beginner forum: for novice and developing blues harp players > Adam's version of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
Adam's version of Good Morning Little Schoolgirl
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158 posts
Sep 18, 2017
12:06 PM
As part of my emphasis on using D & Bb harps, I purchased Adam's tab sheet & video on Good Morning Little Schoolgirl. Both are extremely well done. But the song is really a bugger to get on top of - as Adam mentions repeatedly in the video. I've been at it for a couple weeks and still stumble over it - especially the 5th & 6th bars - tricky timing. Anybody else out there tried this one? How'd it go for ya?
4977 posts
Sep 18, 2017
2:12 PM
Yeah it's been a staple of mine for a few years.
But, it was quite a while ago so I'm not sure I'm much help.
I believe adam has changed the way he plays it. I have too, but what I remember:
I sat with the video early one morning and learned the first bit before I went to work, then practiced it as I walked. I recall feeling pretty happy that I could play it. I am not sure if I learned the whole 9&1/2 measures in one sitting. (should it be really 19 bars? I've come to think it is but doesn't matter, easier to count as 9 plus 2 beats. But it took me a while to realise '9&1/2' means you count "10&2")
But I also recall how adam says it's tricky and offers a refund if you find it so. I think that's why I was feeling quite proud of myself.
The tricky bit for me has always been the triplet lick. Hummel recently told me he thought the way I play that particular 4' 4 5 triplet is sounding good, but I admit I've never been confident about it up to then.
Playing it with a band has been a whole other story. Listen to the version on 'I'm Ready', the mid 70s muddy waters album. I'm not sure if portnoy or big Walter on that cut. But that is the feel I'm going for now.
Guitarists I have jammed with also struggled with the song, mostly trying to turn it into a 12 bar.
The only thing I can say really helps is to sing it. And once the pattern of the vocal is embedded, then count it if needed, point out it isn't 12 bars. Some still don't get it, but I'm thankful my current crew have worked it out. Previous band would fall apart if I didn't play the harp at every point to keep them on the changes.
159 posts
Sep 18, 2017
5:51 PM
Hey SB - I'd have to go on a bloody long walk to get this like you did - tens of miles! Your suggestion to sing is a good one though, and I'll keep after it until she's right.
4448 posts
Sep 19, 2017
10:18 AM
Ok… bar 5 is pretty insignificant. Focus your attention on bar 6. I try to encourage harp players to count,
However 9 out of 10 drummers have no clue how to count so it is not hard to see that this is a futile attempt.
You need to learn to count this out. It is actually pretty simple. You also must understand the 12 bar progression on which this is based. As are most songs with odd measures.

Once you learn to count this song, you can play it without counting. It is a relatively easy song to play. It’s also pretty easy song to mess up. Lol.

Once you can demonstrate that you completely understand how the 12 blues form works I can show you how this fits like a glove. Peace 47.
153 posts
Sep 19, 2017
12:03 PM
not a reflection on anybody or anything but I have seen that tune referred to as.. well you know.. kind of a pedophile theme song...
not that it is, but times change..perhaps the words could use some updating..then again maybe people just do it as an instrumental and skip the lyrics all together...
4449 posts
Sep 19, 2017
12:04 PM
ok.. so this is a 9 and a half bar blues so lets do this.

let remove the first two bars from the progression. so now we have a 10 bar blues. damn we are almost home free.

so we will start on bar 3
160 posts
Sep 19, 2017
12:59 PM
Hey 1847 - your suggestion to begin on the 3rd bar makes sense. Now I have something useful to do this afternoon. Thanks. As for the bar 5 being insignificant, it has its challenges for me because of the speed that ya have to alternate between chords & single notes. My repertoire doesn’t include much chording or use of octaves, so this whole song is a monster learning exercise and a great tune.

