Symphonic Saturday – Unlocked

music1I made, what I think, is some real progress this week with my guitar. For whatever reason, I was able to push passed where I’ve been plateaued for awhile now.

It was like I could ignore the fact that I couldn’t keep up fully with the speed of the song and instead of that upsetting me, I just tried harder.

I’m learning Green Day’s Good Riddance (The Time of Your Life). We learned it in guitar class in high school, but I doubt we were playing it at full speed because it was pretty fast to play along with the YouTube video.

Even though I kept messing up and it probably sucked, I had fun and felt like I’m on the way to improving.

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~

Psst… If you’re in Ottawa and looking for something to do this Monday, March 26, 2018, one of my plays is being read by actors for a fund raiser. Some of my classmate’s plays will be read too. It’s all happening at 6pm at Algonquin College in room N112. The cost is $5. There will also be some baked goods available for purchase.

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Make It Monday – Frustration

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I’ve been really frustrated the last few days. What has me frustrated? Just about everything.

Music

Yesterday, I tried to play a song on guitar along with the music. It was a song we learned when I took guitar lessons. I couldn’t do it as I didn’t have the right strum pattern for it and it’s actually in 3/4 time with the downward strum on the first and third beats, but then the sheets I have often show a chord change on a second beat when there isn’t supposed to be strumming! I’m thinking something is messed up there somewhere. So I tried another. That one, our music didn’t have the lead in stuff before the chords come in, so I had no idea when I was supposed to play what. I ended up having to go to a super rudimentary song that has two chords and only down strums on each beat in a 4/4 song. At least I was playing along with a song at the speed it’s supposed to be played at, but I felt so far from anything that I want to be playing. I want to make an album someday, so I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Writing

I have so many things I want to write and not enough time to write it in. I want to get my novel done. I want to write songs. I have so many ideas for stories in a variety of mediums that I want to get out into the world. I’m now understanding the meaning of the quote, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” -Philip Roth

I think I’ll feel better once I get just about anything done, but most of our projects are in bits and pieces and won’t be finished until the end of the school year.

Weather

It’s cold and damp in Ottawa today and it has my ankles upset, which is making walking anywhere unpleasant. I’m yearning to live somewhere warmer.

Placement

Placement has been a bit challenging in the social sense. My supervisor was too busy most of the days I’d been there and conversation seemed to be more difficult than I think it should have been. It was better this past Friday though. What it has reinforced to me is that I’m really not wanting a typical 9 to 5 office worker lifestyle these days. I think freelancing is more my thing at this time in my life unless I get on staff for a TV show. I find it annoying to go out to write when I can do it from anywhere.

Home

I’m slowly getting rid of things I don’t want or need, but there is still so much junk to go through. When did I get all this stuff?

I have this urge to paint my connected living room, dining room, and hall/entrance. I’m hating my surroundings, basically. I want a neutral wall colour, but when will I have time to paint? I suppose I might during reading week in between homework. It’s the cheapest home reno one can do and I want my place in a sell-able state just in case.

School

I want to knock anything off that I can without group partners, so I can concentrate on the things that will be important for my portfolio. Also, just to feel like I’m accomplishing ANYTHING.

One of the things I’m working on getting off my plate is a book review. I’m reading Write Screenplays That Sell the Ackerman Way by Hal Ackerman. In it he says, “Your aspirations will nearly always be out of the reach of your ability to attain them, but this is the irritation in the oyster that creates the pearl.” – Hal Ackerman

I’m hoping all this frustration is leading somewhere good. Right now, so much of my future is still murky and it’s a little unsettling.

And that’s how life’s river flows today.
R~

Symphonic Saturday – Dulcet Tones

music1After finishing the writing of Act 1 of my feature film, I decided to squawk out a very poor rendition of Any Dream Will Do on my gunmetal trumpet I’ve dubbed Blunderbuss.

