The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
So much going on this week my workload is going nuts.
I'm working on all 6 songs, I have one laid down to metronome (Weather The Storm) and that ones good to go. I have one that I've laid down to time (Old Road Home - it's that bluesy sounding guitar song I put on Instagram a couple of weeks back) but I'm awaiting instruction on whether the structure is ok and then I need to practice the hell out of it to get it as nice as possible because my guitar playing SUCKS.
I have a third that I've worked an intro and melody for (Take It Or Leave It) but again I'm awaiting feedback on it. I also have an idea that I've sent across but I need to see whether Tom likes it and if he does then I've got a mammoth job with both Tom & Zak but it could be very cool and will push my soloing on both electric and acoustic. I'll probably do it as a side project if Tom hates the idea but in simple terms it's a mix of Tom style funky soloing on acoustic & Zak cool style on electric, one low and bassy the other more David Gilmour esk all about expression - where they play off each other and it builds up and up AND UP before falling back into that cool piano then into "something new" as yet to be thought of haha!!
Then there are the other two which are nowhere near record ready. Then there is Zak's solo I've started work on but I need to push hard on that this week especially as I want to work on this electric thing and the skills he's getting me to work on are crucial. There is the drum song which is making progress now - I can actually use both feet (sometimes haha!) but again I really want that down by next week.
A crazy amount of work.
I also figured out the crash/perspective thing finally and it was really simple in the end. In a nutshell, we already know why I crash, the problem is why it's so painful and I think the problem is I look at these guys and they are up in the stars, the stars I'm aiming for but the problem is I really don't think my ladder goes that high. That probably seems like a contradiction to the post the other day regarding finding some perspective but if you think about it, I achieve a big new step and feel hope (hence the post) then we move onto the next thing, I see how far I am from them still and BAM - faceplant!!! What happens at that point is while I don't expect to be in their league what I'm "feeling" is that we're not even in the same universe, not that I won't get there, that it's not possible and my heart breaks. Then we move on, I feel yay I'm closer until I look again and bam...!
It's all in my head and it's because I can't see the REAL problem ..... I can't see the path that leads there - I need them to show me the path and show me that I'm really on it, the steps I'm going to be taking to get there. If I can see what I need to do, if they can convince me I can do it then when I'm struggling I have my..... dun dun dunnnnnn...... perspective - the balance I've been looking for to counter the struggle or frustration. Not compliments just cold hard facts about what I'm doing, what I need to do and the actual path I'll be taking to get there so I understand - so I can visualise it and pull on it at the difficult times. Right now I feel like I'm winging it and sooner or later they'll figure it out, I know they don't see it that way but I do!
Simples! Yeah ok maybe not simple but I'm pretty certain this is the answer that won't stop me headbanging (that is quite necessary I'm afraid) but it will give me something to hold on to stop me drowning while I do my headbanging haha!!
I've only been in love twice in my life (obviously i'm in love with my children too but that's a different thing all together) and I've married them both!
One legally, I met that old thing when I was just 14 and he was 15 on a school trip, the best bit is we didn't really fancy each other at all. Friends pushed and we just thought why not, friendship bloomed..... the rest is a lifetime of love. Obviously I still love him to bits - I mean, I've put a time bomb over my head to write a pretty darn good song for him in a few years - no pressure!
Then there is my second love, music. I don't just love to play I am head over heals in love with music, the same feeling I have for my husband. That may sound daft but it's not really, both bring me comfort and joy, both are the main reason for my life, both give and take but neither demand it, it's my choice. Both need lots of work (haha!) and I 'belong' to both of these now whether I like it or not (I like it!).
Last night was a bad one I couldn't sleep until 2am then I woke up several times and finally gave up at 7am. I'm shattered but the first thing I think.... oh good it's Saturday I have the weekend to get some really heavy practice in (like I don't anyway???!!!). Then Monday's are guitar lesson days and are so much fun, Tuesdays are my nervous day waiting to see if Tom will confirm Wednesday (he cancels a lot but recently has been an angel so I'm on tenderhooks waiting for the run to end!!) then Wednesday is lesson day and I love this lesson because I never know where we're going but we have crazy amounts of fun, Thursday is the day I have 2 hours sleep and go OMG I've got so much to work on then into Friday which is my more relaxed day, I tend to take a bit of a breather before waking early Saturday and going.......!
Yes that's a little obsessive (ok a lot!!) but if you think of it more as a marriage then I'm just taking joy in the life I share with music. For instance at around 12pm every day I know at some point my hubby is going to call me and I get excited waiting for the call. At 7pm he comes home and I get excited to see him, I love weekends because he's around but by Monday I'm glad for a bit of quiet! It's no different just that music is not only something I love it's something I enjoy for hours every day so it's not a surprise really. Then factor that it comforts me to have something to latch onto and, not 'obsess' about that's not right but, put my energy into. It focuses my brain which otherwise thinks about everything all the time. It just so happens that in music that's a very useful trait!
