The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
Study Resources I Use To Compliment My Teachers
I study around 3000 hours a year and I get around 80hrs of combined tutoring so while the lessons obviously guide me on a large portion of my private study time there’s only so much they can cover in that time. The truth is there’s soooo much to learn across everything I’m doing it’s not possible to cover a fraction of it in those 80hrs so the rest is up to me.
That is daunting because often a) I don’t know what to learn and b) I don’t know how to learn … well to some degree.
I’ve been learning long enough now that to some degree I’m learning how to spot the holes and weaknesses and the areas that are falling behind. Sometimes that’s rehashing over old ground to get it up the level it should be or sometimes it’s expanding on areas or filling in the gaps.
To do this I use resources and a lot of them and they work very well. I will emphasise they don’t come close to replacing a teacher (a good one anyway) but they have incredible value on top of or even better in combination with my teachers. I use them to compliment my other learning and to help me learn more faster.
So here are the ones I’ve so far found to be the most useful.
Drumeo – I will absolutely say it’s so worth the money, the lessons are great, it’s well organised, the teachers are the best in the world, they teach WELL (very important), it’s fun, it’s interactive, it’s creative in how it teaches and varied. It offers great resources and lots of them and it’s constantly being updated. Don’t even think about this one, it’s an investment but make sure you USE it.
Hudson Music – it’s a book store with books and videos that are mostly interactive through their apps or online store. I tend to treat myself now and then when they have a sale and I have a collection that will take me years to work through BUT I get them as both technique aids and (mostly) idea *sparkers*. There’s so much gold in those books but first you need to learn how to see it, how to look past the lesson and see the concept. How to recognise how that concept and then be applied to other exercises or be used in any situation. Creative thinking unlocks a world of joy in these books and the interactive nature of them is a bonus (audio of the exercises, linked videos, embedded backing tracks). I just need to get my technical chops up a few levels before I can really benefit but even that in itself inspires me to work harder.
Udemy – This one can be awesome or terrible, it varies course to course so read the reviews, watch the samples and try to get a feel for the course before you buy. I would never pay full price for these (there's generally nothing that you can’t get from you YouTube for free) but during the sales they’re very cheap and then it’s worth paying for the structure they offer that YouTube definitely doesn’t. I’m doing courses on Orchestration, Sound Design, Guitar Techniques, Audio Engineering, Composition and all sorts of fun stuff. Make sure you get one for your level though, I’ve bought a few out of my comfort zone and they’re too hard to follow.
Interactive Magazines – I subscribe to a few magazine apps from Future Music that I think are incredibly good value. They have printable lessons, embedded audio and the content is brilliant. Well laid out, easy to use features and very cheap. They also do offers now and then when you can buy all the back issues at one really crazy low price. There are some great online magazines too but I find these less convenient than having it on my phone ready to go at all times.
Scribd – this one is controversial but the truth is I could never afford to buy all the books, articles etc I can get from here and I treat it as a library. I do often buy the books I find most useful though, sometimes an Ebook sometimes a hard copy. I prefer to own the real thing but for most of us who can’t afford to pay $70 for a single book (when they are hundreds I need) this is invaluable.
Truefire – I LOVE this site, I LOVE their lessons but I don’t subscribe. It’s great value especially when you buy on sale but I like to own the lessons, download them and watch on the app. I tend to buy their $5 deals which are out of this world bargains but I also buy some more expensive courses I know I’ll get a lot from. The teachers are world class, the lessons and resources are very good (mostly) and they’re fun, well structured and easy to use. BUT they are not for the beginner guitarist. You’ll need to be intermediate at least and even though a lot will be a little too hard but there are hundreds to choose from so there is plenty to work on. I find I can’t get past the first few Andy Timmons lessons not because they’re hard but because he’s given me so many concepts to work on I want to really focus on that before moving on.
YouTube – This one is obvious but I’m putting in there because I do use it a lot but it tends to be for when I’m really looking for something specific.
There are a lot of free resources and paid ones out there, Scotts Bass lessons is one I’d love to try but at the moment I can’t justify the cost. Bass isn’t enough of a focus for me and the workload my teacher gives me plus the books I have is enough but it does look good and his free lessons are superb.
These are just the ones I use and KNOW work for me.
However the thing is there’s no magic recipe in any of these, none of them will make you a better player/writer etc that can only be done by you. These are the tools you can use to do that but you have to know how, you have to have the drive to work through them and you have to pick the lessons that will benefit your goals. Don't just learn hard, learn SMART.
A year well used in the end
It's been a tough year and as with much of the world I'm in lockdown for Christmas but I'm also more fortunate than most being in Australia and for that I am grateful. So music journey update for the end of the year, what I achieved, what I didn't and what my plans are for next year.
