Busy busy busy!

I have practiced this week. Really I have. Just not as much as I would have liked.

I have been busy trying to sort a database out for Norwich Guitar Academy ready for future Marketing, another for contact numbers. As well as that I’ve been having a bit of a rewrite of some other text, putting it into Leigh speak rather than corporate speak. I’ve been updating the facebook page with guitar quotes, the occasional picture and whatnot too.

Practice this week has been a bit 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. Friday morning I knuckled down and got totally to grips with Fleetwood Mac, Need Your Love So Bad, and got half way though the outro too. Then I realised that it was getting late and that I ought to go to work or I would be horribly late. The outro has been really frustrating as I can’t seem to find all of it on YouTube at all. It kinds of fades out half way though so I’m fine on the first bit of it, then have to use The Force for the timing of the rest of it. It’ll be fine in the end though.

Cliffs of Dover didn’t get as much attention as I’d have liked but I have this week to learn it too. It’s not like it’s going to run away anywhere. I have Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight for this week’s main homework. It’s one of those tracks that I’ve meant to get around to but just haven’t.

I would like to start thinking about grades now. I’m sure that I’ve learned enough to start on them. I’ll mention it in earnest I think. I’ve left it a while as I couldn’t bare the thought of Leigh rolling around on the floor, clutching his sides while he howled with mirth. After a casual chat about grades in general earlier, and he didn’t say anything like “oh you are far too pants to even consider them” I might see about applying myself to a bit of guitar academia.

I went mad and bought a new album today as well. I bought the Joe Bonamassa album that was released in September this year. It’s taken me 2 months as I forgot about it until today. Awesome, awesome, awesome. Definitely worth the wait. An hour or so ago I found the official video for the single – it’s on the Joe Bonamassa link. I was right about the guitar too – we had a brief discussion about it at the end of tonight’s lesson.

Talking of new albums. The wonderful Thunder have a new album out in February next year. A short tour as well. I’ll start nagging Husband. Not at this second as it’s half 2 in the morning, but in a few hours I’ll mention it to him. Repeatedly.

It’s the middle of the night. I’m torn between getting some sleep. Not very tired but think that I’m coming in for something. Or getting a bit of practice in. I have headphones so I won’t upset the neighbours.

Decisions decisions.


I have some pretty funky homework this week

I have been learning Fleetwood Mac’s Need Your Love so Bad, which is a great track and I enjoy playing it. This week I have come home with the chorus bit from the wonderful Eric Johnson’s Cliffs of Dover. The bit from about 2:50 to 3:12. Really fun to play, or it will be when I get the hang out it a little better.

At least Leigh seems to be liking the guitar quote of the day on our Facebook page. He’s getting some ‘likes’ about it and I thought it was high time that the FB page got a bit of work. I rather like hunting for quotes every morning, cheers me right up.  Not that I’m a misery guts in the morning at all. Nooo, well not after my 2nd cup of tea anyway. I found an Eric Johnson one for today. I’ve been looking out for some funky guitar pictures to go on it too. I found a pic of some fluffy guitars, which I thought looked perfect for cold days. Just in case Leigh forgets to put the heating on. Cold hands on guitar strings really don’t work for me.

Today is a ‘going to work day’. I don’t normally much like going to work on a Saturday but I’ve been busy, Leigh has been busy so a Saturday lunchtime seemed like a good idea. Last night, at my lesson, I said that I was about all day but not to make it too early. I am allergic to getting up before 8am on a Saturday, or a Sunday for that matter. I’ve taught our dogs the concept of the weekend. Now I just need to teach the boss the same concept.

Marketing marketing marketing. That seems to be our main focus at the moment. Whatever works, I say. I am taking my tea mug to work with me today. Some teabags too. 4 hours without a cuppa is not conducive to my creative ability. Nor my typing ability for that matter.

I’ve a quick half an hour for some practice too. Cliffs of Dover won’t learn itself and there is a Showcase on the 14th December so I really had better practice something as I don’t reckon that Three Little Birds is going to cut it.


A year and a bit on

DSCF7407Still playing but it’s all changed a bit for us.

Firstly, Husband doesn’t play much now. Sure, he picks his guitar up now and again but he’s not really fussed about playing.

Secondly, we have a music room. Other people have a 2nd bedroom, with a bed, wardrobe and a chest of draws in. We have a room with a music stand, a desk, assorted guitars, amps, leads,  music books, sheet music and heaven only knows what in there. If anyone comes over and needs to stay the night, they can share the sofa with the dogs.

Thirdly, although I still play my beautiful Epiphone Dove, I prefer my Stratocaster now and play it every single day (except for today as I sliced my arm open and it hurts like hell).

Fourthly, I have learned a ton. It’s been a bit of knowledge swap in some ways. I learned scales but casually mentioned that Bryan Adams wasn’t singing about the year in 1969, if you know what I mean. The blush from Leigh could have warmed a medium sized street. Bless. I learned that Gary Moore was partial to a carvery on a Sunday and Leigh learned that the Kink’s Lola (L.O.L.A. Lola) was not about some lass who liked drinking cola (C.O.L.A.cola). That same street could have been warmed again.