Being in love feels good, the only worry is that someone or something will take it away. And funnily enough I'm still falling deeper - doesn't seem possible does it, but it is. I guess because the more I can do the happier I feel, the more passionate I become and the joy turns into more love. That's one of the reasons I adore my teachers, other than the fact they're great friends and awesome musicians they gave me this gift.
It's lesson day - Cheshire cat grin! But I thought today I'd say a thanks (to you guys!) and give an overview of why I don't go around chasing 10,000 followers.
You've probably noticed by now I'm not exactly a social media nutl! I'm around on various platforms but I tend to keep my head down, I enjoy connecting with those who follow me and build slowly rather than have thousands of followers. In my opinion these days "social' media is anything but, people don't want to connect they just want big numbers behind them to sell to. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking them if it didn't work they wouldn't be doing it so the sheep obviously want to be farmed. But it's not for me and it never will be. I hate playing 'the game' I'm too open and too honest and I genuinely do care about others & my music.
I have done it, it's not bitterness talking, in fact quite the opposite. I used to do a LOT of it for my old business, I had a facebook page with a respectable number of followers, I had a blog that did pretty well, a website that had decent traffic and all the rest. I wrote a regular column for a prestigious local magazine, produced my own mini magazine for the shop and all sorts........ and I hated it! I know how to do it, you'd be surprised at how good I can be if I want to but I just don't see why I should.
I want to speak & connect through my music and my passion and really - genuinely - connect with people - with you. Less is more ... after all we already know I'm not aiming for a record label deal here! So why rush and why build followers who don't really give a stuff, I already have lots of them but I'll ween them out over time. 20 people who love what I do is worth far more than a thousand who'll trade a like for a like don't you think?
So for a long while yet you have me all to yourselves - and a BIG thank you for following me in the first place - you're a small but very much appreciated bunch!
As therapeutic as this blog can be I will always try very very hard to keep it reader focused. If I'm ever doing anything good - or bad! - let me know, don't be afraid to connect with me on any of the social networks I'm on. I'm super friendly honestly, I think I'm the only person on Instagram who actually follows the people I follow!!
Guess I'll be up super late again tonight so we'll see what fun I have to post about tomorrow!
This self confessed music nut isn't completely without her vices. I thought as it's been a week of hard work (and then some) I'd lighten the mood and confess some of my guilty pleasures!
Ive already shared the link to my Spotify playlist but here it is again in case you fancy being nosy - I know I love peeking at people's music it's so much fun seeing what I have in common.
Top ten guilty pleasures.. (not in order!)
1). Everybody - Backstreet Boys
2) Rock Me Amadeus - Falco (how bad it that haha!)
3). Patricia The Stripper & Spanish Train (Chris De Burgh, I know it's two!)
4) Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice (hanging my head in shame)
5). The Humpty Dance - Digital Underground
6). This Used To Be My Playground - Madonna
7). Heart Skips A Beat - Olly Murs (I love Rizzle Kicks shhhh!)
8). Neighbourhood - Space
9). Strawberry Fields Forever - Candyflip
10). Ball - Craig Armstrong
That's a very guilty and very eclectic little mix for you to go try out. I wonder if any will sneak into you're own guilty pleasure list - probably not haha!
I'm one of those people who come up across a challenge and instead of slowing down and preparing to get through it in a timely fashion I crank it up to 300% and smash my way through the problem. I learned to do this to cope with the struggles of my business but I didn't realise (obviously) at the time I would be learning music. I've been (and will continue to) applying the same thing to learning music but what I didn't factor in was after you crash through one problem there is another, and another, and they get harder and harder and....! It's a great way to progress but it's a very difficult thing to sustain so I'm finding the joy in everything I'm doing right now and looking at the lighter side or life, it helps me cope because I don't think there are many people who appreciate just how HARD I'm pushing myself right now - hence today's fun little breather (I'm going to go and listen to ALL these now haha!).
Coffee time for me then practice begins, I've got the latest wall to bang my head against of course! Enjoy your day, evening or night 😊
Oh just to keep you up to date here is my latest double stop solo attempt - any better?
Brief this week is to go from single notes to double to single in a flowing way. To add different rhythms to the notes, to try to add more playing away from the beat and the & and to focus on repetition of rhythm and notes but not to straight (so over different area or within a different rhythm etc).
Told you they just fall out of my head, I really felt lost on ideas this morning and thought that to be honest I've got so much learning to do it doesn't really matter because it will be good to get my head down. A few hours later and I'm writing a new song yay! I love writing, it's frustrating as anything but it's also so much fun and a real journey. From the first few notes or chords to a finished song all done by me (yeah I know broken record, we've been over this but I do get all excited!).
This one is throwing up some challenges but which of my songs didn't? No surprise there then! It does have electric in it, lots of emotion so expect some serious strings in there and I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I have an few ideas building I love to pieces, it's very dramatic and very pretty. At the moment my head is leading me to mainly piano to push the new learning I'm doing but it depends whether I can get enough control in there to make it work, it's still very early days.
