So, there I was, with all intention of blogging this week, since the podcast is suspended. Great idea. Then, the bottom fell out.
E-Rex has just gotten out of bed today, for the first time in a week, excluding when I was just barely able to get him to the Dr. Those of you who have been listening to the podcast or reading show notes know that any kind of illness, after what he's already been through, is troubling.
Last night was his first night without a high (over 103º) fever and multiple night sweats. He needed a lot of attention, so I'll dispense with the medical report. He's improving, but he's my excuse for not getting to the blog.
Summer is winding down, my students are returning from far flung parts and potential students are calling.
If you're looking for a new axe or gear, at this point, you might just hold out for Labor Day sales, if you are reading this in the US. All the big guitar sellers have sent a barrage of emails and USPS mail about their so-called, great deals. I'd call them "sales." Any discount is a discount if you're watching your budget, so comparative shop.
Yesterday I had a call from a guitarist, who I steered in another direction, for lessons. We had an interesting conversation. I'm not surprised when new, self-taught players tell me that they are teaching themselves from tab and YouTube. I am surprised when someone who sounds very serious, and is seeking to become an excellent jazz or classical guitarist, doesn't read or understand the nuances and meaning of the music because they can't or won't read music notation. Clearly, the guy I chatted with was serious and he'd had a fabulous instructor, whose name you would recognize, some time ago. He's a jazz cat. He said his strength is soloing. He also said he was really fast. What my brain heard was, "I can play it faster than anyone, but I have no idea what I'm saying or what I want to say." That's not a slam or criticism. He didn't say his strength was improvisation, because if he had, I'd suspect that he did know what he was saying and what he wanted to say. I also suspected that his lightning fast chops were owing to taking time to play speed studies from tab. I asked if he realized that to excel, he needs to work with music notation and I asked if he reads music. His answer was something like, "I can but I don't."
The only reasons someone seriously pursuing jazz guitar would not use music notation would be either because they were told tab is just as good and they believed it, or they don't want to put in the effort, because it feels like they're going backwards to take the time and have the discipline to learn it or brush up their skills. I tried to explain that you can learn to speak a language well enough to travel and get directions, order food, say hello and make small talk with Rosetta Stone, but you'd never be able to read a literary masterpiece in that language. Jazz music, done well, is a theoretical smorgasbord and although a good ear is a great asset, and speed is never a bad thing, provided you can control yourself and play at whatever tempo is appropriate, if you can't decipher the nuances and beauty of detail nor actually understand what the work is saying, you'll never be better than mediocre. He listened intently. I don't know if he will heed my heartfelt counsel. I may or may not hear from him again, but I left the door open.
Yesterday was also the end Raptor Picks USA flash sale. I hope you got in on it. Perhaps there will be another before the Labor Day drawing for a free Raptor. To be eligible this time, you need to like the "Thanks to Joe Isaacs for the like" post on the Raptor Picks USA FaceBook page during this month. If you aren't using this revolutionary guitar pick, I don't know what's stopping you. Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I abandoned the pick I used exclusively for decades after my first experience with a Genuine Raptor R Series pick. It's amazing.
Hey, have you got an affinity for Monet or Degas? If impressionist is your artistic sensibility, you should check out the beautiful new swirl finish on Fender guitars!
I love them! I have only seen this finish available on a strat and tele, thus far. All I can say is, "Ooooooo."
I'm hoping to post again very soon, provided that E-Rex continues to improve.
"Until next time, I'm D A Arlaus, doing my part to spread the excellence, one guitarist at a time."