At this point in our journey, you’ve earned some hard-won skills:
you’ve learned to use the Tempo app
you’ve reached an understanding about what feel is
you’ve trained your ears and hands to play with good feel
you’ve committed to going deeper on something narrow instead of indiscriminately spraying your efforts over a wide area
you’re hip to the many ways a person could use a click
you can hear and play eighth note divisions
you’ve learned how to put things under a microscope by going slower and slower
you took away some training wheels to better develop your inner clock
you moved the remaining clicks over to 2 & 4, where they’re more useful to you
you can still bury the click when it’s on the backbeat
you can count in to a backbeat click without any visual crutches, and
you can do that even when I’m doing my best to throw you off.
That’s an awful lot of progress for not-quite-two-weeks!
You ought to feel proud for what you’ve accomplished. Proud, and a little bit restless. I hope you’ve started to develop a hunger to keep chipping away at this, to incorporate your heightened sense of time and feel into new levels of badassery.
Or as 17th century samurai warrior and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi put it:
“Make your combat stance your everyday stance, and your everyday stance your combat stance.”
In other words:
The way you carry yourself in the world should mirror the way you carry yourself when you are doing your most important work.
self-portrait by Musashi himself; image courtesy of wikipedia
He was talking about cultivating a readiness to spring into action, to defend honor and civility whenever the world needed the skills of a samurai like himself.
But we’re talking about taking the sort of rhythmic integrity and attention to detail that we bring to the under-the-microscope world of the recording studio, and bringing it to the practice room.
And from the practice room, taking it into your everyday life, into every musical endeavor you undertake.
Playing a gig. Jamming with friends. Dancing at a wedding. Singing happy birthday to your niece.
All of it.
You should approach it all with the sort of quality and seriousness of purpose you would bring to it if you were playing it on TV or recording it in a studio.
And that is why we’re continuing to work on our ability to play with good time & feel with or without a click.
Introducing The One-Legged Table
Today we’re going to learn to play with the click on just one beat, or as I call it: The One-Legged Table.
For the first few times you try this, you’re going to want a more gentle entry than simply being tossed into the deep end.
Start by setting Tempo to 60 bpm, 1/4, unaccented:
Play a measure of all eighth notes along with that click.
You can use our C major scale fragment…
…eight note Bury The Click, Pretty Woman, Peter Gunn, or Crazy Train.
After a minute or so of that, you ought to feel pretty confident about playing your chosen riff at that tempo.
Now change the meter to 4/4, and toggle off the accent on beat 1.
Start the click and play through that riff once or twice. Now toggle beat 4 to silent.
Play it a few more times. Now toggle beat 3 to silent.
Play it a little more. Now toggle beat 2 to silent.
This is The One-Legged Table. Play your riff again. Are you doing ok here?
Use the visual cues from the LEDs as much as you need to, but once you feel comfortable, look away.
Set the Tracker for 5 minutes and log some seat time with the OLT.
When you lose the beat, glance down and count along with the flashes from the LEDs.
Next time you set out to do this, you can skip most of the set up and go straight to step 7––counting along with the LEDs.
Once you’ve done your five minutes you’re done for today. Next we’ll turn up the heat another notch, and we’ll learn to use setlists to cut down on setup time.