The Focus on Wandering

Wandering with focus on improvising

“They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around…” – Dion

Now Dion was singing about not settling down and always on the move. And when I just want to get the ole digits to loosen/warm up, that’s what I do. Steve Stine refers to it as “meandering” which is basically playing your instrument with no particular true goal than to listen for a gem, surprise or maybe a muse.

It’s a kind of taking a different path and discovering something you might not of thought of or expected.

When I improvise (on my own) I try to do just that… musically look for things while just grooving on an idea (with or without a backing track).

Plus there is the bonus of warming up at the same time.

Here are few ideas you can work with to get you going.

  • Put on the vinyl. In the day when there was no YouTube, guitar mags with note for note transcriptions and song sheets never quite had the right chords, you played to a record! Heck there wasn’t even a rewind or loop feature, so patience was needed. Plus you’ll develop an ear for music…
  • Play to a jam track. You can create your own, download or buy jam tracks. This will tighten your groove which is key to playing with others.
  • Use a looper. This will really teach you to be accurate in your timing, because if you are slightly off… YOU WILL HEAR IT!
  • Play slowly. Most will agree it is harder to play slowly than fast… every note has it’s place and you can focus on your tone, pitch and dynamics.

These are just some of the things I use, and hope it helps you. If you have any ideas you would like to share, comment below.

Have a good one.

 

 

 

Touring and Open Mic Nights Will Build Your Stamina

Here is the results of my open mic “7 Day Mini Tour – Feb 24th – Mar 2nd“.

  1. Jam session at the Black Lion Pub  (performed Saturday February 24)
  2. Brutopia  (performed Sunday February 25)
  3. Ye Olde Orchard  (performed Monday February 26)
  4. Grumpy’s  (performed Tuesday February 27)
  5. Jam session at Crobar  (I showed up but they cancelled the event Wednesday February 28)
  6. Mariposa (Performed Thursday March 1)
  7. I found an open Jam in someone’s house in Roxboro, QC. (Performed March 2)

Well after the week, I had a new perspective on endurance and stamina… you can only build stamina by doing the gigs, not just by practicing alone or as a group in the basement. Like Joe Walsh says, “You play for 2 years in the basement until you no longer sound like “sh*t”, then you go through the whole process again when you start to play live… you sound like “sh*t” until you’ve done it for 2 years, recording… (not word for word, but this is the essence of his message.)

So a few lessons learned:

The Open Mic Stage at Brutopia
The Stage at Brutopia
  • When you challenge yourself, make it a bit harder than what you would feel comfortable with. 7 nights in a row is harder than it seems… by Wednesday , day 4, I was feeling the exhaustion from working during the day and playing at night.
  • Have several songs at an open mic, because if someone before you plays a song you will be doing, you should not play the same song. You need some alternate songs.
  • Select your songs in an order that makes some sense, or builds to some planned conclusion. Treat it like a mini set. Also, at some open mics people like to sing along, try to have a song they can join in on.
  • Have some business cards with you.
  • You can ask your audience, that if they take pictures or video to post them on social media with your hashtag. In my case “#bernielandry” or #bernieonthestick”.
  • Get to know the staff and the key people who might book or refer you.
  • Accept comments in a professional manner. Audience participant “Wow, you were fantastic”, you reply “Oh, it’s nothing, I made a few mistakes…” NOT! Answer more like “Thank you, the practicing is paying off”. (You know more about what you are doing than the audience. If they like it, accept graciously.
  • Network with other musicians
  • Have a good time.

Of course there are many more, but suffice it to say that, everyone’s experience is different.

As a closing note, a few of my musician friends commented on how the “7 Day Mini Tour” was a cool idea.

Now that’s cool that I inspired others with this simple experiment.

Experiment, get out there and make it happen.

Have any open mic stories of your own, please leave a comment and share.

PS: A shout out to The Audio Barn for listing all the open mics in Montreal