So much still to figure out like will there be a bridge in this one - probably I do like a bridge! What the chords for the verse will be and verse melody, that might stump me for a while but hopefully it will come out when I noodle.
It's in the key of Bm so a new one for me and will be the first that's really based around piano but I think I will be using both acoustic and electric guitar but not sure exactly how yet.
So there you go - not much to go on but at least you know something is on it's way. I think this one will be keeping me busy all weekend, will I get it done before Monday? hummm not so sure.
As for the other song, I have some finger style techniques to learn and then we're going to think about applying them so that one really will be a long long wait I'm afraid but it will be worth it I'm sure.
I like a lot of music. I can even enjoy some dance, some rap (as long as they don't start the whole N thing I hate that), I like some classical, more and more jazz (shhh don't tell anyone, not that jazz is a bad thing to like but I've always made a big thing out of not liking it haha!). I like country, indie, heavy metal (again not when they start grunting what is with that anyway?), pop etc etc etc.
I do not and will never ever ever EVER like opera. It goes right through me and leaves me wanting to claw at something. *shudders*.
But one style I loathe which is across multiple genres is what I call 'strum strum'. It's that music where the instruments just play one single rhythm, all in time with each other all at the same time, going nowhere except to the next chord or in the case of the drums to the next borrrrring fill. No melody, no funky rhythms, no break, no nothing. It's in dance music, it's in rock it's everywhere and I HATE it.
I was looking through Spotify this morning looking to see if there are any good new releases and you know when you hold down on the album you can preview the tracks (if you didn't you do now, go try it it's very useful). Anyhoo I was doing that and album after album of this strum strum kept coming up even from bands I like. What I mean by that is if you can go through the track previews one by one and it just sounds like you're skipping to another part of the same song it's strum strum. Just one big song played in a different key with different words and a slightly different rhythm, it's lazy music and when it's one one or maybe two songs it can be cool but as an album it's ARGH.
Now yes this may be the muso talking but seriously I've always hated it. My hubby used to be into loads of bands that play this way, he prefers listening to lyrics so it suited him but I wanted to scream by the fourteenth song that sounded exactly the same. You hear it a lot when bands have lost their creative drive. It's why I love everything Dangermouse (the producer not that cartoon character) has ever done. He has a style yes which you can detect in what he does but he's never boring because he always takes what is there and works it, he doesn't rework it which is admirable but just teases out a bit more. Just listen to the latest Chili Peppers album, it's far from their best but it does feel revitalised and a bit different.
I know people do like this so I'm not criticising in that regard, each to their own and all that, but I do hate it personally, I find it obvious and boring. Many of Spotify's playlists are like this too, they take perfectly good songs and mix them with another 100 that sound the same so by the end my brain is numb. I like to take great songs and compliment them with others based within the same genre but off to one side or another. Again I get this is probably just me.
But there you go, a mini rant today :) Why not!
I'm working like mad this week, so much to practice and so many things to learn and right now they all feel incredibly hard. On top of that I've decided to challenge myself to write another song, this time based around acoustic guitar but on a more stripped down level. I want to try to write something that will leave room in the drums for some of the dynamics I talked about yesterday and give me an opportunity to develop "conversation" between the instruments. It will also give me a bit of room to try and incorporate a little bit of slide guitar too. Do I feel nervous about that or what (they answer to that if you didn't guess is HELL YES), no lesson on how to do it just a quick 'this is roughly how you do it off you go' - this should be interesting!
My teacher Tom has a style of playing I love, eventually I want to mix his more rhythmic style with Zaks cool lead style to form my own blend. I have a very very rough idea of what I'm looking to achieve but I won't really know until I can do both and start to experiment. Looking forward to that though - that's where I shine, I take two things that people tell me won't go together and I not only make it work I make it really work but I need to good picture in my head first - if I can do that here it should be lots of fun.
So I'm mixing plucking chords, strumming and finger picking and trying to focus on a mixture of rhythm and melody mixed together to give me a foundation for the other instruments to play around. At least that's the initial idea, I really REALLY don't know where this one is going. I'm starting with some fun 7th and 9th chords and it's in the key of Em which is a new one on me but it's working nicely (so far) and creating a really strong mood and I have a cheerier 'walk down' style section I'm going to work in there which is nice.
I do know this one is going to take time, it's a style I've only played twice before when learning songs Tom gave me and I have no idea how he goes about writing so it will be a lot of trial and error but it will also give me a real challenge rather than throwing out another simple song. In the meantime another may happen anyway, they tend to just vomit out of my head without warning so we'll see!
As an extra side note if you want to catch up on how "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" is going then head on over to my Instagram page. Still a long way to go but it's getting there. As always have a great day (or evening) depending when you read this!
