A few musical things have happened since I last spoke, been an interesting few months.
The year 11 student, let's call him "Dave", we managed to get one session in before exams and holidays hit in. I got him to play me some stuff, and tell me about himself and what he is doing. He plays some really nice fingerstyle, funny how those young hands/muscles/fingers are so dexterious and nimble. Not too many songs in the bag just yet, but good quality what is there. A few half-songs, so I had to pull him up on that - no half songs allowed! Interestingly, he's not even a guitarist, he's a drummer! Self taught on the guitar, he just loves it and is very motivated. And that's the key - self learning and motivated.
Like my son, who was doing recorder this year, being year 4 (age 9). I remember doing recorder about that age. He was taught from a book "black belt recorder" or something like that, the idea that you get "belts" as you progress, aiming for black belt. He took it on as a challenge and had another boy he was in competition with. I thought "whatever keeps you going is good", and although the competition got unhealthy at some stages, he was playing the recorder all the time. Why watch TV when you can play the recorder? My wife and I were impressed at his abilities, I printed out some recorder sheet off the internet "here play this" and much to my amazement, he sight read it, a little clumsy, but he basically saw a note on the page and it immediately turned into a note on his recorder. Fantastic! That's what you want!
Played the piece that is until he abruptly stopped. "We've never learnt that note." "Oh. Let's look it up!" Turns out it is one of those half thumb high notes. "Oh, Mrs Davis told us about them, but we didn't learn them. But I see how it works, I'll practise it." And within a week he played that song for his class. And just today, at last day of the year school assembly, he won the award for highest achievement for year 4 music. Got himself a scolarship to play Alto Sax next two years to boot.
Okay, proud Dad there a bit, but my point is that my son, like Dave, are self motivated and keen. That gets you wherever you want to go. That leaves natural talent behind. That keeps you playing an instrument for life.
Meanwhile, plenty of Sunday afternoon gigs at the cafe. As Summer is rolling in, the place is getting quite deserted. Last week I played for 6 people. Quite a way down from the 30-40 in Spring. The owner is still keen, he's swapping between me and a singer/guitarist; I'm not charging as much so I've been getting the gig a bit more recently now the number of patrons are down.
The problem with the gig is that I play for 2 and a bit hours, pretty much non-stop, and then I put the guitar away when I get home...and don't pick it up again until next Sunday. I like the gig, I like the interaction with people, I like to play through my sets. But I must get enough of a fix that I don't work on new arrangements, or anything else during the week. It's almost like playing the gig turns it into a job...
Now I've spoken about hand/finger pain a bit over the last few years, and how my current stretching and daily shot of turmeric keeps it minimised. Well I've got a new one for you. I'm calling it Oldmanitis, but after 2 weeks of pain which included visits to the doctor and physio, it's been identified as Cervical Radiculopathy, likely at the C7 vertebrae maybe 8th. Also known as "pinched nerve", it radiates pain into your shoulder and pins and needles down the arm and into the hand. Mine is getting better and the physio is not concerned. I still have full muscle strength. Daily anti-inflammatories are helping, "it should be gone soon." Before you ask, no, it's unlikely that it is guitar playing related, most likely from cycling. I try to do 80-100kms a week commuting to work, which I've been doing for 5 years now, to keep fit. I recommend it, but don't get yourself a pinched nerve in the neck. Fortunately it doesn't hurt to play guitar!
Until next time!