It’s been a busy summer!

ID-100234772It seems to be that I’ve overextended myself this summer and because of that fact, Tipsy Tuesday will go on hiatus.

With my busy schedule, I’ve discovered that the mornings are now the best time to practice. Just like the old days, I’ve begun see Danny for guidance.  Although I was attached to Alek, I realized I learn more material (faster) with Danny.  He’s been pushing me and making my practice routine significantly longer.  Sometimes I feel like I’m not good enough because it’s become so important to impress him.  Is that backwards?

I guess it could be viewed as such but I know if I make him the slightest impressed, my performance will be astounding–beyond my very own goals.  I suppose that’s the benefits of having a mentor with high expectations of his students.  In comparison, Alek was constantly complimenting me when I knew good and well that I did not practice to the best of my ability.

“Okay, let’s hurry up and get you back into this,” Danny told me.  “There’s no telling how long I’ll have with you.  You might move across the country again.”

It makes me laugh to know that he knows me well enough to accurately predict my adventure seeking agenda… and as usual, Danny is right.  Adventure seeking or not, I need to find my groove.  It’s taking me a bit longer than expected this summer…

Image courtesy of Whitthaya phonsawat /

Tipsy Tuesday: It’s okay to lose sleep to reach your goals


ID-10022288Please tell me this: who’s the loser that suggested everyone to do their “fun leisure activities” after completing uninteresting/difficult work assignments?

I’m kidding.  They’re not a loser, but really, I disagree with whomever advised everyone because, ya know, what?  By the end of the day, you’re too tired to do what you enjoy most.  But if you still haven’t completed that time sensitive project for work, you will sacrifice your sleep, sanity, and free time (if you have any) for your boss.  That never happens when it’s something enjoyable like… oh, I don’t know… practicing guitar.  Instead, you convince yourself to finish your duties earlier tomorrow as you crawl into bed for the night.  Doing so results in everyday responsibilities being a determent to your success in learning music.

And honestly, that’s been me the past week, so clearly that piece of advice simply does not work for me.  When I finally acknowledged my blog has been unusually quiet for a week due to my guitars being just as silent, I realized something was wrong.  I love this blog.  I love practicing guitar.  So when I have time, I must do it right then.  If something is important, it will get done because I will lose sleep if necessary–you can make time.

Tonight, I experienced one of my many “A-HA” moments: there is always someone sacrificing their sleep to pursue their dreams on top of their everyday duties.  As I sat parked in front of a red traffic light, I thought about Thomas Edison, Mindy Kaling and other successful people who admitted to losing an abundance of sleep to work on their passion. I thought, “why can’t that be me and my readers, too?”  Reasonably, of course.

Image courtesy of Michal Marcol /

Tipsy Tuesday: Practicing what you know is fun, but doesn’t improve you.


“If what you’re playing in the practice room sounds perfect, it’s not practice” –Derek Siver (former student and teacher at Berklee College of Music)

I love this tid bit.  It’s so true and unfortunately, what a lot of us choose not to realize… yet we question what happened to our progress.

When I was in elementary school, my parents interrupted my play time with friends to practice piano for 20-30 minutes–timer and everything.  You’d think I’d be a very talented and disciplined pianist by now but 7 year old me did not take advantage of the much needed structure my parents provided. Of course, at that age I was upset to be stuck inside while my friends ran around the neighborhood pretending to be mythical creatures without me.  So to speed up the painful 20 minutes of being chained to the Yamaha keyboard, I played the same songs that I knew by heart over and over again.  Ya know, The Robot song, Jingle Bells, and whatever else was easy but fun to play.

The beneficial thing about that is I will remember how to play Jingle Bells until I’m 70–it’s embedded in my memory.  The bad thing is that my piano career ended prematurely.  Don’t laugh, but I plateaued at the age of 7! Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  But think about it.

That happens whenever a person restricts them self by only playing what he or she is good at–how can you grow from that?  Well, uh, you don’t.  You can’t!  You’re only good at that one thing you played over and over–that’s it.  And that’s not even the worst part!  In addition, you become uncomfortable whenever you’re bad at something because you’re not familiar to failing to gain progress and momentum in your learning.

