The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
One of the first songs I learnt was Ben Folds "Fired" - or a shortened simplified version of it anyway. I hadn't played it in ages but got the itch today so here is me destroying this perfectly brilliant song! And below is how it's supposed to sound. Very fun to play so maybe one day I'll learn how to do it right all the way through.
All I can say is I'm glad I have four and a half years to learn to play, write & record because I'm going to need it. But this whole blog is about my journey and how I progress, about showing how I did it so others can learn and NOT just showcasing my awesome (maybe one day it will be!) music. So simply put showing you my grizzled messy work is sort of the point. Just as long as it improves then it's alllllllllll good and the cringing is well worth it.
I've now added learning Adobe Premier Pro to my ever growing list. And all this for the love of one man and because of the teaching style of another. My brain should come with a health warning because it gets me into all kinds of weird situations!
You finally get to see me too! I'm no beauty queen that's for sure but I was a very cute kid!!
As always - enjoy!
Time to connect all the dots so things don't get messy down the road. This is probably my least favourite thing about doing all of this - these days I hate anything even remotely "corporate" but if you're going to follow me then I'll be working across multiple channels so the dirty deed must be done (branding of course, cheeky!).
Brand new YouTube channel
Visit my shiney new and very very empty channel!
I'm not going to lie I'm not a big fan of YouTube, I do use it obviously you already know that, but there is a lot I hate about it (I'll save you my whinging though). However I thought of a way not just to showcase my progress & new tunes but more importantly to tie in the resources and lessons that are associated with this blog. Not just that but a way to showcase new artists and I'm sure much much more as I go on (I told you I'm an ideas factory). This one is a long term project and should become useful and fun to visit as the months & years pass on this journey.
We have a logo
I'm no graphic designer (yeah really I know it's that awesome haha!) but I've done my best to create a little logo so you'll recognise me wherever I go now!
Tweet, Pin & Instagram with me
I've been on Twitter for a few months now but as me - when I started posting on there this dream didn't even exist. I'm still me of course, just a better me because I'm having so much fun learning multiple instruments and living my life inside a musical bubble. I don't tweet much and I'm not very exciting but I am very friendly!
Click for my twitter account, follow me and say hi so I can follow you back.
If you want to follow me on Instagram then look for accidentalmuso
And if you want to check out my guitar obsessed pins on pintrest (my humour board has some funnnnnyyyy stuff!) then look for accidentalmuso on there too.
See you around!
I can't end the year without listing my favourite 10 albums from this year now can I?
It's been a great year for new music and I've discovered so many new ones to add to my ever growing list of influences. Spotify has been a great tool for me in this journey and if I'm repeating myself then it's for a good reason but streaming is fun, buying is cool - to keep music alive, evolving, varied & fun we need to keep on supporting all artists especially the little guy. Just a little.
Click on any image above to visit these brilliant artists and enjoy more of them.
So to it then, what are these masterpieces that tickled my fancy above all else..!?
10) Paul Dempsey - Strange Loop
9) Birds Of Tokyo - Brace
8) The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect
7) St Paul & The Broken Bones - Sea Of Noise
6) The Heavy - Hurt & The Merciless
5) Sticky Fingers - Westway (The Glitter & The Slums)
4) Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dark Necessities
3) Slaves - Take Control
2) Congos - Egomaniac
And finally (and probably controversially)
1) Black Pistol Fire - Wake The Riot
Raw music at it's best - such a big sound from just two guys and so much variety in there. Hugely fun album, highly, highly recommended.
n.b (all the above images are of my personal CD's & records to show that I practice what I preach.)
Lick n Riff YouTube Channel Link
I've been subscribed to this channel for a while now and of all the ones I've checked out so far this is my favourite. It's predominantly directed and fingerstyle playing but he does do a few electric tutorials.
Easy to follow
I can't always do everything he's teaching but that's because my skill level isn't there yet but I can certainly always follow and understand what he's saying. He often covers things from multiple angles too so if you don't get it immediately you might when he explains it another. He does have some nice beginner lessons but I think this channel is stronger for those who are past that stage.
This channel offers lots and lots of lessons on fingerstyle arrangements of songs, he puts the tabs on the screen so you can see as you watch, no need to download and look from sheet to screen. They're very nice arrangements and most aren't too difficult to learn although I think you'd need to be a late beginner or early intermediate.
He uploads posts frequently and mixes it up so I find myself looking forward to the next video. They vary in length depending what the lesson is but generally speaking they're not too long.
I love his videos on improvisation, it's an area I struggle in and I've found his lessons very helpful. They can be a little vague on the detail but the idea behind them is to get you thinking about what you can do not to give you a lesson to copy. Because of that I tend to watch them over and over picking up new tips each time.
