Not Always Perfect

I was asked by my guitar teacher to pick a song and record myself playing bass and singing. She will then record herself playing guitar with me, and she’ll make a complete video to post on our musician’s Facebook page.

I picked one of my favorite songs – Arrows by the Foo Fighters. I chose to do the bass and singing separately. I can do them both together, but it takes a lot of patience and practice. On this one, for some reason I want to sing the sounds the bass is making! I’ll start out singing the words and end up mimicking what I’m playing. LOL.

I’ll spare you listening to my voice right now, but here’s one of my bass recordings. I stopped it early because I messed up.

Almost two years of bass lessons, I love playing. I regret not starting sooner in life. I guess better later than never is true here.

If my teacher’s finished video comes out okay and is shareable, I’ll share that when it’s ready.

Then you can decide if my additional vocal lessons are paying off or not!

Cat Chronicles: Day 174 – November 21, 2019

BASS #6

My first short scale bass, an Ibanez Mikro, she’s about the size of a regular guitar. She is easier to play because the neck is shorter and the frets are smaller. The Mikro is recommended for kids, anyone with small hands, and people with arthritis. My arthritic hands appreciate the smaller size. It’s a fun bass to play.

Guitar – Progress

I am pleased to report that I’m still practicing every day. I was in a bit of a quandary as to how to re-learn things – what lessons to take, who to follow, which books to read, or which lessons are best. There’s so much out there that it’s hard to know which information gives me the most accurate or helpful content.

Frankly, some of the material isn’t all that great. In reading several books or articles, I’ve discovered that it’s pretty dry material. Some of the online videos or how-to’s don’t take beginners into account. They move too quickly and don’t break things down so that I can follow them. My hubby suggested I watch favorite guitarists of his like Pat Metheny. That doesn’t help me. For one, I don’t want to play that jazzy/bluesy style, and for another, he plays fast, complicated licks. That’s great, but it’s discouraging because I can’t follow or match that.

I’ve had the most fun with Play Along Music. The lessons are not as basic as I’d like them to be, but I’ve already played bits and pieces of Satisfaction, Another Brick in the Wall, and Smoke on the Water. It’s fun to be able to sort-of duplicate those riffs, but it’s not the basic tutorial that I really wanted.

I kind-of know how to read music. I know what the strings on the guitar are (EBGDAE), and I know what the notes are on a piece of sheet music (FACE for the spaces and EGBDF for the lines). I don’t know what the notes are that go above and below the lines and spaces, and I don’t know where most of the notes are on the fretboard of the guitar. If someone told me to play a certain note, I could play it if it was an open string, but otherwise, no, not at this point.

I realized quickly that my cheap little guitar ($86 for the guitar and amp) isn’t enough. I picked it up mainly to see if I could do it, and I know now that I can. My fingers can make the notes and the chords, and I can make reasonable sounds come out of the beginner guitar. I have discovered that electric guitar is much easier to play than acoustic. The strings are thinner and easier to press and make notes. In fact, I have to un-learn what I originally learned. I learned to press hard to make the notes. Pressing hard on an electric guitar makes the notes sound ‘tinny’. There’s no vibration on the string. A guitar playing buddy of my hubby’s told me to use the lightest touch possible to still make the note. That has helped.

I began shopping around for a better guitar, knowing something nicer will inspire me. I really wanted a Gibson. I’ve played a Gibson, and I know how nice they are, but they are also really expensive. So instead I began looking at Epiphone Guitars. Epiphone is a subsidiary company to Gibson now. They used to be a rival. Epiphone is basically the cheaper version of Gibson. Both companies are based in Nashville.

While on the Epiphone trail, I found a recommendation to GuitarTricks.com. It’s both a website and an app. I think I finally found my lessons and tutorial! It starts at an extremely basic level. The first beginner lessons go through the parts and pieces of the guitar (both acoustic and electric), how to hold it standing or sitting, how to tune it, and how to play it. I haven’t even gotten into making any sounds on the guitar yet, and I’ve already picked up useful information. I was sitting all wrong. Sitting properly makes playing easier, and the guitar sounds better. What a revelation. As a nearly lifelong typist, you would think that would have occurred to me, but sadly it didn’t.

