The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
So much going on this week my workload is going nuts.
I'm working on all 6 songs, I have one laid down to metronome (Weather The Storm) and that ones good to go. I have one that I've laid down to time (Old Road Home - it's that bluesy sounding guitar song I put on Instagram a couple of weeks back) but I'm awaiting instruction on whether the structure is ok and then I need to practice the hell out of it to get it as nice as possible because my guitar playing SUCKS.
I have a third that I've worked an intro and melody for (Take It Or Leave It) but again I'm awaiting feedback on it. I also have an idea that I've sent across but I need to see whether Tom likes it and if he does then I've got a mammoth job with both Tom & Zak but it could be very cool and will push my soloing on both electric and acoustic. I'll probably do it as a side project if Tom hates the idea but in simple terms it's a mix of Tom style funky soloing on acoustic & Zak cool style on electric, one low and bassy the other more David Gilmour esk all about expression - where they play off each other and it builds up and up AND UP before falling back into that cool piano then into "something new" as yet to be thought of haha!!
Then there are the other two which are nowhere near record ready. Then there is Zak's solo I've started work on but I need to push hard on that this week especially as I want to work on this electric thing and the skills he's getting me to work on are crucial. There is the drum song which is making progress now - I can actually use both feet (sometimes haha!) but again I really want that down by next week.
A crazy amount of work.
I also figured out the crash/perspective thing finally and it was really simple in the end. In a nutshell, we already know why I crash, the problem is why it's so painful and I think the problem is I look at these guys and they are up in the stars, the stars I'm aiming for but the problem is I really don't think my ladder goes that high. That probably seems like a contradiction to the post the other day regarding finding some perspective but if you think about it, I achieve a big new step and feel hope (hence the post) then we move onto the next thing, I see how far I am from them still and BAM - faceplant!!! What happens at that point is while I don't expect to be in their league what I'm "feeling" is that we're not even in the same universe, not that I won't get there, that it's not possible and my heart breaks. Then we move on, I feel yay I'm closer until I look again and bam...!
It's all in my head and it's because I can't see the REAL problem ..... I can't see the path that leads there - I need them to show me the path and show me that I'm really on it, the steps I'm going to be taking to get there. If I can see what I need to do, if they can convince me I can do it then when I'm struggling I have my..... dun dun dunnnnnn...... perspective - the balance I've been looking for to counter the struggle or frustration. Not compliments just cold hard facts about what I'm doing, what I need to do and the actual path I'll be taking to get there so I understand - so I can visualise it and pull on it at the difficult times. Right now I feel like I'm winging it and sooner or later they'll figure it out, I know they don't see it that way but I do!
Simples! Yeah ok maybe not simple but I'm pretty certain this is the answer that won't stop me headbanging (that is quite necessary I'm afraid) but it will give me something to hold on to stop me drowning while I do my headbanging haha!!
Burning the midnight oil as usual on a Wednesday but it's the one time I don't mind not being able to sleep. Brilliant and very very funny lesson today - I don't know whether my attempt to use both feet at the same time and failing oh so so badly on the drums or Tom's crazy faces was funniest but it was a classic! We even managed to side track to shaved heads and tattoos!
Anyway between the two teachers this week I have really got to pull my finger out, which is a good thing it will keep my brain focused. For Zak I have a guitar solo to learn perfectly to a metronome which will be no mean feat.
For Tom I have a drum song to learn, not a hard one but it's all about doing it right. I have some guitar song ideas to work on to free up my fingers and hopefully my mind. And now I REALLY have to get stuck into those songs I'm working on because I need to get them laid down to a metronome but he really helped me make some progress in my head on a couple of them. Nowhere near enough but that's because there's a lot to cover, so this week I need to focus on the next steps we've laid out and then next week we'll tidy up then we're planning a full days "boot camp". I'm really looking forward to that, it's going to be a little nuts and a LOT of fun.
I love the ideas he's coming up with for Weather The Storm, that's going to be a fun song to put together but there's a big journey ahead there!
This weeks theme then - Timing, that old chestnut has returned to haunt me but from a different point of view. It's all about getting these songs recorded as clean as possible and to a metronome. It will be good for me - painful, often frustrating but good.
These are so much fun to make, no pressure to make a real song just sit down and improvise away till it's done. I think the timing is a bit better on this one, noodling maybe not so much :)
It's a bit late this week but being as I have been knocking out songs like crazy I'm sure you'll forgive me. Actually I didn't really mean to make one I was just laying down drums and piano because I felt like drowning my sorrows in a good old fashioned full on noodle session and thought I might as well lay down my own backing track. Just a simple thing - drum beat and piano but I got inspired by the drum rhythm while I was sat at the piano and of course then I had to add in a little bit of bass, ah but then it needed a little guitar rhythm and finally that all important noodle but by then it was just too tempting not to make it a sh*t it out because the whole thing had taken me less than 2 hours!
So for your personal enjoyment here is me noodling away to a fun backing track!
I'll upload Zaks solo later or tomorrow - in the meantime it's lesson day again *cheesy grin*. I have no idea where we're going to start today but I'd guess drums as none of these songs are ready to move on with although I do need some help with a couple to get them to the next stage.
This is the full draft of the song in it's bare bones state with the bridge and outro.
A few things that are under debate at the moment.
1) Verse 2 is currently 8 bars I'm probably going to make it 12. Should verse 1 be 12 or 16 bars? Humm!!
2) The intro is still under debate as to whether to add another bar or two to build up speed.
3) The outro definitely needs work at the moment it's just me noodling but it won't change much.
4) The transitions between sections need working on and the melody variations as the verse progresses need lots of work too.
5) There are other possibilities within the bridge, structurally I love it but the actual melody and rhythmic side has other ways it might work, I'll be experimenting to see what really sticks.
