I’m in This Week’s Spotlight! – Rockstar Repair Center

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Rockstar Repair Center – Modes & More!

Jam Session #67

Woo-hoo!  I made it into the Spotlight this week!  What does that mean and how did I do it?

The Spotlight

Ok, so in case you missed the earlier Sidekick post where I explained the Spotlight, here’s the scoop…

At the end of the weekly live Jam Session trainings, Steve usually offers to let someone join him LIVE right then and there via Google Hangouts.  This allows that person to either get some specific help or just show everybody some song or technique they’ve been working on.  As membership in The Band has grown, I think Steve needed a fair way to select the one person who would get the opportunity to be in the Spotlight that week.  So lately, Steve’s been posting a Name That Tune each week and letting the first person to get it correct be in that week’s Spotlight if they wish.

Learn How to Play She’s a Beauty by The Tubes

I had never taken advantage of this feature, but had been wanting to get some extra help with playing She’s a Beauty by The Tubes.  So, I was elated when I saw Steve had just posted the NTT (that’s our acronym for Name That Tune) into the Jam Space (The Band‘s private Facebook group page) and I instantly recognized it as Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits.  Fortunately, no one else had posted a reply yet so I was first and won this week’s Spotlight opportunity!  Yay me!

So how did it go?  Great!  There was a little bit of a delay for me to connect via Google Hangouts and “go live”, but after that, smooth sailing.  The only thing was when I watched the video recording tonight, I was a bit surprised at how dimly lit I appeared as I had even set up extra lighting beforehand, including 2 of the umbrella lights I use for my green screen projects.  I think the light coming in through the window behind me was the problem.  Sorry about that, guys.  I’ll set up in a different location next time.

First, Steve got me playing an easy version of the A (without the muting) and then switching to G and then the D using the proper rhythm.  Next, he instructed me to play 3 bars of the A using a “1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and” rhythm and then counting “1 – 2” on the G before playing the D.  I counted it out loud while strumming – this is important!  This now had me playing the chords in the right rhythm and the only thing that remains is to add in the proper muting.  Steve provided me that in the Jam Space after the Jam Session was over.

So the next step is to practice that and post a progress video.  Steve even played it a few times to save me a “reference” video I can refer back to which will be very helpful.  I feel like this has really helped me nail down a process by which I can finally get this song down, one bite at a time.  I practiced it again a bit tonight and already feel the muting starting to come together.  It’s going to take more though, but good to feel the confidence beginning to build.  Look forward to rockin’ this tune soon!

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  The Spotlight was actually at the end of the training session.  First, Steve answered questions submitted by several other Band members…

Learn How to Play Blackbird by The Beatles – Fingerpicking Pattern Review

First up, Steve went over the “pattern 2” fingerpicking we’ve been learning on Blackbird.  This pattern has a really cool sound and I can’t wait to get it down.

Pentatonic Scales Modes

Next, we got some additional information about spicing up the Pentatonic scales.  Steve explained how there’s a “happy” (Major) and “sad” (minor) family to the scales.  These are called “modes” and their names are as follows:

  • Phrygian (minor)
  • Mixolydian (Major)
  • Dorian (minor)
  • Lydian (Major)
  • Ionian (Major)
  • Aeolian (minor)

With these “modes”, you’re basically just modifying the scale by swapping out a couple notes within the scale to get different “flavors”.  So, if you’re playing a chord progression in the Key of Am,  you’d start developing your lead/solo by playing the regular minor pentatonic (the “salt and pepper” flavor) and then you can experiment with the other flavors.  This opens the doors to lots of variety within your soloing.

I didn’t fully grasp this section the first time through, but now with watching it a second time, the fog is lifting a bit.  I still don’t have it 100%, but Steve reassured us we weren’t expected to full get it this first time around.  But that’s the way learning guitar is…don’t let yourself get frustrated in the learning process.  It often takes being exposed to the same information multiple times before it becomes clear.  Then one day it clicks and you’re like “Oh wow, this really wasn’t as difficult as I had thought!”  That’s just a natural part of the journey, so keep that in mind and just enjoy your guitar journey!

Learn How to Play Whiskey in a Jar by Thin Lizzy

Next up, Steve gave fellow Band member Tony some help with his work on Whiskey in a Jar as performed by Thin Lizzy.  This song has a very memorable intro…it almost reminds me of bagpipes playing.

Steve said he’s planning to make this “Rockstar Repair Center” a regular feature in the Jam Sessions.  I think all the Band members welcome this as it’s clearly a great way to for us to get even more direct, 1-on-1 help with what we’re working on.  🙂

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