Hard at Play

Well guys, I’ve been in the uke zone today.  I was going to work on the bass. I’ve been neglecting it far too long, but what can I say, when you’re in a zone, you’re in a zone.

I did decide to snag a used copy of rocksmith 2014 for the PS3 on a deal off ebay though, so hopefully will get motivated to work through some bass and guitar stuff more frequently again when that arrives. I have the PC version and like it quite a bit, but a shortage of USB ports and having to (see: preferring to) also run the HDMI has made it kind of really inconvenient as of late. With a strong preference for an external mouse, I’m always short on usb ports to plug things into and have to stop one task to do another. This means I just haven’t been rocksmithing much primarily because I haven’t had a free USB port to use. Switching to PS3 will mean starting from scratch in terms of lesson progress, but practice is practice, so whatever. I already have the cable, and if I’m not trying to rearrange things so I can plug in, well, I might actually use it more often. We’ll see.

That said, I’ve been in the uke zone. I spent the bulk of the day with netflix up while drilling two specific things.

1. a new strum pattern for ‘Stone Throw’.  It’s really just a slightly modified pattern that isn’t wholly different from the one used before, but I think it’ll be better overall and run less risk of sounding too much like my other song. The down side is it’ll take quite a lot of drilling before I’ll be able to do the vocals well with it, but after running through the strum pattern in front of the tube (which, btw, I guess is dated language these days. Does anyone still have a tube tv? I think we may be the last outliers – roomie still has a teeny one collecting dust in his bedroom.) for several hours today, I’m starting to be able to reincorporate the vocal part, though, so it’s going fairly well, even if I can’t seem to quite replicate that initial run through.

2. You will all be proud to know I have finally focused enough to start memorizing the major scale, at least on the uke (bass will be next. There’s only one difference between the major scale on these two instruments. (On uke, it’s 1-3, 1-2-4,1-3-4. On bass it’s 2-4, 1-2-4,1-3-4).  So, really, if I’m memorizing one, I’m more or less a sneeze away from memorizing the other.  When I realized I could use my scale practice as a double whammy for coordination practice for fingerstyle uke, the motivation to work with it went up.

My fingerstyle needs major work. My middle and ring fingers lag. I do okay with my thumb and pointer finger, but it’s like the message going from my brain to my hand is slower when I want to manipulate the other fingers individually; I end up using the wrong finger to pluck a string, or I’m just really slow getting that finger to move the way I want it to. If I look at memorizing scales as also being practice for coordination, it feels less like drudgery because I’m not JUST working on memorization. I’m also working on something that my hands absolutely need to be involved with.

For now, I’m just drilling the C Major scale. I remember it, but once I stop running through it often, I’m sure to forget it again, so I’m using it as a fingering exercise.  I think I’ll probably learn the minor scale shape too, soon, and alternate them as a means of practice. Once I have those two down, I don’t know – I imagine digging into a blues scale of some sort would make the most sense from there.  This is a part of my issue with scales. Other than the basic major and minor, I’m not quite sure which other ones would be considered ‘essential’, so I’m not really sure how to prioritize them.  Still, now that I’ve got it in my head to put scale memorization to double duty and work on my coordination at the same time, I feel like I’m in a better mental space to attack scales and maybe, just maybe, make it stick this time.

If scales stick, then I’ll maybe, finally be able to get some theory fundamentals, without feeling the compulsion to gouge my eyes out with a spork so I don’t have to look at it anymore. I’m also thinking, in that vein, that it might be wise to count 1-2-3-4-5-etc as I work through a scale rather than counting the fingering positions 1-3-1-2-4-1-3-4, since when you then talk about a chord being a 1,3, and 5, or whatever (depending on context), I would, in theory, be able to visualize that better without having to stop and think about it, if that’s how I’m counting out my scales in the first place.

Once again I find myself taking steps backward in order to move forward, but that’s okay, so long as I can keep myself interested in it enough to actually, for once, remember it.  Only time will tell.

Oh, and #3. I reorganized my closets again. The hard cases don’t fit well in my half height closet, so I’ve swapped DVD boxes into that one and guitar cases into the bottom of my big closet. I sense another clear out of crap I don’t really need coming on soon:

Cases and cases and more cases, oh my!

Until Next Time, mostly drilling things in front of the tv for the moment.

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