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6815 posts
Sep 20, 2020
7:20 PM
I decided to sign up for some lessons again.
This time with Dennis G.
I mistakenly posted on main forum about the first thing he suggested. I meant to post that on this page.

It was pretty basic, but maybe important.
I have made plenty of lists over the years. Sometimes I rediscover them, on backs of envelopes now serving as bookmarks, or buried deep in a notebook which was going to be "the" notebook, but in fact is just one of several notebooks and may have wound up in a case I took somewhere and forgot to unpack, or it was on the table and got collected up with a stack of other miscellaneous stuff and tidied away.

So the idea is to have a list of things you want to learn, and make the list prominent and important and able to be added to so that it remains "the list". Maybe an electronic list is good.

The list will include songs to learn,techniques to work on, concepts to study.
And cross things off as you achieve them.

So, the list is the first thing. It helps you see what you're trying to do, where youre up to, when it's time to move on, when it's time to stay on track; don't jump off what you're doing and start doing the thing you just got real interested in. Add the thing to the list, and get into it once you're done with the current thing. This way, you will make progress.

The other aspect of this which seems important was his advice to only work on 2 things concurrently.

The second thing Dennis told me was to do with learning to improvise with a creative flow.
It took a little while for him to work out what I was asking, but of course he worked me out eventually. I didn't know how to describe what I wanted but it really just boils down to this.

I play in a band, and everything I do is rehearsed to some extent. Even if I don't know exactly which notes I'm going to play, I know the songs, and how long I'll play, and I've played everything before. My concern is that I may not always be in the privileged position of having a band willing to indulge me, and then when I want to play with other people who are calling the tunes I'm stumped for ideas.

The cute for this is to simulate the situation to some extent. The easiest way is to jam to backing tracks.
This is something I have seldom done in the way Dennis suggested. I have used backing tracks for a bunch of exercises but I really don't just put on a track and jam.

So, number 2 is, when practicing, spend at least an equal amount of time jamming as I spend learning/studying songs.
Studying songs from recordings is a great way to learn but the jamming is how one learns to use the phrasing ideas creatively
Dennis used a term "keeping your ideas fresh". That makes more sense to me as I've considered it over the last week.
He said I should keep transcripts around me when I was jamming, as these would help me think of things I could use.
The other rather specific suggestion was to use 1 cord tracks for this, rather than take with chord changes. This means the focus will be on your phrasing rather than relying on a chord change to create interest. It also means you have time to work on an idea and repeat it as often as you want to get into memory, play around with timing and emphasis, accent etc, without having a chord change coming along and derailing your flow.
Also, record these sessions and consider what you did, so you can build on it,notice what works, what doesn't, and stop doing the things that mess you up.
I have had a shot at this. It does involve some discomfort but I can see it has potential and I believe Dennis that this is the way to go forward. I mean, it makes sense.

The 3rd point from this lesson was to make time for focussed listening. This is listening without playing, and paying attention to what you're hearing.

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