Thursday, 25 October 2018

What's happening October 2018

What's happening in no particular order:

  • I've been continuing to play as a duet with an amazing violinist, who continues to amaze me. We both have kids in a private orchestra, we both pick up our kids, when we realised we could play as a duet we headed into a vacant music room 45 minutes before end of orchestra practise. He has a strong love for latin jazz, ragtime, blues, oldies - and he is far more organised than me so he brings books and I try to keep up with suitable fingerpicking chord progressions. He's a properly trained musician so it's been really great to duet with him.

    I feel I let the side down but he's happy just to be playing. It's the same story - he was heavily into playing in orchestras/ensembles but then with life and kids it falls by the wayside. Eventually as that chapter of life gets easier (in some ways, not others!) you get back into it. I never let it go, hung onto playing guitar at least a few hours a week, through all chapters...but I get it that people will let it go. So long as you go back I reckon!

    I will record one of our jams sometime and post it here for interest sake.

  • I continue to teach two girls guitar, we had a long break with holidays but we are back into it. I'm not super organised about it, but at the low low price of free, I don't think I need to be :-) We are still progressing through the classic Aaron Shearer red book which I still think is a fantastic start for fingerpicking, but these days I jump around teaching some chords and some other songs, particularly if they are working on something in school. One has advanced further than the other, which makes lessons more challenging, I'm not exactly sure how to deal with that. It's hard enough to find duets as it is, let alone with two suitable parts! Sometimes the more advanced girl is there by herself, I have attempted to show her my more "freestyle" approach to fingerstyle which she seems to both like the sound of and have a natural talent for, which I was really pleased to see. I hope to progress that more

  • I played at one of my mate Shaun's open mics. I have recently been adding to my Dark Side of the Moon some of the spoken parts, "I've been mad for years, absolutely years..." "And I am not frightened of dying, anytime will do I don't mind..." and the like. It is challenging to speak while playing reasonably complex fingerstyle, but more daunting is speaking it into a microphone. But I decided I had to do it, so I did. Face fears and all that. My play through of the album was not amazing by my own standard, and I think the spoken words didn't make sense to the audience. I will re-record it and put in the spoken parts for youtube, another chapter in the project, but not sure I will do it again at a gig.

    I also knew it would be a mistake playing the album as one pass - we were in the beer garden, the guitar was initially cold, and after around 5 minutes in it would be warmed up and would go out of tune. And because it is a noisy environment when I switched to drop D halfway through I wasn't really sure I was properly in tune, so I was stressing the whole time about not being in tune.  Lesson - always start with a few short songs so I can retune in between as the guitar comes up to temperature, and it will also relax me for playing such a challenging and lengthy piece.  After Dark Side, I played two rockin' numbers and I was happy enough with the play through on both.

    I hung around to watch another fingersyle player and chatted to him afterwards, he thought my Dark Side arrangement was amazing; I thought his ability to sing while playing fingerstyle was amazing. He threw in a complicated solo fingerstyle rendition of Billie Jean which he executed well; you can tell the guitarists who have seen some solo fingerstyle, loved it, and determinedly learnt one. That was the start of my solo fingerstyle. I think I had to determinedly learn the first 10 arrangements from tab, then arrange 20 of my own, and then keep doing that for another 10 years before it started to become natural. But I could see based on his solo fingerstyle piece why the first fingerpicked songs with singing he made look effortless. If you bite off a huge piece and persist for hundreds of hours the rest of your guitar playing is brought up as well. I reckon I could fingerpick any pattern you like in chords all day; and it's because the attention I paid to solo fingerstyle that makes that happen.

    It's a good scene though, the open mic scene. Everyone is supportive of each other and there is some great talent. I wrestle with the concept however, where is the line between someone who is going to make a career out of music, and some who is a really talented hobbyist? There are some guys and gals who clearly do it as a hobby, but some who would be looking to take it further. Is the open mic scene a pathway to a career or a place where 9-to-5'ers can enjoy their hobby? Who knows, but it's a good scene :-)