Post by grampalerxst on Dec 29, 2019 7:29:48 GMT -6
Hey guys, this is something I typed up to organize my thoughts and hopefully goose my enthusiasm for 2020. Dunno that my musings are of interest or benefit to anyone here, and my "resolution" list for 2020 at the end is pretty short. I'd be interested to hear what anyone willing to chime in felt they accomplished over the last year or so, and what they look forward to in 2020. I know some bits and pieces showed up in a couple of the other recent threads, but thought maybe the topic deserved its own.
Looking back two years to 2018--that wasn't a great year for guitar playing due to some stressful, emotionally difficult family things. I started getting back into it during autumn of that year, so when I think "2019" the whole last 14 months or so is included.
So, for 2019 ... Did I accomplish everything I set out to? No. Did I improve as much as had hoped. No. Am I improved over where I was in October 2018. I think it's fair to say, "Yes", to that. Did I enjoy my time with guitar-in-hand? Yes. And I guess that's the bottom line.
For 2019 I went with a narrower approach than I have at times in the past. The centerpiece of my practice regimen was the first 16 bars of Electric Gypsy. It's the kind of thing I listen to and conclude that other than the speed of a few of the notes, that it should be something I could get under my hands readily. Bahahaha to that! That short bit of music exposed a lot of flaws, which is why I've stuck with it as long as I have. The theme contains a few of those legato-y double stops and triad thingys that Hendrix was known for (AT composed the piece after reading a bio of Hendrix called, predictably, Electric Gypsy). Those have bedeviled me since the first time I tried to learn some of the phrases in Lenny. I also found the single-note legato elements to be extremely challenging. Most of it is played on the inner four strings mid-neck, and all the variation in picking required to stitch together the legato, double-stops, and triads, was an order of magnitude beyond anything I had attempted before. Then there's the turnaround lick at the end of the third repeat of the theme. Fast and slinky.
So by happenstance I picked "a hill I'm willing to die on" that posed a broad challenge physically and mentally. That's only partly excuse-making for slow progress--it really has been a difficult endeavor for me that's been a lot like Russian dolls. Becoming aware of and addressing some shortcoming tended to just reveal more shortcomings. What I've gained for the exercise (in no particular order):
-Greatly improved ability to play with my eyes closed/mentally envisioning where my hands are and what they need to do.
-Greatly improved ability to put my conscious focus on my right (picking) hand and control it's movements within those inner strings. Not only which string to hit when, but how hard/pick angle/up or down pick, etc.. In the past I always put a lot more focus on my fretting hand and just sort of let my picking hand follow along.
-Certain of the LH movements required dexterity I didn't have at all, and now I have a nascent form of it (still a work in progress).
-Related to that I discovered a shortcoming with how I used the first finger of my fretting hand. It's hard to describe but it was sort of like I used it as an axis or point of reference for locating my LH, and when it needed to move I tended to move my whole hand with it. With all the partial barres and legato I was struggling through, I had to increase its range of motion without affecting the rest of my hand, or disrupting what the other fingers were doing. Also a work in progress.
Those last two posed real difficulties for me. To the extent that with my mentality even a couple of years ago, I would have abandoned the effort and taken up something easier, figuring some day if I practiced enough I'd be able to make all those movements. This time I attacked them directly, and most importantly for me, stuck with it through all the knuckle-popping and benign muscle/tendon soreness.
I didn't always emphasize it in my blurbs in the weekly reviews, but up until the fall I continued to work with the early BYCU studies. This is true for EG as well, but one of the new wrinkles to 2019 was that I spent a long time playing along with recordings of the parts I was working on, usually slowed down via Tanscribe!, which I bought early in the process. The goal with that was to imitate the articulation and bend intonation of expert players, hopefully improving both my technique and my ear. Playing along with backing tracks had gotten a little stagnant.
When autumn rolled around I temporarily got enthused with the Hendrix Little Wing style playing, and started noodling around and expanding (modestly) on the few movements in that vein I'd picked up, and wound up with three little etudes (could call them "songs" but that's giving them too much credit) that I inserted into my routine that ate into BYCU time. Late in the fall I made an impulsive decision to revisit that old "prog rock" thing I started back in 2002 and shared a couple years back, and team up with my metalcore drummer (and recording/mix engineer) son-in-law to try to make it the best I can make it at this point. He's trying to set up a side business aside from his work in his dad's studio to cater to smaller "vanity"-type projects, and to be supportive I signed on as a client. That's become a daily thing as well.
Looking ahead to 2020 I probably won't change much initially. EG will still be in there, the BYCU studies will have a place. I'm going to try to get back in the habit of recording practice snapshots more frequently once the project with my SIL winds down. I'm also on the hunt for some legato exercises to help with left hand strength and dexterity. I'm having too much fun to make any big changes.So as far as resolutions I really only have one: keep at it.