn & record all parts for then do the chorus. It's terrifying!!! But it will be interesting to do, because I'm carrying on his thinking it will take longer but I'm determined to do this.
I got The Eye Of The Tiger cover done for my birthday - yay! That was so much harder than I thought it would be & has so many flaws but I'm proud as anything. It's on Instagram if you want to check that out. And I wrote my first strum/fingerpicked song on acoustic which as you know is a HUGE achievement for me. That's been so so so much work to get to. I need to write many more, it's just the first step BUT it is a step. FINALLY!!!!!
So good week! Now I'm past the basics and we're pushing technically it's getting really hard and is requiring me to dig in but I knew this was always going to be the case and I love every single second of this life.
Update over 😉
The last few months have really been a whirlwind and with various ups and downs overall a giant step forward. In the scheme we're talking a puddle in the ocean but to me that puddle represents 2 years of incredible hard work. More tears than I care to admit and yet never ever did I consider giving up. Not for a single day.
That's the key - it's not about belief (although that really helps), it's not about success (yep that helps too!) it's about moving forward no matter what. Every time I've looked ahead that's when I struggle but it's inevitable, every now and then we all want to see where we are and get our bearings and that's when I deflate.
But even then I never ever stop moving forward. No matter how slow, no matter how small the steps - forward is forward.
Being able to write songs, even small ones that aren't great is incredible. My dream has already come true but I'm not yet writing the music I want to. I think that's what is hard to understand about me. It comes across as me being defeatest or something but it's not that at all. Since day one I had a dream of the kind of music I would write and we're not talking Jimmie Hendrix (although I wouldn't say no haha!!). We're talking in terms of a basic level - the type of music NOT the quality. Quality will come after I get to the level I'm looking to reach.
Think of it as a basic food recipe. I don't want to make Michelin Star quality pancakes just simple eggs & flour edible ones THEN I'll learn how to make them amazing. Crap analogy but I just want to try and explain. Right now I'm making stodgy I'll eat it if I'm starving pancakes 😆. But it's closer, so much closer.
The next 6 months are going to be incredibly challenging as I try to reach that level. That's my new goal and I've dug my heals in - and you know what that means. Frustration, wins, losses, joy, tears but in the end I'll be posting how wonderful it is to get through it the same way I've been so pleased to get where I am now. But that level although it will be from the last I aim for will be a game changer for me.
To work then!!!
Its so so hard at the moment but it's a great thing. I feel like I'm making some good progress at the moment especially on guitar & piano. Doing the covers is helping a lot because they're forcing me to practice new skills on all the instruments and they're teaching me about song structure. They are so very difficult and this latest one is really taking time but I'm loving it to bits.
My workload is now epic but this is they key to finally reaching that first step or platform that I want to be on. As always a big part of what's been pushing me is the amazing support I'm getting and what's the greatest is for the first time I'm just being me. I'm enjoying this so much right now I can't even explain.
My goal for the next few months is to work through this whole list so I can start a new one. That's going to take some very hard work but once I'm on the other side of it I'll have the skills to write simple songs in various genres. From there it's about building better songs, improving or learning additional skills and trying to create better songs.
Never stops amazing me all of this 😊
I think it's fair to say I'm Woking especially hard even for me! Yesterday I needed to have a bit of light relief so I let myself just have fun with a quick song. Me being me I still pushed and this time it was about going upbeat and using the piano in a more rhythmic way.
Even though the drums are classic me there is a extra kick which was actually quite hard to get right. I did all up strums on rhythm guitar on the off beats which you can't hear specifically but they emphasise that fun bouncy feel.
The other video is an update of the piano song I'm working on with the new intro and a conceptual idea of the structure for the rest. I'm loving this song to bits but still a long way to go.
I'm working really hard on my new cover. Each instrument is reasonably easy except for one or two parts which is really challenging me. This is going to be so good 😊.
I'm working really hard on the Zakk Wylde solo. And I'm doing lots of general practice too. So busy busy busy!