Lastly, I work part time for Norwich Guitar Academy. Panic not, I don’t teach. Dear God no. I’m a bit more of an organisational person than a teacher. Anyway, I still can’t play Malmsteen’s Evil Eye proficiently, let alone bloomin’ Jiboom. Nope! Never going to be a teacher.

Over the last year I have acquired a gorgeous, cherry red Stratocaster. It was born in 1989 so it’s currently half my age. A rather tatty Vintage brand Strat in a sexy Seafoam Green colour – see pic. He was really tatty and unloved when we found him in a house clearance shop, see picture above. He’s been restrung, had a new pick guard and a good clean since and is generally great. Not as great as my cherry red Strat but pretty great. There may be an Epiphone Les Paul floating about the place too. There is definitely a Takamine acoustic belonging to Husband, gathering a bit of dust that I play from time to time, because I feel sorry for it. There is also a Peavey Bass that Ken plays occasionally. I have zero interest, at the moment, about learning to play it.

I have a lovely Fender Mustang amp, some headphones, pressies from Hubster. A small Yamaha practice amp and an amazing looking – but currently not working – VOX Valvtronix. We got done a bit by the music shop on that one. Not one that’s been mentioned on here before, I won’t mention the name as I don’t have getting sued on my ‘to do’ list today.

A couple of days ago, I went through all my music. Some of it didn’t have anything written on it so I played it to find out what the music was. I spent a happy couple of hours doing this. I then mentioned to Husband that I really ought to jot down which bit of music is which. He said that he heard me going through it all, did I make notes when I did that. Nope! I didn’t so I’ll have to do it again. Ho hum. I do have organisational skills really – just in case Leigh reads this. I was just having such a good time.

I really ought to be better but the nerve damage caused by that smashed up wrist causes me some issues but it’s getting better. I can’t play rhythm for toffee, even now. I should practice that more but I do get carried away with a bit of Gary Moore, Fleetwood Mac, CCR or whatever. Sometimes I just sit and practice scales for the fun of it, trying to work a bit of speed up. Interestingly, I can still type at 60 or 70 words a minute but not wield a pick and dance about the fretboard at any great speed. Bit frustrating really. Eric Johnson isn’t going to have anything to worry about from me.

Jimi Hendrix said “Sometimes you want to give up the guitar, you’ll hate the guitar. But if you stick with it, you’re gonna be rewarded.”

I’ve never hated my guitar but I’ve been pretty fed up with not making progress and then suddenly there is a little leap forward. I just live for those little leaps. I’m aiming to be able to pay Jiboom by the time I’m old.

The adventure is just beginning, I think.


The next couple of weeks

Where was I?

Ah yes. Still with original lady teacher, appointment made with Norwich Guitar Academy with big, mahoosive hairy guitar virtuoso who probably doesn’t want to teach some woman who messes around with stinky dogs all day.

On my 2 week anniversary of playing, I went to my lady teacher as planned. She taught me a G chord in exactly the same way as I had been taught, for free, by Giles at PMT Norwich a fortnight before. She said something about not worrying about the minor chords just yet and gave me a couple more handouts, oh, we played Three Little Birds again. She wanted me to go from half hour lessons to hour lessons at thirty quid a time, but I was learning more from my book so I said that I would think about it and that I had to work the following Thursday so would re-book online. Lady was very nice and all, but not very effective.

The following day, Husband & I had our back to back appointment with this Leigh bloke. We arrived, on time, and tapped on his door. A cheery ‘come in’ came from the other side of the door and in we went. There was no mahoosive, hairy guitarist at all, but a young, presentable sort of lad who looked about 12 20. He grinned, said very complimentary things about my Dove and offered us comfy seats and gave a brief explanation of how he likes to start off his free lessons.

Leigh asked about what sort of music I liked to listen to (one pupil at a time, not joint questions), what I would like to play. He looked a bit stunned when I said that I liked Malmsteen, Satriani, Vai, just like normal people. Apparently most people don’t have Vai in their record collections. Most people I know do though 🙂 Maybe I just know cool people. He asked what I could play so I said D, A, E, Dm, Am, Em and G and that I could play Louis Louis by the Kingsmen, Three Little Birds (again), Common People, Love Me Do, Walk the Line etc and that I’d been playing for 2 weeks and 1 day He looked a bit stunned.

We had a natter about what I fancied learning next and taught me the beginning Back in Black (AC/DC) and a tiny teeny bit of Steve Vai’s Jiboom to practice the pull offs. All in all, a brilliant 30 minutes. Oh, not 20 at all but a much older 24, playing for over 10 years, teaching for 4 and has qualifications coming out of his ears. Figuratively, not literally. That would just be silly. I was really surprised. The lesson was really fun, we laughed a lot.

He did the same with Husband and gave homework of Everybody Hurts – REM and a tiny bit of YYZ – Rush.

We booked for the following week and went home and practiced and practiced and practiced, not quite to the bleeding fingers stage though. I figured that if my fingers bled, I’d need to not practice for a few days while they healed. I did practice for a good 30 minutes a day though.

