Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Keep an Ear on the Road


You know I'm always railing on and on about the importance of ear training...It's like chefs knowing what's in the soup by tasting it. "I say, Pierre, this must be rosemary." That's an important skill to have!

Lately, some of my clients have been knockin' my socks off with their superior command of the skill of listening. I've got one dude who's just rockin' away figuring out Avenged Sevenfold songs and even some classical stuff by ear.

However much we'd all like to practice, or for that matter, know we should, time is at a premium. Driving along today, I invented a new way to practice ear training. It's bound to be world famous! Maybe.

I was rumblin' along in the Camaro, and...I heard the tires meeting the street. Haha, not the usual muscle car sounds of "screeeeeeeeeee vrooooooom!", but just 'em rolling along at 4o miles per hour, saying "Hello, Street, my name is Michelin."

I've always been a paranoid mechanic, and have listened incessantly to random engine noises..."Dude - think that's the engine pinging?"

Well - I thought - what a great way to practice both ear training, and awareness. Music is really about both. The more aware one is, the better the results.

So - listen to your car, and learn all the sounds! Not only is it good practice, it's good mechanics. And the cool thing is - the more you listen, the more you hear. Quick story for y'all (unfortunately, my student isn't showing up, so I'm rambling...)

A student gave me a cool alarm clock once...It was a drumset, and it would play a swing/big band song that went "Come on, wake up, daaa daaa da da da da daaaa da da, da da da da...." One morning, I was just so tired, and I dozed for a long time just listening to the darn thing. After about twenty minutes, through a groggy alpha state, I said to myself...."Hey man, there's a xlyphone part in there!" And so there was.

See! The more you listen, the more you hear.

But do get up on time.

- Josh

Monday, September 28, 2009

New Song, yo!

Hey hey!

What's UP, rockers? It's been a little while. I've been holed up in my studio, writing songs and watching The Daily Show. Jon Stewart is a funny, funny man.

Anyways, I recorded an instrumental to submit to The Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest. Wish me luck! As some of you know, I took a trip north recently. I bought myself a ticket to the train, and boy, am I glad I did. It was so much fun! I've always loved trains, so it was a great opportunity to do some railroad watching, and get nifty ideas for songs. I've got one in the works about a laundromat I saw in Jersey. Seriously. But back to this instrumental...The intention is for it to sound like a train - dig the bass line kinda throbbing along, and the lead guitar hook sorta sounds like a train horn.

So, check out the new tune called Northbound. It's on my myspace. Tell your friends, add the song to your profile, and turn it up!

The lesson today comes from one of my students. He was sharing his aggravation about how one of his soccer teammates refuses to pass the ball once he gets it. The story reminded me of how musicians do the same thing - once they get the spotlight, or a cool riff, they don't want to give it up. If they don't have it in the first place, then they'll try to make it up. I'll point a finger at BASS PLAYERS putting too much slap bass in everything, guitarists trying to play lead between ever stinkin' vocal phrase, and well.......the list goes on! Step back, evaluate the situation, and if need be - pass the torch.

Rock on!

- Josh

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

5 Years!


It's been a little crazy over here, hence my silence. I just got back from NYC, and boy oh boy, I've got some catchin' up to do!

First off!

Today, besides being the start of World War II, marks the Five-Year Anniversary of being a guitar teacher. Whew, time sure flies! I just ran some rough calculations on my iPhone, and according to those complex equations I've run, I've taught over 7,000 lessons. That's a lotta rock 'n roll! Thanks to everyone who's taken lessons over the years! It's been fun. I really appreciate it, and I've learned so much. Here's to the next 7,000 lessons!

Second off!

Tickets for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra go on sale TOMORROW, September 2nd. You don't want to miss these guys 'n gals. Buy some tickets!

Third off! Two wonderful musicians I have the privledge of knowing are going to be putting on a fablous outdoor concert. Be there! Here's the info:

Saturday, 9/12/09, 8 PM
Ferguson Amphitheater, Hard Bargain Farm, Accokeek, MD.
Adults--$12; Members/Students--$10; Kids under twelve--$5

Grace Griffith, multi-Wammie Award winner, and singer/songwriter Lynn
Hollyfield share the stage for an evening of beautiful music. Grace is a critically acclaimed
interpreter of songs and long a favorite of DC area folk and celtic music fans. She has 3 solo albums and two CDs with her former trio "Connemara" on the Blix Street Records label,

and recently was featured on Jennifer Cutting's "Ocean" recording project.
Lynn Hollyfield's original songs have well-crafted melodies, stand-alone lyrics and striking emotional depth. In addition to being a gifted singer and songwriter,
Lynn is also quite accomplished on guitar. She has two CD's with her duo "Hollyfield & Spruill"
and is currently finishing up work on her first solo recording.
This will be an evening of sparkling settings of contemporary songs and traditional ballads. Together, Grace and Lynn promise an evening of vocal delights with polished harmonies, rhythm and fun. The pair will be joined by Jimmy Brink, percussionist. and

These ladies are great! I was helping out with the sound system while they were playing one time, and their version of Summertime was so good, I forgot to mix! I just listened. Playing a mix of celtic-tinged folk, they're an interesting contrast to the high voltage music I usually listen to. (I've got System of a Down playing right now....."Pushing little children, with their fully automatics!")

And the venue is really cool, too. It really is a concert in the woods. Check it out!

Forth off:

I've got some new random weird videos: My interviews of things that can't talk back.

Rock on!

- Josh