I'd give it a comfortable 8/10. Sometimes I would like just a little more detail, he can be a little too .. "you can do this, and this, or this" and I'm left scratching my head but overall it's a great channel for self learning.
I thought today I would carry on from the previous two posts and lay bare my method see if I can't help you 'a little' with your own. The song wasn't amazing - understatement 😆 but it was a lot better than it had any right to be.
Post 1 - The struggle to understand song structure
Post 2 - The song that I finally recorded
I played everything you heard, it's not that I can't hit a note but what I can't do is play consistantly and accurately enough to step into any studio including my home one without some serious duct tape!
The crucial tip I learnt that got me from 'sob I can't do this' to YES!!! was that I don't 'need' to be perfect. In the end I recorded a simple drum rhythm all the way through, same with guitar melody, strumming & piano block chords including 'strings effect'. Then I hacked away at it, where I had a bit that went very wrong I simply copied a section that was right and pasted that instead, where I felt I needed space I cut it away completely, then I tested it to see where I needed to concentrate on next. I worked out a structure then figured out how to make that structure work bit by bit. When I needed something else or I wanted to try a different angle I added a new track. Then I re-tested it and cut what didn't work or rerecorded. Then listen, rework and repeat.
For example - I cheated with the drum fills (any drummer will have immediately noticed that!), I recorded the basic rhythm first then when I had other elements on top I sat at the drums and only did fills wherever I felt there should be one then I listened back and kept or removed or copied them where it felt appropriate. The result is not pretty or perfect by a long shot but it's the best I've been able to do with the drum section in a song and the point is I can now learn the drums and rerecord if I want to properly - I'm not just taking a step forward in my music but I'm also giving myself the opportunity to learn to play better too.
In other words I only focused on one bit at a time and trusted my ear to tell me what that was. The result is 1) a messy recording, but that's ok, it's one of my first 10 ever so I can live with that, and, 2) a result that's eluded me for months because I had been trying to play things I'm not ready to play.
I can always go back if I want to and learn how to play the drums with the fills, improve on the guitar melodies and solos because I now have a stronger framework to work from.
It was watching my teacher hack one of my songs to pieces in order to make it into something more structured that gave me the idea. So my tip to those new to this is don't worry about getting it all, simplify and layer, give yourself room to add or take away.
Lets hope this is the first of many and while I'm learning to play all my instruments better I'll be building ideas ready to use my new skills on.
Not just a round but a milestone
Told you this girl gets knocked down a lot but I always get up, dust myself off and square up for the next battle even if I'm feeling totally distraut, talk about stubborn. I've reset more times than an Atari Game System, which is going to come in VERY handy.
So round one went to learning, yesterday was hell - but - I've fought valiantly and taken round two. This one issue is far from over and it's going to be an epic battle, I fear we're just getting started and there will be many many tears of frustration before I take the winners cup but as I've explained in an older post it's the little things I latch on to and this is a really BIG little thing.
If this should show you one thing it's that nothing is simple to everyone, so no matter what your struggle is, don't let others make light of it and never give in.
Today marks a significant milestone on my journey, my first 'structured' song, written by me, recorded by me, performed (well played!) by me. I got the thumbs up on it being structurally ok from my teacher which is actually the thing that makes me the most happiest of all - thank you Tom :)
So to mark this day here is the song - I do not claim it's remotely good, that's not what this is about, I do still have a little over 4 1/2 years to go after all - just that it's a full song not like my others that were experiments. And I confess it took me 15 hours of hard hard graft to get this out - long journey ahead!
And for my benefit when I look back here are my "stats" for this milestone.
Guitar 22 months
Piano 17 months - no real chance to shine here but it counts!
Drums 4 months of self learning - I still suck so badly, lots of cutting here!!
Bass Guitar 1 month of self learning - so let me off that one.
Electric guitar 1 day - yep my first ever electric guitar experiment - so forgive me my solo!
Recording 1 month (if you can count what I'm doing as recording not just fiddling around!)
It must have been the ice lolly binge that got me through this because it certainly wasn't the miserable 2 hours of sleep I got haha!! I love being an insomniac - NOT!
Merry Christmas xxxxx
All you brilliant students out there should be able to relate to today's post and I can sum it up in one word.... Frustration!
What a day, 10 hours of solid hard work on one thing and I feel like I just got Tango'd by the Great Wall of China (anyone remember those old Tango adverts - the orignal ear bursting ones?). Well I just got a good dose of big orange tango man and it smarts (that means hurts for those who don't speak my lingo!).
6 months ago I would have been over the moon with what I produced today even if it is rubbish. But what's really got me beating myself mentally black and blue is that behind what I'm trying to do is a very simple concept that my brain simply fails to grasp. My head simply refuses to think in simple terms, can't do it so this is eluding me. For 18 months I've been progressing on the various instruments, with some good months and some not so good and yet this one thing that was a day one lesson I cannot grasp.