Apart from that I've finished the video for Bitter Sweet, it's not good but it doesn't matter because these are just quick songs. This one was start to finish in 4 days, we're not talking recording studio quality so I can't afford to waste time or money (hence the cheap footage!) on the vids. I'll post the link when it's on YouTube as usual. Still loving the song!
In the meantime thank you for reading my waffle and being part of the journey for this first few songs. It's been a roller coaster and pretty darn amazing (yes I just said darn *grin*). I'm starting today as I mean to go on so guilty playlist is on and I'm rocking to "When the Sh__ goes down" by Cypress Hill - what a fun toon!
And then comes the less glamorous side of all this - the real work.
Yesterday was lesson day and everyone gets something cool to learn, a song they want to play or a few cool riffs. What do I get - homework - bucket loads of homework. Practice sheets for drums, practice sheets for piano, practice sheets for bass! But that's the cost of what I want to do, learning a song is fun but if I want to write and I want to play lots of instruments and I want to learn fast and this is what will get me there. Nose to the grindstone and all that!
But.. it's actually great because everything I learn this way opens tonnes of new doors and gives me lots of new choices for my songs. It's learning how to apply the new skills that's the hardest part but we're getting there and things are speeding up now I'm beginning to understand what I struggle with and why and how to fix it.
That's also the best thing about having two teachers as well, I have one that pushes me forward learning as much as possible and teaches me how to apply it to my song writing and I have another who's all about technique so it's about not just learning how to play but how to play well with great technical detail (eventually!) and that gives me options for how I want to divide up my time each week. At the moment I'm learning the solo for Hotel California on guitar and as challenging as it is I'm loving doing all those bends, it's very very fun! My fingers are being shredded to death but I don't care, it feels like I'm finally learning how to really play.
One other thing that's become apparent is that while I struggle to let go in front of these guys, although I am getting better, I do have recording as an option to let my wild side fly ... and I've begun doing that! I don't mind playing recordings of me being a muppet and having fun so it gives them a chance to see what I can do (and not do!!) when they're not around. It's important because I'm a lot more adventurous and creative when I do that because I can experiment without feeling like a total idiot (at least until I play it for them!) and of course I can re-record as many times as I like removing the whole........... get ready .................. get set ............... GO! element of playing in front of your teacher that sends all us students to quivering incapable jelly.
So hi ho hi ho it's off to work I go!! (sorry that was really bad but I couldn't resist it was just too funny).
I thought I'd go over some of my biggest inspiration. This will be a bit different because it's not my favourite bands, not bands or artists I want to recommend or review (although I do recommend pretty much all of them) these are a few of the ones that throughout my life have steered me most towards this most bodacious journey (another terrible Bill & Ted reference hehe!).
I was raised on good music, can't say otherwise and I'm very grateful for it. I grew up listening to The Beetles, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, The Police, Genesis, Abba (I LOVE Abba!), Led Zeppelin, Chris De Burgh (another of my guilty loves).
I didn't get into the whole boy band/pop thing like my friends. I did like the occasional naff song, I still adore Rock Me Amadeus by Falco (I know how bad is that *grin*!) but mostly I steered my own direction. I fell in love with Depeche Mode, Simple Minds, Iron Maiden, Talk Talk, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley & lots of indie (Jesus Jones, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses who I saw in Sydney the other day and that was FUUUN!) and lots more along those lines.
Young adult/Early 20's
This was my like everything phase! All of the aforementioned plus I loved (and still do) The Orb, F.S.O.L, Portishead, just about all reggae, The Prodigy (I didn't see that one coming, I loathed them then they released 'The Fat Of The Land' wow wicked album). Stereophonics entered my life as did Ian Brown and on and on. My most varied time in music and also my most guilty - check out my Spotify guilty pleasures playlist if you want to see how bad this "muso" can be!
The rest till now
Then came some really good stuff!! Nina Simone found me - I LOVE NINA SIMONE. Nick Drake & Led Zeppelin found their way back in big time and rock, blues & funk have continued to inspire me more and more. Hendrix, Vaughan, BB King (actually all three kings!), and a whole bunch of wicked guitarists entered my life. There have been too many inspirations to name but over time I'll be throwing out various funk, rock & blues bands or artists, top guitarists etc so you'll get the idea then, I won't spoil the surprise.
So there you go, a totally unhelpful and really pointless post today but a bit of fun and insight none the less. If you do check out my playlist hope you enjoy it and my funk one is awesome even if I do say so myself!