But other than that at least you have the idea now of where this is going :) I don't know if anyone else likes it so there is always that roof top to fall off of but I do. Long term I have no idea where this is going yet or what other instruments or parts I'll be adding in, when, where or how so an adventure ahead for sure. I think it could be really good though.
Lesson day with Zak was moved to today so I have that to look forward to and a few more hours practice on the solo to compensate for nerves haha! And generally speaking I now have 6 songs I'm working on and I'm really determined to see all of these finished so I'll need to really concentrate and make sure each one moves forward. They are certainly an eclectic bunch that's for sure but that's a good thing right?
I`m conscious that I need to get more dedicated practice time in as well as I haven`t been doing as much of that lately. I am doing some of course but I need to be a little more disciplined so that my writing will eventually get better technically too. I think all in all I took a baby step forward with this project in terms of song structure but until I get feedback I won`t really know for sure or how much of a step it was.
Back to work then, I really do have a lot to do on those songs and they`re all important to me now. :)
I woke up with one hell of a crick in my neck - OUCH - hope it doesn't affect todays practice but certainly no drumming for a bit!
Update on the song, I've popped the file of me playing the song so far (with shortened verses) above. I'm still learning it so there are a few boo boo's in there but I'm sure you'll forgive them as always and hopefully enjoy. The intro did go up an octave but I'm not 100% sure it's going to stay as is, yes up that end but I think I might add another four bars before it to build the speed as it just kind of 'leaps' into the song full speed at the moment.
I was having a debate about where to go for the bridge, I thought I wanted to go with rhythm instead of a solo or another melody. What I couldn't make my mind up about was should I use the verse chords, the chorus chords or new ones. In the end my hands made up my mind for me and although I've added a bit of melody which kind of mimics the verse I've gone for a new set of chords and a different feel but kept it upbeat. That's not in this particular recording because I've only just made it up but you can hear it on todays Instagram post if you're so inclined to check it out :).
Today is lesson day with Zak yay! I'm really happy with the progress I've made on his solo, string noise is down a lot although a long way to go which is why you haven't heard it yet. I'm hitting the bends perfectly 80% of the time which is great progress and varying them better - so sometimes they're fast straight up to the note, sometimes slower, sometimes I'm bending back down sometimes they stop. I love bends - I want to practice bends a lot because they are incredible tools to work with on the guitar, so much sound variation, so much expression - love it!
I plan to keep working on the piano song and see if I can't get that laid down ready to add more. No idea really what or how on this one - somehow I just can't see drums over the top! At some point I need to break away from my theatrical side on piano and start right pop tunes - not because that's how I want to play but it's how I'll build more songs that I can push on the other instruments over.
Hope it's a good week :)
I felt a big piano vibe yesterday so I sat down and started playing around and my fingers and ears took me some place new. The result is this work in progress song, this is the file from Staff Pad not my playing as I have to learn it first but I think it's a good start. So far there's an intro, verse, chorus and then repeat verse chorus and I need to work on the bridge/solo. I'm thinking the bridge will be more rhythmic because there's already a lot of pretty playing going on. I'm toying with the idea of moving the intro up an octave too.
In my quest to try and get my head around writing and song structure I took a different approach. I allowed myself to noodle out the first four chords, that then became the intro. I then took an idea that I liked and made that the first melody and played that over the top of each chord but slightly varied to fit the chord. After the second four bars I changed up the last couple of bars and after the third set I changed up the second bar too to lead into the chorus which I again worked out a melody for and repeated it over the changes.
A few things I like, I've been a bit more adventurous with the chords - yes Bm is in there but only because it creates that wonderful relationship with Bb Major in the chorus when one leads into the other. I like the repetition it does feel like there is more room to add other instruments and I can certainly feel bits that could be picked out and padded out with another instrument.
I need to learn to play it because although I can play most of it now I wrote in staffpad so it's not in my muscle memory yet. As I'm learning it's already changing up a bit and I think the intro might go an octave up but as it stands I Hope you enjoy this one. I haven't forgotten the underdogs post just been busy with this new song - told you I might get distracted!!
Still feeling rough but powering through it hence why my productivity has gone nuts again!
In my head I have this notion - a vague idea of a level I want to get to that I feel I could build off of and until then all my work is building up to it. More than likely once I get there I'll see a new level but I think in all fairness while that may be true it will be fundamentally different.
Because this level I'm trying to get to is where I have the skills I need to build songs at a basic level, regularly and easily. Once that is in place every idea can be quickly thrown down and then it's a case of improving, learning, developing and building on skills to make them better and stronger. As I learn the songs I lay down will get better and then we'll build off of that.
But until I get to that stage I'm stuck in frustration land. Up until now I felt so very far away from that goal but I think with the steps I've taken recently and the improvements I've seen now it's within my grasp. However... isn't there always an annoying however with these things!
However, there are three things I need to do, three walls I need to get past in order to achieve this. The first is to take my ideas and be able to pull out the melodies for verse and chorus and structure the song properly. The second is to be able to solo properly so that I can lay down intelligent solos in the songs instead of random poor noodling and the third is to be able to construct songs on the guitar. The third requires the first two and has it`s own issues in that I need to know my chord shapes, arpeggios and I need to improve on rhythms and speed.
All of these have been things I`ve been working on for the last few months and to be fair I`m happy that I`ve seen progress in all three which is why we`re here now. But if I can finally get past this - IF I can get to that level it`s a game changer. The first of many I hope but it will be the very first step to being the musician I want to be.
Que immense frustration especially as I feel that by now I should actually already be there. The last step is the hardest for me because I can`t get my head around it but it should have been the easiest. We`ve visited this subject before so I won`t harp on but song structure and melody was one of my first lessons with Tom and Zak has tried to cover it with me too but my brain is not computing. I`ve no choice but to get through this so it`s head banging time again and this time it`s going to HURT. And I`m taking my perceived failure to get past this very personally.
