Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How I got Faster

For years I worked on speed specific drills (two GREAT resources for this are Frank Gambale's Chopbuilders DVD and Troy Stetina's Speed Mechanics) also lots of metronome click filled scale patterns etc.

It worked pretty well up to a point, couple of them actually:
One, I hit a plateau and never seemed to move much beyond it.
Two, I was never really able to USE this speed in solos... When I tried they mostly sounded like: 'cut ... paste in fast part ... resume'. In other words, my speed was VERY situational.

So one day I stopped 100% working on drills. Instead I spent my time learning mostly songs along with familiarizing myself with the fretboard (note reading, arpeggios, circle of fourths drills, jazz standards). A funny thing happened - I BLEW past my previous speed thresholds ... and even cooler I was starting to phrase at higher speeds.

I can only assume that mentally as grew more sure-footed, there was less CPU spent working on the speed. I wasn't "trying" any more. Perhaps this led to an increased relaxation... Perhaps I was having more fun, I don't really know why. But it worked.

Change everything once in a while
Another element that had impact for sure was I changed my picking. Both the physical pick itself and how I hold it. I detailed this in one of these blog entries:


It's Irie Man
So it seems odd to say "don't worry about it" ... but it is kind of what helped me.

These days I MOSTLY just play, I make music all the time. Things like:
  • Learn new songs weekly - ALL BY EAR
  • Solo pieces improvised
  • Creating my own backing tracks on a looper pedal
    (with odd chords and soloing over them)
  • Learning jazz standards through the fake books
    (setting up loops and practice soloing through the changes)
  • I regularly try to add new chord voicings
    (Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry is awesome for this). 

But ALL of it centers the focus around having fun and making music. AT ALL TIMES. I really don't worry about getting faster ... but still, faster I get.

So at the heart of all this is one word "RELAX"

Relax your approach
Relax your hands (light touch)
Relax and be patient, it will come.

Work HARD ... but RELAX... just get me a beer before you do : )

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The monster that is Eddie Van Halen

For all of you who thought Eddie Van Halen was a gimmicky player. Check this out. It is a one on one interview with Steve Rosen. Eddie on a little practice amp - mostly clean and turned way down. MAN could he alternate pick! Scary. This is a really cool interview.

Eddie Van Halen hit me like a freight train the first time I heard him. I was 8 or 9 years old the first time I heard the sound of  "Eruption" as it blared from the open window of a teenager-filled car. What hit me was the intensity of the sound, the grinding now famous "brown-sound" (combination of a cranked Marshall with a Flanger). Man that was cool .... they were cool .... HE was cool.

The thing that should be noticed by y'all is that you can hear that sound in this interview. Clearly this SOUNDS like Eddie. But wait a minute? Where is the Marshall and all the pedals? There are none! The sound lives in how he attacks the strings. The tone is IN his hands.

So the next time you think your tone sucks and you head off in search of another new amp. Remember this clip. A player like this could make the worst gear sound simply fantastic. Because he is just that - fantastic.

Monday, June 18, 2012

OZ Noy - New Instructional DVDs

Well, well, well, two long awaited items hit the streets at around the same time. My first blog entry in a LOONG time! (Sorry folks, been busy playing - I know you understand that!). And, much more importantly, two instructional vids for the insanely innovative Mr. Oz Noy.

As some of you may, or may not know, I have studied privately with Oz on a few occasions. I think the world of him as a player and a person. He is as cool, knowledgeable and down to earth a guy as you will ever meet. Like the man, these videos are full of the same approach and humour. He hides nothing and shares openly all his 'secrets'. Much of the vibe you get with him in person carries through the camera. So these truly are as close to a one-on-one lesson with him as you can get... without being one-on-one.

The vids are fun and chock full of good information that will help a player of any genre. There are interviews, gear demos, performance clips, excellent video and audio quality. PDF charts with tabs and standard notation. Pretty much everything a player would want. I highly recommend you click on this link and grab BOTH these wonderful DVDs. For more information and demo vids to to and see for yourself.

It should also be said that Jazz Heaven seems to be living up to their name! Some of the other musicians these folks have done videos with look truly astounding as well. If the quality of the other offerings is as good as these vids, (and I have no reason to doubt that) then I know what will be on my Christmas gift list for a few years to come. Bravo Jazz Heaven.

Peace and OUT