Its been a while since I wrote lyrics, I've been so busy writing music but th other day I was inspired and this came out. I wrote another today for my daughters school project (lyrics didn't get marked so I wasn't helping her cheat!!).
It feels nice to be writing lyrics again but I still need a lot of work before they're any good.
In the meantime my job list is growing. I have a fun new cover Tom is helping with and I have another I want to work on with Zak. Zaks one will take a LOT longer but I want to try. I'm actually practicing my shredding too 😆🤘😂. Seriously I am and I'm actually enjoying it, something I never thought I'd say but it won't become my style of playing. It would be great to incorporate into my songs from time to time though.
Other than that on drums I'm trying to keep a rhythm going on the kick drum while I add in things like double crashes or a little rhythm in the snare. It's harder than it sounds but it's great practice. And everything else I've recently updated on.
So it's lesson day *dances excitedly*, I'll be up till god knows when doing god knows what but it's allllll good 😊.
For the first time I actually feel focused, like I'm moving forward and I'm enjoying it all so much at the moment. Having somewhere to share my passion and ideas without any pressure is so nice. I probably still apply more pressure to myself than I should but that's just me.
Lesson day with Zak was yesterday and it was awesome as always. We're into the blues and I have a lot of homework plus we're going to learn a Zakk Wylde song which is very cool.
I've found yet another song idea that I'm playing with on piano but the other one is taking priority because I love it. Zak said it was his favourite of my piano songs so far so that's really nice. I'm enjoying building it for certain!
So many exercises, projects and all sorts going that even with the hours I practice it's not enough time 😆.
The best thing right now is I've taken some steps forward and I do feel closer to that minimum level I aspire to. I wouldn't say it's within my grasp but it's ebbing closer. And that feeling is giving me focus and fresh determination. I suspect at some point I will nose dive again, it's pretty much inevitable but it's less often & less painful now mainly because I know there are people who believe in me.
I'm writing a new piano song and this one I want to really work hard on because I think it's beautiful, or at least it would be if I could play like Tom but I'll have to do my best with what I've got. It's another of my mixed key songs but you can see the demo in the video. I've actually added a few more chords than you'll see including a Bdim which I love to bits.
I'm still working on "It's Never Easy" - I've redone the guitar verses and I'm happier with how they are going but I'm still frustrated at my crappy playing. But as I'm always saying better is one step closer - always.
On bass I'm still learning "Little Green Bag" - such a cool song! I'm really pushing hard on getting left hand independence on piano which is going to take FOREVER and is incredibly frustrating. I'm trying to work on drum rhythms over songs and get my foot working without me thinking - that's also going to take FOREVER. I'm trying to funk up more on bass - FOREVER and I'm working very very hard on soloing and of course that funky playing style on guitar.
One thing that has really helped is playing over a basic drum beat and either strumming or pick a barre chord for a bar and then noodle for a bar thinking about the chord I'm playing. I try to focus on using the whole fretboard and to think about rhythms and about connecting the last line to the next one. In doing that I'm working on my barres, my timing, my rhythm, soloing over chords, soloing within a particular scale, scale shapes and I'm sure many other things. What I love about exercises like this is that if you think about what you're doing it's never boring because you're improving so many areas as long as you focus on them. That's cool!
So many cool things about music! I'll try posting regularly again but it's tough with so much effort going into my Instagram posts and my practice is now insane. I do think I've had a few steps forward recently though so that makes me feel good. STILL not being able to play even simple versions of blues, rock or funk songs frustrates the hell out of me though. Only one solution - work..! I need to get my head down and figure out out.
I still have a long way to go but for a first weeks progress I'm happy and I love this new song. I'm still very confined to my "position" when I play but again it's improving and I'm still following my ear with regards to cooky chord progressions but that makes it fun.
I was really stuck how to add more in terms of bass, guitar or extra drums. Then I picked up my guitar and this recording was something like the second or third take, it just happened and I love it. The guitar brings out the piano and the other way too and the simple drums then really sound cool. At least I think so.
