I can’t believe it. We are approaching the end of March and I feel like I was left back in December 2007. What happened?!?! I haven’t had the heart to write any posts since Coltrane died and I’m finding it difficult to even attempt this.
For the past three months I decided to take some time off of booking gigs and doing all that performing stuff to concentrate on writing music and practicing. To my dismay, I have only written half of a song and I am too ashamed to tell anyone how little I practiced in the past couple of months. Now I can’t beat myself up too much, I have been practicing with my two best buds Jacob and Vinnie almost every week. We get together and work on a very specific improvising exercise. We finally finished the exercise in one key and now we are venturing to the next one. The goal is do be able to do this in all 12 keys (yikes!) Well now that I’ve said that I guess I should elaborate a bit.
Back when Jacob was a MSN (Manhattan School of Music), Jacob and Dan Weiss decided they wanted to work on an improvising exercise that Garry Dial (their improv teacher) gave them. The concept was to practice chord tones in all their different permutations in all 12 keys over the tune Autumn Leaves. For example, 1-3-5-7 is the first permutation, then 1-3-7-5, then 1-5-3-7 and so on. Now Jacob being the crazy guy he is, decided that he wanted to be completely thorough with the exercise and do ALL the chord tones plus their extensions. That makes 96 permutations in one key. So now, Vinnie, Jacob and I are practicing this. Jacob has done this before so he works on his drum set playing while I play piano and Vin plays marimba. It is grueling and super fun with those guys. About a month ago we just finished the first key and are moving on. The first key takes the longest according to Jacob and the other keys are a lot easier once you have the patterns memorized. After doing this I could already tell that my improvising was getting better and my agility over the keyboard was improving.
I haven’t had a improv session with Vin and Jacob for a few weeks and I’m itchin’ to get back into it. It’s been really great practicing with my fellow musicians. I feel that we really encourage each other and have a lot of fun hanging out.
Currently I have been asked to write some lyrics to some music a friend of mine wrote. I took on the challenge but it’s been hard. Writing lyrics is not easy and I feel that I really need to hone my skills. I’ve had a lot of fun thinking about it and testing things out. I only hope that my end results will satisfy my friend.
I am amazed that I actually feel a bit better blogging again. I’ve forgotten that it can be therapeutic (not that I was a big blogger to begin with). I seem to have a lot on my mind these days and I shouldn’t try to keep all of it inside me. I always feel like I’m walking on the edge of a complete freak out! Well, no freak outs today, whew!