What I achieved:
I took my grade 7 drum exam and passed, I took a hell of a risk this year and even now I'm still amazed I got through it. I wouldn't have if it hadn't of been for my teacher but we did it and I'm thrilled because it did exactly what I intended it to, it forced me to confront and make big progress on many of my weakest areas. It made me organise myself, find a more effective way to practice and forced me to put in far more time and effort than I did last year. I didn't just pass I changed who I am as a player and a student and that will continue to benefit me. I did a cover of Reelin' In The Years for my xmas cover and that was a LOT of song to take on. Every instrument kicked my behind but I'm happy enough with how it turned out. It was never going to be great but it wasn't offensive and that's all right I reckon! I've made really great progress on bass now I'm applying the right techniques and studying the right material. My rhythm guitar has improved a great deal, my timing is better and I'm starting to understand a lot more. I wrote music I'm proud of, I entered my first competition, I took on new genres in my writing and pushed myself. I learnt some sound design and my mixing and production are slowly improving. I look back at the player I was at the start of the year and I've come a long, long way. In that regard I'm incredibly happy. I think I did well.
What I didn't:
I'm still an inconsistent sloppy player on everything, I'm still struggling with bends on guitar, nice clean doubles on drums and using the correct fingering on bass. I've improved greatly in all these areas but we are now in year 3 for some of these things. I didn't cover anywhere near enough new genres in my writing and I'm still writing pretty boring basslines for the most part. My writing is definitely lagging in terms of progress behind my techniques and I need to see it filter through. I'm still learning new songs unbelieably slow and I'm very slow to learn in general although I do feel like I'm finally breaking through that wall. Next year will tell I guess.
I've got THE song to write and that pressure is huge, I'm not ready but I don't have a choice. I hope to do my grade 8 drum exam and I'm not aiming for any partular mark but I would like to do better (even by one mark) than this year and keep that pattern going. I think it's good just to push a little harder each time but beyond that it'll be enough pressure this one on it's own! I want to start writing more genres, more interesting parts, continue to improve my technique, become more consistent and work on my confidence. I want to really start to improve and use the rhythm guitar more, finish some songs I've been working on for a while and release another album and I want to work on my sight reading.
I'm so lucky to have the teachers I do, I say this all the time but I genuinely can't stress it enough. My guitar teacher goes out of his way to help me understand my way of learning and we've made amazing progress because of it this year as we finally figure it all out. My bass teacher has a lovely manner, he's patient and very enouraging but also pushes me just enough. I can't let myself be pushed as hard as I do on drums but none the less he's got great progress out of me, I'm happy anyway. I've never met any teacher who's so commited to their students as my drum teacher and he's brought me further out of my shell than I ever thought possible. He helps me so much and he's so patient because I'm a difficult bugger.
Finally ..... I've decided I know who I am as a musician after all this time!
I've decided I'm a drummer. I didn't choose to be one, I am because it's what fits me best. Not what I enjoy most (although I adore drumming) but learning drums although no easier than the other instruments feels so natural, it makes sense to me and I feel comfortable doing it to a degree I don't on the other instruments. When I play I feel most at home behind the kit as well. Guitar will always have my heart, we're an incompatible couple who struggle but I don't care because I love guitar and I will force myself to be a guitarist. It may be what I'll become but it'll never be who I am. Bass feels like a friend to me, I enjoy being around it but only for shorter periods of time. It's so easy to learn bass and I find playing fun and comforting but not all day! Writing has never been a primary draw for me, I enjoy it but I find writing to be something that has to command me, I can't wield it by choice. I'll always be a multi-instrumentalist and writer but drums are my real home and the place I'll feel most myself. I didn't expect that when I started, not at all but often we discover strange things about ourselves and at the end of the day we are what we are.
Goodbye 2020, it's been a really tough one but it's also brought me a long long way.
Time To Start Composing
This is proving to be a tough year and my fear is the axe is about to fall on much that I hold dear soon but I keep my hope up and I have my music which keeps my mind focused and my heart strong. I've had support like I've never known in my life though so there is a nice side too.
I still have all three of my teachers who are dearer to me than ever and my guitar teacher became a dad for the first time. It's been so amazing to see his personal life grow as he has seen my musical one grow but for now no lessons while he adjusts to the new routine. I miss them but this year it really is about the drums. That's where my focus is so here's the update on this journey.
I'm currently studying for my next drum exam, I'd love to say I'm full of confidence but I'm not however that is entirely expected and I as always made the conscious choice to push myself in order to obtain what matters most ... progress. It never gets easier but it always rewards me.
We are now just 1 year away from the anniversary song/gift which seemed forever when I started this blog. But the reality is I'm actually only a few months away from starting to write it and I am very far from the musician I need to be even though I've actually exceeded all my initial expectations by a long, long way (what was I thinking!!). It just goes to show just how much goes into all this. So I'm pushing myself extra hard because I have one chance to have a happy ending to this five year challenge and I'll do all I can to make that happen. It really matters to me.
My bass lessons are so much fun, again they're uncomfortable but that will always be the case beacause of my many ridiculous issues but I do thoroughly enjoy them and I can feel the benefit big time. This teacher (Andrew) is perfect for me and pushes me as well, he has me reading music not tab, working on my timing, really pushing my technique and studying different styles. We're currently doing slap which makes me very happy!