Last Edited by Sundancer on Sep 19, 2017 2:26 PM
4981 posts
Sep 19, 2017
4:18 PM
Spderyak, what's your point?
When my parents married, the legal age for girls to marry was 12.
So for the apple of ones eye to be a schoolgirl would not be weird. The first famous recording of the song is from 1938. Sonny Boy also sang, on early in the morning, "when a little girl makes 12 years old, she starts to think she's grown".
Jr Wells updated that lyric, to use the number 18. Understandably.
What do you suggest? "Good morning mature single lady"?
Yes it's a problematic lyric. But it's great to play on the harmonica.
There is another song with similar sound, called deep down in the ground, or you hear that rumbling(rambling), but the harp and structure is different despite similar rhythm. Maybe we'd be better to play that. Schoolgirl however is a very famous piece despite its first verse being a bit dodgy.
161 posts
Sep 19, 2017
5:22 PM
Political correctness and the blues are not a match made in heaven. Maybe in hell. Or at the crossroads.

Anyway, took 1847’s advice and made some progress today working exclusively on the middle four bars.

Last Edited by Sundancer on Sep 19, 2017 5:24 PM
4982 posts
Sep 20, 2017
1:16 AM
That's all you have to do. I think that is why Adam's stuff worked quite well for me; he would go over the tricky bits and count me through them, showed me how to make a loop, slow down until you have the moves then incorporate it back into the bigger scene, this one is good.
Another I thought really helped was John lee Williamson's blues.
When I think about it, Adam Gussow has taught me a lot about playing the harp. Maybe my most effective teacher in some ways. Certainly one of the most cost-effective.
4452 posts
Sep 20, 2017
8:54 AM

by starting on bar three, what that does is, it puts the 4 chord in bar five, where it belongs.

now we only have to adjust one measure by half, that will put the 5 chord where it belongs in bar nine.

as you can see it is beginning to look a heck of a lot like a 12 bar blues.
270 posts
Sep 20, 2017
9:48 AM
1847 wrote:
"However 9 out of 10 drummers have no clue how to count"

Wow..... This is, in fact, wildly untrue, and as such is rather an irresponsible idea to put across to "beginner" harp players, or any would be musicians for that matter.

The fact is, the majority of drummers can and do count quite well, as it is an integral part of learning to play the instrument.
4453 posts
Sep 20, 2017
11:47 AM
I am speaking from my experience. I am guessing I know at least 2 dozen drummers or more.
Yes some of them are flat out amazing.
If you want to learn about time, find a drummer that was in the marine corp. if you mess up time in the marines, the drill sergeant will have you drop and give me 20. That gets old really quick. Lol

Lets do this, have a drummer you know count out this tune, lets see how well they count?

From what I understand, you play in a world class band, and you most likely are surrounded by world class drummers. The top one percent. I would not expect them to have any trouble at all.

I have a new tape recorder, perhaps I will play this song for some of the locals and see
If they can count this out. Let’s toss out the ringers and see if the average ordinary drummer can count This out. I think you might be surprised how many drummers have trouble with this tune.

Or perhaps a tune like this…

Last Edited by 1847 on Sep 20, 2017 11:48 AM
159 posts
Sep 27, 2017
10:11 AM
"Spderyak, what's your point?"

It was just an observation. The older the person the dodger it seems.
I'm 65 sure I think it would be creepy singing about hittin on 12 year old girls..
4999 posts
Sep 27, 2017
1:51 PM
Sure, if you put your heart into that part. If it actually mentioned anything about 12 years. Johnny Winter sang about 'I remember way back, when I was 12 years old'
Fred McDowell also did the song from the angle of remembrance of his own youth. I think he mentioned being 9 but I might have misremembered.
That's the attitude I take to it.
Many songs are about young people. The image of Blues as performed by old people largely comes from the 60s when it was 'discovered' by college audiences and promoters found performers who had been active in the 30s and 40s and brought them to festivals and such.
Consider 'ice cream man' "hey little girl, I've got something for you". Doesn't specifically mention 'school' I suppose.
How about Rock Me: Rock me Baby. A baby for heaven's sake!
This theme of baby harassment is everywhere in music

Seriously though, I've been listening to Schoolgirl since I was about 20. First it was Johnny Winter, and I thought the lyrics kinda funny but the music was unforgettable. Later I heard muddy waters, on a record produced by Johnny Winter.
I heard more words, the music was different but still had the same catch about it.
Then I heard Fred McDowell, again different but the same catchy thing
Oh and somewhere I heard the brilliant record featuring Sonny Boy Williamson on the harp.

