The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
The Story Of An Unlikely Dream
To Become A Musician
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!
The kids have all gone back to school and it's so peaceful and quiet. Plus getting them ready in the morning kicks my butt into gear so that by the time they leave at 7.15am I'm set for a good days work.
It feels strange in a way because they've been home for two months but also so much has changed since they were last at school. Two months ago I hadn't done any real songs, I wasn't properly learning the drums and bass guitar, this blog was all new and hadn't found it's flow and I had no YouTube channel. Even my guitar playing has come on a lot since then.
Everything feels more focused now and full of direction which I like a lot. Of course now they're not home I need to get my butt in gear and do more housework, shopping etc but I'll find the time! It's so nice to sit here and get thing after thing done, to get my blog post done without one of them screeching at another, to get some really focused drum practice in without needing to stop to sort out lunch.
I do miss them too though, it's comforting to have them around even if it's also frustrating at times when I'm trying to focus. They're inspiring and I love it when I do something new and I yell for one to come and listen. Begrudgingly they drag themselves in, give me the "again?" look and yet they're actually very supportive especially my second eldest.
So what am I doing with all this quiet time? Well my next vid is underway, I'm still unsure about this one I will see how it goes once music and images are together. I'm trying to focus on proper practice, my scales have been neglected big time (tut tut). I also haven't improvised as much lately so I really need to get back to that. I had a lesson yesterday and my teacher got me to impro and it was terrifying! Fun but terrifying! Add to that the fact he made me play over more funky strumming (which I've never been able to do) and over a scale I've never used before (the A Dorian Mode) and it was EEK big time. But although it was not good noodling it was much better than I'd done before so I was both horrified and pleased!
So scales are definitely on my - sort it out Tash NOW list! I can't remember them no matter how many times I got over them because my memory is hopeless so they need to become second nature and that means drill, drill, drill. No easy way out. Consider my back side kicked.
Also I need to get a bit of a review done so that I can focus on what's most important, I've got so much thrown at me I could do with whittling it down now so that I stay on the right path. It may be oh so quiet but that doesn't mean it's feet up time.
Have you worked out yet I'm a very driven, look forward, kind of girl!
So the good news, since my first attempt to write a song I've come so so so so very far, I know that and I'm grateful for it. I'm amazed in fact but.....
I'm me and being me means looking forward to the next challenge so that's what I'm doing. Remember my post about crash and burn? Well it's just how I'm built but it's also how I keep the motivation and the momentum going and I think that's key to all this.
What's this all about? Well I'm moving on again. Kind of! I've been listening to my music, I tend to do that a lot it's a little weird but it's how I process what I've done and understand what I like and what I don't. It starts off being new and fresh and cool but as I listen I'll find it being more stripped and I'll start to hear the flaws I want to fix (oh sooo so many!), the bits I love, the story that's hidden beneath what I actually recorded. I can't always (or usually even) fix it but it helps me move forward just a little to the next song. That's the point of all this early stuff anyway.
I'm painfully aware all my music pretty much fits together in terms of sound even if I've mixed up the genre a little (which really surprised me, at this stage I expected them all to sound exactly the same!). What I want now is to start thinking about getting outside of my current style and expanding my repertoire so to speak. Which is far far harder to do than it sounds for two reasons.
1) I am using a very very limited number of skills and pushing them to get the results I am thus far. The reason I have my "sound" is because it's all I can do with what I've got. The solution, learn more! In particular drums, drum beats and rhythms often define a song style and set the foundation and all I can do thus far is a couple of dodgy funk beats and a couple of dodgy rock beats. It's not surprising they always lead me on the same journey. I need to learn how to lay down the foundations so I can build on them, That takes time and so it's going to be a real challenge and a longer term one. Don't expect a breakthrough on this next week! And it's a similar battle with piano and guitar (both rhythm and lead) but that's understandable at this stage,
2) I need to understand other styles in order to play them, song structure, techniques & even how instruments I don't play feature prominently - for example, take country, without some very cool banjo, yes there are plenty that don't have banjo, but it's pretty important as are violins and double bass etc. Country can just be cool guitar but it's also a lot more than that. And the fact I don't sing means I need to find a way to compensate, take out the singing and the music NEEDS to be more interesting.
There is another option and it's one I'll be perusing and that's to learn how to use my limited skills in new ways. I'll be challenging my teachers to open me up to new ideas based on what I've already done. Tweak it a little and find a new option. See didn't I tell you how amazing all this is, it's not easy, quite the opposite in fact being a musician is a very demanding and difficult choice but in terms of fulfilment, development and payback it's got to be up there as being one of the best (next to parenting which is an incredible journey).