Drum practice is so good and lessons are tough but I look forward to them so much each week. I genuinely have the best teacher I could have hoped for, I don't make his life easy and he doesn't make mine but that's because I told him not to and I'm so passionate about drumming now. I'm very happy with the progress I've made this year but I'm also frustrated that I'm still struggling with so many basics. I see my son progress and it just cements how hard it is for me - fair - no - but that's life, I have gifts in other areas and I accept that and just try to work harder to compensate. I'm still hopeful one day my determination will pay off and I'll stop working against myself all the time. My hope is that my work ethic will be so ingrainded by then it will continue to carry me a long, long way. As far as I'd like to go? No, not a chance, I'm just not blessed with the talent for that but far enough to enjoy a huge chunk of what the music world has to offer. More than enough to keep me busy and happy and give me the tools to explore music as I'd love to.
In other areas I'm studying sound design, orchestration, EDM and obviously continuing on with guitar studies. I'm focusing on phrasing, Blues and rhythm guitar and we're looking at concepts which I then play with. It seems that way of working suits me. I still love guitar and I miss putting time into it but I have to balance out my goals as a whole and put my focus where it's most needed at each stage.
I've released more music into the world and of course as with this blog told no one it's there! I really like it and I know the few who've found it do too (the stats tell me they do!). I entered my first scoring competition which was a very big step for me. It was a big one so no chance of winning but that was never the goal. But the main thing is I'm still doing this, I'm still pushing myself more and more, I'm still loving every second of it and I'm still so grateful that my life took this strange and unexpected turn. Most of all I'm grateful for the teachers who are helping me make my dreams come true and for my hubby who supports this crazy life of mine. So until next time stay safe in these tough times and keep those dreams alive but most of all recognise and appreciate the wonderful things & people in your life even if sometimes it feels like the sky is falling. It does help.
Stepped it up again.. and again... and...
New year, new decade, new teacher, new exam but same old passion and love for what I do.
So first things first, quick update on where I'm at.
The drum exam... passed. It was as bad as I thought and I really hated it but all that mattered was that I did it and the icing on the cake was that I passed. I am very proud of myself. I'm doing another this year and I'm even more afraid because I know how it felt, I don't want to feel like that again but that is precisely what will drive me. The additional progress it will force is worth more than the few tears it will cause.
I have a new bass teacher, finally took the plunge and he's a lovely teacher who I'm certain will get me in shape over time. I'm really looking forward to this but it absolutely has added another layer of work and stress but also enjoyment (otherwise why do it?)!
Still with Zak (guitar teacher) and we're having the best time. I'm really progressing even though I still struggle but it feels good to make the progress we do and this year I'm absolutely ready to step it up. A lot of very important factors finally fell into place last year that's making things a lot easier on me.
Still with Simon (drum teacher) and he terrfies me but in the best way haha!! Simon can nudge me soooo far outside my comfort zone it's crazy and he's such a lovely guy and I enjoy our lessons even if they are painful too. So I have three wonderful teachers, very defined goals, some brutal sticks at my back and lots of amazing things to achieve.
Still writing of course! I'll save that for the next update.
I've spent the last few months mentally and physically preparing myself for this years work. It's mostly about building mental stamina not just to do tasks for long periods but to target areas of weakness without building stress. I still have a way to go but it's working and I'm achieving much more these days as a result. A bit like building any muscle, push until it feels a little sore, stop, rest, reset, push. It's very effective but it takes a lot of dedication and patience and of course if you don't want to really do it then it's pointless.
I'll leave it there and get on with my bass exercises, guitar routine and this weeks drum homework. It's not just a life I signed up for it's one I've designed and I love it but IT IS HARD!!!
Living In Musical Bliss
I haven’t totally abandoned this blog so I thought I’d put an update on here now and then as to where this crazy journey is at.
As far as teachers go I’m still with my guitar teacher, it’s been over 4 years he’s had to suffer my playing! We're trying to conquer my rhythm and soloing demons this year and I''m making fabulous progress even if it's incredibly hard. I'm still no natural! I’m no longer working with Tom but I do miss him and I’m sure he’s up to all kinds of crazy stuff, I'll always be grateful that he started me on this crazy path. I have been working with an awesome drum teacher called Simon for over a year. He enjoys torturing me but it's all for a good cause as I would estimate 80% of my total progress on drums has been since he started teaching me. He's got me working on a lot of skills daily and I've now begun applying that approach to guitar too.
A quick overview of what’s been going on.
1) I’m still practicing daily, pretty much all day, every day. So that did stick but these days it’s instinctive and I’ve spent the last few years digging in hard to establish routines & build up my work ethic.
2) I’m still writing. Constantly! Whether I want to or not, the more I learn the more I hear ideas & the more they adapt to become my own. I try to limit how much I write so I can stay focused more on developing technique & learn theory.
3) I’m taking my very first exam this year. My grade 5 drum exam from the Trinity Rock & Pop syllabus. I am terrified but that’s why I’m doing it. Still using my fears as a way to slingshot my progress forwards. Told you it works!
