Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Playing, Listening, & Refresing Memories

I haven't played through God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen much lately and I can feel my memory slipping. Figured it was time to give this one a little more attention. I didn't want to just jump right into it though because I had a pretty nice high score of 209k sitting on the scoreboard. I didn't want to mess that up with a cold run, so I eased into it through the back door.

First I played through the Combo arrangement five times just to get the feel of the song back in my head. The two arrangments of this song are really two parts of a duet rather than "Combo" or "Single Note" arrangemens. So, the Combo arrangement is quite different from the Single Note, but, since it's really just the second part of the duet, I think playing one part helps me "hear" the other part better. (More on listening in a minute.)

After 5 runs through the whole song, I increased my score from 56k to a new high of 62,070 (86/38).

Then I felt like I was ready to tackle the Single Note part that I mastered a while back. I had a couple of bad starts, so I cheated and hit the restart button. Now that I've figured out how to restart a song, I do it a LOT. Why not? I might have restarted two times before I got it together. At that end of my full run-through, I actually improved on my high score with a 210,466 (95/81)!

After that I ran through Carol of the Bells a few times. No Riff Repeater or hammering on the solo - just playing through. My score was off of my high by less than 1k and all three scores were 79k's (79129, 79964, and 79632). In gun talk, that's what you call a tight shot-group. I suppose musically you'd say I'm getting more consistent. Still, that's consistently 21k shy of mastering the song.

Wrapped up with a run through Barracuda which also seems to be settling into a fairly consistent 103k range with 93% accuracy and 132-note streak. I levelled up on the part with all the chimed notes, but I still have 5 phrases to max before I'll have the song mastered. I may start working that a little harder this week.

Lately it seems like the accuracy and streaks tell me more about my progress than the raw scores.

You might not think playing high school marching band percussion would teach you much about playing guitar. And, I'd say in most high school bands (at least when I was in school), you'd probably be right. But, I played at a high school where the band director was willing to support motivated players. We had a highly motivated percussion section when I was at good ol' SHS, so Uncle Al hired a percussion major from a local university to give us some extra instruction. This guy (Tom) was a drum corps guy, so we were introduced to a whole new level of playing.

Four snare drums were supposed to sound like ONE snare drum. Every note was precise in duration, timing, and dynamics. No more beating on drums like a troupe of trained apes.

One of the biggest aspects of this whole new corps-style approach was LISTENING to each other.

That habit has bled over into everything else I've ever played. Unless you plan to play alone as a soloist for your entire playing career (like many pianists I've known), you have GOT to learn to listen.

I've heard it suggested that you should turn down the volume of the backing track on RS so you can hear yourself better. I would argue that you should turn down your guitar and listen to what's going on in the backing track. Of course, you need to hear what you're doing, too, and I'm not discounting the advice of a fellow RS Forum member (especially since that advice was offered in a slightly different context). But, if you plan to ever play guitar with real people, you need to get used to turning down your amp and listening to what everyone else is doing.

That's my soapbox for the day.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, after turning down the backing track on RS I quickly realized that there was no way I could be successful like that.

    You need the other band members for just the reasons you described.