I'm very jealous of my teachers but in a good way. I admire them and respect the effort that they have put in to earn where they are. I know if I keep going (which I will) someday it may we'll be me who is being admired. But I look at what they can do, I think about what I want to do but can't (yet) and I get very jealous! I don't understand why they don't want to play and write 24/7 although I do appreciate that has far more to do with me and my extraordinary passion for music than it does with them!
A couple of months ago I was given the challenge to write 5 quick songs in a week. If you want to see what happened here is that post. Since then it feels like some big doors have been opened and so fast. Not fast enough but that's me being greedy!! The light bulbs are beginning to go on in my head and I'm so excited at the possibilities ahead while at the same time loving exactly where I am and being frustrated that I can't do everything yet. Argh it's crazy!
At this stage it's clear that the more these brilliant teachers feed me the more I can do and the faster I can do it and it's growing............ I want more!!! Crucially the most important steps I've taken have been with the quickest and easiest lessons. Probably because it's easier to apply a simple technique. That simple power chord lesson for example opened the electric guitar to me and I'm lurrving that! I love it as well when they don't just teach me a new technique but the thinking behind the technique, what their thought process is, what are we looking to achieve by doing it and what the mistakes can be. I find that helps me learn so much faster because I'm not just trying to emulate what they're doing I'm understanding how and why.
However as in real life you only have a limited stomach capacity and there is only so much I can learn in any space of time now matter how much I try to squeeze in. There is sadly no replacement for good old fashioned practice and as hard as I do I'm still spreading myself over four instruments (and the rest) so I shall need to dig out a molecule or two of patience! I really wish I didn't have to though. What I wouldn't give right now for a 'Matrix' style learning computer, plug in and "I know piano" - hehe that would be so brilliant!
Just in case you're wondering what is going on with today's noodle it's a parody of 'Little Shop Of Horrors' - a very quirky black comedy you'll either love or hate and I love it! Quite a lot of cheesy pop culture references recently so sorry if I'm losing you a bit on that!
Guitar has been worked on - still a long way to go until it's right but it's much better.
Oh wow am I loving this one to bits. I need to re-record lots of parts and the drum fill is scary bad so that'll be sorted. Once it's totally finished I'll do the video and then post again so you can see the shiny finished product! But for now here you go, another of my noodles called Bitter Sweet,
I'm going all Meatloaf on you today - well not really just a rather naff title because it fit the purpose of the post!
So what is it that I won't do? Well I'll push myself so far outside of my comfort zone it's crazy as long as I have some support. I will try anything I'm asked to do, sometimes I need encouragement sometimes I just need a bit of time but eventually I'll work myself up to it and give it a go. I'll do the most boring of homework, I'll put long hours in, I'll keep on fighting till I get something no matter how hard. I'll be patient (boy is that hard for me!) but I won't ever, under any circumstances, for no amount of bribes ......... sing!
I have the most awful voice, it's like a cat got it's paw stuck under a car and a furball stuck in it's throat at the same time. I'm not as offensive as my husband thankfully who has only one single note that is seriously off key. Honestly, I promise you I've heard people sing with a tiny range but he is strictly monotone and it's a really really bad note!! So it could be worse :)
My teacher is always bugging me to sing and I have steadfastly refused, he's convinced himself we'll get there some day and it can't be that bad. He even said we'll start with rapping - OMG that's too funny! Erm no - no - no - no! So today I was in a really good mood (yay!) and decided to get this one out of the way permanently so I recorded me singing and sent it to him. If he listens then he'll know WHY I don't sing, if he doesn't tough luck - you had your shot hahaha!
The best bit is I sung over one of the few songs I can remember any words to. I'm one of those people who never sings in time, who always changes up the words or forgets them all. I still even though I've sung it a thousand times got all the words wrong - I sent it anyway, it can't get worse! It's just a shame I didn't video tape it because the song really kicks in big time and I was doing some pretty impressive moshing/headbanging!
So there you go folks, you will hear many crazy things from me on this journey but that is one thing you will not hear - and you will be very very glad of it trust me! Needless to say .. I will not be uploading the audio file here! I'm sure you'd appreciate the laugh but it's just not going to happen.
p.s yesterdays song is coming on very well, I did go electric and it's sounding fab, probably my best yet with some great over the top 80/90's rock ballad type bends! There's a long way to go still but look forward to hearing this when it's done because it's a fun one!!
I'm recording again but still have a long way to go on this one so I thought I'd share a sneak peak of the start with you. The bass has already changed 3 times so this may all be very very different by the end but I like the concept so far.
I have no idea where I'm going for the chorus yet except big, maybe I'll try and have some electric fun again who knows. At the moment I'm trying to focus on keeping it simple and then building it up where I can and where it feels right.
This one started with a bit of a guitar strum which led to working out drums that would go with it - they didn't as usual! So I adjusted the strumming several times until something felt right then recorded the drums and redid the guitar rhythm then laid down the melody over the top. Very very simple at first then looked for areas I could add just a tiny bit more interest. Like I said a long way to go yet. My timing is improving and I think my drums and strumming are too but boy do I have a LONG way to go. So today will be some good hard practice (and getting the kids ready to go back to school to of course!).