Ever since I was a little tot I wanted to be an artist. I was gifted ability but unfortunately not real talent, however I drew and drew and drew then I took art at school and did ok, took it at college and did ok. Always getting better but never anywhere near good enough so on that occasion I let go of my dream to be an artist (yes I know hypocritical given my advice a couple of days ago but it was 20 years ago!) but never the love. Playing music has re-awoken the passion big time and I've begun to draw again and it seems tapping into my artistic side in music has helped with my drawing. I've made a lot more progress in the last few months than I did in all my years at college (I couldn't draw like this back then). It's truly amazing what learning and playing music can do, I never wrote lyrics until I started playing. I'd tried, many many times but always failed now I do it all the time. I'm not saying they're good but they are lyrics (have you noticed how I always put a disclaimer every time I dare to say something nice about myself!! Bad habit and very naughty but I can't help it)!! Anyway I thought I'd share some of my recent art work with you today and show you another side of me. I'll show you my wildlife photography too some time in a future post.😊
A bit of a lecture today but an important one I think. One of the excuses I've heard many people make for not doing something is that they'll never be as good as the guy next to them. They don't have natural talent or they don't learn as fast etc.
In my life I'm surrounded by people who can do what I can't. My eldest is such a naturally talented artist, she can just do it, painting, drawing etc it's amazing to watch. My second eldest is a natural musician, again she just gets it. She has a fantastic ear and a memory I would die for (not literally of course) and she can just learn from any video with sickening ease. My eldest son is a wiz with technology I can't keep up with him at all. My middle son has a confidence and personality that could take him anywhere he wants to go, he has no fear of anything and he's an awesome little drummer too! My youngest is still little but is already showing at least as much artistic and musical talent as his sisters and my husband is respected by just about everyone without even trying. He's successful and just has a personality people take a shine to.
Then there is me..! I'm not without abilities far from it, I'm an all rounder type I can do a bit of this and a bit of that but if I want to be good at anything I have to work - HARD. My art is not bad but I've had to work very very hard to push up my skill level, my music as you know is coming on slowly but again the hours I need to put in to get anywhere near where my daughter & son can naturally are crazy. Then you have my persona... less said there the better! I'm odd - we'll leave it at that!! The biggest compliment I've ever had is that I work hard - which is a bit like the classic self putdown "I'm so ugly" and someone replying "but you have a nice personality" erm... yep that helps haha!!
My point is NOT woe is me, in fact it's the opposite. I can sit here and say I don't have the naturally endearing personality my husband, son & teachers have. I can whinge about not having natural talent like my daughters and my sons, I could give up and I'd have what appears to be a valid excuse. But I won't, if you want something you have to forget what everyone else can do, stop looking around because what anyone else can or cannot do is totally irrelevant. It's time to swallow your pride, bury the pain (yes it hurts a LOT when I see how easy things come to others) and concentrate on what you have to do to get what you want. It really is both that hard and that simple. It's a lesson I try to remind myself of constantly. Use people as inspiration not competition to fire you on to achieve the wonderful things they can do and imagine the sense of pride when you do.. then GO FOR IT!
The brutal truth is that if I really WANT to play I'll just have to dig deeper, practice longer and harder. And in the meantime I'm doing all I can to help those I care about be all they can be and if it's more than I could ever be then I'm so so proud of them. I actually love seeing others succeed and it's a really wonderful feeling if I can help them do it.
It's important to remember that if you really want something, don't give up trying EVER. And if you live with people or have friends who can just 'do it' then trust me I feel your pain!!
In the last week I've realised my head is even more weird than I thought it was. The further we push into this journey the more I'm understanding about myself - or in some cases not understanding about myself. Two things happened to further highlight this. The first was the power chord we used in our rock lesson the second was a quick overview of how to use staffpad.
So weird how? Well it seems although I'm perfectly capable of doing most things independently I can't seem to make the initial connection between theory and experience. Let me explain, I know what a power chord is, have for nearly two years. I know how to play one, I know how they are used but I haven't really played them in anything I've learnt. So when it comes to using them I can't, can't even try, it's the oddest thing - it's like knowing how to do something simple but not being able to physically do it. Then, suddenly after a quick lesson, I'm not only comfortable replicating the lesson I'm now starting to experiment and take it forward.
Similar with Staffpad, it sat on my tablet for a couple of months. I've self taught far harder things before but I can't begin to even dabble with it until my teacher shows me the basics then I'm straight in there doing far more.
Even more confusing is I CAN take the first step, I learnt to use Adobe for my YouTube video. I'm not lazy so maybe I need a specific purpose, maybe I need a big push, maybe it's doubt or fear holding me back. Who knows but it's the oddest thing because it makes no sense. As soon as the initial connection is made I'm away learning, pushing and coming up with new ideas, I do hit new walls but I'm far more likely to be able to work through them on my own even if they're 20 times harder than the initial concept.
No precise point to today's post just a curious small insight I needed to pour out of my head. One thing for sure is knowing that a little help getting that first push has made me realise I need to ask for help with far more things to open them into options even if it seems really dumb.
And I just get more and more nuts..!