The ideas are coming faster and most are easier to put together but I still find it hard when one is done and I'm staring at the chasm that is the lull between one idea and the next.
I still want to do a couple of songs that move away a little from my melodic playing but that will come in time. I've got the ideas and the 'formula' will eventually make its way into my brain.
It's a new week and I'm excited to see where this one leads.
I've done my second cover song and this one has special meaning. When I met my hubby music was a big part of what made us tick and the band we both loved most was Depeche Mode. We've seen them at least 10 times, we own every album, box set you name it!
So to do a cover of Personal Jesus was a labour of love - and it was a labour, it was very hard. More than 20hrs work in total went into it but I'm so so happy with the results.
Then comes the crash! But luckily a few new ideas have already popped into my head and hands. During my lesson with Tom he said I had to start work on my left hand on piano and get it working well. It's hard and it's going to take me ages but it has to be done and I'll be grateful when it is. While practicing today a new quick song idea came out so I'm going to try and get that put together for tomorrow. It's nice, a bit jazzy but I think it will be good.
I'm also going to try and do Little Green Bag. You may remember (if you've been reading that long!) way back when I started this blog that it was the song that made me pick up the bass. I love bass so much now even I'm surprised that at one time it held zero appeal to me! This was the song that made me try and I'm now going to try and learn it to speed and clean. I'm getting there, there's a couple of tricky bits but I'm getting it. I'm not sure if it'll be a cover of just bass. Cover songs are huge effort and gain me no more reward than any other post. I will still do them after all the point of Instagram for me is to push myself and these do but I need to pick carefully.
Life is caaaaaaarrrrraaaaazzzzeeee! I've got so much on I don't know which way to turn but it's a good problem to have. So im learning the Blues so I have my homework from Zak.
I've got my fingerpicking to work on using bass notes with one finger and using the others to solo. I'm also trying to get confident strumming the going for a noodle somewhere on the fretboard then coming back for the next chord to start strumming again. Boy is that tricky.
I'm still working on the parts for my song with that awesome solo.
I've got a rock Instagram song I've begun & a new cover song that is going to do much fun once I get it together. I've still got a bundle of outstanding songs I need to finish and they are growing all the time.
I've got several bits of homework Toms given me I'm still working on too.
I remember the days when all I had to worry about was a few bars from a song! But all this stems from my progress so it's a great problem to have.
I did one of my noodles, this time with s very chilled backing track. Enjoy 😊
It was lesson day today *yahoo* and we started learning the Blues. As you know Blues & Funk are the two genres I most want to play closely followed by Rock & Folk(ish).
It's simple - (well it's not but you get the gist) - stuff to start but I still need to put that metronome on and play play play. I'm excited though because this will open up another set of ideas I can tap into. And you know me, give me one idea and I'll explore it a hundred ways.
He also gave me another tip for writing rock songs. I really want to put together a rock song or two to my Instagram account to mix up the melodic stuff. It involves some of the stuff I'm already working on which is cool because I can use it in multiple areas of my writing. I put together another song today too, this one was about the guitar & piano playing off of each other and finding a kind of harmony. I didn't nail the brief but it's much better than any previous attempt so again it's a step forward.
I'm getting so excited at the areas that are beginning to open up to me. The future is full of possibility and wonder and I can't wait.
ive done covers but only on one instrument but this time I did one for all of them. What I'm super proud of is that I learnt the guitar (relearnt I actually learnt it a year ago but never got it up to speed) in an hour. I also had to figure out the drums, bass and piano riff myself as there were no tabs for them. So that is two giant steps in one day.
It's simple (except the guitar which is not!) but none the less it sounds like their song and that's so so good for me.
The other thing I wanted to talk about is accountability. With the support I'm getting on Instagram I feel the push to make sure I get better, think more creatively and make sure my content is quality. That's a healthy thing because I think anyone posting for others on social media should care about their audience. Not about what will get them to watch but whether it holds genuine value.
