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January 9, 2009

Rockschool Term 2, Week 1..., I can't remember which actual week number it is!

I didn't expect the first week back to be easy, and it certainly wasn't. Due to 'circumstances beyond my control' I've slipped behind on classwork, exercises etc. I need to basically put together a warmup routine that I can run through before practicing band stuff so that I can claw my way back. Teach actually put together a load of useful 'play along' practice exercises which I've been remiss in following. No, I can't share them with you (sorry!) 'cause he's, like, a pro teacher and I can't just give his stuff away for free!

Piracy funds terrorism, kills kittens and contributes to the destruction of the rainforests, don't you know? Don't do it!

Mostly we were doing recap stuff in the first hour of the session, then after the break we launched headlong into modes. Understandably there were lots of frowns and puzzled looks. As usual, Teach cut to the chase and simply got us all to strum the chords in the key of G-major whilst he played the licks from the G-major scale to illustrate the different colours you got. To me, modes have always been an interesting intellectual construct with some practical uses, but more of a stepping stone to understanding musical colour more than anything else. Shredders would doubtless skin me alive for saying that!

We were finally given the course guides for the different grade exams that we chose to shoot for. Can I just say...


What was I thinking going for Grade 5? That's like one grade less than the pro musician levels.


I listened through to the CD that came with the book and whilst it's not all impossible stuff it's definitely a stretch target. Kind of like the stretch pants you need to wear in preparation for Xmas din-dins... bloody stretchy!

It's going to be a real challenge balancing real life, band and Rockschool. I kind of knew that to begin with but this morning I'm really feeling it! Maybe I'll listen through to the CD again this afternoon and it won't seem as frightning as it did the first time around. It basically covers a range of styles from the blues, rockabilly, metal through to funk etc. I'm guessing you're expected to play along a selection of the pieces and incorporate improvised solos, too.


And no, I didn't take Red to school last night. Something about the freezing fog, icy conditions etc made me think that riding my bike was risk enough. Riding along with a Gibson strapped to my heinie would have been sheer lunacy.

Yes, I still rode, but instead of Red I took my old LP copy to class. A bit of a comedown, but hey, at least Red got to stay nice and warm, tucked up in his hard-shell.

STOP PRESS! Tickets for the Derek Trucks Band show in London are now available at £20 a pop through TicketWeb. Get 'em while you can! (You probably have a few weeks...)


Furtheron said...

So with the modes stuff... are you expected to figure out the mode to use and then solo on that over an entire piece or flip in and out of modes during a solo?

I've just recently thought I ought to "get modes". Finally I read a description on some web site that made sense. Say you have a chord pattern that means all the chords have notes from the C major scale but in reality the chord pattern leads you to be centred around say Em e.g. Em, Am, Em G, F, Em say - then you need E Phrygian... Now I sort of get it.

Kenski said...


If you asked Teach that question he'd cut you off at the knees and slap you round the face with a wet kipper for thinking too much :-)

His attitude is twofold. First off, just get stuck in and use it without trying to understand it (ie to 'get' it you have to hear what it sounds like). Secondly, that for the music we in the class are interested in making, using modes is pretty redundant.

I've always thought of it as being contextual (as you suggested). Basically, it's all the same notes, but played over a different chordal emphasis so what you hear as the root is different.