Archive for June, 2012

Practicing Without Your Guitar – Part III: Rhythm & Tempo

Posted by Brian on 28th June 2012 in General Music, How to:..., Musicianship, Practice

Early in May, I led a workshop on “Practicing Without Your Guitar” at the York Region Fingerstyle Guitar Association’s monthly Open Mic. I am now working on getting some of the insights from that workshop written down and posted. In this, the third of four installments, I am going to talk about working on Rhythm and Tempo without your guitar.

Rhythm

A while ago I wrote about attending a guitar workshop led by David Ross MacDonald at the Eaglewood Folk Festival. In that workshop he talked about how he used a sort of two step to embed various rhythms (i.e eighths, triplets, sixteenths, etc.) into his brain. You can also tap out rhythms in time with your metronome, or even use your left hand to tap out a steady beat while tapping out more complex rhythms with the right (or vice versa, if that’s how you’re wired).

Tempo

One of the biggest challenges for many musicians is starting at the right tempo. As it turns out, our brains have a remarkable capacity for reproducing the tempo of well known songs. For example, according to Daniel Levitin, in his book, “This Is Your Brain On Music”, we can use the following songs to find the following tempos:

“Hotel California”, by The Eagles – 75 beats per minute
“Back in Black”, by AC/DC – 96 bpm
“Walk This Way” by Aerosmith – 112 bpm
“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson – 116 bpm

This is a technique that I have found to be very helpful.

Hopefully, you can use some of these ideas to improve your musicianship without building callouses.

Stay tuned for Part IV: Listening and Ear Training

Part I: Why?

Part II: Visualizing

Grace in Small Things – Musical Edition, Vol. 4

Posted by Brian on 17th June 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

Okay, it’s been a while – not since I found joy in the small things, but certainly since I posted about it. Here are five musical bits of joy from the last week or so:

1. A paying gig!

2. A non-paying gig for a good cause.

3. My kids working hard to prepare for an upcoming piano recital.

4. A somewhat regular jam with good friends that has turned into a band.

5. A rehearsal with the aforementioned band that went shockingly well!

 

More about Grace In Small Things

Video-of-the-Month: Salomon Jakobsson

Posted by Brian on 15th June 2012 in Fingerstyle Guitar, Guitarists, Video of the Month, Youth

Video-of-the-MonthFor June’s original Video-of-the-Month we go to Sweden, where we find Salomon Jakobsson.

I have been able to piece together that Salomon is about 17 years old and only started playing when he was thirteen.

Here he is playing his original composition, “Battle of the Brave Frog”:

 

I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds…

Salomon’s FaceBook page: www.FaceBook.com/pages/Salomon-Jakobsson/202188176493954

Salomon’s YouTube channel: www.YouTube.com/user/salomon9595

Video-of-the-Month: Doc Watson

Video-of-the-MonthDoc Watson (1923-2012)

I have pre-empted my regularly scheduled Video-of-the-Month to pay tribute to one of the great guitarists of all time, Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, who passed away on May 29th at the age of 89.

Having lost his eyesight at an early age, Doc first learned to play the banjo on an instrument that his dad made. He switched to guitar while attending a school for the blind. He went on to become one of the great “flatpickers” of all time.

This video (actually, audio only) is from the Newport Folk Festival, 1963, where Doc caught his first “big break”. Here he plays two of his signature pieces: “Doc’s Guitar” (a.k.a. “Tickling the Strings”) a fingerpicking tune, and “Black Mountain Rag” a flatpicking tune.

Rest in peace, Doc.

(The original Video-of-the-Month for June will appear on June 15th.)

Wikipedia: Doc Watson