4) My guitar playing has come on huge leaps & bounds and while I’m very far from being good I have learned to navigate the fretboard thinking in “numbers” (scale tones) and chords. It took a long time but in the end I found a system that worked around my memory issues.
5) My little ‘home studio’ has been constantly evolving and I now have a fantastic set up & collection of instruments, effects pedals and recording equipment. It’s a room you’d never want to leave so I pretty much don’t!
6) I’m still on Instagram but I’ve scaled back a lot to focus on my learning. I have a lovely bunch of followers and I’m still refusing to use hash tags, or play the ‘game’. It works well for me, I support everyone I follow and I accept I get back what I do and that’s that. Generally speaking I get a lot back so it’s all worked out well.
7) I did it - I put my music out to the world .... but I didn’t really tell anyone 😂. There’s a EP on Spotify, Bandcamp & iTunes called Transcendence Of The Mind. My artist name is The Accidental Musician (no surprise there!). It’s on there because it’s a landmark along the way of my journey. Most songs were recorded within a few days but I’m proud of it none the less. I’m not embarrassed about any music I’ve put up anywhere. At the time it was a great achievement and any learning involves taking steps. We should never be ashamed to look back, that trail is the magic behind success.
8) At this time my future lies not in success, not in the commercial sense. I don’t have my sights set on being in a band, writing professionally etc. I may, but it’s not a goal. My goal is the exploration of music itself through writing. I learn so I can explore it in my writing, the two are intimately connected and there are millions of songs I could write in all genres, styles, tempos, some signatures. Hundreds of techniques to try out and mix, stories to tell, emotions to play with, theory to test out, rules to obey, to bend & to break. My passion grows daily, my love for playing grows daily, my enjoyment grows daily & its alllllllllll about playing. I intend to learn as much as I can and if I happen to leave a legacy of music others enjoy - great. If not - who cares, what a wonderful life I led.
So until the next update - come follow me on Instagram (accidentalmuso) if you want to follow all this more closely.
Or go check out the music, you’ll see I have a long way to go but also that I’ve come a long, long way since I started this blog. I hope it inspires you to chase your own dreams.
Here are a few songs I've done recently, Make It All Come True was gift and Cold Fever was just FUN! It really needs vocals and some shred lead but my chops aren't up there yet. The other two are 1min quick song experiments.
Every time I update at the moment I say I'm busier haha! But it's true, the more I can do the busier I get but as my wicked teacher says ...."it's all good"!
So song wise they're coming together faster. They're definatrly more varied and far better with timing. My bass playing & drums in particular are improving but I'm still really making the same song because I can't tap into my influences music genre wise.
So I've asked Tom if we can go back to learning, well technically I want to do both learn & write but learning is now too priority. I say learning, obviously I always am but I mean with more teaching from him and more directional. I've chosen Funk as a genre because it's going to be tough but if I can learn funk on drums and bass that will set me up nicely to learn others.
That and I love funk on drums & bass most!!!
I'm now starting to learn some funk with Zak on guitar too - yay! But all this means a lot more homework - plus the songs need to keep coming - plus everything I was already working on - plus god knows what but I'm sure there's more.
I love it though. Love it, love it, love it! Sometimes I get stressed, I often doubt myself, I get very overwhelmed & frustrated but never do I stop loving it 😊
I love my two teachers so much and I love that they're so different. Tom is always upwards and forwards and Zak is stick with it till you nail it. Neither are rigid but generally speaking that's the difference in them & it's a great balance (and push) for me.
So I'm still working on blues stuff at the moment and my new challenge is to spend 1/2 hour every day getting my arm moving constantly - even when I'm picking to think of it in time and to get the flow. It's so hard and is NOT coming naturally to me but we've been here before when I used to spend an hour a day getting used to 16th note picking. I'm generally very good at doing my homework because I respect that it's for my own good.
Tom has given me that start of a song which I have to learn & record all parts for then do the chorus. It's terrifying!!! But it will be interesting to do, because I'm carrying on his thinking it will take longer but I'm determined to do this.
I got The Eye Of The Tiger cover done for my birthday - yay! That was so much harder than I thought it would be & has so many flaws but I'm proud as anything. It's on Instagram if you want to check that out. And I wrote my first strum/fingerpicked song on acoustic which as you know is a HUGE achievement for me. That's been so so so much work to get to. I need to write many more, it's just the first step BUT it is a step. FINALLY!!!!!
So good week! Now I'm past the basics and we're pushing technically it's getting really hard and is requiring me to dig in but I knew this was always going to be the case and I love every single second of this life.
Update over 😉
The last few months have really been a whirlwind and with various ups and downs overall a giant step forward. In the scheme we're talking a puddle in the ocean but to me that puddle represents 2 years of incredible hard work. More tears than I care to admit and yet never ever did I consider giving up. Not for a single day.
That's the key - it's not about belief (although that really helps), it's not about success (yep that helps too!) it's about moving forward no matter what. Every time I've looked ahead that's when I struggle but it's inevitable, every now and then we all want to see where we are and get our bearings and that's when I deflate.
But even then I never ever stop moving forward. No matter how slow, no matter how small the steps - forward is forward.
