Practice practice

9 Sep 2017

About 18 months ago I wrote something here about how I was trying to get better at playing guitar, and I was going to try post a video to youtube once a week with a new song snippet as a way of having some discipline. If you do recall that, you also know I didn’t do it (I think I managed one more after that post).

But the reason for not doing it was at least reasonable: I actually started taking lessons, and my teacher makes me practice daily, so the discipline sorted itself out, and saved you, dear reader, from lots of bad cover songs.

Instead you can watch some bad bits of me doing blues style improv from my last daily practice session, warts and all:

Now, I may not be giving Joe Bonamassa cause to question his career choices, but I look at this and am somewhat amazed how far I’ve managed to come in 18 months thanks to David, my guitar teacher. When I wrote that original post back in May I was just trying to copy bits of other songs, and here I am today able to throw down a 12 bar blues backing track and then ad-lib over it, even throwing in a bit of wah pedal, to my heart’s content (albeit in a slightly repetitive and formulaic way :).

Partly this is the direction David and I have been working towards – rather than learning to cover old songs or work towards grades I’ve just been trying to understand the building blocks for playing the blues. What is the grammar and vocabulary that makes up a song. I may not yet be writing more than basic sentences, but despite the fact that I feel occasionally learning a song might be more short term satisfying, it’s when I get time to do a little bit of ad-lib like above that it all pays off. Ask me to play a song and I’m hopeless, but give me a looper pedal and I can entertain myself for an age with things like this.

The closest I get to playing an actual song is things like this, where I’m riffing on the great Jeff Beck Group track Rock My Plimsoul (who turn were riffing off B.B. King’s Rock My Baby):

I’ve still a long way to go, of that I’ve no delusion – the open stages of Cambridge are in no danger of seeing me any time soon. But it’s nice to occasionally reflect that one has at least made some progress, even if I can’t play a tune on demand :)