Also while on the Epiphone trail, I found my replacement guitar. My order has been placed, and they are processing it. If all goes as planned, it should come in within a week, and I should be able to pick it up at the local Guitar Center. My new friend is gorgeous.

I can’t wait to meet this guitar. It has mother of pearl inlays on the neck, and it’s a black guitar (black on the back) with a silver burst of custom paint on the front. They say it’s prettier in person than in photos. I also picked up a small Fender amp since the little amp I have doesn’t even sound like it’s working.

Here’s a video of my new friend being played by someone who knows how to use it. It won’t sound this good when I play it, but I can dream.

Image courtesy of epiphone.com

Video courtesy of guitarcenter.com

The Punch in the Mouth

I’ve worked hard over the past few weeks on turning fear into a learning experience. I’ve had a lot thrown at me in a short period of time, and I still don’t have all the answers, but I’m farther ahead than I was.

Not knowing what was wrong with my stomach was a frightening thing. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be that way, and I kept meaning to call the doctor to discuss it. I put it off because I knew what the outcome would be – further testing. Why I was so scared of that is a mystery to me now.

One of my husband’s favorite expressions has always been, “sometimes running away from a punch in the mouth is worse than the punch in the mouth”, an inelegant way of saying sometimes it’s better to turn and face your fears down. It was time to stop running away.

Today I faced two fears down.

I finally got called in for jury duty. They were picking jurors for a two-week Federal Court criminal trial. No, I didn’t want to go. I was a nervous wreck over it, terrified that they’d keep me. It was problematic on two levels – the whole diverticulitis not making me a good candidate for sitting still for long periods of time and another change in personnel at work. I’d be leaving my employer in the lurch with no backup while putting myself through a lot of stress that wasn’t going to agree with my guts.

I was determined to make the best of a bad situation when it occurred to me that I absolutely didn’t have to. I asked my gastroenterologist for a written excuse – a “get out of jury duty” letter, something he was more than happy to provide for me.

I arrived at the Federal building at 7:50 am today – an ungodly time for a non-morning person. I sat and waited for an hour along with my fellow jurors. When they called us upstairs to check us in and settle us into the juror’s room, I pulled out my doctor’s excuse. The clerk asked me to sit on a bench off to the side, and I had to wait patiently while they registered all the other jurors in the pool. When she was done, she reviewed my paperwork again, and she released me! Just like that, I was free to go. I was back at my desk at work before 9:00.

Shortly after settling in for the day, my gastroenterologist called me, and I had to face my second fear. The rest of the biopsy results were back on my testing. In my small intestines, they did in fact find a polyp. He hadn’t seen it on the scope, but they grabbed it by accident when they were taking samples for the biopsy. He said it was benign, but I have to have another colonoscopy in six months to check that area and make sure it doesn’t grow back or turn into something more worrisome.

I know that I’m on the right track, and I’m actually glad I had the scans now. I’d rather find something early than wait because I’m scared of taking the prep – that was foolish. My stomach is slowly improving with more good days than bad, but it’s been a slow recovery. I’m down 12-1/2 pounds, and my clothes are loose, but this diet is not something I’d recommend.

I have an appointment at my primary care doctor’s office on Friday, and I’m seeing my oldest son’s doctor (my regular doctor is still out on maternity leave). In addition to the diverticulitis, the CT scan showed that I have two non-specific “bone islands”. Bone islands are described online as a common benign bone lesion – growths of bone where they shouldn’t be. I have to go in to discuss whether we want to do further scans. It’s amazing the things that get found when someone starts poking around inside a nearly sixty year old body, isn’t it?

I’ve had enough punches in the mouth, so to speak, this month to last me for a few years. I’m done now.

Images courtesy of Pinterest and waymarking.com