Being able to write songs, even small ones that aren't great is incredible. My dream has already come true but I'm not yet writing the music I want to. I think that's what is hard to understand about me. It comes across as me being defeatest or something but it's not that at all. Since day one I had a dream of the kind of music I would write and we're not talking Jimmie Hendrix (although I wouldn't say no haha!!). We're talking in terms of a basic level - the type of music NOT the quality. Quality will come after I get to the level I'm looking to reach.
Think of it as a basic food recipe. I don't want to make Michelin Star quality pancakes just simple eggs & flour edible ones THEN I'll learn how to make them amazing. Crap analogy but I just want to try and explain. Right now I'm making stodgy I'll eat it if I'm starving pancakes 😆. But it's closer, so much closer.
The next 6 months are going to be incredibly challenging as I try to reach that level. That's my new goal and I've dug my heals in - and you know what that means. Frustration, wins, losses, joy, tears but in the end I'll be posting how wonderful it is to get through it the same way I've been so pleased to get where I am now. But that level although it will be from the last I aim for will be a game changer for me.
To work then!!!
Its so so hard at the moment but it's a great thing. I feel like I'm making some good progress at the moment especially on guitar & piano. Doing the covers is helping a lot because they're forcing me to practice new skills on all the instruments and they're teaching me about song structure. They are so very difficult and this latest one is really taking time but I'm loving it to bits.
My workload is now epic but this is they key to finally reaching that first step or platform that I want to be on. As always a big part of what's been pushing me is the amazing support I'm getting and what's the greatest is for the first time I'm just being me. I'm enjoying this so much right now I can't even explain.
My goal for the next few months is to work through this whole list so I can start a new one. That's going to take some very hard work but once I'm on the other side of it I'll have the skills to write simple songs in various genres. From there it's about building better songs, improving or learning additional skills and trying to create better songs.
Never stops amazing me all of this 😊
I think it's fair to say I'm Woking especially hard even for me! Yesterday I needed to have a bit of light relief so I let myself just have fun with a quick song. Me being me I still pushed and this time it was about going upbeat and using the piano in a more rhythmic way.
Even though the drums are classic me there is a extra kick which was actually quite hard to get right. I did all up strums on rhythm guitar on the off beats which you can't hear specifically but they emphasise that fun bouncy feel.
The other video is an update of the piano song I'm working on with the new intro and a conceptual idea of the structure for the rest. I'm loving this song to bits but still a long way to go.
I'm working really hard on my new cover. Each instrument is reasonably easy except for one or two parts which is really challenging me. This is going to be so good 😊.
I'm working really hard on the Zakk Wylde solo. And I'm doing lots of general practice too. So busy busy busy!
Its been a while since I wrote lyrics, I've been so busy writing music but th other day I was inspired and this came out. I wrote another today for my daughters school project (lyrics didn't get marked so I wasn't helping her cheat!!).
It feels nice to be writing lyrics again but I still need a lot of work before they're any good.
In the meantime my job list is growing. I have a fun new cover Tom is helping with and I have another I want to work on with Zak. Zaks one will take a LOT longer but I want to try. I'm actually practicing my shredding too 😆🤘😂. Seriously I am and I'm actually enjoying it, something I never thought I'd say but it won't become my style of playing. It would be great to incorporate into my songs from time to time though.
Other than that on drums I'm trying to keep a rhythm going on the kick drum while I add in things like double crashes or a little rhythm in the snare. It's harder than it sounds but it's great practice. And everything else I've recently updated on.
So it's lesson day *dances excitedly*, I'll be up till god knows when doing god knows what but it's allllll good 😊.
For the first time I actually feel focused, like I'm moving forward and I'm enjoying it all so much at the moment. Having somewhere to share my passion and ideas without any pressure is so nice. I probably still apply more pressure to myself than I should but that's just me.
Lesson day with Zak was yesterday and it was awesome as always. We're into the blues and I have a lot of homework plus we're going to learn a Zakk Wylde song which is very cool.
I've found yet another song idea that I'm playing with on piano but the other one is taking priority because I love it. Zak said it was his favourite of my piano songs so far so that's really nice. I'm enjoying building it for certain!
So many exercises, projects and all sorts going that even with the hours I practice it's not enough time 😆.
The best thing right now is I've taken some steps forward and I do feel closer to that minimum level I aspire to. I wouldn't say it's within my grasp but it's ebbing closer. And that feeling is giving me focus and fresh determination. I suspect at some point I will nose dive again, it's pretty much inevitable but it's less often & less painful now mainly because I know there are people who believe in me.
I'm writing a new piano song and this one I want to really work hard on because I think it's beautiful, or at least it would be if I could play like Tom but I'll have to do my best with what I've got. It's another of my mixed key songs but you can see the demo in the video. I've actually added a few more chords than you'll see including a Bdim which I love to bits.
I'm still working on "It's Never Easy" - I've redone the guitar verses and I'm happier with how they are going but I'm still frustrated at my crappy playing. But as I'm always saying better is one step closer - always.
