Black coffee & G3. What a way to spend a morning

Today I decided to wake the house up with this:

It just had to be done. Twice, actually (well, OK maybe 3 times). It’s not so sunny today so not feeling wildly motivated to get up and leap about the place so I thought a bit of musical assistance was called for. This certainly did the trick. I played the rest of the concert too but My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama, really gets me moving of a morning.

Homework wise, I still have lots of Eric to learn and also, a bit of back treading and using Evil Eye – Yngwie Malmsteen, as a speed exercise.
Definitely getting faster. Chatting with another guitarist, online, he said that he was using a metronome to give a beat to pick to. He, like me, said that he learned a run, a few notes at a time to memorise but then found himself putting pauses in where there wasn’t one, as that’s the way he’s learned it. Section by section. I tend to do this and have the same problem with tiny pauses between the sections that I’ve learned so it all sounds really choppy. The first run in Cliffs of Dover, I have been playing in 3 parts, with tiny pauses between and it sounds horrible beyond belief. I’ve played it slowly, with the metronome at 90bpm so it’s much smoother now, so now speeding up and up. Same with the Evil Eye bit.

Not totally sure what Leigh would think of this. I guess that he’ll know when he reads it, but it’s helping me speed things up and lose the horrible pauses. I am having a lot of fun with it. I’ve been working on rhythmn generally for a couple of days. I don’t think that I am improving at all but Leigh does, which is the main thing, I guess.

This week is quite quiet, work wise, so I am going to try and knuckle down and get more practice in. I hope to get a good 3 half an hour’s practices in a day this week. I have a database to finish for Norwich Guitar Academy, but my internet has got a bit on and offy. Waiting for a new hub thing as they think that the one they supplied is faulty. You are telling me! My internet is up and down like a yoyo. Not helpful at all.

Breakfast is calling now, so I shall clear off and then back to my guitar after.

Coming along, I think

Firstly, I had a look at that Fender in PMT. It’s bloomin’ lovely. However, I do need to play it, plugged in and through some headphones. Firstly so I don’t come across as a complete numpty in a public place with my rather pants skills (or not), and secondly, I can hear so much better through the headphones, all the little nuances and whatnot as I change volume, tone etc. I guess this comes of a lot of midnight and small hours practice with headphones so as not to annoy the neighbours.

Leigh says that I might want to look at a couple of Mexican Strats while I am at it. I can trade in my Epiphone Les Paul and my Epiphone Dove, which are eating their head off and not doing any actual work here, in my office. I rarely play acoustic at the moment and we do have a Takamine with a single cut out, which is easier for my rubbish hands at the fun end of the fret board. I do occasionally play the Les Paul, as I feel sorry for it because Kenn never plays now.

Alone With You, seems to be shaping up nicely. I’ve got the intro sussed, but not quite up to EJ speed. However, by the time he’d recorded that he’d been playing 15 years or so, and I’ve been playing 18 months. Nearly 19 now, so that’s that excuse busted. I love that track. Cliffs of Dover is improving. Definitely improving. I need to get a bit (lot) more hand stretch going on to improve but I have exercises for that, which I do. Both on and off the fret board.

We are all very happy here today. I put a comment on Eric Johnson’s Facebook feed after he posted :

I just said that I had posted this on the Norwich Guitar Academy website to illustrate versatility to our students. I got a like from EJ himself. Warm and fuzzy feeling abounds. Check out the track, available on iTunes but I couldn’t find it on the UK iTunes which is a bit of a downer. It said ‘no go away’ or words to that effect.

Back to the practice then. I’ve critiqued the new blurb on our new homepage, that is being built for the NGA website. The new version will be up soon, even if I have to get in there and push. If I don’t practice, I won’t improve.

Chat soon

Raff

Practice practice

I’ve had a pretty good practice day today.

I started with Alone with you.

Trying to get those slides and whatnot is playing havoc with my fingers, but I practice them in 5 minute bursts and they seem to be coming along.

Cliffs of Dover intro, is blooming hard work. Finger are getting faster. I work at the first bar, and get some speed up, then the second bar and then the 3rd bar. Then put the whole lot together, rinse and repeat. Then the 4th, 5th & 6th and so on and so forth. Steve Vai says to practice giving every note it’s own zip code. I’m assuming that he means postcode, with me being of the English persuasion. I figure that Steve Vai probably knows what he is talking about, so that’s how I practice.