On the positive side though ideas are flowing thick and fast and I am starting to build them up quicker and quicker. I`ve also seen a little progress on the structure side although it still takes wayyyyy too long to get from the endless noodle stage to begin to piece it together.
Tomorrow I`ll do the underdogs post so you can enjoy some cool new music! Today I`m working on the electric solo and probably pounding away at that wall - depends if I get distracted by another idea.
The good news? I'm seeing real potential in that new guitar song.
The bad news? I'm seeing too much potential in that guitar song or to be precise too many potentials & I don't know how to write them.
It's like one song 50 ways and I'm not sure which to take! Now one thing that's a recurring theme is my ability to over complicate EVERYTHING and I'm feeling that vibe in this song. I'm treating it like a single "intro or verse" to build upon but there is a whole song in that pile of noodling already. I could spend a whole day explaining all the different ways I'm thinking of taking this but I'd melt your brain and bore you to tears at the same time so we'll leave it there and I'll update you when I'm closer to a decision.
I need to get back to working on the electric solo, today is Friday and Monday is going to come around quick and you know how I hate to let Zak down. I'm having good fun with it and am really looking forward to 'hopefully' showing this one to you. So there's plenty of inspiration.
This weekend then is going to be all about soloing, for my song and for Zak, on both electric and acoustic. Good think I like soloing huh!
I thought I'd also compile another list of "underdogs" for you to listen to from a range of sources as it's been a while since I indulged! Some are really small, some a little more established but all of them should be fun to check out. You know me - pay it back, pay it forward - I like to do what I can to help keep music fresh and fun. Look forward to sharing that one with you.
I woke up today in a massive 'crash' state. They're funny things because on the one hand yes it's horrid to go through, the tunnel vision kicks in and I struggle so badly until I've solved the current problem.
On the other it means two things 1) I've recently made big progress because I'm focused on the next goal & 2) When I get through - eventually - my playing will be well into the next jump. It's how I move on, it's not how I'd choose to move on but this is how I work so we'll just have to get used to it and in the meantime I'll do my best to keep my chin up and my posts fun 😊.
Another one fell out of my rather bizarre head! Quick post so you know where I'm at.
As yet untitled and like most of my others in beginner stage but here is the latest melancholy noodle that's emerged from my noggin . On the good side it's much more creative, definitely a fuller sound than my usual guitar noodles, I love those dissonant tones in there and it's got a really nice feel. On the bad, I'm writing way outside of my ability so it's as rough as a badgers arse ;)
Since this vid I've been working hard and it has come a lot further already. The very first note into the chord strum is much faster leaving more space for the first line which feels much better. The slide down to the G now goes straight into the next section which makes it feel much more connected and smoother and I really like it. That whole bar is being worked on still to make it feel more rhythmic like the first two, that's probably where I'm struggling most but it's getting there. Then the single fast notes over the Am chord now have a really cool rhythm based off the sus4 which is really nice especially when it slides into the G chord where it then sort of repeats. It's much nicer. At the moment I'm toying with the idea of using this as an intro and then going into strumming and building the song up off the melodies in there. But that's at pure idea stage. It does feel nice though when I start on the Am and Em chords so we shall see!
That's all folks!!
Remember take all this with a big pinch of salt because I'm pushing myself very very hard on these guitar songs at the moment. Not only have I never written stuff close to this before (as you know if you've been watching and listening over the last few months!) but I've never even played stuff like this before. I'm experimenting and learning as I write which is not easy so the results are still very shaky. You have to use your imagination a lot and pull out the song I'm 'trying' to write.
Come on you knew I'd be up writing! This week was a particularly big lesson so I was always going to end up burning the candle at both ends but that's alright.
Before I start something to make you smile! We started working on my most recent song idea and he asked me quite obviously what the chords where and I drew a total blank. I'm so hopeless! Luckily I had them written down over the transcription of the guitar solo!!! What did occur to me that should of before is..
a) I had to have Bm in there - don't I usually! I really need to pull away from this.
b) I had to throw in an 'awkward' chord. Something to create tension, it's the F#m (inverted with an A octave) over C# octave. I didn't actually choose that chord of course but its where my ear led me.
First the big news - how did Elton go??!! Actually ok, I stuffed up a couple of times but as I'd worked so hard on getting the timing and dynamics better in the last 24 hours it was a good trade off. There were a couple of sections that I played the best I think I have, not many but a couple and the rest was ok. Not bad considering I felt physically sick and was sweating like an arse!! Tom said I should be proud of it so on this occasion I will be. I played better than the vid I put up the other day put it that way.
Today we went to the recent song I wrote - Take It Or Leave It, we were supposed to start in on drums but I felt the song took priority and he was happy to go along. I played it for him, he listened!! Tom never gives much away, good or bad which can be a little frustrating I'll be honest but I think for the most part he liked it. Now we have 40% the same taste and 60% not but I think that's just because about 40% of that I haven't converted him to - or to be more precise awakened him to!! So I think I can guess what wasn't to his taste.
We worked out the structure for the song and then he preceded to do what would take me weeks (but that's why he's the teacher!) and laid down drums, piano and bass leaving guitar for me as that's where the main melody is. What I have to do is take my noodles and tease out the melodies. Now that's where I come a cropper (undone if you don't speak my lingo!) because I "sing" with the guitar and I find it very hard not to. I figure the best way to do this is to do my singing thing and then pull out melodies, do a few possibilities and then he can pick what works best. The chorus electric solos are pretty much free though so I can have my fun there!
Trying to look on the positives his version sounded a hell of a lot like mine - only a load better!! But seriously although yes he was following my ideas my song concept it still sounded a lot like what I did. So yeah that's cool, BUT.... then he picked up the bass and played the s*** out of it and that's where we parted similarities! haha! But you can't have it all.
