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October 10, 2008

Rockschool Week 1

So, what do I think?

Well, first off, it seems that the curriculum may not actually follow Rockschool as I'd originally thought it would. The direction of the course seems to be in a state of flux and no one really knows which way the cookie will crumble.

Week 1 was all about assessing where each guitarist in the group was at, what they wanted to achieve and so on. I don't think it's going to be bruising any egos to say that five of us were intermediate and up, with one player being a relative new-comer to the instrument. How's that going to work out? No clue. Two more students are supposed to join next week. We'll see. It seems that it's still possible that the course may not run due to lack of interest. We'll find out in a couple of weeks.

First thing to say is that the students all seemed like a good bunch, mostly self-taught. "Teach" is very confident and clear. He burned through a lot of material in the session but the pace seemed about right to me for now. Most of it was stuff I already know, but it did highlight a couple of minor gaps which I need to fill.

The two bits of 'homework' that I think are going to be useful for me are:

1) Learn the notes on the A string. I already know E, so why don't I know A yet?! I think once you know one string you get lazy as you figure you can work it out. Slow. Stupid. Just learn the damn string, already.

2) Get my speed up on the first position pentatonic (two notes per string). Number 2 may sound like pretty basic stuff, but he made it clear that we should be practicing in two ways. First off, spend 50% of the time being very rigid, practicing scales strictly up and down, in time, really paying attention to the working of the left and right hands. His view was that for the 'rigid' part of practice you should aim to 'walk' the two fingers you're using over the fingerboard, so you don't spend much time with both fingers fretting at the same time. I tend to struggle when I get to the high E as my index finger naturally wants to anchor itself to the fingerboard. Teach's assertion was that this was fine for certain licks but at other times could contribute unwanted notes. So... rigid form... scales (not music)... 50% of the time. Metronome, obviously. Tick, tick, tick.

The other 50% of the time he suggested still using a metronome but try to noodle around and make licks etc, sticking to the beat or breaking to triplets for accent.

Now, I've obviously done a lot of this stuff before, but 'rigid practice' has fallen by the wayside lately, so I need to get back into it. Teach really did emphasise that both types of practice are essential for progression.

And on top of that I need to work on stuff for the new band. Our proposed playlist has burgeoned slightly and I think we really need to get our heads together and choose three songs, say, so play around with at our first rehearsal... even if we just got down to one or two, really. It's a 3 hour session, which isn't that long!

I expect us to sound awful the first time around. I mean, none of us have played with each other before, or even heard each other play. We don't know who's going to be good on lead, whether the drummer'll be up to speed or laid back. Nothing.

It's heartening to see that everyone actually seems really psyched about getting on and doing this. Right now I'm concerned that our enthusiasm may cause us to lose focus. I've suggested that for the first rehearsal we pare the list of songs we thought might be fun to start with down to, say, three tunes. Three hour session, three easy tunes? Does that sound about right for a first jam? I mean, I have loads of stuff I could bring to the table if we get bored of those songs... y'know, just get the drummer to pick up a beat then start a groove and wait for things to kick off.


Dave Jacoby said...

1) I "know" the strings, in the sense that if you asked for me to play F# on the A string, I could go "Yeah, that's ... right here, actually". The strings I know best are the D and B strings, because I did some work picking up Jimi's version of "Like A Rolling Stone", which began a love of soul-like partial chords on those two strings.

2) Rigid practice is more along the lines of what I'm wanting to do these days. There's a specific A minor descending lick on that Paul Gilbert video that I'm working on now that's pretty rigid, getting the hands together.

Band) I might go as far as five, but not much more. You play the song a few times, find out where it's jelling and where it's not, where you have it and where you have to woodshed, and then go on before it's boring. And the make a groove and go stuff is just so much fun.

Col said...

Dave's totally on the money here Ken. Mind you. I seem to have stopped practicing completly!!!