Maybe it's age creeping up on me but getting the ol' engine started, mentally speaking, on Mondays is becoming more of an issue. I start my week with lesson planning for my students, which I do for a number of reasons. There was a time when I kind of winged it with students, having very little idea what I would do with them on a week to week basis - but no more. I suspect a lot of guitar teachers do that, assuming they're not tied into a sequential course of study. A few of my recent students have come from teachers who do things kind of by the seats of their pants and my students seem to appreciate that I put some thought into what they'll be learning. But the bigger reason may be the fact that for me anyway, it's just easier that way! In any case, that is on the agenda for later today.
My son Matt and his lady friend Amanda are still here after spending a few days away from the city and the stress of studying for their bar exams. I am quite proud of the fact that Matt has hugely diverse taste in music - I think at one point his MP3 player had something like 7000 songs - and he seems to have a mission of turning this old guy on to current music that he thinks I will like. No easy task there! But yesterday he was playing some music by a West Coast indie-type singer/songwriter whose album is totally self produced and on which she plays all the instruments. The influences are incredibly diverse, with hints of African rhythms and instruments, rock, jazz, simple folk and much more. Her "act" is called Tune-Yards (I have no idea what her real name is) and she is worth checking out. Thanks Matt!
In spite of the obvious and legit need for me to expand my musical horizons, Matt and Amanda and Kathy came to the Daily Brew yesterday morning and I was pleased that they could observe the small but attentive audience seeming to thoroughly enjoy what I was playing, the lesson being: yeah, he plays a lot of older music but it still resonates with at least some people. This does not take away from the fact that I need to do some practicing to expand my repertoire however!
One of the bigger things I'm thinking of taking on is finally learning at least the basics of playing the mandolin. Also, learning more about playing slide guitar, which I do a bit now but need to learn much, much more about. These are time consuming and daunting tasks for sure but it's never too late, as I tell my students. We'll see.
And for you guitarists reading this - and this should probably go in my tip of the week but here it is - don't be surprised if your guitar is starting to sound and play quite differently than it did a couple months ago. I'm talking to those of us who live in seasonally variable climates. While dryness is our enemy in the winter, now heat and humidity will affect just about all guitars. You may find that the action on your guitar is suddenly quite a bit higher than it was. This is due to the wood in the neck and elsewhere getting "softer" and more bendy with the humidity. On the other hand you may experience what I did last week, when the action on my primary guitar (Taylor 810) became so low that the guitar was buzzing all over the place. A quick half-turn of the truss rod fixed it but I don't really have an explanation of why it happened. Rosewood guitars seem to be affected much more by seasonal changes than mahogany The relative humidity in my studio has been in the 70% - 80% range lately with the windows open and I know this was the cause. Keep in mind that humidity is not nearly as potentially damaging as dryness, but the combination of direct sunlight shining on your guitar and/or case and humidity can lead to some problems with warpage and even cracks or loosening bridges. So do try to avoid that.
The other big affect is the sound. That wonderful bell-like chime you may get from your rosewood guitar in the winter has most likely disappeared and perhaps turned into a dull thudding sound that makes you wonder is your guitar is stuffed with old socks. Don't worry, it WILL return to its previous wonderful sounding state! Ah summer - I do love it, just not so much in how it affects my guitars!
OK, my brain seems to be up to speed. Out to the studio I go for lesson planning.
Peace & good music,