So this week is stacking up to be another HUGE one, I have the guitar thing we didn't have time for that I'm really struggling to move on and the bass song he said had some potential but we had to shelve that too (I actually really like that, there is a little bit of fun in there!). I have the electric solo I'm working on and a million other things. Good thing I'm an obsessed, stubborn, hard working thing right!
Obviously it's not THAT formal but I'm still feeling the pressure. It's lesson day and today's the day I play Don't Let The Sun ..... for Tom. I'm actually making fast progress on it at the moment, I can play along with the song a large portion of the way through which is a huge huge achievement. When I started I will put my hands up and say I had no idea how hard this would be, a challenge yes but ...!!
What else is going on then? Well I'm working on a new guitar piece, I'd say song but it's not really a song, more like a challenge to write something a bit stronger based around more unusual chord shapes to push me on. It's hurting like a bugger though so I have to do it in small bursts till my hands get used to the stretches. Doing it in small bursts is really helping though and yesterday I couldn't do the pull off hardly at all now I have at least some control and it's sounding nice. Trouble is I can't really hold it long enough to get real practice in so this one is going to take some time but I like where it's going so I'll at least get a 1 min vid out of it.
Zak's solo is going well, I'm learning the line and trying to get on top of the timing before I worry about the excess string noise. I'm really enjoying that one I can tell you, looking forward to getting it together. Having something like this blog & Instagram is a very good motivator because it forces me to always push forwards. I can't afford to take a few days off or just noodle pointlessly I have to keep thinking fresh, new, further, better. It's difficult especially at the moment I can't just dip into my skills and work on a new idea, I have to learn the skills first.
Other than that I'm throwing down any idea I have into Studio One and some will go further but most wont. Who knows where that next song lies though :)
I'm going to get myself ready for lesson day, it's a biggie and I need this to go right but I'll of course update you tomorrow. I should imagine another sleepless night but who knows.
Yesterdays lesson was very cool - when are they ever not haha! Zak wrote a very impressive little solo for me to learn on the spot - yes I'm in awe and very jealous! We went over it and he wrote it down and recorded it so now all I have to do is learn it. I have to say it's a good feeling to be starting to learn stuff like this, it's what I always dreamed of. I'm not there yet by a long way but I'm at the fringe now and that gives me hope and spurs me on. I know there will be many stressful days ahead but just knowing that if I stick with it this could be my future is such an inspiration.
See how can you not revere people who bring this much passion and joy into your life whether they meant to or not, whether they fuelled the fire or just ignited it doesn't matter. If you'd have told me two years ago a 23 and 26 year old would walk into my life and change it forever, that we would become entwined on this amazing journey I wouldn't have believed you and I would have been a little terrified of the idea. I hope that meeting me and being a part of this has brought something special into their lives too.
I intend to work my butt off on this solo and get it up on Instagram so watch this space. If I do it will be the first you've seen me play that's really good - that's because I didn't write it haha! Still me playing it will be very cool. But we're doing this so I can learn how to really solo well. Not just noodle away with a few bends thrown in but really think about what I'm playing and then to play NOT thinking and I'm looking forward to it. It's a case of bringing the things we've been doing recently together. Using timing, phrasing, rhythmic playing, note choice, tension and repetition amongst many other things.
Can you see why my mind first exploded when I started learning to 'solo'. I knew about much of this but had no idea how to start with even one of them let alone combine them and in my head that's just too much. It's also why starting, ebbing even slowly towards this goal is so very important to me. This is where I get my voice, where my stories start happening, where people start to listen and enjoy my crazy little tales hidden in amongst some 'hopefully' fun music. I hope.
If you've only been following a while go back to the beginning of this blog and browse a few posts and you'll see how far I've come in just 4 months. How relentless I am despite my regular breakdowns!!!! How much I love this and want this. Now imagine if I can focus, if I can push long enough, if my teachers can keep pulling out the best in me what I might - I won't say can or will - but might do one day. I'll never be amazing, never achieve fame, never rack up hundreds of thousands of views, never set the world on fire! This is not about being the best it`s about being me. Because maybe, just maybe, one day I will leave behind a collection of fun and hopefully innovative music for people to enjoy who find it. Hopefully there will be a few WOW solos in there, hopefully some with OMG that's a catch melody, a few that touch your soul or make you feel happy & maybe even a few really 'good' songs. Who knows ... but I might,.... I might!
It's a funny place to be because I'm so SO frustrated at what I can't do, overwhelmed by the incredibly hard journey ahead of me and terrified of all the things I need to learn and overcome. It's hard for me to look ahead and see 'me' playing and writing like I want, like I just described but then I look at how far I've come, I do the maths and my logical mathematical pattern seeking odd brain tells me that it 'might' just be possible. In some ways that's actually terrifying because I now know that there is a tiny chance of reaching my dream but I also know what I'm going to have to put myself through to get there & of course that after all that I may fail - again.
But...! It's not as gloomy as I make it sound because while yes, this hurts a LOT sometimes, it's definitely overwhelming, confusing, frustrating and sometimes very very lonely - yet every day it brings such incredible joy into my life, remember my post on being 'in love'. It's like that, every day I feel that overwhelming excitement, that need to play and the sheer pleasure when I do. The more I can play the more that feeling grows, I don`t know if every musician feels this way but I don`t believe I will ever stop and earning that title for myself is only going to make me love it more.
Yep definitely a good reason then to revere two very special people - even if they weren't so disgracefully talented!
It's been a long time since I updated on this but I've been plugging away, bar by bar and OMG has it been hard. It's a case of learning the notes, learning to add them on to what I can already play then learning the timing of the notes which I always get wrong at first. Then learning the dynamics then going on. Then when I get to a point I listen to the timing on a piano only transcription I put into Staffpad and figuring out where my timing is still off. Even then it's so hard.