And now the real problems begin because I'm now a dog with a bone - a rabid dog with a bone. Once my back goes up I can't let go until I solve the problem so my house is going to be great fun over Christmas!!! So if anyone knows why I can't seem to wrap my silly little head (yep my head is literally little, I wear glasses made for 10-12 year olds!) around a simple song structure please let me know - asap!!!
I'm off to binge eat ice lollies before getting ready for round two.
We're all unique in our own way and I can be a rather 'interesting' individual. One of my main traits is that ticking brain of mine that goes day and night pumping out ideas (whether I want it to or not).
Great right? Well it can be yes, but if I had even $1 for every idea that's even been pretty good I'd be reasonably well off by now. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. To earn the moolagh you have to do something with the idea (got it covered), not just something - the right something - ah, therein lies my downfall!!
What's that got to do with this journey and music? - well everything! When I'm coming up with musical ideas my brain clicks into gear and off I go on my ideas journey leaving me with an over complicated, & at my stage of learning, unworkable song concept. And that's before I add anything to it. For me running the idea off to the sunset feels like the natural course and it morphs from concept into concept but as my teacher pointed out quite rightly, as usual, I'm not writing for me. He claims not everyone is a weird muso (he didn't say weird I'm paraphrasing!) who likes to be taken on a long crazy journey (really?? 😳 I'm not the norm!!). Like I said he's right of course.
My next goal is to dumb down, yes, let the ideas run riot BUT then pick the best (easy to do when you know what you're looking for which I don't!) and develop that. I think I understand a little better, the idea is to build that simple idea up in depth using the other instruments. To pull out a couple of complimentary ideas to 'mix it up' a little but to stay focused. For someone who's mind wanders a lot - that's hard. I have a feeling we may be working on this for a little while yet. In order to write what I like I have to learn to start with what I hate, but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do I guess.
So my point, I need to explore the idea, milk it for all its worth BUT be prepared to let it go and realise the real gem may be in just a few seconds of all that magic. I'll let you know how it goes!
Some days I need a little pick me up while others are painful to live through, some days the world is simply perfect. Some days I just want to chill, some I'm full of energy and I want to rock out, some I'm happy, some I'm too happy (yes too happy can be a bad thing especially for someone like me), and sometimes I'm just right - haha I'm sorry, I couldn't resist the naff Goldilocks reference, but you're probably expecting these daft jokes by now!
But no matter the day, or how I'm feeling or what kind of mood I'm after ...... the one song, no matter what's happened (or not happened), that is always perfect, my favourite song in the whole world is ....
Otis Redding - "Down In The Valley".
Most people I've played this for know Otis Redding obviously but a large number have never heard of this particular song so just in case you havent had the pleasure of hearing this wonderful tune here it is. Enjoy and I hope you have a 'just right' day!
I was a 'late bloomer' when it came to playing over songs, I could do far more complicated things long long before I could strum out a simple song. But we all do things at different paces and have different strengths and weaknesses so it doesn't bother me one bit. I'm having lots of fun now though!
So I thought I'd share a few of the first songs I learnt to play along to - not just the first but the most fun ones, as a starting point for any beginners reading this blog. Some are very easy with lots of room between the changes and simple strumming, some will take a bit more work and a couple I found a bit harder but were worth the effort. None of these were beyond my ability (I may not have sounded amazing but the point is I could play along). Also don't worry too much about how you play along, it's more important to have fun first and use that enjoyment to push forward with technique & polish up timing.
Anyway enough waffle, here's the list - happy jamming! If you think of others let me know in the comments and I'll do a second list (Oasis is missing on purpose - I hate them and it's my blog so I'll sulk if I want to!). 😉
Chords & Tabs available at Songsterr or Ultimate Guitar
Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
Comfortably Numb - Pink Floyd
Within You - Ray LaMontagne (very easy & lovely song)
Can't You See - The Marshall Tucker Band (easy and very fun)
Closing Time - Semisonic
Speedway - Counting Crows
3 Rounds and A Sound - Blind Pilots
Vaporise - Broken Bells
Toes - Zak Brown Band (a bit harder but sooo much fun!)
People Are Strange - The Doors (watch the timing on this one)
I Remember You - Skid Row
Sultans Of Swing - Dire Straits (Great for barre chord workout. Bit trickier though)
I'm currently working on getting to grips with "Let Me Die In Southern California" by The Voyces which is a very cool song to play along too. I'm still a terrible strummer (haha) but I'm improving bit by painful bit!
ps Quick tip, I'm assuming that if you're using this list you're a beginner so listen through a few times doing chord changes without strumming to get the timing down. You probably know this already but no one told me so just in case ...!