It was a little complicated for where I’m at currently, but fun. Oh, my Trumcor Super Stealth mute lets me play in the condo without torturing everyone else.

I’ve had Blunderbuss for quite some time. Since 2010 in fact. I got him when I visited Montreal in 2010. In Montreal, there is a Steve’s Music that is like an unending music store. One section leads to another and there was an entire brass section. I was in heaven. This Jupiter beauty wasn’t expensive, but it was quite the step up from the banged up one I got from e-Bay several years before.

Blunderbuss

I’m rusty on everything trumpet. I used to be fairly good back in high school. I was part of the brass ensemble. Our band leader wanted us to get into marching, but we didn’t want to go full band geek and refused. We did play at graduations, in the lobby at Christmas, and did some other things like played for the elementary school kids. A lot of what we played was Canadian Brass music and things like O’Canada for some games.

Anyway, I pretty much need to start from scratch. I remember some notes and I can get almost musically sounding noises to come out, but it’s really rough. I’d like to get better than I have ever been at it and see where that could lead.

I think the only way to get better at guitar right now without a budget for lessons is to play along with a song until I get it down path. Then slowly move to another song. Plus regularly practice scales and patterns, of course.

And that’s how the river of life flows today.
R~

Symphonic Saturday – Transposing for Fun

music1I started this day listening to the latest play list, Static, from Fringe Music Fix. I enjoyed it though I found there’s a large electronic component these days with drum machines and whatnot instead of a drummer with a kit. I prefer the real sound.

I’ve been checking blues out recently and I’m not sure it’s blues guitar I want to learn. I think it’s jazz that I want to play actually. That shouldn’t be that surprising given my fondness for the trumpet. I’m listening to some Andy Brown on YouTube today and that’s more the sound I want to learn.

I have a jazz book for trumpet and I could easily use for guitar by dropping the pitch by one step. I say easily, but it’s actually not. I have to transpose it and the fun comes when you have sharps and the like. It’s almost like math in a different language. I’m not sure I’m doing it correctly, but I think I have a circle of fifths somewhere around here to help me out. I guess I’m starting that goal of an hour of music theory per week early.

It was actually pretty strenuous on my mind, which is a good thing. I’m doing this while my clothes are in the wash. Changing them over to the dryer will give me that brief break before I come back and test the song out.

And that’s how the day flows.
R~

Symphonic Saturday – A Sad, No Music Day

music1I’ve wanted to do something musical ALL DAY.

There’s been no time to though as I’ve had homework to do.

I’m fairly busy tomorrow and may not get to do anything musical then either.

I really want to learn blues guitar soon. I don’t know if I’m ready, but it’s fun to play what I can pretend I know of the blues hahaaha.

It’s getting late, but maybe I can quietly play my guitar anyway…

I think I’ll do that.

Then off to bed. I have an early rise tomorrow and a long day after.

By the way, I’m in no way complaining that I have homework. After the strike, I’m happy to be having so much to do!

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Symphonic Saturday – The Languages of Music

music1I have a number of instruments, but none I can currently play well. Learning an instrument is much like learning a language.

Piano is the one I find most difficult because it is like learning more than one language at once. I’ve always struggled with bass clef and my head might explode if I tried to play pieces written in some of the less common clefs. When I look at the keys from a treble clef view, I almost always know where to put my fingers. Especially on the major keys. The keys don’t change, but when I see the notes on the bass line, I have to chant, “All Cows Eat Grass” or “Good Boys Do Fine Always” in order to have a hope of knowing where to put my fingers.

I’d probably be much further ahead had I stuck with piano lessons, but they were expensive and my teacher was trying to convince me to go to church with her. At that time, I wasn’t one for church. Today, I enjoy it. Life is like that some times.

The other instruments I attempt to play are all in treble clef. I enjoy electric guitar, but haven’t gotten anywhere near proficient. I yearn to be able to play blues on my guitar. The bonus with guitar is that there is a volume control, but I’m really talented at cutting my fingertips, which screws up any kind of practice schedule I try to put myself on.