I'm very proud of this for that reason, when I first played it through much of it I didn't recognise but now I'm happy that most - not all - but most of it sounds pretty good. I think a few more months to learn the rest and probably a few more to really get it down and this will be one of my go to songs to play. And that's actually pretty cool!
Here you go the full vid of me playing up to where I can so far which is the end of the first chorus.
Sorry about my late post today, a mixture of getting my head down recording, practising Elton John song like crazy and when I did try to post my broadband said "nope". But here it is anyway :)
So another of my great quick 1 minute songs! I don't think it's too bad all things considered, there are a couple of catchy bits in there. The bass is the worst but ironically while figuring out a bass line for this song I came up with one I'd like to look at further with Tom as it's a bit of fun. For now I'll park it and when he wants ideas to work on each week at least I'll have something.
I'm loving the new drum kit although it's taking a bit of getting used to and I really need it set up right because at the moment it's soooo not! But just fiddling around on it has been so much fun, I've been having lots of fun noodling around with things like rim shots and exploring all the new sounds I can make.
Getting back to this weeks quick song though I think my hubby is right I need to explore other sounds a bit more or to be more accurate I need to try to break free of my pretty melodic song structure and beef it up. I think that's mostly a case of literally beefing it up, building the sound so it sounds more epic. But I need end my little lines a bit sharper too I tend to resolve everything, occasionally I don't and even I prefer that when listening! I'm using what limited skills I have though so it's very hard not to fall into the same trap each time.
One thing I'm proud of is that I am pushing a little bit more on the actual songs. I'm layering up different melodies a bit more, I'm testing out different drum beats and speeds and I'm trying for different genres a little. They all tend to come back to the centre of my melodic nature but I can't have it all! I'll get there eventually I guess ... step .. by .. step!
Here you go my new drum kit and I've been having lots of fun on it I can tell you!
Things are going to get exciting, complicated and not just a tiny bit terrifying from here on out as Tom said once I got the kit we were going to push forward in drums and bass. Being pretty much self taught removed any sense of guilt and obligation, if it was rubbish didn't matter because it's all self taught but now.... now I'll be accountable. I'll also be learning though and pushing on in my songwriting and that's what I want. So all in all I'm both excited and relieved but I am terrified too 😆.
Wednesday is going to be F U N!!! I've got to play the Elton John song to Tom which I'm so nervous about. We've got my new song to work on which I'm very excited about and we've got the new drum kit to play with. I should imagine it might be a while to get into the new instruments but at least it's now in my imminent future!
However before Wednesday comes Monday (yeah I know duh right!) and that's guitar lesson with Zak yay! I love both lessons they are so different from each other, one is more adventurous and the other gives me more confidence. They're both so much fun though and I'm loving guitar so much at the moment especially now we've added electric too. My heart is in acoustic but I'm starting to find my voice and uncover the potential in the electric and that's so exciting. I'm so glad Zak pushed there and look forward to learning how to play the way I dream of (or as close to it!).
But for now back to learning. I've got lots of practice to be getting on with and that first solo needs work on the song as does the intro, and the verse 'complimentary' instrument which I'm still unsure about.
Have a great weekend and I'll 'see' you for tomorrow's post. It won't be as exciting as the last couple of days though 😆.
Yay it's at full demo stage. I still have a lot to do and if I want it sounding really good the whole thing needs to be re-recorded but at this stage of my learning it's a question of whether it's worth the time and effort when I already have a shed load of work.
I will be redoing the intro though - just a bit to break it from the first verse. I will also be looking at beefing up the verses with a second instrument but I'm not sure what or how yet. I think that will be one for me to explore with the magical Tom next week.
The sax part needs seriously redoing but it's just an idea and I'm waiting on my guitar guru Zak to get back to me about the second solo because that wasn't a noodle, it's the first time I've actually written a solo for electric and I like it - but does he!!
I hope you like the song - number 7, glad I'm not trying to make an album it would take a while haha! :) I do love it though and considering I'm pretty much self taught on drums so far, that I've only been playing any instrument for a sniff over 2 years and that I only started writing 6 months ago - I think I should be proud of myself. As you know I'm not my biggest fan, I rarely give myself credit so I'll take this one!
So here we are 6 months down. Still another 4 1/2 year to really learn how to play and write and I can't wait. With the incredible support of my two teachers even I'm starting to believe I might actually write music one day. Puts one hell of a smile on my face I tell you!
This is a taste of the new song I'm working on (alongside the 4 other ones 😆). Yesterday I had an idea pop out of my head, just a few seconds on the piano. That turned into a noodle and that turned into a song. Still a long way to go but I am absolutely love love love loving this one.
Here is the electric part being worked on. I need to finish it and then re-record everything but wow I'm so happy!
Yesterday Tom helped me work out the song from Instagram and that's really coming on nicely now so I have so much to do.
Great great great life this - oh and I'm getting a new 'toy'! I'll let you know what it is when it arrives but it's going to make a huge difference to me.
I neeeeeed sleep, I don't need a lot, I'm not greedy but I need SOME. That however is not going to stop me I will just have to practice in a dazed state looking like the walking dead. Today is ... can you guess, I'm sure you know by now?? Yep lesson day which means no sleep again tonight but as always I don't care.
I want to talk about ideas. I get frustrated a lot, have you figured that out by now! It's not surprising, what probably is a bit surprising is that despite me hitting a wall every five seconds and getting incredibly stressed I keep on pushing forward harder and harder. That's me, perfectly nuts in every regard and solidly predictable until I'm not then I'll throw a REAL curve ball - keeps it fresh!
So ideas, the thing that probably causes me the most stress is having a head full of things I want to do that my hands and feet won't oblige with. I get frustrated that I can hear things I want to play in my head, I hear other people play things I want to play, I have ideas I can't work out and it's infuriating. And I know that it's just a matter of time and hard work and it will come, that rewards need to be earned but I want it NOW!