Just as an aside to this post - As you know I'm learning 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' as a kind of weird tribute to my teacher, I want to learn and play it for him as a gift (that probably makes me kind of odd already). I'm about half way through learning the notes and I've started trying to focus on timing now so that I can add dynamics to make it sound nice. This song has so much going on and much of it is 'hidden' under the lyrics or other instruments so played as a single instrument sounds very different. I've imported the track into Studio One as per my recording tips post but that's not enough to really get the timing down, I'm using a metronome and figuring out the timing from the book but again it helps if I can really hear it. So what I'm doing is actually sitting here and writing it up in staffpad so I have an audio of just the piano so work to. Then because those sections sound so different I want to try to make the whole song my own interpretation rather than just copying the actual song but we'll see how that goes! All to make someone happy. It's worth it!
Well, ok, no she's not (yet!), she kind of peeked round the corner but I got a taste and I want more!
I love my melodic side, I really do and hopefully one day it will serve me well afterall I don't want to be in a band rocking around the world. My primary goal is to make beautiful and emotional instrumental music (I really can't sing so that's a good thing!).
However, the music I most WANT to play is so far removed from that. Grungy rock blues and funk - that's what I want to play. It's FUN FUN FUN music.
Yesterdays lesson was so very cool, firstly I got another drum lesson yay! I can do some basic things on the drums but like most early self taught players it's messy and lacks proper skill and my fills are even getting on my nerves!!!
Then we ventured into rock! Tom likes to show me how to do something by throwing me in the deep end and shouting guidance while I flail around (I'm sure he's just getting a kick out of how rediculous I look!), it does work but it's very uncomfortable. Luckily the journey we've (myself and both teachers) have been on the last few months to build my confidence up has helped and while I still feel uncomfortable it's no longer paralysing.
So, we lay down simple drums (even that's a laugh because I can't count so mess up lots!), then I get to rock out on the electric guitar with some power chords. I'm laughing just thinking of it - picture your mum with a strat throwing down some serious power chords with loads of reverb and you'll get the gist! 😂😆😳🕺🏻
Bass required no effort so that was cool then Tom puts the piano into organ mode and while I'm expecting Bela Lugosi to walk in at any moment has some fun over the recording with some cool silly rock n roll style chords.
The result was very eye opening, I told you the simplest things throw me while once I understand something I can complicate the hell out of it (usually in a good way unleashing my creative side).
I want more!!!!
I'm loving this relaxing thing.... so that's what everyones been on about. Ok my idea of relaxing isn't the same as yours I expect (unless you like to play instruments non stop for 10 hours a day!) but none the less I'm not used to easing up and not pushing myself so it's been cool just to play whatever I wanted with no goal.
But to move forward goals need to be set, targets aimed for and the work needs structure. Lessons start up again on Sunday and I have a feeling I'm about to enter a new world of pain so I'll take the next few days to prepare mentally! There are a few areas I'm getting ready to add to my learning list to push on that really need my attention.
Drums - About time I learned to play them!
Says it all, I'm flailing around on them with no idea what I'm doing so time to actually learn them. The next 3 months will be about me taking these on as a proper instrument.
Guitar - Full songs and technique
Again time to start pushing a bit on technique and I want to start to play full songs which I haven't been so that I learn to feel the transitions between sections. I think that will help me in my writing struggles. I'm also keen to train my ear more so I'm working on chord recognition & intervals. I can often hear in my head what chord I want to go to next but I have no idea where to find it! Also I want to learn different open chord voicings & work on my 7, 9 and 11 chords to start to hear them in my head. The idea is to build my choices when I'm writing so I can start taking songs/stories on a more defined route rather than always relying on basic open chords or barres. Also to stay simple but add a little intentional flavour. At least that's the idea.
Piano - Writing
I'm still learning the Elton John song and I promise I am actually getting there it's just taking a while (haha!). I'm nearly on page 4 of 7 and my progress is speeding up, still a very long way to go but it's helping me a lot. I also want to get writing again on the piano, I have ideas I'm noodling over but nothing is cementing itself yet. My hands are freeing up a little but I'll do a seperate post on that at some point because there are a couple of things that have helped me.
Bass - Pretty much the same as drums
It's still an early instrument but I want to start making structured progress in the next 3 months - if I have my way particularly in funk becaue funk is seriously cool on bass but I don't think we'll probably go there for a while.
Theory etc - Lots to do here
I'm listening to songs and figuring out the sections to start writing up charts. This is HARD HARD HARD, even sections that sound the same have differences that are leaving me thinking is this the same or a new one or what? Then it's on to listening for chord progressions - it honestly feels like I will never be able to do that so if (when - think positive!) I do get there I'll post a link back to this to show others who are suffering to have faith.
Also in the next few months I'll be pushing on with learning Staffpad, Adobe Premier, trying to record better & start looking into music licensing. It's a long time until I'll need to really know lots about these but it'll take a long time to learn lots so let's get started!
And this is all before my teacher starts hammering me again! See! That's why I need a few days.
I am looking forward to moving on and to the challenges this year holds. If this year is anything like last then Christmas 2017 should see me in a whole different place yet again.
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!
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.
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.