It's 5am, I'm not sleeping again and I had a notification on my phone when I got up so.... guess what, you finally get to "meet" the brilliant man responsible for this nutty journey. Hopefully one day I'll find a way to introduce you to Zak my amazing 'Guitar Guru' as well!
Below is the latest HILARIOUS "Jam On Sunday's" video, (click to see them all on his cool YouTube channel), from my piano/guitar/bass/drum/writing/recording teacher (he plays lots more instruments than that but I think I'm learning enough right now don't you?!!) - you can see why I'm in awe of him -and why he makes me laugh, this one is very silly!! And not content with being awesome on every instrument he can just pull this out of nowhere each week just for fun and play brilliantly, record properly and make it all look easy - cue green eyed monster :) Oh and he can juggle - too much talent for one man!
As a funny aside though - I recently mentioned that I really want to get to where he is (on my four instruments) by the end of these five years and his brilliant reply - "good luck with that!!" - ta very much Tom, slap down or what!! Don't worry luckily I have a wicked sense of humour, I know Tom and my self esteem is already flatlined so no harm done! It's probably is a very fair statement BUT I fully intend to try anyway because I'm an incredibly stubbon sod and luckily I happen to have a really talented (and supportive!!!) teacher. I love Aussies to bits but they can be very blunt which is actually really funny if you don't take offense, Zak does it too which always ends up in us having a laugh!! Mind you they've had to get used to my cutting Brit sarcasm and x-rated humour which has caused some serious blushing & laughing fits so fair's fair.
I'm signing off now so enjoy this awesome fella doing what he does best and I'll get back to work TRYING to become a good musician in my own right!
I follow my favourite bands on Twitter as its a great way to stay up to date on the latest news. It's an effective method of finding new artists too, especially up and coming artists. In fact a few actually found me and introduced themselves. Here are five who have a wicked sound. Give them a try and rock on!!✊ haha sorry that was disgracefully cheesy!😁
Jack has a silky voice that's just lovely to listen to, he's a lovely bloke with a crazy work ethic. His percussive guitar playing is really cool and music can be upbeat or really chilled but it's always so nice. I have great faith in a successful career for Jack.
Matt is an incredible man, recently giving up a successful career to pursue his music full time. He is packed to the rafters with talent and his music is wonderful, go check him out he has an unbelievable list of things he's already achieved and not just in music. I wish Matt all the success he deserves going forward.
Jhonny K & The Krew
Modern Blues Rock band which a great singer who reminds me a lot of Zak Brown, he's got a well lived sounding growl that's perfect for their blend of blues, rock & country that makes them really bouncy and fun to listen to.
An English singer songwriter with a 'countryfied' Jack Johnson vibe about him but with a much more appealing rugged storytelling voice. He's got that country meets blues acoustic sound and his stories come out of his songs really really well. Love this guy I could listen for hours - so glad he found me!
Cookin' On Three Burners
I've featured these guys a few times but it's justified they're a great friendly bunch of Aussies with some seriously cool funk based music. They feature other artists as guest lyricists such as Kylie Audist often and have a well balanced mix within their music. Great music to make the most of your good mood.
Support, support, support
Whenever I promote new bands I always recommend you check them out on whatever streaming service you use but if you like them or any other new band you find please go buy something from them - even if it's just your fav song. Support is crucial to music artists, streaming is cool I'm a big fan as you know, I feel it opens doors, but they need proper support. If you can't buy go see one of them and have a wicked night out instead. I own an album from all these guys and I cannot wait for Cookin' On 3 Burners to come to Sydney next year. As always - Enjoy!
Very rough and definatly not ready!
So! I did it folks, I actually had, for Thursday so on time, a rough draft of a fully recorded 5 1/2 minute blues song. When I say draft I mean draft - I shoved out of time drums down with out of time bass and added some out of time piano and noddled guitar. But the point was to take a genre I couldn't play in and push to get something down that wasn't pretty but resembled a structured song. I am so relieved I've got five years to improve on this (haha!).
I do plan to take this one further, I want to redo the drums to get them as clean as possible. Then the bass on top to make sure that foundation is strong for the other parts. The piano and guitar I want to be more interactive with one another so the main verses and chorus structure will be rewritten & reworked as will the intro/outro sections so they are more playful. The solo section will stay predominantly guitar but I will be throwing in some cheeky piano here and there where opportunity presents itself - or at least playing with the idea to see what happens.
Finally the guitar solo I will be completely redoing, the drums and bass will build throughout the 36 bars and the guitar will follow the chords more and build in tension. That's the plan.
And that's why I'm posting this very rough first draft (please feel free to giggle when you listen, I have no delusions about the quality of this but considering I totally pulled this one out of my unmentionable I think it's cool none the less!!!). It's going to be ages before I'm finished and can post an update but hey this is all very cool anyway - last week I couldn't play the blues at all 0% now I can play 3% (haha) but I also learnt more about structure, about recording and pushed myself. And that's what this is all about - it's not about being perfect, or pretty it's about learning, developing and growing.
