One of my completely-non-financial-related March 2011 goals was, “Play bass scales for at least 30 minutes per day.”
This isn’t just a goal to get better at the bass guitar…in fact I BARELY EVEN PLAY the bass!
But a funny thing happened recently….
A very close friend is getting married, and wanted me and my brother to play a set of jazz at her wedding! In Indian weddings, close friends of the bride/groom do all sorts of dances…so this is me and my brother’s entertainment contribution.
Unfortunately I suck at the guitar. I mean…I can play several songs really well, but I don’t know much music theory, which means I simply memorize songs but can’t improvise.
This left me roughly 3 months to become an expert bass and guitar player (fortunately my brother is really good so he can just cover me the whole time). So the learning began….
I kid you not….to learn more about the guitar, I started downloading iPhone apps!
Here’s one of my favorite apps (Jam Tracks) that lets you select a key and it plays a “backing track” which you can play along with:
Then it shows you simple scales that go along with that key….so as long as you play those scales, the backing tracking and your playing will sound good together.
This gets you playing your scales in a MUCH MORE FUN way than simply repeating it without music.
So hopefully in the next month I’ll be able to get good enough (and have enough stamina) to play a 30 or 45 minute jazz set!
Just for fun I tried playing a song all by myself with some of these newly learned scales. Check it out!
The bass line is simply the first four notes of a scale, and the guitar track is me simply improvising on a guitar scale. Put them together…BAM! It looks like I know what I’m doing (sort of) ;-)
Now of course I need to practice, but the thing about this performance is it’s in front of a lot of people.
If you want to get good at public speaking…you should probably give a lot of speeches in front of an audience for practice.
Hence….if I’m playing in front of people, I should probably give it a shot a few times before doing it live. Who knows…maybe I’ll get terrible stage fright and freeze up?
Fortunately I live in Austin, which happens to be the Live Music Captiol of the World…..and it turns out one of our friends hosts an “Open Mic” night on Monday’s. I took some friends and signed up.
At first the open mic was mainly semi-professional people playing solo with their guitars and singing…but then they opened it up for a random jam session. Random people jumped on different instruments and we just started playing. I hopped one of the guitars first and the bass later (don’t have video of the bass part).
A friend took some video of me playing….I honestly had no idea what the hell I was doing, but it turned out ok. Everyone else was playing by ear, and I was sitting on a stool with an iPhone on my lap! Watch the video and you can see me literally reading scales off the phone :-)
….so that was my first real live jam session. I must say, I actually got a wee-bit nervous before getting on. However once playing I hardly took notice of the crowd. It was pretty fun :-)