But in truth the thing is I do have ideas, a million a minute (not literally but I do have a lot), many are variations on others, some are not that good but they come thick and fast. Sometimes just hearing a chord progression or a couple of notes will send my brain off thinking of the possibilities, then I'll accidentally introduce a different note or chord and there is a whole bunch of new directions I could go. That's probably my number one love and why I want to write so badly, I want to tell my 'stories' as I call them although I'm not sure anyone else knows what I'm on about!
Playing other peoples music is wonderful, it's a gift and a joy and an honour but writing music, telling your tales to people, sharing your emotions that's something else. That's special. I didn't mean to end up on this path at all and while I am so grateful and believe everyone would benefit from this I'm also surrounded by several other family members learning instruments and I understand that this just doesn't appeal to everyone. Some people just want to chill and relax and play something familiar. That's cool too! It's not as cool but it's still cool.
It's not hard to have ideas, at least I don't think it is. It's often the case when you can do something you assume everyone else can. Technically I find the guitar a nightmare to master and I don't think most people appreciate that when they see me play. But ideas don't need to come in epiphany moments although they can. Ideas can be teased, nurtured and pulled out from random noodles. What you need to do is recognise the bits that are connecting and then build on that, trust your head to lead you through the melody. Let your fingers do the work and use your ear then take it slow and the idea will form. In this regard I would absolutely recommend listing to as much music as you can, I think it's vital for a musician because it's where ideas come from. The more you listen to, genres not just bands, the more ideas you can have, the more you can borrow, the more you can mix things, the less predicable you will be, the more fun you'll have and the list goes on. If you want to play then fill your head with endless possibilities you can tap in to. Then learn what they're doing so you know the 'science' behind the sound and when you suddenly find yourself in recognisable territory while noodling you can pull it out and build on it. The fun part comes when you start mixing, I'm a long way from that but looking forward to it!
That's my advice on that anyway. It's one of those things as I continue to learn I'll update but for now this is what helps me and I hope it will help you to. Always make time to noodle, the more often you do it the more used you'll get to pulling ideas out.
My problem is turning those ideas into full songs, I'm ebbing closer but there is still a long way to go till I can just turn on the tap so to speak.
Crikey, some days are just nuts. This one started with my youngest losing his glasses, two of my kids forgetting to take their lunches and a tonne of rain when every umbrella in the house has suddenly vanished.
But that aside, it's been a day of immense stress over those pesky drums, one where a song idea popped out of my head on guitar and I made some cool progress on the Elton John song.
Seriously those drums have driven me nuts but I think I'm gradually making progress. The good news is that I've learned to play several new drum rhythms so it's been good for practice even if it hasn't been good for my nerves!!
The Elton John song is coming on, I'm still a long long way from being done but I'm proud. Yesterday was lesson day which was great, we're going to learn the Snowy White song - Good Question and I'm looking forward to the challenge. I love lessons with Zak he always makes me feel like I'm progressing even if it's not at the pace I want to. I think having a song like this will do us s lot of good and it will certainly push me on with the electric guitar.
I have an idea for next weeks quick song but I'll have to see how it goes! I think it could be fun as it's a whole new style I have tried yet. Or it could be another breakdown 😆.
So as Tigger would say TTFN and I'll hopefully have not quite a manic day tomorrow!
Each week I'm going to try and over the course of the weekend get a one minute 'song' together starting with drums, then bass and work it up over that. I warn you they are going to be ROUGH - I'm not practicing, I'm not writing - I'm just getting it down as idea stage then moving on. Hopefully what this will do is a) getting me thinking more freely b) pushing my recordings eg timing, instrument interaction and c) giving me a bank of ideas I can later tap into.
Here is the first one for your enjoyment (or maybe not!) actually I think is a bit of fun if very very very rough and messy. Check out the wobble bend near the end haha - I couldn't resist. I spent a whole 5 minutes on that guitar noodle and you can tell but the idea is to stay very loose. I will NOT be posting all of these that I do because most will be awful but now and again for your entertainment I will suffer some degree of humiliation. Some I'll Instagram, some I won't!
I've got the Steven Slate drum plugin now so I've got loads of new drum kits to choose from - YES YES YES I was so sick of the existing ones.
I actually like the bass line on this - I'm proud of that, and my drums are to time yay!
Today is Zak lesson day *double yay* and I'm going to ask to learn a guitar song which is in 'Don't Let The Sun .....' territory, in other words HARD. But I need it, I've been pushing myself so hard, learn this, learn that etc that I need to do something that will push me, yes, but that at the end I feel really rewarded from. I know this will do that but I think it's another song that will take months to learn. We shall see :)
Terrible night again last night so I'm feeling very tired and that tends to lead to the days that I feel a bit stressed. So instead of wallowing I'm focusing on the songs that made me want to play.
Imagine loving something so deeply but having to wait 30 years to even get within sniffing distance of it and then to have to work all day every day to 'maybe' finally win your prize. Would that spur you on or put you off? For me it's the former, the chance to finally play was what pushed me beyond the initial difficulties and my passion & appreciation for playing is what spurs me on. So what started this crazy passion? Actually I've loved music since I was a tiny tot, I've always revered musicians but there are a couple of songs that made me desperate to play, a couple that touched my heart and stayed with me. I've learn't to play one of them and the feeling was every bit as amazing as I'd imagined.
Now the drums are just about any song on the planet, when I listen to a song drums are and always have been my main focus. Not because they're my favourite instrument but because I like bass and I like beat. It's the first place my head goes! I think that's why I like bass so much although I didn't think I would, now I'm learning it I'm hearing the instrument so much more in songs and realising how much I love bass lines, I probably always did but didn't realise it.