And I learned to let go and relax, that I can achieve much more by just winging it, to not 'over think' because it can always be redone later. For someone who's obsessed with getting things "perfect" that's a big BIG step.
The song sounds like (and is) a real mess but to me it's still a huge leap forward and that was the point...... So learning, developing & growing via this project - Box ticked!
Yep I'm actually starting this post with a Star Wars quote (did you recognise it, if you did I'm proud of you!) as the title because 1) In my little head it's quite funny 😆 and 2) It's very relevant to today's subject.
It's easy to think that as a housewife my life is free and easy and I have all the time in the world. And maybe if I wasn't such a nut it would be but I've already said when I do something I go (pardon the expression) balls out. I'm under no illusion that this dream I'm aiming for is ridiculously hard, extreemly unlikely and that's if I wasn't trying to get there in just five years but add on the fact that I'm not going to college, I have little to no support structure and it's suddenly so crazy you might wonder why I'm even trying.
I might wonder why I'm even trying! I'm always telling Tom (my brilliant multi teacher) that he has a very unique set of skills and he certainly does but.... so do I. The way my life panned out has meant I needed to do things differently. I needed to push myself to breaking point and beyond, I had to learn to think 30 steps ahead, I had to learn how to do each step while I was thinking of it and I had to multitask like a octopus on steroids. So I do believe I have the skills required but I need one very important thing, something that in the past has eluded me and cost me time, money and sanity (queue dramatic music - this blog will be so much better when I can put a soundtrack to it don't you think?).
I need FOCUS. I can do a million (no I'm not being literal but I'm allowed to exaggerate now and again!) tasks at once but what I suffer badly with is two things, and I'll need to master both if I'm to have a chance in hell of reaching destination musician.
1). I need to pick my battles carefully. Picking the right song or practice technique can push me very quickly. The wrong ones will have me wasting time and effort - both are now precious commodities.
2) I need to organise these battles carefully. There is so much I can do, so much I need to do, that every week now becomes an opportunity to leap forward or a danger that I'll work my butt off to go absolutely nowhere. I've already learnt that I can get more through doing things I initally think are less important so it's going to be difficult to recognise opportunities if I'm not careful.
Am I panicked - yes.
Do I believe it's even possible - I think so.
Can I personally do it - 50/50 - with the right focus, hard work and a little luck - maybe.
Will I do it? I really don't know, having the skills to push doesn't guarantee me the talent I need and that's still where I fall down confidene wise but I'm going find out anyway - so to work we go!
Oh and I'm aware it didn't end too well for the poor freedom fighter in Star Wars but don't worry - I've got it covered!
One of the things my recent exploits has made me realise is that I'm thinking too singular. I'm trying to become not just a multi instrumentalist but a song writer and I need to start to think like the band, to feel like a band - to "Be The Band"!
That's hard especially when one of the biggest issues I've had - I do have, is thinking of a song I'm writing beyond the instrument I'm playing at the time. I've seen my teacher Tom listen to something I've written and in his head he hears the drums, bass guitar and other assorted instruments. It's so cool but so far beyond me, and when Zak helped with the blues song it blew me away. Sometimes I feel so very far away from these guys it seems too far but I'll keep trying.
I know much of that comes with experience so it's a case of figuring out how to get that experience. These recordings have helped because where I've been laying down a track instrument by instrument, when I listen back I can start to hear when they compete for space, where there's room for call & response. When space is needed, when an instrument needs freedom to shine - I'm starting to anyway, it's hard (I use that word a lot but it's justified)!
To quote one of the funniest TV characters ever "I have a cunning plan" but that's a bit of fun and I'll let you in on that one another day. For now I'm studying the dynamics within existing songs and that'll keep me busy for a while.
This is a good opportunity to get in some theory too! Even learning how to use space is an art.
Good question! Ok, yes, technically I just asked it, but I do get asked that or a version of it a lot. What do I want to do at the end of this epic journey? And being as you're following me I think it's fair to say we, you're in this too now :)
We'll I don't want to be a rock star so rest easy, the picture of a 45 year old mum pop star wanna be terrifies me too.
Anyway, staying on track...! I want two things from this journey.
1) I want to leave a mark.
I want to write music and leave it for the world, I don't expect it to be great, I don't expect to be big (or even small!), I don't need success. I'm not modest, just a realist and if I can write music that will touch even a few people after I've had my time then that's a very special and lucky thing. I would like to write songs that others will perform too but as yet I've not really dug deeper into that, I thought I'd see where the journey leads first.