On bass I'm still learning "Little Green Bag" - such a cool song! I'm really pushing hard on getting left hand independence on piano which is going to take FOREVER and is incredibly frustrating. I'm trying to work on drum rhythms over songs and get my foot working without me thinking - that's also going to take FOREVER. I'm trying to funk up more on bass - FOREVER and I'm working very very hard on soloing and of course that funky playing style on guitar.
One thing that has really helped is playing over a basic drum beat and either strumming or pick a barre chord for a bar and then noodle for a bar thinking about the chord I'm playing. I try to focus on using the whole fretboard and to think about rhythms and about connecting the last line to the next one. In doing that I'm working on my barres, my timing, my rhythm, soloing over chords, soloing within a particular scale, scale shapes and I'm sure many other things. What I love about exercises like this is that if you think about what you're doing it's never boring because you're improving so many areas as long as you focus on them. That's cool!
So many cool things about music! I'll try posting regularly again but it's tough with so much effort going into my Instagram posts and my practice is now insane. I do think I've had a few steps forward recently though so that makes me feel good. STILL not being able to play even simple versions of blues, rock or funk songs frustrates the hell out of me though. Only one solution - work..! I need to get my head down and figure out out.
I still have a long way to go but for a first weeks progress I'm happy and I love this new song. I'm still very confined to my "position" when I play but again it's improving and I'm still following my ear with regards to cooky chord progressions but that makes it fun.
I was really stuck how to add more in terms of bass, guitar or extra drums. Then I picked up my guitar and this recording was something like the second or third take, it just happened and I love it. The guitar brings out the piano and the other way too and the simple drums then really sound cool. At least I think so.
The ideas are coming faster and most are easier to put together but I still find it hard when one is done and I'm staring at the chasm that is the lull between one idea and the next.
I still want to do a couple of songs that move away a little from my melodic playing but that will come in time. I've got the ideas and the 'formula' will eventually make its way into my brain.
It's a new week and I'm excited to see where this one leads.
I've done my second cover song and this one has special meaning. When I met my hubby music was a big part of what made us tick and the band we both loved most was Depeche Mode. We've seen them at least 10 times, we own every album, box set you name it!
So to do a cover of Personal Jesus was a labour of love - and it was a labour, it was very hard. More than 20hrs work in total went into it but I'm so so happy with the results.
Then comes the crash! But luckily a few new ideas have already popped into my head and hands. During my lesson with Tom he said I had to start work on my left hand on piano and get it working well. It's hard and it's going to take me ages but it has to be done and I'll be grateful when it is. While practicing today a new quick song idea came out so I'm going to try and get that put together for tomorrow. It's nice, a bit jazzy but I think it will be good.
I'm also going to try and do Little Green Bag. You may remember (if you've been reading that long!) way back when I started this blog that it was the song that made me pick up the bass. I love bass so much now even I'm surprised that at one time it held zero appeal to me! This was the song that made me try and I'm now going to try and learn it to speed and clean. I'm getting there, there's a couple of tricky bits but I'm getting it. I'm not sure if it'll be a cover of just bass. Cover songs are huge effort and gain me no more reward than any other post. I will still do them after all the point of Instagram for me is to push myself and these do but I need to pick carefully.
Life is caaaaaaarrrrraaaaazzzzeeee! I've got so much on I don't know which way to turn but it's a good problem to have. So im learning the Blues so I have my homework from Zak.
I've got my fingerpicking to work on using bass notes with one finger and using the others to solo. I'm also trying to get confident strumming the going for a noodle somewhere on the fretboard then coming back for the next chord to start strumming again. Boy is that tricky.
I'm still working on the parts for my song with that awesome solo.
I've got a rock Instagram song I've begun & a new cover song that is going to do much fun once I get it together. I've still got a bundle of outstanding songs I need to finish and they are growing all the time.
I've got several bits of homework Toms given me I'm still working on too.
I remember the days when all I had to worry about was a few bars from a song! But all this stems from my progress so it's a great problem to have.
I did one of my noodles, this time with s very chilled backing track. Enjoy 😊
It was lesson day today *yahoo* and we started learning the Blues. As you know Blues & Funk are the two genres I most want to play closely followed by Rock & Folk(ish).
It's simple - (well it's not but you get the gist) - stuff to start but I still need to put that metronome on and play play play. I'm excited though because this will open up another set of ideas I can tap into. And you know me, give me one idea and I'll explore it a hundred ways.
He also gave me another tip for writing rock songs. I really want to put together a rock song or two to my Instagram account to mix up the melodic stuff. It involves some of the stuff I'm already working on which is cool because I can use it in multiple areas of my writing. I put together another song today too, this one was about the guitar & piano playing off of each other and finding a kind of harmony. I didn't nail the brief but it's much better than any previous attempt so again it's a step forward.
I'm getting so excited at the areas that are beginning to open up to me. The future is full of possibility and wonder and I can't wait.
ive done covers but only on one instrument but this time I did one for all of them. What I'm super proud of is that I learnt the guitar (relearnt I actually learnt it a year ago but never got it up to speed) in an hour. I also had to figure out the drums, bass and piano riff myself as there were no tabs for them. So that is two giant steps in one day.