I love music and the greatest thing for me is picking up my instrument and getting lost in it. The second is discovering new artists that set my heart racing - yeah I really do get that excited, no judging ok! The third (I'm going to stop on three promise!) is listening to live music. The excitement of waiting for the big day, the anticipation of them playing my fav songs right there in front of me. It's soooooo cool! That ''I was there' feeling is amazing and lasts a lifetime!
So to the point, I batted my eyelashes, smiled my smile and twinkled my eyes (well not literally but I have been told many times my eyes are so expressive I can practically have a conversation without uttering a word - now my eyebrows, wow they are truely independent little things but we'll go there another day!), anyway back on track. I worked my magic and my wonderful hubby got me James Taylor tickets YAY (that word really doesn't convey my excitement quite enough!). Now if you don't know who he is and you claim to love music go find out now - go on, right now he's a legend and one of the best guitarists of all time (top 50). I'm so excited so in honour of that I thought I'd put my top five concerts down here and try to inspire you to go see someone you love.
5. Trace Bundy 2016, Sydney. A tiny tiny venue, a not especially huge artist but this guy put on an intimate, funny and musically awesome show. Pure guitar talent in a friendly atmosphere. And he can talk backwards - what's not to love!
4. Depeche Mode 2010, Royal Albert Hall. No-one unites fans like these guys, their shows are amazing and Dave Gahan is a performer of another caliber, live they have Christian Eigner on drums who is amazingly good - go check him out he really rocks those drums. Alan Wilder even joined them for the first time in over 16 years to perform a song with them. The crowd went nuts - it was like concord taking off! I went nuts, what a memory!
3. Depeche Mode 1993, Crystal Palace. What a show, we waited 12 hours queuing to get to the front and it was so worth it. They came, they rocked and I loved it. The show designed by Anton Corbain was breathtaking, the atmosphere was crazy, the music was amazing.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers 2004, Hyde Park - yes that Hyde Park, yes that album. We were right near the front and James Brown was their "support" - come on! What an amazing sound and to see Flea AND John Frusiante live, WOW. This should probably be number 1 but Metallica were just too awesome.
1. Metallica 1992, Whitley Bay Ice Rink (yes it's as tiny as it sounds). They rocked it, they were at their top, I was in the mosh pit (that was back when we used to actually mosh - don't judge!) and it WAS awesome!! My ears rang for two days straight but it was just mindblowing fun.
Ive seen many many great bands (I've actually seen Depeche Mode 10 times!!) and it's a thrilling experience every time. My one disappointment was Paul Weller who looked like he was desperate to get it over with which was a shame. So go, book yourself a very cool date now!
Todays post isn't about how to find one, it's not about what kind of teacher (personal, college, online) it's about the importance of their role in your learning. It's about the importance of their role in mine.
If you are serious about wanting to play you need to have drive, determination, passion and a teacher you can connect with. Because it's going to get hard, because you're unique and because you're going to be putting yourself through some tough challenges.
I'm a whole new level of nuts, I want (don't laugh, just because I lack faith in myself doesn't mean I don't dream big) to reach professional level on guitar - some day! And I want to play the bass guitar, piano and drums (man the drums are fun!) to a pretty good level, AND I want to write music. Then factor in my unique personality and, yep, a teacher who is in it for more than the money is pretty crucial.
Again I can't tell you how to find the right teacher only that you need to look for someone who has passion equal to your own. Someone who can adapt to your learning style, someone who inspires you, someone who will push you in the right way. You're looking for someone you can depend on, this is a long journey after all. Find a teacher you trust and respect and it will make a huge difference to your learning.
Both my teachers are far younger than me (I'm still younger than them at heart though 😁) but I have the utmost respect for them and they are very special people because they fit all of the above criteria. Poor Tom, who teaches me across all instruments (he has 4 times the grief and still comes back for more!), has had to endure a lot because I'm complicated and where I've taken on so much it can be extreemly hard for me. I adore him and he's crucial to keeping me on track. Zak who teaches me guitar has a crazy level of faith in me I simply don't understand but I'm very grateful for - that alone is a huge driving force because I don't want to let them down. These bonds are very important to me and I can tell you, unequivocally, without them I wouldn't be where I am - wherever that might be (haha see no faith!) its definately further than I would have been.
So more important than anything when you think about learning to play is your teacher. And don't forget as a side note to make sure they are teaching you correctly - whatever style you want to learn in, both in terms of the actual music (classic/contemporary) and learning method (school/private/distance) make sure they are fully qualified to teach you or you could be picking up some very bad habits.
The Men Who Changed My Life
I'm a doodler especially when I get flustered trying to figure something out so expect many of my quirky little illustrations. I also have a slightly odd, very sarcastic humour which is often aimed at myself so get used to that too.
