I’m up & writing!

I know someone’s thinking this and I absolutely agree: it’s ironic how I finally settled on the blog name, Arpeggio Vixen and my arpeggio playing has dissipated more than I’d like to admit.

The lady band I mean, Faye, has me feeling like a legitimate drummer these days.  I’m still going to my guitar lessons but there’s something about playing and collaborating with other musicians that greatly improves musical abilities faster.

I prefer to avoid writing incomplete thoughts but I simply wanted to let you know that my blog is very much alive.  I have some legitimate posts in the making and I’m excited to share them with you starting Friday, October 10th.

‘Til then…!

Fall apart only to fall back together again

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So, “how’s the lady band going?” you ask.  Well, thanks for asking!  It’s actually, um, not going…  It’s at a stand still I am afraid.

It all began with the typical excuses, “I’m traveling a lot this summer.”  But I mean, that’s normal because it is (or, “was”) summer after all.  Then a few weeks later, “I’m going to be late” and someone else is “in a bad mood.”  That’s why I truly lost hope in the ladies’ desire to make music and play shows.  But ya know, I’m giving it one more shot.  And you know why?

One, I really want to this to work.
Two, a member admitted she is unable to dedicate the time and effort into being a band.
Three, a 3 piece is (hopefully) more flexible than a 4 piece band.
And four, we finally have a fixed practice day.  Twice is ideal but a solid 1x a week is great for foundation… baby steps, y’all.

Now, mind you, I wrote that was 3 weeks ago and forgot to post it.

TODAY, I am thrilled to share that it’s finally coming together.  We still don’t have a band name but we are practicing regularly and have written 2 original songs.  I’m super duper excited for what’s to come because the 3 of us aim to play our first local show before the end of 2014.

More lady band updates to come 🙂

IMAGE COURTESY OF Salvatore Vuono / FREEDIGITALPHOTOS.NET

My practice routine needs some spice

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My infatuation with Paul Gilbert’s solo albums may have dissipated (just slightly) the past few weeks but that humble, shred-tastic man is rarely far from my mind.  Since I have a blank canvas for five more days until I see Danny, I’ve been doing what I want.  In other words, focusing on lead with a few chords whenever I get an itch to play my acoustic.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I know I should continue a balanced practice regimen but screw it.  This one time (don’t quote me), I’m going to ignore the rule of remaining “balanced” all because I want to take advantage of what energizes and inspires me to practice and improve.

What you may or may not realize is that I’m in limbo.  I’m stuck between teachers and I don’t know what to practice because my current practice materials are concepts I’ve been looking at since the last time I saw Danny–January.  No, that doesn’t mean I’ve been practicing that material since then, but I see it in my folder everyday and mentally urge myself to review it instead.  Okay, I’ll get real with ya… the mental notes do not help.  I’m simply bored of the January material and want to see something new and change things up a bit!  Since I have 5 days until Danny assigns me something new, I’m going to do what I want!

I know what you’re thinking–this girl is wild and out of control.  Yup, I’m being a daredevil and breaking all the rules.  Hopefully, nothing more than just that.  Okay, but seriously, I do fear adopting poor technique habits but what’s a measly 5 days going to do to me?  I shall find out…

Inspired by Andy Wildrick playing lead guitar in the early 2000’s emo/rock band, The Junior Varsity, I taught myself segments of “Park Your Car.”  Of course, it’s sloppy, significantly slower and disappointing but I am hopeful.  Then I decided to take a break and work on some lead exercises to strengthen the connection between my brain and fingers, and of course, increase speed.  So naturally, who do I refer to? Paul Gilbert.  Surprise, surprise.

I just cannot get enough of him!

Anyways… if anything, have (extra) fun with practicing this week because that’s what I’m doing.  If you’re in a rut or bored, play music that’s fun or inspires you to remember the reason why you fell in love with playing music in the first place.

So tell me, how do you spice up your practice routine?

Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Remembering old tricks with sticks

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Unlike a typical Saturday, I rummaged around my parents’ house looking for drumsticks.  Good news: I found 7 sticks.  Bad news: only 2 pairs were the same size and what happened to the others is beyond me.  With only 10 minutes to spare and no time to recall why I purchased size 7A to 2B sticks, I took my ol’ snare drum from the claws of its stand and zipped it up in a cushy, soft shell case.  Overwhelmed by the once familiar knobs, screws, and small turny-thingies, I impatiently yanked my precious Pearl pedal off of the huge bass drum.

Down to only 6 minutes left to drive and pick up the guitarist, I skipped down the stairs, exited through the side door and waddled to my car with an armful of drum gear I haven’t touched in 2 years.  It was a typical, brutally humid, summer day but that “typical day” turned out to be my first band practice in nearly 3 years.

Now that I think about it, it’s  strange that I never refer to myself as a drummer.  I suppose my love for guitar drowned out my interest in drums but thankfully I have my friends to remind me that I, too, am a drummer.