How's this for dedicated/obsessed/committed (fill in the blank)!
I haven't slept in weeks and last night I finally got what for me is a great night sleep, 7 hours with only a few wakes in the night but because my body got a taste I'm now feeling really shattered although less horrid. If you've ever been sleep deprived you'll know what I mean by that. Anyway I wake up and the first thing I think ..... "OMG I have to re-record the bass on that new song" - 2 hours later I've finally got my first cup of coffee and I have done a little housework so I don't have to feel too guilty!!
I'm a strange woman :) Have a good day!
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).
This is the last YouTube video now for a bit because I need to write more songs!!!
This one actually has lyrics as well. Getting them exactly in time took some real effort but I'm pleased with the story, video and music overall. As always it's from someone (me!) who's only at the beginning of the learning curve so pinch of salt and all that but hopefully you'll enjoy it.
Maybe I'll have a go at getting that rock song done properly that would be a fun video to put together!!
Here you go then, my third and for now final video called Start Again.
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!
I've put together another video, nothing special but I wanted to keep the finished "songs" going into my YouTube channel so that this story/journey stays tidy. I cant promise to show my journey from the bottom up without showing the rubbish that comes first. It's so nerve wracking doing it but it'll good for me. I need to learn to weather the storm if I`m really going to be putting my music into the world. It`s all well and good doing it here in my blog in audio files that not many people will ever listen to but in the real world there is a lot for someone like me to overcome. I need to start thickening up my paper thin skin now - at least I need to try. I'm looking forward to being able to laugh openly and comfortably at my own mistakes so this is going to be good for me and hopefully not too painful! ..... Hopefully 😳
This one is a bit of a tale actually so bear with me here. I was doing the vid when I realised how much the drums really REALLY bugged me and decided to re-record them and a couple of other areas I've been meaning to fix from the demo. Well I couldn't, no matter what I tried I could not get any drumming to fit. I was getting so frustrated and decided I had three choices, 1) abandon it and leave it forever as an audio file (but I love this try so that would be sad), 2) to say sod it and leave it as is (the timing was sooo bad but at least it would be there) or 3) begin again and redo the whole thing from scratch (I cannot tell you how overwhelming that option felt). In the end I took the plunge and decided to redo EVERYTHING (well 95% a couple if bits I copied across but not much at all) 😳😟 which meant transcribing my own guitar noodles because I couldn't remember what I'd done. I didn't expect my first transcriptions to be my own work. Too funny! Then had to plan out the song structure so it matched and I began to record starting with drums & rhythm guitar! I still had to redo the guitar at the end because when everything else is on it clashes but I think the result is overall much better. FAR from what I would like but it's time to archive this one and look forward again.
Here is the original if you want to compare.
Without any further ado I introduce you to the new and hopefully improved & retitled Lucky Seven! - now called Appetence For Tomorrow.
It's been nearly 2 years since my very first lesson, I can still remember clearly how much my fingers hurt after just 45 minutes of trying to do a couple of simple chords. I remember clearly how hard it was to do a C chord and the G really wasn't happening! I remember my first hammer on attempts being completely soundless. I remember the early tears of frustration the feeling like I would never do it but that I could never give up trying. I remember the joy every time I could do something new and the pleasure making any kind of non-offensive sound gave me. It's gone by in a flash and yet at the same time it's been an incredibly huge amount of work and it's been such a joy.
Here are ten things I've learnt so far.
1) Playing one instrument can hugely benefit learning another. Learning them at the same time requires a serious amount of dedication, hard work and commitment but they all help with each other. The drums are helping me with timing and dynamics, the guitar with finger strength, expression, melody and rhythm. The piano with melody, loosening up my fingers, rhythm and the bass with syncopation (something I REALLY struggle with on all instruments I find slightly easier on bass although I've no idea why).
2) I really like playing bass, it's something I was very surprised to learn about me. And I LOVE playing drums (I wasn't surprised about that)!
3) Playing music can unlock other creative aspects of your personality, it can help with mental health issues (I knew that was the case from past research but to actually experience it is really amazing). It's helped me understand myself more than the rest of my life combined and it's building my confidence slowly, not without blips, but it's so important.
4) The guitar is a seriously difficult instrument to play and takes a lifetime to learn a tiny portion of what you could. It's a beautiful instrument with so many options and it requires a lot of love to play, really play not just strum out a few campfire tunes! It takes a physical toll, a mental toll and demands you love it regularly or it punishes you but if you do give yourself over to the love then the guitar will reward you hugely. It's a true friend. I'm sure others feel the same way about their instrument but the guitar is my true love.