That's an incredible motivator and I'm really feeling it. I'm honoured to be in this position so I'll take pride in doing what I can. We're not talking hundreds just a few but even one is enough because that person much like you guys is taking time out of their day to pay attention to me.
Not to mention the encouragement and support I've got for what I'm doing. All in all I'm humbled & honoured and incredibly touched. Nobody outside my closest has ever cared like that for me before.
I actually had my first instance of writing a song today that was very similar to one I've already done. It was remarkably better and yes it was different but it was too close for what I wanted so I changed it up. Technically I wrote two songs in one day haha but I'll count it as one. The piano is impro and what I tried to do was mix up the rhythm a bit more than usual, to phrase I guess a bit more and most of it I quite like. I can certainly feel what I was going for even if it's not all the way there.
The drums was about nailing the timing, getting nice clean kicks and hitting the rim on the snare and then there is that triplet on the snare at the end of every forth bar. That actually took a bit of practice to get really nice and clean and even so I'm proud of that. The bass is only single notes following the bass notes of the piano but I tried to add some flavour by "singing" along rather than repeating the same thing over. The slides played an important part in that but I wanted to use rhythm too. It was quick, timing is a bit better than normal but still wanting.
So on to guitar. During my lesson with Zak he gave me some tips on fingerstyle playing for my writing and I had a ding moment. Lots of the ground I've been covering with Tom suddenly connected. So I'm practicing playing bass notes then soloing over the other notes then bass note etc. I'm also thinking about runs and about double stops and about chords I can play, about finger picking options so I can harmonise as well as playing the single notes. About creating a bass line. So far it's difficult, all the aspects I need to practice loads before I get anywhere near to writing something but I'm very pleased that finally I know what I need to do. Well at least what I need to do to have a foundation to work from.
As a side note I'm really feeling timing so much better. I can now sit at the piano noodle out an idea and within a few minutes I've figured out the time signature & tempo and can record. I'm also finding my fingers working much stronger in piano to created melodies, rhythms etc. Still so so soooooooooooo far to go yet but a step is a step :) My guitar timing is improving too, I find it so hard still but I'll get there.
It took more than 20 hours of playing and over 1200 individual attempts but I have the guitar part done! Well mostly I still need to work on my technique in particular changinging between notes much faster and smoother but I'm thrilled.
It's been painfully difficult but I've learnt so much from it, my technique and playing skill has improved. My ear is a bit better, using all the fretboard to solo is a 'bit' easier, my writing, timing, dynamics and rhythm have all improved a little. And s little for me is a big thing. That's all you can do when you're learning music is do your thing and practice and accept that time will do its thing.
There is still a mountain to climb with this song and at then I'll have an 'ok' song. The difference being I'll know it's filled with a tonne more skill across the board and that is what matters.
What's left to do?
I have to (I don't HAVE to I want to) learn my teachers solo, that's going to push me on again and even if he records the final version because my skill level isn't good enough it will still me a very good exercise for me. I learn most by doing and by analysing what I'm playing while I'm doing it I will understand much better than looking at a tabbed sheet.
I have to write the piano into guitar into piano into guitar into piano into ... well the bit I just wrote. To pull the whole thing together.
I need to figure out the chorus, most of the drums are coming out but it still needs something instead.
It needs a pad underneath to knit everything together - "oh Tom...!".
It needs a second part to play off of the solo where the two guitars come together and the piano needs to be more interactive too but subtle subtle subtle!
Other than that it's done 😆.
I'm also working on a new piano song which I'm excited about. Lots and lots and lots of work ahead on that one.
So back to work I go! Hope you enjoy my playing.
Learning Time Log
How long I've been learning as at at the end of Feb 2021.
What's This About?
One fateful day I decided to get guitar lessons. 6 years later I'm learning four instruments and trying to become a musician and songwriter. I set a five year goal (Aug 2021) to create a very special song for my 25th wedding anniversary and this is a record of my crazy journey, weird thoughts, strange doodles and unapologetic music obsession! Enjoy!