It's simple (except the guitar which is not!) but none the less it sounds like their song and that's so so good for me.
The other thing I wanted to talk about is accountability. With the support I'm getting on Instagram I feel the push to make sure I get better, think more creatively and make sure my content is quality. That's a healthy thing because I think anyone posting for others on social media should care about their audience. Not about what will get them to watch but whether it holds genuine value.
That's an incredible motivator and I'm really feeling it. I'm honoured to be in this position so I'll take pride in doing what I can. We're not talking hundreds just a few but even one is enough because that person much like you guys is taking time out of their day to pay attention to me.
Not to mention the encouragement and support I've got for what I'm doing. All in all I'm humbled & honoured and incredibly touched. Nobody outside my closest has ever cared like that for me before.
I actually had my first instance of writing a song today that was very similar to one I've already done. It was remarkably better and yes it was different but it was too close for what I wanted so I changed it up. Technically I wrote two songs in one day haha but I'll count it as one. The piano is impro and what I tried to do was mix up the rhythm a bit more than usual, to phrase I guess a bit more and most of it I quite like. I can certainly feel what I was going for even if it's not all the way there.
The drums was about nailing the timing, getting nice clean kicks and hitting the rim on the snare and then there is that triplet on the snare at the end of every forth bar. That actually took a bit of practice to get really nice and clean and even so I'm proud of that. The bass is only single notes following the bass notes of the piano but I tried to add some flavour by "singing" along rather than repeating the same thing over. The slides played an important part in that but I wanted to use rhythm too. It was quick, timing is a bit better than normal but still wanting.
So on to guitar. During my lesson with Zak he gave me some tips on fingerstyle playing for my writing and I had a ding moment. Lots of the ground I've been covering with Tom suddenly connected. So I'm practicing playing bass notes then soloing over the other notes then bass note etc. I'm also thinking about runs and about double stops and about chords I can play, about finger picking options so I can harmonise as well as playing the single notes. About creating a bass line. So far it's difficult, all the aspects I need to practice loads before I get anywhere near to writing something but I'm very pleased that finally I know what I need to do. Well at least what I need to do to have a foundation to work from.
As a side note I'm really feeling timing so much better. I can now sit at the piano noodle out an idea and within a few minutes I've figured out the time signature & tempo and can record. I'm also finding my fingers working much stronger in piano to created melodies, rhythms etc. Still so so soooooooooooo far to go yet but a step is a step :) My guitar timing is improving too, I find it so hard still but I'll get there.
It took more than 20 hours of playing and over 1200 individual attempts but I have the guitar part done! Well mostly I still need to work on my technique in particular changinging between notes much faster and smoother but I'm thrilled.
It's been painfully difficult but I've learnt so much from it, my technique and playing skill has improved. My ear is a bit better, using all the fretboard to solo is a 'bit' easier, my writing, timing, dynamics and rhythm have all improved a little. And s little for me is a big thing. That's all you can do when you're learning music is do your thing and practice and accept that time will do its thing.
There is still a mountain to climb with this song and at then I'll have an 'ok' song. The difference being I'll know it's filled with a tonne more skill across the board and that is what matters.
What's left to do?
I have to (I don't HAVE to I want to) learn my teachers solo, that's going to push me on again and even if he records the final version because my skill level isn't good enough it will still me a very good exercise for me. I learn most by doing and by analysing what I'm playing while I'm doing it I will understand much better than looking at a tabbed sheet.
I have to write the piano into guitar into piano into guitar into piano into ... well the bit I just wrote. To pull the whole thing together.
I need to figure out the chorus, most of the drums are coming out but it still needs something instead.
It needs a pad underneath to knit everything together - "oh Tom...!".
It needs a second part to play off of the solo where the two guitars come together and the piano needs to be more interactive too but subtle subtle subtle!
Other than that it's done 😆.
I'm also working on a new piano song which I'm excited about. Lots and lots and lots of work ahead on that one.
So back to work I go! Hope you enjoy my playing.
That guitar in my song is causing me so much stress. I feel like I'm going around and around in circles, the more it improves the more the bad bits get under my skin. With over 1000 recordings and at least 15-20 hours sat there at one stage or another you can see why.
Then tomorrow Zak will come in and just get it but he can't write it for me because I have to learn. Also because if he does the song is no longer mine and that's too far. So the poor sod has to find a way to get me to not be rubbish while not taking over my song and putting up with my epic levels of stress. And I have to find away to let go of the incredible amount of effort I've put in for small reward and look forward.
So as you can see I'm in my stressed, overwhelmed and firmly directing all my anger and frustrations inwards again. It's what I do, can't help it, I'll have a good drum later and that will help.
But I also decided that a good impro songwriting session might help. Just go with the flow, find the chords, noodle away and keep it fun, light & quick. It wasn't 100% smooth sailing I'll confess but an hour and a half later the post was on Instagram. I really like it too, it's definitely in need of work, it's s bit messy and there are big timing issues in places but.... I like it. I think pouring out my emotions is something I need to do more often.
