Well, I just finished a pretty horrible yousician lesson. I’m still working on the free version, and 15 minutes is really not enough to get a feel for the current lesson. By the next day, it’s like starting from scratch because I just can’t memorize the progression in the time I have with it.

I’ve been favoring the rhythm path, admittedly. It’s just, to this point, been easier for me to deal with. It’s not that I’ve been ignoring lead, but that my progress there is slower, as it should be. I’ve got Rocksmith set to rhythm, so I have more experience on that side, but it’s definitely been a bit disenchanting on the current run of lessons. On the Lead end of Yousician I can’t get through the skill test required to unlock the next level. On the rhythm side, well, now it’s starting to introduce riffs, so my safety net of learning chords is gone on both sides.  As I struggle switching between individual strings, I struggle…in general.

Things start off okay. But, the moment I get the wrong string once, I can’t seem to find my place again. Once I screw up, I can’t recover. That’s frustrating. It’s fine to say ‘okay, I screwed up, I missed a few notes correcting it, and now I’m back on track.’  Saying ‘okay, I screwed up, and as a result, lost 70% of the song because I couldn’t get myself back where I needed to be…’ that’s a bit of a harder pill to swallow. So, with yousician, once I miss one note, I now fail that lesson, because I’ve missed so many sequential notes that it doesn’t even let me finish. My eyes can’t find where I’m supposed to be fast enough.  By the time they do, I’m about 15-20 notes behind, and not where I’m supposed to be for that part of the song at all, so I start trying to find that note. Too late.  Now, I can slow it all down, and that makes me screw up less, but that doesn’t resolve the trouble, because by the time I’m ready to speed up, the progression I’m working on is taken away until the following day, at which point I have to start from scratch.

That’s how they get you, of course.  This is the point in progress, I’m sure, where most people crack and pay the monthly fee to have unlimited lesson time. And, while I’d like to say “I’m not most people” (and I’m not. Most people are not most people, really.), the cold reality is that I really can’t justify budgeting an extra $10 a month for the program at current. In the future, maybe, but I have Rocksmith, which works in a way that’s similar enough that it’s not like I have nothing other than that 15 minutes of timed time to work with.  Even so, it’s definitely starting to get to me a little – not that I screw up, because that’s going to happen, but that after I screw up, I have so much trouble getting to where I need to be to continue.

I find this in my program-free time, too. Once I mess up in a song or chord change I’m working on, I’m not able to barrel through it. It messes my head up too badly and I find myself backtracking, starting over.  I need to get to a point where I can move forward from mistakes. Instead, they stop me cold.  I don’t know how to overcome that. I don’t know how to get my head in a space that says ‘it’s okay. Skip that. Just keep going’ instead of ‘darn, you fucked that up. Start over from the beginning.’  Every mistake is a system reset in my brain. My brain-computer just sees something got corrupted, and rather than trying to work around it, turns off as if in a panic.

My head is practicing avoidance tactics. My ears are evil conspirators. My hands…don’t give a crap about my ears or my brain. They’re just doing their own thing. lol.

Practice hasn’t been hugely focused of late. My head just hasn’t been in an organized space while I was reoganizing my house to make room for my music stuff. (some odds and ends left to do, but the worst is now over).  I’ve mostly been runnning through chord progressions, running through that one song on ukulele that I’ve mostly got down.  So rather than learning songs, I’ve mostly been practicing the strumming patterns and chord progressions of songs I intend to learn.  My attention span just hasn’t been in that focused place necessary to really start memorizing things.  I think I might be better off to choose a few easier songs, like the flaming lips tune, right now, to build some confidence, then come back at the ones I’m fiddling with. They’re not specifically hard songs, but they also all have these little things about them that my head is just having a tough time gripping onto at the moment.

I’ve been watching youtube videos again, and so have recently been working on the progression for Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I haven’t actively been trying to memorize the song yet, just get a feel for the chords and switches. My biggest problem has been moving from E to D. It’s not that it’s difficult, exactly, but somehow that transition keeps leaving D not sounding as crisp as it should. Once I have that ringing a bit more clearly, I’ll start trying to memorize the song. I’m not quite at that point yet. I’m still thinking about the transitions between the chords. Once those become second nature, then I can focus on memorizing the way they flow in verse-chorus-verse.

Still, it’s not like everything is going badly. In spite of tonight’s Yousician lesson, I am showing signs of improvement. It’s just that most of that improvement has to do with chords. I’ve got a handful memorized now on guitar that I’m not looking very much at my fretting hand when I switch between them. I’m starting to get a feel for strumming so that I don’t constantly have to look at my strumming hand to make sure I’m hitting only the right amount of strings. It’s not seamless, but my eyes and my hands are starting to separate themselves more and more, so even if I still don’t really know much by way of songs, I do feel like there is a kind of progress happening that has mostly to do with technique.

Strumming patterns are still not entirely natural. Certain ones that are faster, or busier, I still find myself talking through in my head “down down up up down up” or “one and two and three and four” or, whatever “la de la de da de da”.  Counting in some way, shape, or form.  For now, that’s alright. There’s nothing really implicitly wrong with counting, especially at my level.  It’s just that it’s one more thing your head has to do, so one less thing your head CAN do.  If I’m actively counting, I’m not actively keeping track of the lyrics, or where they fall in context with the chords, for example, so I can’t marry those two parts of songs together until I can play the pattern without consciously thinking about it. Nothing to be done about it but keep playing. It’ll all fall into place in due time.

So, I’ve got some frustrations, but it’s not ALL frustrations. Finer details are starting to come together, but no final products, so to speak.

Until next time, need to get more work in on skipping between strings. Until I can do that in my sleep, I’m not going to get very far.

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