Bluegrass Music Blog – “On the Road” with Chuck and Sandi

The Dream

What’s your dream?
We want you to join us on our musical travel adventure that we’re about to embark on. We’ll venture into all sorts of places where music exists across the United States and report back on the Lesson Pros Bluegrass Music Blog, and share what we’ve learned with you. We’ll tell stories of the people we meet, places we go and the meaning behind the music we find there and you get a front row seat by keeping tuned into our Music Blog. 

bluegrass music
bluegrass music

Who are We?

Our names are Chuck and Sandi Millar and we’re traveling musicians who’ve played music all over the United States. Typically our main genres of music are singer/songwriter,  folk and bluegrass music however, we love all types of music and aim to foster interest in all types of music and promote the education of it, whatever type of music it may be and wherever we are in the world. 

For the past 15 years, we’ve been on the road doing music full time, we’ve taught and played everything from huge music festivals to the tiniest coffee houses and loving every minute of it. We’ve worked our own music lessons businesses and other jobs at home, but decided that we are happiest when touring and traveling the United States and hope to explained to other parts of the world. As music writers we’ve wanted to start our new adventure along with a new project, the Lesson Pros Music Blog and are exited to share it with you. 

Our Daughters

Hayley and Kaysie, our two daughters are almost grown up and may find their way into the bluegrass music blog from time to time. One is in college and the other graduating from high school this year. About 3 years ago, we made a plan that when our girls were both out of high school and settled into the next chapter of their lives that we would head back on the road to do music full time again. They are both encouraging and supportive of this decision and couldn’t be happier to get rid of us for a while, hah 🙂

Downsizing

Downsizing our house has been a monstrous task job since Sandi has been collecting antiques since 1990. We’ve had over 20 online auctions through k-bid (a local online auction house) donated to various charities, sold stuff on craigslist, the Facebook garage sale sites, eBay and Amazon. Who knew how much time it would take to get rid of everything you have collected your whole lives and there is still along way to go to. It’s crazy how freeing it is to let go of all the piles of stuff you’ve collected over the years

Goal of this Music Blog

Our goal of the music blog was for two reasons. To help musicians to become better musicians, and to inspire and foster the culture of music in the world by sharing our musical experiences. 

Discover Here:- https://lessonpros.com/blog-on-the-road-home/

Online Guitar Lessons

How to Online Practice Guitar Lesson

I am playing it very legato as if speed gives the illusion of perfection. This is something to really remember in your Online Guitar Lesson because so many of us want to play fast. It’s fun to play fast, but what it does is it makes us think that we’re playing perfectly and often times, we’re not. Playing slowly is actually way harder than playing fast and slow pieces are often times much harder than fast pieces because they’re so exposed. Check out Dance meeting to learn more. Fast pieces, they have a particular glitter to them. Whereas when I’m playing really fast, then it’s flashy and so I’m obviously a great player. Whereas if you play something really exposed and really slow, then all of a sudden the connections of your notes are very important, the way that you phrase and how you choose to move from one note to the next dynamically. All that is so much harder than just blasting out some fast notes. Anybody can do that. Look at the heavy metal world. That’s not beautiful music but it’s fast. So what?

Online Guitar Lessons

Moving right along. That’s legato playing. It’s an amazing technique in your arsenal. If you have great legato playing, then chances are you’re well on your way to playing beautifully. It’s well worth your time.

The next one we’re going to talk about is speed bursts. This actually, now that we’ve been talking all this about speed, then this is speed burst. We actually do want to be able to play fast because some pieces require us to. It’s a tool. That’s all it is – speed. One of the things, one way is we can mix the fast playing with the slow playing. Rhythmically, we could do something like four quarters and then eight-eights, as in like this. Something like that, where you’re actually splitting long notes and short notes. As a shorter thing, it could be something like two eighth notes and then four 16ths. Yes, you’re playing fast, but it’s only in a small burst. In that way, you don’t have the tension build-up in your hand from playing fast I’m redlining and I’m overdriving my hand because it’s constantly fast. If you start going too fast for yourself and you do it too much and you lock up and you get that. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen cats play with some with the paw, that cat paw. It’s like a spasm more than it is a quick movement in control. It’s more of a spasm. That’s not what we want in our playing. We want to be completely in control so that if we’re playing something in there just happens to be some fast notes going on, that we can just effortlessly put those in and still play them beautifully and still play them connected in legato with beautiful tone and phrase it the way that we want to play it. We have all that available to us. Why not work it up to where we can do that?

Those are speed bursts. Alternate slow with fast. Here’s the thing, it’s got to always be in rhythm. I highly recommend that you play scales with the metronome as much as possible. Whenever you’re playing your scales, that’s the time to play the metronome. Pieces, maybe or maybe not. Metronomes are not inherently musical but time is an element of musicality so you’ve got to have it, and scales are a great place to play that. Use my review of PLAY with your metronome with the scales.

The next one I want to talk about accents. With accents, we can just choose a note, we could say every fourth note, so the downbeat is like if we’re playing guitar in four-fourth times and 16th notes, then it’s just basically the downbeat. Remember, I don’t know if you’ve seen the other videos, but with accents, it’s not so much about playing the downbeat loud, or the accented note loud, it’s about bringing everything else down and creating more contrast. Yes, the accented notes are a little bit louder but mainly, everything else is a little bit quieter. It’s all about contrast, it’s not about loudness.