5) I suck at timing, I suck at rhythm, I suck at technique ... but I can still play. You can be absolutely rubbish, with no talent what so ever and you can learn to play. It requires more work than others perhaps but learning an instrument will require a lot of work from everyone eventually, no-one has enough natural talent that they won't have to put the effort in at some point. Being rubbish has the advantage that if you can train yourself to stick with it and work hard from the beginning you always will.
6) Theory is cool - I did a whole post on why here so I won't go over that again. I love learning how things work so it's no surprise I like theory what is surprising is that it's just not just interesting it's actually very very cool and I'm excited for when I can really start to apply it. I already am of course a little when I look for a new voicing or when I try to figure out what chord I'm playing when I just noodle around. When I think about where I want my 'story' to go I'm starting to think in minor or major chord or 7ths etc.
7) Calluses are annoying things. It's cool that I can now play for hours and hours without getting sore fingers but these things are irritating. After a shower my fingers look like they've been in a fight with a blender and lost. They constantly come off, I'm shredding myself all the time. They take FOREVER to really build up, the number of times in the early months I'd be getting some pretty cool calluses only for them to come off and the whole thing to start again. Although a thick layer will still come off now on a regular basis they are so deep it doesn't affect things any more.
8) I thought I had little interest in funk music - I LOVE funk music. I wasn't dismissive when my teacher introduced me but I wasn't very enthusicastic. To be fair (sorry mate!) but he is a little stuck in the past with it, I mean the stuff he likes is very very cool but on it's own I couldn't listen all day, BUT,,,,,!! Add a dash of pop, a little heavy metal, some serious rock, some ska, some jazz & a dozen other genres. Give it all a good shake up and you suddenly have a wicked collection of tunes that you (I) can listen to for days without getting bored. I'm going to do a funk bands post soon!
9) I like jazz a lot more than I thought I did (I can see both my teachers being a little smug about that!) but I still HATE traditional 'play at different times, impro like no one else is playing with you, weird timing, no melody that I can discern' Jazz. I don't mean to offend anyone by that it's just that's how it sounds to ME. But I like - no love - jazzy chords and sounds and I think I will like it more as I go. But I will never ever like jazz club type jazz.
10) I can write music (I need a shock emoticon here!) - so so cool! Given the nature of this blog that seems like a stupid thing to be surprised about but up until about 6 months ago maybe less the idea of actually writing music wasn't something I considered. In fact at first I actually fought it (so that's another thing I owe but this time to my other teacher) and didn't enjoy writing (yes seriously!). It's something I find very difficult because of the way my brain works. Consider that I find a simple decision very very hard so writing with all the billions of possibilities is so overwhelming. I over complicate the simplest of things which is also an issue etc etc on and on. But I can do it, if I can anyone can, again it's just going to require different levels of work and commitment for different people. It's very very very very very very very (you get the idea?) COOL. Think of it this way, you wake in the morning and it's another day. You play around on your instrument/s and an idea begins to form it's maybe simple but it grows, you grow it, then it grows some more, it evolves time and time again and then suddenly a song exists. It's there in the world and YOU made it happen. It doesn't matter if people don't listen to it, doesn't matter if they don't even like it as long as you do because it will always be your creation. And getting better and better is a wonderful feeling, so no matter how bad I am at the start (right now!) I will always have this wonderful journey behind & in front of me. That's special right?
There you go, ten (maybe boring, maybe not) things I've learnt in the last two years. I'm sure in two years time I'll be posting another ten - I look forward to it. 4.5 years to go until the big day arrives and in some ways it feels so far but in others it's approaching way to fast. 6 months has gone by in a flash and I have so so very far to go. I respect that each instrument is a huge challenge to learn on their own, doing them all together already requires a serious commitment from me and it's going to get harder.
Five little words was inspired by those kind words said to me yesterday. They made me want to pick up the guitar and play and that inspiration it seems has a mind of it's own today.
This is getting interesting!!
I did an experiment today, I had the guitar and I just started strumming away choosing chords as I went, they're simple bog standard Key of C (mostly minor as normal!) but I just WENT FOR IT. It was so much fun but then I thought ooh this is actually quite cool, hooked up to Studio One and just went for it on there, no re-recording just go...!
Then time for noodling. Again same rules just go, don't worry just feel the emotion and see what happens.
Put down the guitar, sit at drums and impro - yes I know doing drums third is dumb but there was a point I wanted to have the music to impro over so I wouldn't be so straight especially with the fills. Same rules again just go for it, listen to the music and feel the 'groove' haha!
Bass I'm afraid is simple - there was no room left with all the bad timing at this point!!
The whole thing took 40 minutes and here is the recording - no editing of tidying, no re-recording any part. Warts and all this is my emotion poured out into a quick song inspired by those five little words that lifted my spirit so much yesterday. As far as experiments go I'm actually chuffed with this, it's a HUGE step forward for me. It also illustrates how far I still have to go and it is sooooooooooooo quintessentially ME in style - sorry about that!