I’ve been going really of piste today with some CCR, some easy exercises and chord changes to mix things up a bit, then back to the EJ. I have bought 2 new EJ CDs today too. Live in Europe and Up Close – Another Look. Can’t wait for them to arrive.

Things are moving along on the Norwich Guitar Academy front too.
We have had a chat about prizes with a local guitar shop, which was very positive. Very positive about the NGA-day we are planning in the near future as well. I’d better order some extra biscuits in if we are having people over.

While in the shop, I saw the most gorgeous, 2nd hand guitar too. Nearly £700 though. I’m wondering if I can take my wages in guitar 🙂

Back to work then.

Raf

It’s got a bit busy here & there are some exciting times ahead.

Long time no blog. Truth be told, I forgot the password and when I tracked it down, life kept happening and then I forgot to blog.

Now where to start. I have been practicing hard and have got a couple of new bits of Cliffs of Dover under my fingers. Currently wondering why I suggested this to Leigh in the first place as my fingers hurt like nothing on earth as I’m learning the hybrid picking bit after the intro. Obviously I haven’t gone near the intro yet as my fingers just don’t play that fast, they need to be fitter and I wonder if I should take them jogging or something. That little hybrid picking bit, I am practicing in 5 minute bursts as I really don’t want to blister my fingers and I can just see that happening.

Anyway, Cliffs of Dover is coming along. Eric Johnson would be turning in his grave if he were dead as it sounds fairly frightful from where I’m sitting but it’s fun to learn and it gives me a challenge. I need a lot more Eric in my music collection and will get around to buying more when work picks up and finances allow.

I have a fair bit of Steve Vai in my collection and Leigh thought that it would be fun for me to learn a little bit of The Audience is Listening, from the Passion & Warfare album.. I’m not sure who he thought it would be fun for but he thought it would be a laugh. I swear the man just likes teaching me so he gets a good belly laugh at least once a week. Even though I practiced it every day, for a week, and listened to the original, as well as looking and listening via Guitar Pro 6, it made no musical sense to me. By the end of the second week it did and now I can play it and it’s getting a bit quicker. I’m still a good 40mph behind the speed that Vai play it but he’s been playing 40+ years and I’ve been playing 16 months. I expect that I can ride a horse a lot better than Steve Vai can, after all, I’ve been riding since before I can remember. Before he suggested the Vai track he did suggest some Jason Becker and then giggled. I’m never too sure when he’s joking or not and the giggle could mean either way.

UkeThere has been a new arrival in our house. As you can see, we have added a little Concert sized Ukulele to the family. I have been looking on Justin Sandercoe’s Website plus I have a ‘learn to play the Uke’ book with DVDs, CDs and a bonus CD/DVD for when I’ve got through everything else. I have been having great fun.

As I have been speaking to schools about guitar classes, they have asked about ukulele classes, which we do offer, so I thought that now I’ve kind of got the hang of a guitar, I might have a go at the Ukulele. I watched some of the Justin videos and though that it looked a hoot so Kenn, my husband, went out and bought me a Uke in the sales. I’m getting asked about Ukulele a lot at the moment so I thought that learning would be a plan so I can answer questions with more knowledge than if I couldn’t play a Uke. That’s my excuse for a new toy anyway.

On the Norwich Guitar Academy side of things, it’s all getting rather exciting. Leigh has secured Guthrie Govan to come and do a Masterclass for us in Autumn this year. We will have more news on that soon, regarding venue, ticket prices and the exact date. We are hoping to roll out our group lessons very soon and our Tea & Jam sessions, whereby our students can come for a jam session and have a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a biscuit or three while they are at it. A nice social, fun get together once a month across the ability levels.

Anyone interested in the Guthrie Govan Masterclass can register their interest here and you will be emailed with all news pertaining to the event. Previous Masterclass events have featured Phil Hilborne (We Will Rock You) and Andy James (LickLibrary) and have been very successful. I think that this one is going to be a doozy though and we are all super excited about it.

Anyway, enough chit-chat. I need to go and have another 5 minutes work on that hybrid picking and then maybe a quick canter around Billy Idol’s White Wedding. My goal this week, is to be able to play for 5 minutes without causing Leigh too much hilarity. I know that Cliffs of Dover is biting off more than I can chew but I do like a challenge.

Raffie

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.
R

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.

R

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.

R

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.

R