I’ve been quiet for a week, I know. It’s been a busy week! The days leading up to Halloween led to madly decorating (check shelbystronger.com if you want to see pirate cubicle pics. I won’t accost you with them here.) which swallowed a lot of time, and then I had two Halloween parties (both Friday night and then the one we hosted all day Saturday.

In the middle of all of that, iTunes sucked it hard and fried my 2 yr old ipod (a model they no longer even make. RIP 160gb classic. Well, not exactly – I am going to attempt to revive it, and then I can rename it zombie-pod, but I’ve officially deleted itunes, and transitioned to cell phone + jumbo microSD card for my portable music needs. Feels weird not carrying a dedicated music device, but more on that later. It is a TALE the likes of which only music junkies will understand and deserves more than the 3 seconds I can allot to it here).

I also played a song in front of friends for the first time ever. They sort of made me. At the Friday night Halloween gathering, I brought it, because I would be arriving close to 2 hours early due to being told it was cool to come straight from work. I brought the uke because I thought I would be entertaining myself while I waited, well, there were plenty of people there already, so that didn’t happen, but they totally sulked at me for not playing it when I was getting ready to leave, so yeah I ended up playing the Amanda Palmer song before heading home for the night. It went well-ish. It being a song no one else in the room knew worked in my favor, I think, but other than a rough start in which I forgot what verse I was on, it seemed to go fairly well.

I’m practicing Wagon Wheel sort of inadvertently at the moment, by practicing that good ol’ Flaming Lips tune I know.  I originally thought that song didn’t work with the strum pattern I was hearing, that there was something about acoustic and electric that didn’t quite translate well. In reality, it was my inability to sing to a strum pattern of more than 4 strums in a measure. So, by practicing the pattern with a song I know all the words to, I’m getting used to it for a song I know almost none of the words to.

In the first few tries I found it was kind of hard to strum and also sing without making my voice pitch follow the strum pattern like it was trying to mimic it. There’s a mental divide here, where the second I divert to check that I’m strumming the right pattern, my ability to sing to it turns to crap. It would literally only take a split second to fall apart.  It is improving, but I’m not quite ready to share that progress just yet.  I’m basically currently working on striking the balance between not thinking about strumming, and thinking about it just enough. The vocal part suffers in the meanwhile, but I’m able to sing with it, just not very well, so it definitely counts as progress over when I first learned the song and could not manage that feat at all.

My current theory is when I strike the right balance on a song I know well, with easy lyrics, it will make the progress on one I don’t know as well go faster, but for the moment, I’m working on wagon wheel’s lyrics slowly – separately practicing the strum pattern and working on the lyrics with only one or two strums per bar. As I get more comfortable with my ability to remember the words (which is currently almost nonexistent), I’ll be able to gradually pair the two together.

So, I guess this week’s lesson has been in making efforts to think a little less, overall.  There are a few posts of this I plan to revisit in more detail later, but for now, I just wanted to post a little something to prove I haven’t died.  It’s just a crazy time of year (and worse yet, I joined a crappy gym, which sucks up more of my instrument time, and makes me feel like an idiot because I can’t identify most of the equipment, but I really have to get back in the habit of exercising again, and if I have to pay a fee to do it, then I will have to find a way to squeeze everything else in as best I can.)

Until Next Time, keeping busy. Busier than I’d like, to be honest.

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