This is getting pretty cool now! So here is stage 2, I don't know how this happened but this little number is evolving into something pretty cool out of nowhere.
I decided to have some fun with the electric guitar which then suggested new strumming and piano. I fixed SOME of the timing issues and now I've got a (kind of) verse/chorus structure to work with that's pretty cool - just the solo/bridge to go and an outro. Question is am I brave enough to begin again on it and get it right or shall I see how far I can get this to completion given the mess I started with? Hummmmmm?!
Last time I'll update this unless I redo the whole thing into a full song. But I've now changed most of the guitar noodling to electric. Now no judging I have only played electric for 2 weeks now - well not even played it just picked it up a handful of times. It's VERY cool and VERY fun though! This music stuff just gets better and better - hopefully I will too!!!!!
So today I thought I'd try and perk myself up a bit and tap more into that sunny side I love so much. I'm on 7 hours sleep in 3 days so feeling verrrrrrrry ropy but better, much better.
Last night I was on my way to see Nick Cave who was actually very cool btw, I'm not a big fan but I enjoyed it immensely, when I got a text I wasn't expecting. It was a short sentence and there were five words in there inparticular that meant the world to me. It was from my teacher, he'd just watched my new music video and they said "I'm so proud of you". I've said so many times in this blog how important these guys are to me because of how much I respect them and now you know why. They can knock me over or pick me up so easily which is probably unfair on them but unfortunately I am who I am and while that might seem bad remember I'm passionate, I care hugely and I work so hard too. Swings and roundabouts :)
Then we went for a quick Chinese meal before the concert and my fortune cookie said this. Fate normally kicks my arse but it was shining on me last night and I'll take it! If it was you who had a few kind words to say about me, I don't need to know what they were but thank you! haha!
Right ....two things!
1) I'm have a ridiculous amount of fun on the bass at the moment especially trying to do funky stuff so here is me "Funking It Up" over a backing track - it's terrible but funny.
2) On guitar we're going to be doing a lot more soloing, learning solos and then using what I learn in my own (hopefully!). I'm looking forward to this so much, I hated soloing when I started, every time Zak said we'd give it a try I felt awful and it took ages for me to be able to play in front of him at all. Now I still feel hesitant doing "my thing" whatever that might be (hence the hesitancy) in front of him but I love love love love soloing. It's giving me a voice, now I just need to learn how to use it. So time to get some serious guitar practice in so I can get these fingers moving!
Time to play, so have a good day!
What does someone do when they're struggling with depression, anxiety and not sleeping?
They make a music video at 3.30am!
I've explained before that I suffer with depression, it's nothing I'm ashamed of it's simply something that's a part of who I am and sometimes I get sick. I've had the week from hell this week, it has rained and poured nightmare after nightmare and it's messed with my mojo big time. To give you an example this morning I had to get up at 3.30am after trying hard to get back to sleep for 40 minutes (and obviously failing!). By 7.30 I felt a bit better because I was very pleased with myself for putting together my first 'music video' and then what do I find? A Huntsman Spider - I'm scared of the tiniest of bugs and these things are colossal - it scared the BLEEP out of me. Hubby had left for work with the boys as it's a bring your kids to work day so all I had was my daughter. I woke her up bless her to rescue me and she saved me from the monster!! But that was just the last (at least I HOPE it's the last!) in a long chain of events that has left me feeling very vulnerable. My "spidey senses" are so refined I am 99% more likely to spot one than every other member of this house! - Bummer!
So while my head tries to reset itself (hopefully) I'm bouncing around instrument to instrument like a nut (imagine spending 10 hrs a day practising but not being able to concentrate on one thing for more than 10 minutes - it's TOUGH!) but I'm also being super creative which I'll take as compensation for feeling so bad.
So here it is my video - a very trippy and as my daughter reviewed it a "Strangely Satisfying" tune. Enjoy!
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.😊
I was desperate to get back to recording something just to keep the momentum going so the 'crash' doesn't dissuade me from pushing on. Today I was messing on the guitar and had a ding moment and added and added till this funny little thing came together. This is just a snippet of me re-recording the funky guitar rhythm but it's a giggle! Love the harmonica and xylophone effects haha! I think I need to start from scratch but I may just leave it as a messy play around this time.
Funky Monkey - Revised (and more serious!) Version
I thought I would have another go at recording this laying down drums first then rhythm guitar, then bass and then it was time to have fun over the top. Loving the "sax" effect and the "trumpets". I had real fun with this, it's far from brilliant of course but at least it's a step in a new direction for me. I really tried to think about where the various instruments needed space and when the layer them which was very tricky.
As always - I hope you enjoy my noodling around!
So... I thought I'd break things up a little with another set of random facts about me 😊. I'll try to keep them fun and a little interesting!
