Today I played through the song at a rate more my style and tried to add in some words. The whole thing took me 6 minutes and was a whole lot more accurate
I'm good-ish on the verses both in guitar and words. Like 80% - 90% on both. Of course I play those 3 times through so it's like I've had 3 times more practice on them. The chorus or part B is way trickier for me. The finger picking pattern and the ending licks are still a little hard.
I think I can squeak by on the ending because I can slow it down a little. But this middle section. It's basically twice through the same progression with a few tweaks. But I get it it and I just panic and play chords and my fingers go everywhere. Tomorrow this is all I practice. Then we'll see...
So I filmed myself again.
And again I had trouble with the camera. This is my fourth take, with the first three having died somewhere within the 30-50 second range. In this take I mess up right away and pause, but keep going anyway, because at some point you just have to press on. Stupid camera.
But the actual video is half encouraging. I upped my time a lot. The total song ends up in the 3m50s range which is wonderful because that's the upper time limit of my goal. So that's a huge positive and a good accomplishment because I feel like I can still play it a touch faster.
The other half is a combination of accuracy and ... grace? The accuracy is much needed and I'm hoping will come from repetition and memorization. There's a little trouble finding my spot when I'm looking from my fingers to the page.
But grace. Or smoothness. Or something. There's a gliding quality that Paul Simon has when he's playing. His fingers are like raindrops on the top of a lake. Mine are like wrecking ball into the side of a building. I'm not sure what to do about this and am hoping that relaxing and practicing will reveal the key. Here's the video. (If you notice my mouth moving it's probably because I'm still counting...)
I need to listen to the song more.
I feel kind of silly not realizing this earlier. But today I started to try to memorize the song a little, chord progressions and what not. I'm fairly confident on the first part of the song, the two verses and then I get jumbled when I get to the chorus or part B. I tried humming along to help myself and I realized pretty quickly that I have no idea where the words or melody should go... It was a little humbling.
So I think over the next couple of days I'm going to listen to the song a bunch of times to cement it in my brain. Seems kind of obvious but it's something I've definitely been neglecting to do and am intending to change. To get myself in the spirit of things I've included another version of Paul Simon singing it, hopefully it'll get me to listen more... There's a little banter at the beginning of this one. But the speed is much more my tempo.
I'm kind of getting sick of this song.
To put in a little context, it's April 16th and where I'm at it's still in the 20s and we just got about 15 inches of snow so... there's also that.
But I'm also getting a little cranky at the song. I'm hoping that once I add the lyrics it'll be a little easier. I did hum along today to one of the verses for the first part and then I got lost and had to just follow the music on the page.
No really good insights, just that for today.
Total Practice Time: 3hr 15m.
Read Day 12 here
Read Day 14 here
I don't want to make it seem like everything been difficult for me in this song. Naturally I've been focussing on the tougher parts but there have been some sections that have come more naturally than I expected. One I thought was hard but actually isn't and the other I really have no idea why it's been easier.
When listening to the song, this is a section that I thought would be tricky. The notes move fast and I'm switching from my thumb picking on the 2nd beat of every measure to my thumb picking on the 1st beat of every measure.
It turns out I have a lot more practice with my thumb picking on the 1st beat so the switch comes naturally and the fast moving notes turned out to be a "hammer on" which is when you pluck a string and then hammer your finger down to make it sound like a second note. Something I've done before but wasn't able to pick up on when just listening to the song.
This is the other section that's been a little easier. And I have less idea why this is the case. It's moving notes. But I'm not playing the full chords. The motion has felt very natural. I enjoy that the final beat in the measure is able to be played with one finger and I can prep my other fingers for the next chords. Regardless it's nice to have this one because this comes right before the dreaded G#dim chord transition that I am still working on.
Being on camera in a ton of documentaries, you'd think I'd be used to people watching, but man, I start rolling the camera and my fingers seize up.
I originally thought it wouldn't be a problem - wasn't even considering it. But I can practice a thing for a while, get it down (or at least a good approximation of it) and then start the camera and feel like an idiot when nothing goes right.
I'm trying to tie together some sections today. Mostly the back end because I think I've logged more time in on the beginning sections.
Here is the section I'm working on today.
It's a two measure section of the song, but it's the only real fingerpicking pattern part and for whatever reason it's giving me a ton of grief. Every time I get to it my fingers panic and I play a bunch of random notes until the next measure that I know how to play.
Today's practice consisted of this.
In pick-up basketball the term "run it back" means one of two things. Either the team that won is super confident and likes the group of guys they have and feels like they can win again without mixing up the teams. They offer to run it back (play it again). Or it could mean the losing team feels like they were cheated and could do better and wants to run it back and beat those smug jerks.
If the game was close, things could turn out differently, but usually in pick up basketball there is a clear better team and a clear worse team and running it back means that the worse team loses again unless the better team is tired and doesn't want to try hard.
I say all this to say that today I ran it back in terms of playing this song again. In the analogy I am the frustrated worse team trying to play the better team (clearly the song). And like the in the analogy, I lost again. Didn't improve my time on the song and worse, didn't feel like I "practiced" - I kind of felt like I made the same mistakes again instead of honing in on my bad spots.
I'm learning it's easier to say, let's just play it again because that takes up my practice time and is my ultimate goal. But it isn't as helpful. Helpful would be to break it down to trouble spots and really focus on them instead of glossing over them while playing.
If all this sounds a little dumb that is probably because it is a little dumb, kind of like my approach this morning. But sometimes you have to be a little dumb before you can be better. And I'm hoping tomorrow will be better.
Total Practice Time: 2hr 15m
Check out Day 8
Read Day 10 here
I thought I'd give myself a frank appraisal after a week of practice on this song. So here, is a video of me playing it. It's long. It's tough. You don't have to watch it. But take note of the time: 5m55s whereas the Paul Simon version clocks in at 3m35-55 seconds depending on the version.
While playing it through without stopping, I made mistakes on things I had worked n a lot. I don't think I hit the C to G#dim transition once in the whole song. It was a little disheartening. But other things that I had little practice on worked well. I'm going to think on why that is.
My 15 minutes consisted mostly of more chord work today. Not particularly exciting but it is just part of the process I guess. I get better at it each time
You can see my first attempt is a little like remembering how to walk. After that things get a little smoother and I move on. I practice these bits separate but have definitely had trouble putting them into the actual song. After a few minutes of playing these tricky chords/finger picking patterns, when I put them into the song it's like learning them all over again. Certainly no jump forward today, but another little step.
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