My best friend dropped my name in the grapevine of “does anyone know a girl who can play drums?”  Any musician will tell you experienced female drummers are hard to come by but I never identified myself as one! I was iffy when I received the invitation but then remembered the many frustrating years of attempting to form a band with flaky, non-committal musicians–I couldn’t pass up this opportunity!

In the past, I attempted to organize a band multiple times and it never came together no matter how many facebook messages I sent.  No matter how many fliers I posted in the artsy side of town.  No matter how many craiglist ad responses I received (mostly guys asking to be the “token male” in the band). This time around was different.  Although I was the last person to join the band and let me tell ya… saying “yes” is a lot easier–it’s a nice change, you best believe.

It may have been 2 years since I actually jammed on a full drum kit but on Saturday I felt extremely comfortable, in control, and by the end of practice I began to remember my old tricks and favorite fills.  It blows my mind how I forgot how much I love playing drums.  After playing 6 instruments growing up, I finally understand why I had a bad habit of switching instruments!  Each one is very intoxicating in its own way.

Shortly after being reunited with my former love, the natural explosiveness of my sticks attacking the drums then cymbals in one big, Tasmanian Devil, sweeping motion startled me–I forgot I had it in me.  By the time I warmed up, my arms danced around the kit in a fluid motion without a single thought in my mind–I was engulfed in the intoxicating, powerful energy of drumming.

Frequently, the guitarists would stop to chatter about the root note, chords, harmonies… nothing that applied to my physical labor.  So, I took that time to practice (as softly as reasonably possible) my drum roll and dramatic fills which distracted our lead guitarist who then exclaimed, “it’s nice to finally play with an real drummer.”  In my eyes (or ears) I wasn’t playing anything special.  I only have 2 years of drum lessons underneath my belt but her compliment made me realize that I AM a drummer and I should take pride in my ol’ tricks with sticks regardless of how rudimentary they seem to me.

When that spectacular afternoon came to an end, what I never imagined to happen did, in fact, happen:  I was heart broken.  I felt like a child whose parents arrived to a slumber party the following morning–I wasn’t ready to pack up and go home.  Although I uphold the Arpeggio Vixen name, I vow to never abandon drums again because I am not only a guitarist, but a “real” drummer.

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Trust your gut, always

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I’ve reached a point in my twenties where I finally feel like I’m on the right path.  Though I am uncertain if my quarter-life crisis is now behind me, I’ve regained confidence in where I stand in this crazy world we live in.  It took a career change, unemployment, graduate school, and a lot nay-sayers who were compelled to tell me that my goal to work in the music field is impossible.

There was actually a moment when I believed them but after a lot of time struggling to think and claw my way “out of the box,” I managed to tear down those pessimistic cardboard walls and climb out of the mental confinement many people choose to stay in.  All I did was identify (specifically) what I wanted and learn how to ask for it.  And the end result?

I landed a wonderful internship that is the furthest thing from fetching coffee and clerical work–I’m managing fundraising projects for the symphony orchestra!  Nothing feels better than utilizing energy from my passion (music) in the workplace.  I almost gave up and settled on something outside of music because I couldn’t think of anything both realistic and satisfying. But in reality, working in music is realistic after all.  I may not be working with a big name record label but in all honesty, the idea of helping my community fund music programs makes me happier than working with any big name star.

After this summer internship, I hope to work for a similar arts-related company as a Development Associate.  But one step at a time.  The hardest thing about my 20s is accepting that I cannot plan my life out exactly.  I’m just trusting my gut and doing what I love, as I go with the flow!

Image courtesy of Maya Picture / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Cold Feet

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As I donate my belongings to Salvation Army and turn my furniture into cash, I realize the hardest part is almost here: saying goodbye and actually leaving.  Not just talking about leaving but emptying what was once my home and boarding a plane with no intention of returning anytime soon.  And as much as I love the adventure of picking up and moving, the thought of saying goodbye to my routine, comfort, and California friends is making me sick to my stomach.

This week, I had my second to last lesson with Alek.  We reviewed a lot of the theory he’s taught me the past 4 months and it left me dreading my final lesson.  I don’t even know what we’ll work on.  There’s no point in working on something new so maybe we’ll do something fun – more blues soloing?  I shall wait and see.

I will admit I am having second thoughts about this move – cold feet, perhaps?  I just have such a great connection with Alek and his explanations are down to earth and it feels like we’re just two friends chatting away about music.  I don’t even feel like I’m paying for lessons because he doesn’t rush me in and out which is a good and bad thing.  I’ve accepted the many times we’d start my lessons late because I knew that he would give me the same opportunity to learn and was willing to go over the allotted time to ensure I left with a full understanding and foundation to practice new material at home.

Danny has a lot more students than Alek so that’s never an option.  But I’m excited to see Danny too.  He’s like a second Dad to me.  Except it’s not awkward talking to him about dating and other personal events in my life.  I mean, I’m extremely close to my Dad but that’s a rare topic.  I’m sure some of you understand where I’m coming from.

Anyways, I’m squeezing in one last lesson on Sunday – gotta get my money’s worth.  Gotta say goodbye… although a small part of me wants to stay.

Image courtesy of Digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net