I am so grateful for these things right now, between the bass, electric & acoustic guitars I'm spending hours every day doing the equivalent of running my fingers over cheese wire & sandpaper!
Thankfully though hundreds & hundreds of hours of practice have really toughened me up and it's causing me no grief what so ever. Well none to my fingers anyway!
The guitar section of my song is starting to take shape now, it's slow going and I have to keep playing it over and over trying to find the rhythms that connect it all together. The start and later sections I'm relatively happy with, the middle is getting there and I have firm idea about the end. There is just one bit in the middle that isn't quite right. And this is assuming Zak likes where I'm going which he may not.
I'll keep plugging away at it because it's worth it. This is one of those things that makes me realise how far I've come and slaps me down showing me how far I have to go. This time though I've got such a hunger for it I just want to move forward so I can play.
Guitar lesson has moved again this week so it feels like forever between lessons but I do have a lot to do. It'll be something yo look forward too 😊.
I've come such a long way since I started this blog back in November. If you're just starting or are trying to improve I hope this gives you hope, probably a bit of a reality check too but nothing is easy or free. I'm loving it so much, more each day. I truely believe music isn't something you choose to persue, it's something that chooses you and once it's got you on its hook it's will own you forever. I can live with that!
I guess technically it's busy bee as in only one but we'll let that slide!
My internet is hopeless so it's making posting very hard so sorry for the missed days. On top of that I've been so so busy. The song I put up the other day has changed so much since Tom got to it and all my guitar work has to be redone. It now has an epic solo at the end which Zak wrote and I have to learn and I need to write a kind of bridge between the last guitar verse and his solo via the old "chorus".
It's going to be good for me as it's pushing my writing skills technique and soloing in one go. It's going to be hard because my guitar writing, technique & soloing are rubbish!
I've got to rethink some of the piano too and I think the drums need more oomph. But I'll start with the guitar and see if I can make it worth doing the rest however there are weeks of work ahead for me.
Other than that I'm still practicing Escape To You so I can get that really nailed and finished and the drums still need to be done. I have to start practicing the arpeggio patterns Tom gave me and I need to put together a few quick song ideas we can dig into.
I did find time for another quick song. These are good for me, they push me to think about structure and melody and interwoven rhythm and push me on technique but quickly. So here you go, this one is a bit different in that I challenged myself to write a song with only one chord and use only the notes within it. I picked D7. It also is in a 6/4 time signature and is at 120bpm which is quite quick for me.
It feels like forever when we miss a week but Zaks back for guitar lessons today.
Tom attacked (in a good way) my song from the last post and I've got a load of work to do on it including a wicked "David Gilmore" style solo. I'm not trying to be predictable or cliche it really does need one! He took the piano solo and has layered it so it loops and builds and builds and BUILDS. I've already begun work on the bass which is sounding very cool and with some strings and a whopping guitar solo it's going to be awesome!!
I'm beginning to get my head around building songs from simple concepts but we'll have to see what happens when I try to put it into practice.
I've got a new fingerpicking idea on guitar, it's incredibly simple right now but it has masses and masses of room to manoeuvre which I'm looking forward to working on.
I NEED this week to get to a good place with 'Escape to you' because it's a beautiful song and I want it sounding really special.
Drums I've learnt a new beat and I'm going to try and build a quick song from it. It's so good to be learning drums properly although it's still slow going because we have so much else.
So ... to sum as I haven't for a while.
Guitar - soloing slowly improving, fingerpicking and song building moving forward by a big step.
Bass - writing nice melodies now and technique a bit better but I need to funk up!! Learnt a new trick yesterday to add to my solos so that's cool!
Piano - my fingers are working more naturally within different keys and are finding rhythms better. But not a huge step forward, however this one is my least concern right now.
Drums - timing is much better and I'm picking up new ideas. Technique still sucks but it's a bit better.
Songwriting - massive improvement, stronger concepts, more variety and I'm starting to put more of myself into them. Still a rediculously long way to go but I've done my first couple of songs in a different time signature. I've started with each instrument for the initial concept and they are sounding stronger.
It's been 4 months since I wrote my first full song - I'm looking forward to seeing where I'll be by Christmas but I'm certainly in no rush to get there. I'm also excited by my recent progress on guitar, it's not a huge step but it's an important one.
On we go.....!
Im exceptionally proud of this song. It started as a little melody on the piano after a lesson, evolved into an Instagram post and has become by far my most favourite song.
It's the first time I've been able to play off the piano, bass & guitar like I wanted to. It's got melody, a rock element, catchy lines & I think my playing on all instruments is much stronger.
It's not finished as this is my structure recording but I'm so pleased with it. The guitar sounds 'woosy' but that will get fixed and I think there is still room to push the guitar in the choruses to really amp it up but that will take time as I have to learn how first!!!
It's definitely been a challenge this one. To get the ideas to work, to play like I wanted, to make it all bounce properly and most importantly to really get that chorus to come to life was HARD.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Learning Time Log
How long I've been learning as at at the end of Dec 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!