If you can’t handle not being good at something, then by all means, continue to play what you’re already good at!  Just know that you’re coasting aka plateaued.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

My practice routine needs some spice


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?

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Tipsy Tuesday: Focus. Disconnect. Do not be distracted.

Listen up. I’m about to give some ancient (but wise) advice.  Yes, I came across something old and still applicable on the interweb.  Although published in 2008, I am compelled to share Derek Sivers’ speech, “6 Things I Wish I Knew the Day I Started at Berklee [College of Music].”

Out of the 6, my favorite piece of advice is

#1: Focus. Disconnect. Do not be distracted.

This resonates with me because I’ve been distracted by all the fun activities summer brings and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Derek Sivers elaborates,

My favorite part of the movies is the training sequence, where a young Bruce Wayne, Neo or Kung-Fu Panda goes to a remote location to be trained relentlessly, nonstop, past all breaking points, until they emerge as a master.

The next few years can be your training sequence, if you focus.

Unfortunately you’re not in Siberia. You’re surrounded by distractions.

You’re surrounded by cool tempting people, hanging out casually, telling you to relax. But the casual ones end up having casual talent and merely casual lives.

Looking back, my only Berklee classmates that got successful were the ones who were fiercely focused, determined, and undistractable.

While you’re here, presidents will change, the world will change, and the media will try to convince you how important it all is. But it’s not. None of it matters to you now.

You are being tested. Your enemy is distraction. Stay offline. Shut off your computer. Stay in the shed.

When you emerge in a few years, you can ask someone what you missed, and you’ll find it can be summed up in a few minutes. The rest was noise you’ll be proud you avoided.

Focus. Disconnect. Do not be distracted.

This is your #1 most important challenge. If you master focus, you will be in control of your world. If you don’t, it will control you.”

Well said, Derek!

(You can read the other 5 tips HERE or watch the video)

Tipsy Tuesday: 5 Things I wish someone warned me about playing guitar


ID-100247434I’m feeling extra playful tonight, so why not reflect and laugh at some of the things I experienced as a newbie 2 1/2 years ago?  If you’re a beginner, I hope this helps you realize that you’re not alone.  If you’re an advanced player, let’s reminisce together.

ONE – Pain: In the beginning, your forearms and fingers will hurt unlike any pain you’ve ever experienced. It’s the strangest form of fatigue: It’s not the “feel good soreness” after working out but it doesn’t hurt bad enough to see a doctor.  You are certain that something’s wrong and you’re on the verge of injuring yourself–do not be alarmed.  Despite what you feel, you’re (most likely) doing everything right.  The pain will pass when those muscles adapt.

TWO – Sitting down: Please, please, please, do not spend the first year practicing while only sitting down.  The time will come when you’re confident enough to jam with your friends and you’ll panic when learn first-hand that standing while playing is not the same.

THREE – Unwanted spotlight: People will constantly ask you to “play something.”  It will be awkward to “politely” say no because you will appear unconfident and maybe even rude (depending on the situation/person).  But most importantly, when the opportunity passes you will feel like wimp.  It’s terrifying as a beginner (I know), so learn an easy song for situations like those because you never want to decline just because you’re nervous.  It will not make you feel any better, trust me.

FOUR – Guitar envy: One guitar is not enough. Yes, you can only play one guitar at a time but if you truly think one’s plenty, just wait ’til you play for a while. Over time you’ll learn about different body styles, fretboards, pick ups, etc, and eventually you’ll daydream about blowing your paycheck on another guitar.

FIVE – Ruts: You will go through a phase when you don’t like anything you’re playing or writing. You may even get bored of practicing but just do it. Don’t quit, it’ll pass.  These plateaus serve as a precedent to grow as a musician and separates the good players from the talented.

What advice do you wish someone told you early in your music journey?

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat /

Remembering old tricks with sticks


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.

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