When I came to learn it on the harp I was probably 45 or more, but I'd been aware of the song for 25 years and I'd never really thought the titular verse was the definitive factor. It was almost incidental.

I have a friend and contemporary down in Alabama, who told me a story from when he first moved there. They were living in Auburn which is a college town. He told me how he was driving around and kept seeing all these young people out running. Suddenly he realised they were like 18 and for the first time it dawned on him that he was not.
I mean everyone has to have that moment don't they? When they realise they are not in that territory.
For me, that is what schoolgirl is about. I realise for some, it's gonna be face value, they'll focus on 'school' and that's ok.
If I was a school teacher, that may be different.
Funnily enough, adam Gussow is a schoolteacher, but he never even blinked about teaching this song
163 posts
Sep 27, 2017
8:58 PM
So odd - or ignorant & ill informed - that anyone would find this song suggestive or offensive in an age when “stars can grab them by the p*ssy”
4472 posts
Sep 29, 2017
1:04 PM
she was just seventeen "if you know what i mean" and the way she looked was way beyond compare.

i was five years old when that was released. a little different perspective perhaps. i would sing that song everyday as i walked to school.

everybody wants to dance with sweet little sixteen. no one wants to dance with sour big sixteen
do five year old kids walk to school these days?
4479 posts
Oct 05, 2017
6:52 PM
ok... so this is a 9 and 1/2 half bar blues. but for now, we are still at the 10 bar structure. so lets stay there momentarily....

so lets listen to just the intro to this classic song. just the first ten bars..

count it out. 3 and 2
and 4 and 2
and 5 and 2
and 6 and 2
and 7 and 2
and 8 and 2
272 posts
Oct 06, 2017
11:11 AM
Harmonica starts on the "and" of 3 as a pick-up, so the count starting with the first harmonica note is:

"And 4 and" which leads to the 1st bar of "1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and" with the snare hitting on the first "2"

So, for the pick-up and the first 10 bars it would be counted

And 4 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
2 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
3 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
4 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
5 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
6 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
7 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
8 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
9 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
10 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

Last Edited by LSB on Oct 06, 2017 11:46 AM
4480 posts
Oct 06, 2017
1:53 PM
yes, both school girl and blues with a feeling have a pick up bar.

to count it out using "and" ... "blues with a feeling"

it would be 1 and 2 and 2 and 2 etc

you can also count it as 1234 2234 etc.

since it is 10 bars it is a good idea to start on the third bar and omit the first two bars, that is the idea i am trying to express, this keeps the chords where they belong.

in a 12 bar blues the 4 chord is in bars 5 and 6 and bar 10

the 12 bar blues is a parental blues form. it is useful to use it to count
12 bar blues 16 bar blues 8 bar blues and even 9 and a half bar blues.
273 posts
Oct 06, 2017
3:14 PM
OK, you have your own way of doing things, which may explain why you think most drummers can't count - Your (seemingly) preferred method of counting 4/4 time the one you listed first, does not conform to the the universally accepted standard of counting 4/4 taught to music students, at least in the USA. If you are trying to help others, particularly beginners, I would think you would want to use the most commonly accepted practice of counting.

As for how to think about the chord structure of non-standard blues....
to each his own I guess. If you can count properly, and hear the chord changes, you simply do the work of counting the bars to each chord change, chart it out, and then you know exactly what it is, rather than "Think of it like this other thing, but with this and this and that different." which lacks clarity. I say know a song for what it is, not what it's like. But that's just me.

Regarding one of your earlier comments That 9 out of 10 drummers can't count: There are at least 1500-2000 drummers in a 15-20 mile radius of me (Boston) that can count music quite competently, same could be said of New York, Philly, and a number of other metro areas, although some places like LA would require a somewhat larger radius. At any rate, it's more like 9 out of 10 drummers CAN count in the places I've lived over the years.

Now if you just hang out at mediocre blues jams, or you live in very rural areas, or you just play in the garage with hobbiest buddies (and I'm not knocking any of that!) then you are likely to run into primarily very low level "drummers". But overall, drummers in general are so much better now than they were in the 80's, 90's, early 2000's, its astounding if you're in the loop and have been around long enough to witness how things have changed in that regard.

