Archive for January, 2012

Quote, Unquote.

Posted by Brian on 25th January 2012 in Composing/Songwriting, Guitar, Music Theory, Musicianship, Technique

While thumbing through the January 2012 edition of Acoustic Guitar magazine I came across two quotes on the importance of learning theory and technique and one on the importance of NOT learning theory and technique – interestingly from someone who has an excellent grasp of musical theory, but has chosen not to apply it to his guitar playing:

“There may be a time when you want to express something that’s more complex, and it would be nice to have that available to you if that were the case. And there are times when just the simplest of chords is going to be the most satisfying, and you would want to know that that moment had arrived. I think the more technique you have, the more choices you have.”

–Paul Simon

“There are so many musicians that come up, so many girls with great voices and great lyrics, and they play their instruments and they haven’t learned them enough. All they can do is work with four or five chords. That’s why I am really lucky and eternally grateful that the order of events happened in the way they did: I learned the neck up and down, and then when it came time to sing over stuff, I had a world of stuff I could throw at my voice to sing over”

– John Mayer

“If somebody walked up to me and pointed to a note on the guitar fretboard and asked me what it was, I wouldn’t have the first idea. I’ve deliberately left certain things vague about the guitar, because I like the primitive aspect of the way I play and think about the guitar. I never think about what key I’m in. I just start to play and hope for the best.”

– Elvis Costello

Grace in Small Things – Musical Edition, Vol. 3

Posted by Brian on 23rd January 2012 in General Music, Grace in Small Things, Journal

You are hereby challenged to find the joy in small things, because life is short and love is large.

GraceInSmallThings.com
  1. Playing Christmas music with good friends at the Windreach Farm Christmas Party. (“WindReach Farm provides an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment for persons of all ages and disabilities by providing opportunities to enjoy experiences in a farm and natural environment. “)

  2. Playing Christmas and other seasonal music with good friends at my kids’ school.

  3. Adding 3 new instrumental fingerstyle tunes to my repertoire!

  4. Getting out to 3 different open mics in one month!

  5. Seeing video from one of those 3 open mics, and not being horrified.

More about Grace In Small Things

Tune Up!

Posted by Brian on 16th January 2012 in Beginners, Ear Training, Musicianship, Performing, Playing well with others, Rant

“I thought that the professional touch that made your set was the fact that your guitar was in a proper state of tune.”

I recently played a short set at a local open mic, where a musician friend was in attendance and I received the preceding note the following day. I sometimes forget how sensitive some people are to tuning – my ear seems to be less discriminating than most. I can hear when something is out of tune, but it doesn’t grate on me the way that it does some people. Having said that, I do recognize the importance of tuning.

It actually took me years to figure out tuning. Then one day, the clouds parted and I saw the light. Not sure what the trigger was, but suddenly I “got it”. For others, tuning is as natural as breathing. But the important thing is that you must always strive to play in tune, especially when playing for (or with) others.

Every time you pick up your instrument, you should check the tuning. These days, it is much easier than when I was a budding young rockstar. You can now buy electronic tuners for as little as $15 (though I would recommend spending a little more). And while I think that you should always try to tune by ear first, you can easily check your work with the tuner.

If you get used to playing in tune all of the time, it becomes way easier to tell if you are out of tune, and you may even get to the point where you will be able to critique other performers’ tuning… Best of all, you are way less likely to annoy your audience, even if it is just your cat.

Video of the Month: Bluegrass 101

Posted by Brian on 1st January 2012 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitarists, Video of the Month

Muriel Anderson is a classical virtuoso and master of the harp guitar who, in 1989, became the first woman to win the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship. In this month’s video of the month, she teaches us how to play bluegrass:

Muriel Anderson’s website: www.MurielAnderson.com

Muriel Anderson’s YouTube Channel: www.YouTube.com/user/murielanderson

Muriel Anderson’s bio on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muriel_Anderson