I was actually considering pursuing a career in photography (another passion of mine) when I first started lessons and in walked the first of two people who would change my life more than I ever could of imagined. He was closely followed by the second who would really mess with my mind. He didn't lead me down a new path he dragged me but something eventually clicked and the dream was born. Some days I do think why on earth am I doing this to myself but mostly I'm just beyond grateful. I am a very full on person, if I choose to do something I do it 150% but these two guys saw my drive and pushed and pushed. I don't even know if they realised they were doing it or if they were just blindly following my lead but wow, I'm in crazy town now.
Some days I stop, take a breath and look at what I'm doing, where I'm going and I say WOW. It's something I never saw coming, never even dreamed was possible. And it just goes to show now matter how crazy and odd your life has been there is always the possibility of a whopper of a curve ball around the corner.
Then again some days I feel like I've been led willingly off a cliff or that I'm digging a big old hole to nowhere but that's to be expected. My struggle is 'mostly' self inflicted of course but my mentors are not entirely guilt free, we'll just have to see where this journey leads before I decide whether to hit them with the spade or not! And fellas if you read this ever - I love you both to bits 😊😘
A bit of a weird heading but you'll see where I'm going with this. I'm a music nut, a completely obsessed 'muso', I love to play it, write it , learn it and buy it but one of the biggest buzzes I get is discovering it. Recently a relatively unknown Aussie funk band I happen to LOVE had a surprise hit with a song I'm not amazingly fond of (how's that for ironic!) but what I noticed was that on Spotify they were suddenly something like the 35th most played band (band not song) in the world on there. Because of one song - it shows just how little music people really listen to and it makes me sad and MAD (of course very happy for the band in question who deserve a wide audience!).
We all love music, it fires us up, makes us emotional, gives us hope, takes us on a journey and so much more. So why when offered a giant wonderful buffet do people insist on the same one boring thing, I get it's nice, they like it but you can like other things too!!
Now my obsession with music is a little (haha) nuts but even so..! Come on open your minds, it's for your own good people.
Now a side rant .... I love Spotify and I have bought a tonne of new records, CD's and gone to concerts directly because I found music through it, most I never would have found otherwise. So artists - don't hate Spotify, hate the laziness of people who can't be bothered to listen to anything not on the top charts playlist and who don't care enough to support you. Or even better make a big effort to share your own musical passion and inspire your fans to listen more through your tastes.
This is a bit of a self indulgent post however.... it's just to get you ready.
Ready for what?
So glad you asked!
Well as you have guessed, I love love love music be it pop, rock, blues, funk, soul, reggae, metal ... even jazz (some!) and rap. I only hate opera. My passion will be a regular feature of this blog although I promise self indulgent posts (mostly) won't. I will be sharing some great bands that fly under the radar with you and I will also be giving some tips on how to find them yourself. My teacher recently commented that he had no idea how I found so many great unusual bands. I love sharing so I'll go over some of my tips so you can too 😊. Then we can all go and get far too well known at our local record store!
What happens when you don't have one?
I have a difficult history and I've been terribly hurt by those I trusted most. Believing in myself is not something that's easy to do. Against all the odds I did and pushed myself far beyond my comfort zone only to completely crash and burn. Now picking up the pieces again feels next to impossible. So how do I pursue such a big and unlikely dream without any self belief?
By having a husband who refuses to allow me to give up and teachers who go beyond the 'job' and see potential in me. I think that's key here, I don't need to believe in myself because I trust in their belief in me. As long as they have my back I will use their confidence as my fuel. Yes, putting so much trust in my teachers is terrifying for me and a risk but I choose to open my heart because this means that much to me 😊.
So... how do I practice 8 hours a day 365 days a year and still stay focused, fresh and driven without belief in a successful end? For me the answer is two fold - the first being my passion for music, for learning, for the challenge. And secondly, no matter how hard I am on myself (very or so I'm regularly told) or how overwhelming the journey sometimes appears I do try to focus on the smallest successes. Can I play a little faster, a little more accurate, did it take less time to learn the song, is my technique a little better, am I understanding something quicker. I ask... Is it a little better? Because logic tells me enough 'betters' will get me where I want to go. That's how I do it, push/pull - the drive to always do more pulls me, appreciating the little successes pushes me. Perspective is of vital importance to me. Fortunately both my teachers (or friends & mentors as I think of them) try to understand me and my needs and are wonderfully supportive and (personally) of far more critical importance, they believe in me - I don't really understand why but I am very grateful that they do.
Also there is always hope, hope can be far stronger than belief and I have plenty of hope to help me along the way.
So ideally you'd have both belief and drive but if you don't then trust in those closest to you for belief and work on determination because you can never have enough. The more you have the easier it is to get through the tough times in life and frankly I should know!
Learning Time Log
How long I've been learning as at at the end of Aug 2020.
What's This About?
One fateful day I decided to get guitar lessons. 5 years later I'm learning four instruments and trying to become a musician and songwriter. I've set a five year goal (Aug 2021) to create a very special song for my 25th wedding anniversary and this is a record of my crazy journey, weird thoughts, strange doodles and unapologetic music obsession! Enjoy!