Piano is a funny one because although I've always romanticised playing piano I don't actually like that much piano in songs, not even syth really. But when it comes to playing I love the beautiful melodies that come out of it so this is one where it's about playing not about listening. Probably why I'm struggling with this latest song because it's all piano and I love it to bits but as a song it's sooooo far away from what I listen to. Probably the only songs I grew up with that made me want to play was Hey Bulldog by The Beatles & Patricia The Stripper by Chris De Burgh (yep that ones back!).
Now guitar - ah beautiful guitar. That most definitely 100% comes from hearing it in music and there are a few particular songs that sent shivers down my spine. Anything Mark Knopfler did but the main ones were:
Is There Anybody Out There - Pink Floyd
Bird Of Paradise - Snowy White
Forever Autumn - Jeff Wayne (The War Of The Worlds)
Not the most amazing songs nor the most skilled but there was something in the beauty of the guitar, even the smallest sections in these that make my heart melt.
I was just a little girl when I heard these and I fell in love with the guitar then. I carried that passion for 30 years until I finally began to learn and much to my heartbreak discovered I have NO natural talent. It's been a real battle to play and full of so much doubt but my love for it and my sheer stubbornness pushes me on.
Here I am playing Is There Anybody Out There for you. Not well - every time I click record I tend to lost 50% of my playing ability but never mind :)
Have you noticed some days I tend to wander a bit aimlessly, still working hard but without as much focus and some days I know precisely what my goal is. I don't really know why that is, maybe with everything I've taken on it's a bit overwhelming and sometimes I can narrow down what I want to achieve and some days I can't. Who knows, if you do clue me in!
Today I've woken feeling more focused, I still don't know if the drums are ok so I'm hesitant to put too much effort into learning to play them until I get that confirmation. So I'm going to focus very much on the Thin Lizzie song and learning the notes to the Rodrigo Y Gabriela version of 'Stairway To Heaven'. Then it's getting Don't Let The Sun... up to snuff (such a weird word that, I haven't used it in AGES but it popped out of my head so it stays!) and sometime this weekend I want to try and get a 'sh*t it out' (remember Tom's infamous term!) song done starting with drums as a base this time. A real quickie, no effort, not too much thinking.
If there's any time left then I want to work on that gothic sounding song and see if I can start pulling ideas out to use.
Then if there's any time left it's noodle o'clock haha! I'm sure I'll manage to find some time for this :)
One thing I need to start thinking about is what Tom told me last lesson and that is to find some 'go to' riffs or phrases that I can use when I'm soloing that I can play in any key in multiple places on the fretboard. That's going to do my head in mainly because with the infinite possibilities I don't know where to start and to me that is torment. I'll talk this one over with Zak I think on Monday and see if I can't narrow down where to start and how to think about it in a logical fashion which is much more in my comfort zone. I'm looking forward to doing it just without a starting point this is precisely the kind of thing that can tip me into meltdown mode and none of us want that!
So whatever you're doing this weekend I hope it's fun and I'll hopefully have something fun to update with in the next couple of days :)
Oh and 'Holy Holy' have a very cool new album out called Paint. Go check it out!
I didn't know I had a plan B but apparently I did, just hours after surrendering and deciding to wait till next week I came up with a plan. To use Staffpad to lay down the song, in part so I actually had it written up so in the future when I forget it I can relearn it and also because I can try to fit drums over the top without having to sit at the kit and work it out. Told you my reset button comes in handy - it can also be a royal pain in the butt.
The first thing I noticed was there is a lot of syncopated playing going on in the piano which explains why I'm find it sooooo hard to lay down drums. The second may stay or not but I found I didn't like the closed high hat sound over it I preferred cymbals - a lot more. But that may change if everyone else disagrees!
I used my bit of paper to lay down a chart of sorts showing where the feel of the beat was and then used that to put the drums in place then filled them out to make them funky. I don't know yet if this is a victory but at least now I've got drums over the song and I can see it working. Personally I still want to take this song and "Elton John" the hell out of it as well though!
I've also put in a taste of bass just to see where that could go and it's working too although that will be 100% redone but it will help to know where the beat is I need to work to. I'll probably write that part eventually that way too once I've got some ideas.
I'm waiting on an ok from my teacher or I could very well be back at stage one and even then it's going to be no mean feat to actually learn and play it. I said I wanted more drums - be careful what you wish for!
Not out of the meltdown danger zone yet but feeling much better. I'm such a yo-yo but what can you do, keeps all this interesting at least! :)
Also remember I said I had a tonne of work on for the wonderful Zak well I'm getting in touch with my cheesy (yet awesome) rock side with a Thin Lizzy song I'm learning. I'm getting close to getting the main riff down and then I need to do the easy guitar solo. As always timing is going to be the main struggle. Once I get the nod on the drums (if!) then I'll upload the WIP song for you to get a sneaky peak at but it depends on the drums.
What a week ahead of me. I don't even know where to start except to say I'm feeling a touch overwhelmed! And I'm always overwhelmed so you know it's serious!!!!!
Oddly enough my confidence took a massive leap forward and a huge hit in the same lesson - I'm such an oddball. I'll tell you why - this is another big post but there's lots to cover today.
Yesterday was lesson day of course so I guess I'll start there and try to be concise. It was incredibly fun as always, maybe even more so, I wish it didn't have to end! We did some impro over those two chords I've been improvising over recently with some back and forth which was super fun, he showed me up totally as usual but I didn't feel completely lost which is actually a big step forward. Then he took the two chords, simplified a touch and we took turns adding over the loop until it fell over. That was terrifying haha - I had no idea what to do or when or how but it was lots of fun and I will be doing a lot of that on my own!!!
So why crikey? As you know I'm working on three songs and we briefly covered them - that's how we ended up playing those games. However I ended up more lost, far, far, F A R more lost.