I practiced Back in Black, the pull offs for Jiboom and then learned Everybody Hurts as the music was there, I had the time and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Husband was practicing Everybody Hurts somewhat faster than R.E.M. play it, I just figured that he was practicing the Slayer version, not that I am entirely convinced that Slayer covered it. I took one look at YYZ and decided to leave that for a week or three. Not a big Rush fan, myself.


The first couple of weeks of playing were………

…..interesting, to say the least.

Rushing ahead here!

Having trawled the interweb for local lessons, I settled on a nice lady teacher who also taught singing. She had a guitar that she loaned to rank beginners. I discovered that the first lesson was free too. Always a bonus. I was a bit worried as I didn’t want to be made to feel small for being an adult learner, nor did I want to feel intimidated by some 6′ male guitarist who plays like Malmsteen in his sleep.

I went to my first lesson and she asked my name, age and whether I had played before and then taught me how to play a D chord and we spent 10 minutes or so on getting to grips with it and then she showed me an A chord and we spent 10 minutes on that. She then told me the notes of the strings and that was that. I booked another lesson for the following week. It all seemed fine and I liked it. I had managed to get the strings to sound out while playing a D chord with a minimal of muttering, less so with the A. My finger tips hurt like hell but I’d had fun and didn’t feel like a total doofus.

From there, I had the rest of the afternoon to myself so thought that I’d better get a guitar to practice with. I headed off to a music shop and spoke to the man there. I felt quite brave when I went in, but not when I came out again. He suggested one particular guitar, a 3/4 size classical guitar “because you are a woman” but he wouldn’t let me hold it, let alone have a quick strum. Anyway, it was a horrible colour and I didn’t much like it.

My Husband picked me up from the city and suggested that we pop into PMT on the outskirts of the city. That was a fairly terrifying thought. A proper guitar shop, with dirty great blokes who are probably in really great bands and that have probably been playing since they were embryos, or at least since they were toddlers. I followed Husband in, a bit gingerly. There were electric guitars everywhere, drums over to the right, keyboards over in a side room, it was all a bit scary. A large bearded chap asked if he could help us and I squeaked out that I had decided to have a guitar lesson and needed a beginners guitar please.

He led us upstairs, asking about budget and suggested not getting a cheap guitar as I’d probably hate it and give up as cheap guitars can be pretty horrible. I thought that that sounded about right, after all I told people that all day about brushes, combs & clippers for grooming their dogs. The chap, called Giles, got out about 8 guitars, of varying shapes and prices and said to give them all a go and see which, if any, I liked. He explained that guitars all sound different and to go with one that I like the sound and feel of. He said that he was happy to get others if I didn’t like any of them. He was not phased at all, when I said that I could only play a D chord and an A chord. He says everyone starts there and by next week I’ll probably have a good 4 chords more under my belt and taught me a G chord for good measure.

I spent a good hour trying guitars. I wasn’t rushed, nagged or ‘sold’ a guitar and settled, in the end with a guitar that was slightly over budget but I loved it – still do – an Epiphone Dove. So pretty and it sounded great to me. I went home with it and practiced D and A and then changing between the 2 chords until my fingers were really sore, then had some tea.Dove1

The next day, I went back to PMT and asked about a good ‘how to play guitar’ book and was pointed towards 3 good books and chose the Justin Sandercoe book and went back home and practiced some more. By the time I went back to my lady guitar teacher I could play a D, A & E chords, both major and minor. I could change between chords, slowly but I could change. I had a fairly solid G chord and had learned Three Little Birds and Common People. She was impressed and I was thrilled that she was happy. She taught me Amazing Grace and I went off home with a couple of handouts showing me the finger positions of a D, A & E chord, I knew them already and had them in Justin’s book but didn’t like to say.

A few days later I went back to PMT for a tuner and a fatter pick as Mrs Guitar Teacher had recommended a really, really thin pick and it was getting decidedly bent and I felt that I needed something a wee bit fatter. Heck, my tesco clubcard keyring fob was fatter than that first pick. While chatting with the sales guy there, not Giles, he handed me a business card for Norwich Guitar Academy, with the name Leigh Sullivan on.

The sales chap seemed very concerned that I had handouts that were a week behind me and that the picks that she was recommending were a bit pants. He was also a bit concerned that the lady said that she only taught beginners and went through the main chords, barre chords and power chords and that was it. He seemed to think that I was going to be put off playing by someone who wanted to teach more slowly than I was learning. He said that this Leigh chap was awesome and that he couldn’t recommend him highly enough.

That evening I dropped Leigh an email asking for information. The following evening I had an appointment for a free lesson the following Friday at 7pm, my Husband decided that he was going to play too and had the slot afterwards. Thought that I had better knuckle down and practice so that I didn’t look a complete tit in front of this highly recommended, very talented teacher. Anyway, he was probably huge, bearded, grumpy and wasn’t going to have any truck with some nearly 50 year old suddenly wanting to learn guitar. I’d seen various horror stories about some male guitar teachers so I was glad that Husband wanted to come along too.

That’s how the first couple of weeks panned out. I had a guitar, a great book and a so-so teacher who seemed very nice but a bit wishy-washy, sore fingers and a bit of a hunger for knowledge.