As always, we want to exaggerate. If you’re going to play with accents, then you really want to play your unaccented notes incredibly quietly, and your accented note very loudly, and remember with accents, one of the basic rules, one, bring everything else quiet so that the accented note pops out more. The other one is watching out for that note right after the accent because the note right after the accent is often times really– It’s easy for that note to get loud. That’s your switch from loud to soft. Any kind of tension in your hands will linger over to that. If you need to, you could go Now it’s a totally different rhythm but you get the picture. You make it a longer note so that you have time to reset. Something like that to where you’ve actually put a full beat in there, offset it so that you can actually make the break because we want it to be– there’s the accented and then there’s the accented, not accent first, unaccented next, unaccented next, unaccented next, something like that. You want the accent to be up here, everything else to be at the same level down here. You can do this also in threes and triplets.

Something like that. Every other note, you can do every five, you could do whatever you like. Accents, it’s great, because it takes a little bit of control. As you get faster with the metronome, then all of a sudden you have this increase in complexities in the things that you’re doing. Keep the metronome going even with the accents as well.

The next variation on your practice you could do would be different articulations. What is an articulation? Articulation is how you play it. Staccato versus legato could be one really common example of an articulation. You could go something like short-short-long, short-short-long.

This combines legato and the quick-prep playing. You could play your quick-prep for staccatos and then a long note. Make sure that that note connects to the next staccato, In other words, listen again to the legato, listen to the connection, the ends of the long note so it’s not so you don’t actually stop the long note and then play the staccato, you actually connect it to it. You can do any combination, you could do, short-long, short-long. Something like that. You could just make any kind of combination of those. You could do all shorts, all longs. You can do any kind of combination, but changing up the articulation would be another one.

The next one would be dynamics. These, I think, I think you’re only to do one, then it would be the quick-prep and then the legato. If you’re going to do three, the quick-prep, the legato and this one because it transfers so much into your music of playing beautifully, and that is using dynamics. We may star loud, get softer as we approach this top, and then get louder as we go to the bottom.

As an example, start loud and just start to vine it off and then we have a long way to go until we get too quiet too fast. Yes, I overdrove the instrument right there. So what? If you’re exaggerating and you’re playing exaggeratedly, then actually work it. Work the entire range of the instrument, how loud can you go, actually go to the point where you actually do overdrive it so you know where it is. In that way, you can actually play just below it. Whenever you go all the way quiet, go all the way to where it just has to ping but it should be as quiet as possible, as loud as possible. You’re getting all of your shades of gray in there. Really do that. The other thing that you could do with using dynamics would be little surges.

How about this one? How about soft, three notes — we’re going to do 16th notes, the downbeat will be… How about a regular mezzo forte downbeat? And then for the end of the next three 16ths, we can put soft, medium, loud on that. We’re actually crescendo-ing, so we have.

So you’re basically connecting with the crescendo. Little swells. This is very musical and your piece, that’s exciting. When you’re playing music. Constantly, this opening like this. Playing with that sort of thing. That’s a little faster, I hope you can actually hear it. The other thing would be the decrescendo though. I don’t use that one nearly as much when playing pieces because I think it’s draining. It’s like the higher.

Just like, I don’t know if you ever talk to someone who sighs a lot, literally just completely suck the energy right out of you. It’s a real drain and this can happen musically as well. I can even hardly play that way. It’s a device, but it’s a little depressing. Crescendo gets more for your bang, more bang for your buck. And so little surges of crescendo here and there will be really useful in your playing and the more of them you put in your playing, if they’re in good spots then its great stuff to do. It takes a lot of control with your right hand and that’s the point of all these variations. It’s to get a lot of control into your playing and control in the way that actually transfers musically to something you can actually use, with any luck.

The last one I’m going to tell you about right now is switching up your scales into patterns. Jazz players do this a lot. If we take a scale, everything else has been mainly right hand-based, except for the legato which also combines the synchronization of the hands, this one is a little bit more brain work for your left hand, but then it also makes it harder for your right hand as well. What we do with patterns is, they are also called digital patterns, is we take the scales and we think of it as numbers as we go up like this. What we do then is we make a pattern, let’s say we go up three we going to start off at one and we’re going to go up two and back one and then back up and then up two and then back one. You go up in some kind of a pattern besides just One-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight. You can go one-three-two-four. The sky is the limit as far the patterns you could create on this, but what it does is it makes your string crossing much more intricate with the right hand. It makes it where your string crossings are much more elaborate, much more intricate, and much more complex. Instead of just playing multiple notes, you’re oftentimes just playing one on each string and you’ll oftentimes have to go back with an inconvenient finger, such as I playing a higher string and him having to play the next lower string down.

Then that’s going to be weird in the hand. You can just get used to that, which is great.

That’s a whole bunch of different variations you can do with your scale practice. I hope that you can use those and keep it creative. The main thing when you’re practicing scales is to keep it interesting so that you can stay engaged and be always practicing something that is actually bringing your music forward. If you’re ever just droning away, sawing away at scales with your mind completely elsewhere, your mind is out on vacation, then why waste your time with that. You always want to be engaged and focused on what you’re doing and so keep the complexity such that you can actually stay in it. It demands a 100% of your attention. You should always be at a particular point where you are completely and entirely engaged at what you’re doing and if you’re not then ramp up the complexity, ramp up the creativity, ramp up the demands on yourself so that it takes more of your energy to do it. Practicing should be an active sport.

That’s a bunch. That’s a bunch of stuff that we just went through – articulation, dynamics, rhythms, all kinds of stuff. So, always vary it up. Challenge yourself. If you ever find yourself just playing scales, stop and say, “Wait a second, this is supposed to be exciting, it’s supposed to be fun”. It’s supposed to be good, it’s supposed to be juicy. That is what we’re going for in our practice every day. Use some of these in your practice. You might want to make a list of them, great idea, wish I had thought of that. Keep it near your practice place, that way you can always keep things lively.