Sunday, October 25, 2015
Acoustic Guitar Journal #8: Progress!
Another new aspect to my lessons is using a pick. My new teacher pretty much assumed from the start that this is how we would work, so I've gone along. I like strumming with my fingers, but the pick creates a much louder, stronger sound and I can do a lot more with it rhythmically. With this focus on rhythm and using a pick, we've worked through the rhythm guitar patterns on a bunch of songs: "Southern Cross" by Crosby Stills & Nash, "Let It Be" by the Beatles, and "Vienna" by Billy Joel. In most cases I quickly get to a place where I can play the rhythm part, and he can solo over it. I like playing rhythm; you just start to ride a wave within the song and that feels sweet! I've also begun learning some songs on my own: old country standard "Silver Threads & Golden Needles" and k.d. lang's "Constant Craving".
Latest push is barre chords. I'd been faking them so far (e.g., playing F by using finger one on only the two highest strings and such), but it's pretty clear to me that if I really want to play some of the more interesting songs out there that I have to learn how to do barre chords. "Vienna" has several, and I'm trying to force myself to play F and other chords like it as barres. It's difficult and doesn't come naturally to me at all. So sometimes I end up just changing chords over and over between regular and barre chords. The more I do it, the better I should get at it.
I've also performed some of my songs for my voice teacher, accompanying myself on guitar. My self-accompaniment is pretty poor but it serves its purpose. Singing in correct style and in front of someone is reshaping how I sing my songs. With several, I've stopped practicing them altogether so I can focus on a few songs, improve my melody lines and polish my technique.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself. Deep down, I fully expected to take a few months of voice lessons and learn once again that I simply lack vocal talent and cannot be made to improve. To finally be on my way to singing, something I have dreamed about all my life is an incredible feeling.
It's never over until it's over.