1). I'm an insomniac, I've suffered since I was a teen. I spend a lot of time at night practising, writing or learning. When I do sleep I wake constantly throughout the night so I hate sleeping now.
2). I love the idea of fish and bananas but I absolutely HATE them. Can't even stand smoothies that have banana in them. Wish I could eat them but I can't.
3). I have crazy eyebrows, they are attached to my face but other than that they are entirely independent of me, I have no control over them and when I get passionate about something they start going wherever they feel like in a merry little dance. It's most annoying!
4). I love old British sitcoms, Only Fools & Horses, Red Dwarf, Fawlty Towers, 'Allo 'Allo, Are You Being Served etc!
Last one for now ...
5). I have a quirky sense of humour and you never quite know what's going to make me go into a laughing fit. It can be the most obscure thing and I'll start crying with laughter. The last time it happened was when I found the giggle setting on my piano, every time I hit another key it set me off again and again and again, I had tears rolling down my face. The kids just looked at me like I was mad - spoil sports! Once, many years ago it was an advert with fish that re-enacted scenes from movies - It set my funny bone off and I laughed so hard it hurt. My husband just sat there looking at me with a smirk and confused look on his face.
So there you go another bunch of facts for you about this odd blogger!
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!!
Time for another music lesson, it's an eclectic mix this time! If you missed it here is part 1 full of cool albums to try out. So here are 10 more fab albums you may not know but are well worth a go.
1) Black Cat Bones - Barbed Wire Sandwich
Before Rod Price showed his genius in Foghat he was in Black Cat Bones, a grungy UK rock blues band that never made it. They went through several line ups and only released one album but it's a cracking one! Rod Price on guitar is sweeeeeeeeeeeeet on their cover of Death Valley Blues.
2) As Tall As Lions - Circles
Laid back pop indie band As Tall As Lions had a few albums before disbanding and they have a really nice upbeat vibe. My favourite is Circles in particular the title track but it's all pretty cool.
3) The Heavy - The Glorious Dead
The Heavy have a unique sound, their music is all about that funky beat. Seriously the first song (Can't Play Dead) starts with a head nodding, toe tapping thwamp and it carries on from there. They've got some really catchy melodies, you'll know some from adverts and movies but all their albums are brilliant. I love their newest one from last year too it featured in my 2016 top ten.
4) Jesus Jones - Doubt
This album used to come with a warning label that it might blow up your stereo - too funny! Brilliant indie album from the 90's, these guys had a couple of hits then faded. They did have a couple more albums and Perverse is a really good one to check out too. My fav song on this album is Welcome Back Victoria - very catchy.
5) Little Barrie - King of the waves
Barrie Cadogan is another cool guitarist and these guys know how to rock. They've got a 60's blues, rock, funk sound going on - think Cream but more funky and you'll get the idea. All their albums are amazing and my favourite songs are Free Salute (from 'We are Little Barrie') & Pin That Badge (from 'Stand Your Ground') talk about F U N K Y.
6) Opeth - Damnation
Opeth have morphed a few times and normally they're too heavy for me (when they start to grunt I lose interest) but this album showcases their chilled side. It's got an Anathema/Antimatter vibe about it and it's lovely particularly 'In My Time Of Need'.
7) Brownout - Brown Sabbath
Take one seriously talented funk band, mix them with a helping of Black Sabbath covers and you get Brown Sabbath. This is one very very cool cover album with such great playing. They stay very true to the originals while managing to add a thick dose of funk to create a unique and very brilliant album. Apparently a second helping has just been finished .... I can't wait!
8) Rodriguez - Searching For Sugar Man
This is the soundtrack from the film and features a collection of his brilliant songs. I won't post the story here but if you don't know it you should go check it out, it's a strange tale about success and failure and how second chances can come from the most unexpected places. I love his style and also check out The Avener reworking of his song it's VERY cool.
9) Five Alarm Funk - Abandon Earth
There's a bit of a funk theme in this one but as I'm so into it right now and learning how to play you'll forgive me if I indulge plus funk is awesome! Take heavy rock and mix with jazz infused funk and this is what you get. You're going to love it or hate it but I think it's brilliant if somewhat mind blowingly odd!! Such an unusual mix but very cleverly and professionally done and these guys can PLAY.
10) Jimmie Vaughan - Do You Get The Blues
My biggest guitar inspiration, I love everything Jimmie does. So many people don't know who he is let alone how amazing a guitarist he is but this is my fav of his albums. Also please check out the album (Family Style) he did with his brother Stevie Ray, the two play off each other so brilliantly. And if you want a more flashy Jimmie then go listen to some Fabulous Thunderbirds - very cool. Personally I like Jimmie when he's telling stories with his guitar.
!!ts that time again, the reason it's so hard to build my confidence but ironically also the reason I continue to push on so hard.