Not just any music
Here's the catch, I've already said I love theory and I want to use that and combine it with my passion for all genres of music to experiment. My plan is to bring music in one genre to the attention of people in love with another genre and to tell stories that intrigue, to make people stop and listen and frown and think and smile. I want to tease, I want to thrill. So while my aspirations for success may be small I'm still reaching for those stars BIG TIME.
2) I want to pay it back and pay it forward
One of my biggest goals is to inspire those who inspire me. I want to unlock that crazy creative brain of mine and I want to make my teachers think in new ways too, I want to push back and to inspire them like they have me. I don't know if I will but I hope so - that would be the most amazing thing wouldn't it? And I want to pay it forward, I want to inspire others with music the way I have been. Through this blog I want to encourage others to go for it, and hopefully show them how. I hope by the end there will be reason for them/you to be inspired. I want to help everyone on this journey and I already have a few ideas for how I might do that.
This all probably reads a little sickly but when I earn a laugh or a smile from someone it lights me up inside so maybe all this is very selfish or maybe not. I was in business for 10 years, I was told many many many times how rich I would get with all my hard work and my amazing ideas and all it earned me and my family was heartache, the only joy I got was from the ideas that I shared about learning, family and adventure so now I'll stick to what I love and leave the entrepreneurial world to others.
Its been a sad year for music with all the amazingly talented artists we've lost from up and coming youngsters Viola Beach to a tragically long list of legends. As the year draws to a close I wanted to dedicate a post in tribute to those who've inspired me to follow my own musical dream.
Today I wanted to highlight those who were a huge influence on my passion for music. But if you want to pay tribute to them all here is a link to a list of those we've lost.
We'll start with Prince, probably one of the most talented musicians ever. I loved the way he always changed it up and of course he was a seriously amazing guitarist. I would love just a fraction of his productivity and creativity. David Bowie was even more of a chameleon not just musically but in his persona. He gave the world some amazing music through his transformations and he gave me great joy in everything he did, what I aspire too most from David Bowie is his range & variety. Leonard Cohen was a rouge but a wonderfully talented musician and his genius lyrical writing is what I most aspire to and what I'll miss most.
And finally the beautiful voice of Sharon Jones was sadly silenced. Although Sharon was successful I still don't think personally she received anywhere close to the recognition she deserved so in honour of that here is a video of her performing with the Dap-Kings (who as a side note were the backing band for Amy Winehouse) and the Legend Prince - his guitar skills make me so so jealous! Go check her out and ensure the gift she left us lives on. Enjoy ❤️
Ok thought I'd introduce you to my manic life so yesterday I made a note of what I got up to. It's certainly not a normal day but that's what I love most about this life, every day is an adventure.
I'm an insomniac so I generally fight sleep all night but last night was particularly urggggh. Kids are home so I don't need to get up early but it's 5.30 and I'm up and at it! Some people start their day with a coffee, shower or maybe a run but for me it's a quick jam on the piano for a wake up session.
6.25am - Ok so trying to practice Spain by Chick Corea probably wasn't my best move but the result was funny & and yes a little frustrating. I soon warmed though and progress has been made YAY.
It's 10am and I've just rearranged half my house to finally put all the instruments into my new "home studio" - music room is probably more accurate but it doesn't sound as cool does it! This was hard hard work (my old business was selling children's toys, see just below here for a pic of their new playroom - crazy right) and I'm already exhausted but it's on to the next thing. I feel a bit guilty because normally by now I would have done a couple of hours of guitar but I had to get this done.
I've been working solidly to get the bass recorded for the blues song. I have it all worked out but playing 12 bar blues complete with "twiddly breaks" (see I'm so technical!) thrown in on an instrument I don't play (at all), in time over a drum track that's a long way from perfect is HARD. It's 11.30am now and it's a rough recording but it's really sounding like the blues now at least. Cliche blues, poorly recorded blues, in desperate need of guitar blues - but it's the blues!!!!
2pm - Most days I do a 3-4km walk to go buy dinner. I'm not a weekly shop kind of person, I like to wing it and I walk because I like the exercise and because it's time to chill and listen to music I love! I've just got back and it is HOT today so I'll open the windows and annoy my neighbours with a couple of hours practice on drums and guitar before feeding the brood. Not before I do a very naughty thing and eat the muffin I bought for pudding - damn insomnia, I'm so tired by this point I actually just ate hubbys too, he'll understand 😳
5.20pm - opps I got carried away with practice but I'm off to cook spaghetti carbonara.
8.00pm - Zak (guitar teacher) arrived early before I got a chance to eat my dinner (haha), that'll teach me to get carried away earlier! Poor fella had heat stroke ☹️ from work and had just 1 hour to turn me into BB King - ok not literally but I needed urgent direction and guidance for the blues song guitar parts.
The lesson was awesome fun and now have an idea of what to do - pulling it off will require a miracle even though he made it really simple for me. There are some pretty cool ideas in there so I'm going to do my best. I'm might just sneak in another 30mins playing for the fun of it then chill for a bit with my better half before I pretend to sleep. 😴. Thanks for following my day.