I have a ukulele as well and its notes are different from guitar, so that is again like learning a different physical language in terms of where to place my fingers.

I still have my recorder from 25 years ago, but I’ve never enjoyed the sound of a recorder. Perhaps the sound memories of 30 or so kids in a room all trying to make music for the first time ever have traumatized my ears when it comes to recorders.

I enjoyed playing clarinet in high school, though I’ve never owned one. I think I may want one again some day though a saxophone might be more my style now. Probably a soprano sax despite them not being recommended for newbies. I have some experience with embouchure, so I’m not worried about it.

I’ve noticed that learning an instrument feels the same as trying to learn to speak a new language. There is that same frustration of desperately wanting to express myself, but being unable to do so. In language, it’s through words. In music, it’s through wanting to play my favourite songs or a particular genre.

Trumpet is my preferred instrument, but I needed to get a better mute that didn’t have a ton of back pressure, so I wouldn’t drive the other condo owners crazy. The Yamaha silent system I have just didn’t work for me. This morning, I ordered the Trumcor Stealth I’ve been eyeing for at least a year now. It’s expected to arrive in about a week and a half! I’m excited to get back to my main instrument. I can start doing some old exercises to get my embouchure back like lip buzzing while I’m waiting for it to arrive.

Music is a huge decompression tool for me and it’s important to have those outlets. Returning to my trumpet playing roots while also returning to my love of theatre and film is like putting myself back on the path I would’ve been on had I made some different choices in my youth.

Music is the language of my soul.

I’ve pushed the reset button on my life and I feel it’s likely the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

Guid cheerio the nou,
R~

Symphonic Saturday – Writing Songs

music1I’ve been involved with music for decades now. In elementary school, they started us with recorders, which sounded terrible and I am truly sorry for our teacher’s ears that year. I still have my recorder. I should pick it back up and learn to play it properly.

From there, they bused us to another school for wood shop, home economics, and music. I next took up the clarinet. I never got good at the clarinet, but maybe in the future I’ll get back into reed instruments. The following year, I tried the trumpet, but wasn’t given proper breathing instruction and headaches made me switch back to clarinet.

In high school, I took classes in music and also joined music-related clubs. I was a member of the choir, though never a lead singer. I played clarinet in band and in class until the year a new teacher came and formed an all brass band. I picked the trumpet back up and loved it. The months I couldn’t play due to wisdom teeth extraction were horrible. I took a guitar class and almost ended up singing during the performance, but allergies make my hearing not great sometimes and nerves overcome me when it comes to singing in public. I once performed some songs on trumpet solo for an elementary class, though I didn’t feel it was my best work. We had many performances from massed bands composed of music students from all the schools to those at art gallery nights, morning Christmas carol accompaniment, and graduations.

All this to say that I’m happy to be making music a bigger part of my life once again. I’m now writing songs and I’m finding it thoroughly enjoyable. Not only do I get the soulful release, but I create something.

In starting this path, I spoke with a friend who is a music teacher about where to start. I wondered if I should choose my key first, the genre, etc. Where I ended up starting was the lyrics. Then I chose a rhythm. Then I trialed chords. Then I broke the chords down into their notes and played around with that. I’m not done yet. I haven’t added dynamics like loud points and soft points.

I’m mainly using my guitar for this as my piano skills are lacking and it sounds better on guitar. Those two things might be related…

I don’t know when or if you will hear these songs I’m writing, but I just wanted to talk about where I am with music today. I feel more energized and happy than I have in a very long time.

I hope you have things in your life that you can be excited about.

Also, if you haven’t read Onder Magazine Issue #5 yet, you should. There is an article in there where I ramble on about how writing songs and writing stories is similar. The magazine is inexpensive and there are a bunch of great stories and articles to read on writing and music.

Salut,
R~