Last Edited by LSB on Oct 06, 2017 3:18 PM
4481 posts
Oct 06, 2017
4:55 PM
the only reason i logged into this thread is because sundancer is a friend of mine and good morning little school girl is one of the reasons i continued on with playing the harmonica.

i am sorry you choose to take all this the wrong way. but this is solid serious theory. whats more it is super simple and if you keep an open mind
it may even get blown.

sundancer and i will be at a jam tomorrow. much of it will be mediocre, some of it will be god awful, and some of it will be some of the most amazing music you have ever heard.

here is what what you wrote for blues with a feeling...

And 4 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
2 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
3 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
4 and 2 and 3 and 4 and
5 and 2 and 3 and 4 and

play the song and count it out.. you will never make it thru the 10 bar intro. please humor me.

start on bar three and count it like i did.
5014 posts
Oct 06, 2017
6:37 PM
Hey 1847,
I remember we had a conversation about this a while back and you mentioned this same idea then. At the time I didn’t really dig why you wanted to think of it that way, but later I started to come around to seeing it as a useful concept.
I do think that idea of seeing the ‘standard’ 12 bar as a parent form is kinda interesting. If everyone has this concept ingrained, and you can quickly explain the variation it can help communication in situations where there isn’t a lot of time and a whiteboard. Not sure it is easily applied to all the 8 bar forms, but I haven’t thought too much on it.

Now, with schoolgirl iirc there is a 2 beat truncation in the second chord, that is bar 4, (or what would be bar 6 in a 12 bar)

I think Gussow counts his way through the pattern quite carefully in that video Sundancer is talking about. Have you seen that one?
5015 posts
Oct 06, 2017
6:41 PM
This too: i was playing blues with a Feeling (funnily enough) and after the first run I mentioned something about counting. The drummer said “don’t worry about counting mate, that’ll only fuck you up. You’re better to just go with the feel”
4483 posts
Oct 06, 2017
7:02 PM
i like to use the phrase... complex simplicity...

to get to schoolgirl, we have to work out blues with a feeling.

if someone could post a simple 12 bar blues form, i can make this crystal clear.

this is deep blues.
4484 posts
Oct 06, 2017
7:41 PM
" The drummer said “don’t worry about counting mate, that’ll only fuck you up"

is he one of the 1500-2000 drummers in a 15-20 mile radius of me (Boston) ????
5016 posts
Oct 06, 2017
8:43 PM
HA, no, but he was a pro for a while, back in the 80s-90s. Kind of a rock drummer. He was slumming with us because he didn’t want to have to practice.

We needed to practice though and when that became apparent he pulled the pin. Now we are training a fairly novice drummer;not really, he is training himself, he just practices with us and is learning on the job. He counts pretty good but is still developing the feel
168 posts
Oct 07, 2017
11:36 AM
Thanks SBb & 1847 & LSB - your posts are quite “timely” - pun intended. I’ve made heaps of progress on these 9.5 bars, but am still having challenges in getting them counted off so it sounds like I’m making music. As I drifted offf to sleep last night I was silently chanting the “1 and 2 and ...” while hearing the notes in my subconscious. It works, but I now gotta make ithe timing happen in reality today!
169 posts
Oct 12, 2017
5:44 PM
It’s starting to come together now! Seems like the key bars are 5 & 9. Those five quick pops of 2”, A chord, 2 draw, A chord and 3’ are tough to get in synch, but when ya do the timing starts to flow.

Last Edited by Sundancer on Oct 13, 2017 9:45 PM
276 posts
Oct 12, 2017
7:04 PM
Glad to hear it's coming along Sundancer.

One of the best things you can do for yourself in the future is learn to hear, count, play and even write all the common subdivisions of time: quarters, eighths, sixteenths, quarter note triplets, eight note triples, etc. When you can count, hear and play these, in time, and in various combinations, you'll be able to work out the things that give you trouble when you can't pick them up by ear, which is of course the preferred method.

Getting a solid grasp on subdivions will also make your own playing MUCH more interesting rhythmically.

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