So far I've mostly offered tips about guitar and how I’ve found my way so I wanted to focus on piano today. I was mulling over what I could say that might (I do try not to bore you to tears!) be interesting and helpful when my wonderful teacher popped into my head (I told you finding someone who inspires you was important) and a text exchange we had that changed things for me.
I had only just started exploring writing and I had a concept in my head for a piece I wanted to write but it was way beyond what I felt I was capable of doing. So, I asked him, "Should I push and concentrate on this one thing at the expense of other practice I could be doing or leave it for now?". He wrote back that he had learnt more writing than in any other area and to push, to "reach for the moon so that I might touch the stars".
I’ve sort of adopted that as my motto now. He was so right though, I did push and I did produce the piece. It wasn’t a great piece and like everything I do was overcomplicated but it was something I was very proud of and most importantly it said what I wanted it to, not just a nice melody but a journey. My first 😁
Since then I’ve written several more and the thing that’s pushed me forward the most is writing something beyond my playing ability and then spending hours and hours learning it. By the end I can always play a little better and do something I couldn’t before. I generally make much more progress than when I learn specific songs even if they're tough ones. Plus, I’m learning about writing and pushing my theory too.
This is something I too would now like to pass on. Write, push, try something new, learn, go outside of your comfort zone and test yourself more and have fun in the adventure. Aim for your own stars ✨
I've got so much going on now it's hard to keep track let alone keep on top but this blog is a good way to make sure I stay focused because when I've said I'm going to do something - I do it.
So rather than bore you to bits with tiny updates on each thing I'm doing here is a very quick post on several at once.
I've been playing a collection of blues songs and recording the "rough" drum beats and fills so I have a library that I can use to pick one. I want to try and do that by close of today because I need to start practicing bass over the top. It's going to be poor but it will give me a guide then when I have all components worked out I can go and re-record them properly. At least that's the idea at the moment - as I hit walls my ideas often change and evolve.,
Update: The full drums, intro, verse, chorus, solo & outro (all be it very rough!) are down - see the power of committing really works! They're simple but I've put a few "playful" areas in there to give me room to do something a biy fun.
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
I knew I bit off more than I could chew with this one but it's been really tough. Anyway about 7 hours total practice in now (I've been adding bits in small chunks, bar by bar). The timing & dynamics are a "bit" better now but I'll worry about getting it right once I've got the full song learned.
New Guitar Song
I was just sitting there getting lost in whatever came out of my head on guitar and I just started playing this. It's not original, it's not new and it's not amazing - YET but it was so sweet and I think I'd really like to see where I can take it especially as it lends itself to playing with sus's and 7ths so I've set myself another challenge (another long term one) to build this into a full song. I know if I don't say I'll do something with it on here it will end up in my memo "ideas graveyard". So let's see if I can.
Dig Deep Evolves
This is a song concept I've put in a preivous post, I'm now working on spreading out the concept into a song format and am happy with where it's going. This one has a long long way to go so don't expect a finished result but I WILL turn this into a full song by the end. Here is the start of it in evolved format, using the first two sections spread out as a verse structure.
Sitting in my living room, headphones on and 10cc crooning away - I'm ready to write!
I love to promote music, I want the world to share my passion and I want the wonderful musicians out there to get more support so here is part one of my how to find new music series. I'll start with the obvious, most of us have spotify but maybe not fully realise it's potential to discover new artists & genres. So here are my tips for digging through it.
When you "Go To Artist" you'll see a list of related artists. This is a good place to start, take one and listen then click their related and so on and so on. Keep going until you find something different - be brave!
When you click on the "About" link in an artist you will often see "Discovered On" (scroll down!), these are a good place to look for other similar artists you may have missed.
Dig through others lists and see if you can find something cool. You can do this by searching for a style, a few keywords, a band you already like or if you want to be adventurous put in a surname (be totally random!) and look through whoever pops up, see what Joe Bloggs is listening too and try a few out. You never know what you'll find - I actually found a few cool playlists and new artists this way. It's silly but fun. If you find a great playlist why not go see if the member who created it has any more cool ones?
Spotify Discovery Features
Spotify already has several ways to search, I don't think they're anywhere near as good as digging because they're geared towards what's already popular but they can be a good place to start. Their Discover, Genre, Radio & New Releases are all good for a browse.
Check Out Your Mates
See what bands you're friends have been listening too and share playlists with each other especially if you have different tastes. Quite often new music just takes a few listens for it become familiar for you to like it a lot more. Be open, give it a shot you may surprise yourself.