I don't feel like I'm literally moving from one challenge to another it's not that simple but I do go through cycles and I've just fallen from a great height on the latest one. It's only been recently that I realised that I do this although it's happened my whole life. Because of this journey I'm on they began to happen more and more frequently which is when I saw a pattern.
This "routine" is both a blessing and a curse and it's impossible to control although now I understand what's going on I can predict when it will happen and try to prepare. It's also why perspective from others is so vital to me.
So what happens is this, I'll be learning as normal then come up against a brick wall or a particularly big challenge and I kick up a few gears. My sights get blinkered and I push forwards often painfully so (as with the last challenge to write structured songs). Eventually it will click and I'll get where I was heading, and.... breakthrough!! At this point I'm so relieved and proud it's all I can think of and I need to rest and take it easier for a bit (hence the relaxing few days after my success). Finally comes the 'crash and burn', it's the moment my sights move forward, I see what I've done not in terms of the goal I set myself but in terms of the result vs the big picture (my goal to play good music) and WHAM just like that, usually brutally so I hit bottom again and I'm in mental agony. After all I've worked so hard only to still be so far and the thought of picking up speed again is terrifying. Think finishing a marathon, being exhausted but elated then realising it's only the first of 100 you have to do.
BUT... then the other unique thing I do happens, I reset. I'll begin to see the next challenge, it will take over from the last one and I let go to focus on this new one.
REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT.
This is why finding my confidence is so very difficult, I have nothing to latch on to. Every success is also a failure. It's why I so desperately look to my teachers for perspective like a child looking for approval. I am very much like a child in that way but it's also why I forge ahead like a crazy person and how I can work so hard despite the difficulties. I SHOULD see all these victories as steps forward but I simply can't seem to do that, I am unable to give myself perspective.
The one difference right now is that currently I'm having so much fun and am enjoying learning so much that the fall is a little easier to bear even if it's every bit as painful. Let's hope I'm ready to move on soon.
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!
The goal - to record 7 funk drum rhythms for next lesson and to improve on confidence and technique.
My solution - simply sit down and practice? Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
That would be too obvious. My brain ticks away and thinks how can I improve quicker, well putting on the metronome nice and slow and getting a really comfortable groove going before moving it slowly up would definately help and I do intent on doing that. But how do I know if I'm really getting that funky groove? Brain ticks a bit more and I think ahhh Staffpad - I can use it in three ways to help me this week.
1) I can replicate the funk rhythms on there, making the recording nice and long so I can just keep going, sit and play over the top until both timing and groove hit the mark or as close as I can get to it.
2) I'm struggling with the kick when it's on off beats, I tense up and I need to feel comfortable or I can't play properly which is very frustrating. Add we know how nervous I get in lessons grrrr! So I've done a few practice rhythms that focus on double kicks on off beats to try and get me used to it. They're all in different places so we'll see if that works - it's not a one stop solution but I think it will go part of the way.
3) I need to improve my synopation and rhythm in general so I've got some syncopated snare drum beats to practice over to get me started at both 70 and 90 bpm.
I exported the files & imported them into my iTunes and now I just connect my phone to the drums, or I can use the new file of these I imported into studio one, and play over the top till I get it right. Will it help? We shall see but worst case we now have backing drums for next weeks lessons just in case mine are unusable!!!
Now I need to figure out something to help with the bass!
Shhhhh.. if you promise not to tell anyone I'll confess I actually like MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch This', it's on my guilty pleasures playlist haha! See even the most obsessed muso has a few skeletons in their musical closet.
But yep it's time to push hard again and that's a little scary but it feels different, lessons are aways great, I adore my teachers as you know but now it feels full of real purpose and solid direction which helps more than I can possibly explain and although I think it's going to throw up some really big challenges, it's going to be hard work and at times it will really hurt - I'm enjoying myself like crazy.
So we're officially back in to kick backside mode after the Christmas break, 'introductory' funk is on the menu (maybe that's why I'm so excited!) and it's time to learn drums for real which is very very cool and very very scary. Lots and lots of technique too so I guess I got everything I wished for, best not dare complain (at least for a few posts hey!).
Confidence is such a major issue, it's improved so much but it's such a pain. There is a cunning plan in motion to see if that will help, I'm going to lay myself bare (well not literally, my poor teacher would be so mortified I'd never see him again!) but the plan is to record myself on drums doing my THANG and let him see the worst (think Animal when he first learnt to play the drums and you're close) and also to use seperate recordings that I've done to time in next weeks lesson. Save us time but also flag any problems (there will be flags) and as I said in my tips post to use to to aid my confidence when I play.
Today was mind melting with the amount of work and most will be forgotten or not entirely understood but that's the price of moving forward at speed and it's one I'm happy to pay. I'll just do my best and try to cover as much as I can in the next week.
