I'm learning that the hardest thing to be is adequate.
Right now with this song, I'm adequate. I can play it. I sound ok on it. I'm fairly well memorized. I have accomplished the majority of my goals. But I'm not good at it. I'm not eminently comfortable with the song, to the point that if I had to play it in front of people I'd be able to do it no questions asked. I'm adequate at it.
It's a struggle to get over that hump of adequacy. Good enough. It might take more than the 15 minutes per day I've allotted myself on this project. But it's going to be a topic I'll be pondering for a while.
Tomorrow's presentation day and I think I'm adequate, but I'm not entirely happy with that result.
Total Practice Time: 6hr 45m
Read Day 26
I spent the majority of my day on the second half of the song and I think I'm going to do the same tomorrow and the next.
The reason is a fairly time oriented one. Simply put I'd rather not mess up on the second half of the song. I feel like I can mess up on the first half and start recording again, but it would suck to make it 90% of the way through and have to scrap everything.
In the clip below I mess up on the words. I definitely underestimated the singing portion of this song. I thought the guitar would be the very difficult thing and then adding the words would be like putting a little whipped cream on top. But I guess I forgot about things like breath support and memorization. I'm getting there.
Also for the final recording I'm hoping to go to the theatre that I work at and get a better recording where you can hear the guitar and the vocals a little more equally.
One final thing is that since I've relaxed the tempo a little, I've myself up a little. It's been a blessing.
3 days after this one. And I'm super nervous.
I just recorded the video below and I still have a little fear sweat underneath my arms... geez - why does a camera make me so nervous? I seriously am asking! I need to do a little research into this because I can play this song ok, pretty well all the way through and then when a camera comes on - my fingers freak out, my voice cracks or doesn't match and I kind of shut down. It's amazing. I definitely need to just record my whole practice session and then take from that what I need.
It's a weird feeling and it's making me nervous for the final song. This video below is take number 3 of 5 or 6. Whew. Only 3 days left.
Sort of the last push here.
I think I'm going to cap this at 28 days which works out to 7 hours of practice over the next 4 days and will culminate in me (hopefully) playing the song in full, memorized and well in front of the camera.
So today I'm enjoying the song again. Trying to get the word placement right and the fingerings right. I'm playing along to the song with a recording of Paul Simon - I've linked it before so I won't post it again - and I'm noticing how much liberty he takes with the tempo. He slows it down when he needs to and speeds it back up. Essentially he plays like he's playing a beautiful piece of music, not by rote.
I also noticed a measure that he has (in this version) that is not on my page - so I've added it in. Feels better. Certainly helps with the lyrics. If anyone is using this version of the tab (link included at the bottom) I'm including the sections so you can add the measure yourself when playing the song.
So. Here we go. Not quite memorized yet - as you can see I'm still looking down at my cheat sheet. But I gave myself a pass on it today.
Placing the lyrics is a little tricky - where they fall, on what count. Paul Simon tends to put them in different places during different verses and I think that's part of the charm. Both his voice and his hands seem like they're working independently of each other and yet so well together. It's what I like about this song.
I'm going to have to be a bit more planned about my approach. So the first thing is identifying where everything goes. I think I found it in the verses, even if, as in my video below, it takes me a bit to get there. That's fine. I'm ok with being a little slow these next few practice sessions. The tempo will pick up as long as I make sure I've gotten everything set.
Tomorrow I'll work on the chorus or part b which I think is the trickier (or at least, less practiced) part of the song.
It's weird because I rarely think about memorizing a song.
Usually you just hear a song a bunch and then the song is stuck in your head. Sometimes for days. Sometimes for weeks. Sometimes you just get that song out of your head and then your wife starts singing it because now it's in her head and it's a vicious cycle where the song never really leaves your house, it just stays there for ever, bouncing around in the walls of your head and home forever!
In this case though - I'm trying to learn the song. American Tune. So I listened to it with headphones in today and strummed along a little (I learned my guitar is woefully out of tune... or Paul Simon's was. Probably mine, but you never know... except you kind of do.) The song is 3m39s so I listened to it 5 times, sang outlaid the lyrics and tried to play along. Tomorrow, no training wheels. Just me, my guitar, and a song bouncing around the walls of my home.
Total Practice Time: 5hr30m
Read Day 21 here
On to Day 23
Sort of combined these unintentionally - it was a busy week.
Yesterday and today I worked on memorizing the second section of the song which is a little chorus part and then a modified part one - just a few little differences but it's enough to throw me. I recorded myself a ton today to try and get rid of the camera jitters. After this it's time to add words and to polish it up and make it a finished product. Moving right along!
Trying to memorize the whole over the next two days.
Then lyrics then I guess I'll work on trouble spots and tempo until the end of the 30 days. I've got 11 more to go so I'm practically 2/3 finished. Not bad.
I recorded myself again jus to see how "off book" I am. Not bad. I have the first section in my brain, but there are still sections where I have to think about it, which I assume is not going to be helpful in attaining that fluidity I'm looking for, but I'm at least on the path.
The curse of the camera is still there, but I'll just keep plugging away at it and hope that experience makes it go away. Also I can't wait to start singing because I keep my mouth open when I play and I look weird!
Late start today - had to get up early to drive to St. Paul and monitor an ACT exam. Got to get paid somehow.
So a late practice. Because I was tired today I took the tempo waaaay down. And it was nice. Like an easy day when you're training for a marathon or a race of some kind.
I don't know if I gained any useful experience today but I enjoyed playing the song for the first time in a while. I hummed along a little. It was more pleasant than anything else.
Total Practice Time: 4hr 30m
Read Day 17 here
Check out Day 19 here
As I said, I only worked this section today.
It takes about 45 seconds wish to play. So I got through it about 15 - 20 times and then recorded myself doing it 4 or 5 times and picked one to share. I'm on track. This was a good one, not the best, but a decent representation of where I'm at on a given run through.
Not horrible. Progress. Felt good to get it right when I did. Felt like a little light through a curtain. Nice.
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-Role Model: Search Local
-How to Sleep in Your Car
-How to Hitchhike: Advice
-How to Adjust a Backpack
-How to Hitchhike Safely
-Dustin: Hitchhiker *video
- Zach at Niagara Falls *video
-NYC Interview *video
-Trouble Crossing * video
-Iron John Journey *video
-Letter From a Viewer
-Ibn Battuta: Exploreer
-Danny Schmidt/Carrie Elkin
-Top 5 Famous Hitchhikers
-Hitchhiking:Trip at a Glance
-3 Things Lionel Said
-Radio Interview: WEHC
-Adventure: Idea to Action
-Miller's Gourmet Popcorn *
-Poem from a fan
Darrell and Josiah