Let me explain. Let's start with the looped chord one, we had different ideas of the story but both were along the same path which is a proud moment for me, the game gave me ideas but I've no idea how to replicate them (guess I need to get creative then huh!). I still don't know how to go from two looped chords to a full song and I know he could write the hell out of this song when I don't have the slightest clue where to start. ARGH! I suppose I'll just need to pull on threads until something comes together because I do think this could be such a fun song.
Then there was the 'pretty' guitar one, it's a nice-ish start and definitely a step forward for me but it's flat - full stop. I don't know how to make it un-flat (is that a word?!) but he did give me ideas for the next step in learning that will help me take it forward. The problem - we're back in 'double stop' mode! It's yet another steep learning curve I need to tackle but this will be another huge leap forward for me when I get my head around it. As for the song - I'm as lost as I was!
Actually it's just occurred to me what is happening - at least in part. I'm pushing myself in every song I write far far outside my comfort zone which in a way makes me proud, but.... I get stuck and Tom then answers my questions with the 'ultimate' solution to the problem. He's telling me how to get my songs to the next stage - to get them where I want them to be in truth, however what I'm looking for is how to plaster over the cracks and do the best I can with the limited tools I have. He's doing the right thing in teaching me how to build a new better, stronger wall and gain new tools and but my brain explodes because a normal person would just see the new wall as the next goal but I NEED to build that wall now even if it half kills me. I'm a nightmare but it is what pushes me on.
Then finally the song I had most hope for. I'm not entirely sure what happened here because this was one I was very confident about and my confidence has imploded but I couldn't tell you why. I think part of it is his reaction wasn't what I expected which has thrown me but also I had questions some of which didn't get answered enough for me to act on it and some I didn't ask which was rather silly because now I'm left lost till next week.
So I've gone from feeling super confident about this one to totally blown apart! I've got the elements that I was stressing over which I don't feel any closer to solving and now the bits I was happy with I feel lost with too. That's why perspective is not a phrase I throw out there it's something I desperately need, it's not ego it's balance because my world is so unbalanced, I have things that were bugging me, now I have the problem in that with the rest I don't know what is wrong and most importantly what is right - I have nothing to hold on to and work outwards from when I try to fix all the issues.
Question: Who's fault is that?
I didn't ask him, I let my self doubt take over and now I'm in a right pickle. Silly silly Tash!
So it was a bittersweet lesson, I loved every second passionately and came away with a tonne of new great ideas to work on that I KNOW are going to help hugely. I'm actually quite excited about those but I also came away feeling a bit lost in the dark too. The curse of being me!
So there's ALL that. As if that isn't enough Zak has given me lots of homework, last week because I was writing and to be fair noodling a lot I didn't do enough of what I was supposed to. I can't let him down again this week. I love where we're going in the lessons and I know technically he's going to push me on a long way if I get my head down and study. It's a lot of work to get the two songs he's given me down and for the first time ever he pointed and said figure it out and I'm feeling very.... EEK.
Then to top it all off next week is D-day for Elton's Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me. I promised Tom I'd play it for his birthday which in my language mean's I have to (I know - weird gift but then I'm a weird person!). I can't do the whole thing yet so I'll just play what I have learnt and while I'm so nervous I am incredibly excited to play it for him. I've put so much effort in and I'm very proud of it and of myself. I can't wait (and I can haha!).
So pretty much all self inflicted but a painful week lined up, I have to nail a super hard song for my first 'performance', learn parts of two I have no idea how to play, learn a new set of skills and figure out what to do with three songs that I'm pulling my hair out over.
No pressure then........
I think one of the hardest things when you're learning especially now with the whole world being connected is trying not to be too intimidated by all the great musicians out there. One of the main reasons behind this blog and my Instagram account is to give hope to others who follow in my footsteps. I didn't exactly start from ground zero on this blog but seriously no one wants to follow from that low down because it was months and months and months of dredge before I could really do anything. It's once I got to that early intermediate stage and could start to apply technique, learn deeper theory and push myself that I think all this comes into play. It's why I don't put much bass or drums on here yet but that will come in time.
Seeing how far I still have to go after 2 years of really hard work should put things into perspective for beginners but at the same time (I hope) give them some confidence that even playing like I do can bring so much enjoyment. Seriously it's cool, it feels GOOD, for many the level I'm at will be great for them, for others it will be like it is for me a ledge from which to reach higher.
From then on it's hard hard work and lots of baby steps forward. Most people learn an instrument when they are younger, they spend several years learning and then put themselves out there showing their brilliance. But to someone who's just starting out especially if they are older like me it can feel unobtainable but it's really not.
I still struggle with this too, I guess because I have always appreciated good playing even when I didn't play a note. It means I've set the entry bar very high as to what I consider "playing". When asked my husband now says I play guitar and I'm learning other instruments. I disagree, I say I'm learning to play four instruments and don't feel I'm remotely close to saying I'm a guitarist or musician. I will be though of that I'm confident, how good a musician I don't know obviously but I will be deserving of the title one day I'm sure. To earn the title of multi-instrumentalist will be the most wonderful amazing thing. I always looked on people who could play several instruments with the greatest admiration and love .... and yes, envy! I promise it never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that I may one day be one too, so it just shows you even if you struggle in your life, if things don't turn out how you hoped, even if you're older and it feels too late - it isn't.
All it took for me was love for playing and two teachers who saw potential in me to give me the courage to take the first steps and I will get there. So if you stumble upon this blog and this post in particular and you're feeling overwhelmed by all the super talented musicians that play so much better than you, don't. Keep looking forward to your next goal and one day you'll be one of them with someone else looking up at you. And always remember how it felt to be the little guy and if you take my advice you'll pay it back & pay it forward.
Learning Time Log
How long I've been learning as at at the end of Aug 2020.
What's This About?
One fateful day I decided to get guitar lessons. 5 years later I'm learning four instruments and trying to become a musician and songwriter. I've 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!