So 2017 has started with some crazy fun and a hell of a lot of work...!
AND I'M LOVIN' IT.............!
10 More iPhone Apps for Musicians
As part one has been well received I thought I would add some more for you lovely musicians to enjoy. Most of these are really helpful, some are just fun!
Here is part one if you want to try out those!
10) Sound Key
This is a silly bit of fun but I love it for light relief and as with anything I see a way to use it in my search for melody and rhythm. A true musician sees music in everything!! It's simple click the bubbles on or off to change up the melody and rhythm, harmonise by selecting multiple bubbles in the same row. Then reset and play again, change up the tempo and just have fun. Down side is there are just two sound groups which makes is a real shame because this has potential! A little thought and development and this could be turned into a musicians friend for creating melody ideas.
9) Modal Buddy
Not much use for many musicians but if you're a guitar nut like me and you really want to dig in then this is a good app for learning about modes and how to use them. It teaches you about modes, offers a quick quiz and then there are a few simple backing tracks to test your skills over. It's certainly not a one stop does it all learning tool but it's a good way to start.
8) Lick Master
Does what it says on the tin! Has a collection of licks that you can learn in different styles and breaks them into sections so you can listen to it has a whole or just the part you're working on. It lets you listen at half speed and includes a metronome which you can switch on or off. It is limited in the number of licks you get, you can tweet to unlock a mystery pack and you can buy more in the store. At $7.99 (currently) for 25 it seems a little expensive but they are well done.
This ones needs to be taken with a big pinch of salt because while it's helpful it's gets a LOT wrong. But the idea is you load any song from your music library and it will pick out the chords for you & tell you the tempo. The accuracy varies a lot but if you use your own ear with it you can often figure out where it's gone wrong and adjust but as part of a learning tool for ear training and early transposition it can be very handy. It's probably far far easier to just look it up on Songster or Ultimate Guitar but sometimes a song just isn't anywhere - I have so many I want to play that aren't and this is a good starting point.
A great way to look up the lyrics to all your favourite songs and see what they really were warbling on about! I find it's a great inspiration source for me and I use it and one way of learning more about how to write strong lyrics. It's fun too and if you are arguing with a friend over what was really said in that particular song then now you can find out instantly. Updated all the time with new music but can be a bit poor on more unusual or older bands.
5) Rhymer's Block
As you write out your song it automatically comes up with a list of words that rhyme and unlike some others I've tried most are actually pretty good. I certainly wouldn't use it exclusively but it can be very handy. It's will show you colour coding for all rhyming words in your final poem/song and allows you to easily export them. It has the Block, which is where you can see work by other artists and add your own but you do need an account. Having that social interaction connected to your "ideas pad" is a great idea and you can invite friends from facebook etc although they probably won't love you for it!
This is a entry level theory app and it's by far the one I found easiest, even explaining things far better than my teachers. It goes in sections and teaches you step by step from Intervals, Basic Chords, Scales, 7th & 6th Chords & a very brief introduction to modes. It hasn't been updated for some time but the information is as valid as it ever was and will be.
3) Session Band
Not cheap this one but it's very cool for creating backing tracks and has several apps that you can get in bundles including acoustic guitar, drums, bass & ukulele. The acoustic one for example has professionally recorded strummed chords that you can change in length and make major minor, 7th or sus. You can change the rhythm once you have your progression to see what that sounds like, change the duration of each chord, add new ones in, loop and export for your very own backing track and you're free to use them in any recording you do. There are limitations, it can be a bit cumbersome and it's pricey so it doesn't rate higher but it's very cool.
2) Pro Metronome
My number one metronome of choice, intuitive to use, allows you to have different tones on subbeats or none at all. Has a tap function so you can put in the beat you want, Allows you to easily change the time signature and the subdivisions including a variety of triplet feels and polyrhythms. Has multiple tones (most aren't annoying too), you can adjust which beats light up and how. It has a rhythm trainer, tuner and all sorts of tweaks. The best bit is you can save the presets so you have your most popular settings to hand. Great if you want it ready for practicing a set list.
1) Blues Licks (Justin Guitar)
I think anything Justin does is great, I'm a big fan of the website, YouTube channel and all his apps. This app links to 13 videos of his blues lessons from the website so you have them in one simple easy to find location. It also includes videos (once you've downloaded them) to 56 blues licks It's so convenient having it all right there to work through I think it's well worth paying for especially if you're like me and get easily distracted!
Learning Time Log
How long I've been learning as at at the end of Mar 2021.
What's This About?
One fateful day I decided to get guitar lessons. 6 years later I'm learning four instruments and trying to become a musician and songwriter. I set a five year goal (Aug 2021) to create a very special song for my 25th wedding anniversary and this is a record of my crazy journey, weird thoughts, strange doodles and unapologetic music obsession! Enjoy!