And remember folks if you love the music - support the artist, go buy a CD or record or download (I personally like to own the music I've paid for so I hate iTunes). Side note - it's GREAT to see vinyl being so popular again, I'm a big geek (I mean fan) and yes I do play mine all the time! www.mix.com.au/music/news/2016/12/vinyl-outsells-digital-downloads/
That's it for now - hope you find something very cool! I'm signing out with Mother Nature by The Orb playing now. These guys are so cool - even David Gilmour thought enough of them to record an album with them. Check em out!
If you want some more inspiration here is a list of the bands I own CD's for - compilations aren't included. Be brave try a couple out - and I'm not proud of all of these, there are some very guilty pleasures in there! I'll do a seperate one for all the Spotify bands that are on my "buy wishist" another day.
I know it's two posts today but I've got a new challenge.
So this week is all about the blues (in more sense than one!), I love the blues but I can't play anything (except the blues scale which on it's own is a little dull!) on any instrument soooooo I'm diving in head first eek. The challenge I've set myself this week is to record one full blues song, intro, verses, chorus, outro etc and record it. Being as I'm doing this totally solo I'm feeling a little ........ ok a LOT
Aww - breaking into a side note - I have to tell you all what a wonderful man I married - I'm feeling really low today (I've suffered with depression since I was 12 and I have my good days and I have my really tough ones) and he's literally just text me and told me to go to my fav record shop. :) I may be a royal PITA but the simplest of things mean so much to me.
Anyway back on track .... This time I'm going simple simple simple to the extreme. I've already found several cool blues drum rhythms to play with and I've been playing over the top of some traditonal blues songs to get an idea of a few more. Then it's on to Bass Guitar because I will HAVE to keep that dead simple, then guitar and finally piano. It's going to be one hell of a week but I'm actually looking forward to it. I'll keep a note of any YouTubers, websites or books I find particularly helpful and I guess watch this space for the result.
I may be down but you can never count this girl out!!!!
Haunting & Beautiful Music
I've already posted about my guitar muses but every now and then I'd like to introduce one of my musical inspirations not specific to any instrument.
Nick Drake is a beautiful guitarist, often playing in unusual tunings. But it's his singing that I find so amazing, he's haunting and sad but yet so uplifting if that makes any sense. Such a sad story with a tragic end but at least his music lives on in the hearts of those who came after him.
The film above is lovely if somewhat sad but if you don't have time for that check out his albums, Pink Moon is his most popular but Made To Love Magic is my favourite which has some songs that never made his other records including my favourite Joey.
Here is my effort to play the beginning,
I do have teachers but that totals 10 hours a month and that's if they can make every lesson which seldom happens. To get where I'm going that is not going to be enough so most of what I need to do, especially from here on out, will be self taught with the direction, technique correction and support coming from my teachers.
Self teaching is hard, I melt down quicker than ice-cream in a heatwave when I can’t get my head around something. My normal approach when it happens is to dig my heals in and allow my pig-headed determination to take over - no matter how crazy it’s driving me (that and using lots of naughty words!). But sometimes I know to leave well enough alone and come back later.
The thing I find so hard is knowing when it's best to push through something and when to let it rest because they can both be right - and they can both be wrong 🤔. I dont have any answer to that but I do have a couple of tips that really help me when I'm struggling that I thought I'd share in today's post.
Leave on a high
I make sure I break on a good note (pun not intended!), if I need to I will simplify what I’m doing and target one small area until I feel I’ve done something a little better – then I make myself stop. Its easier to come back to a tough challenge in a positive frame of mind.
Come back soon
Keep the momentum going, it's hard to restart once you've gone cold on the subject. How long I leave it varies between 10 minutes, a few hours or (rarely) a day – it's important to ensure my head is in the right space. I use the time in between to think about the problem. Sometimes being away from it allows me to see it more clearly.
Bite sized chunks
One other thing I do is stop/start learning, I will work for a certain amount of time (say 10/20 minutes), take a few minutes to think about what I’m doing and relax, maybe enjoy a quick cuppa, then push on until I feel stressed & repeat. I take it in bite sized chunks, especially learning a new song, brand new technique or soloing over a track that’s stumping me ideas wise - that happens a LOT.
When I’m really really struggling, I stop trying to do the project itself and think about what specifically is bothering me – timing, hand movements etc and I target that, I slow it down so I can focus on technique.
Go find help
The internet is the self learners paradise. When you're stuck use it, see if you can find some resourse that helps you. Be careful though because it's easy to get flustered by the differing opinions and techniques but if you're stuck it can really help you see it from a different perspective. I'm a big believer in learning from multiple angles and in multiples ways but I've already harped on about that so I won't do that now.
Here is a link to a few tips about self learning in general that I found really useful.
It’s not much but it may help you a little too - happy learning!
Learning Time Log
How long I've been learning as at at the end of Jun ‘19
What's This About?
One fateful day I decided to get guitar lessons. 4 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!