New Wave Music-Making

One of the things I really love about being a musician in the 2000s (and beYOOOOOOOOND!!!) is being able to learn from people that I would never have been able to even meet. Back in the 80s, when guitar heroes were GODS!, everyone wanted to learn Eruption, Welcome to the Jungle, One, or any of the other Hair Metal of the Month #1 video songs. Everyone was learning arpeggio sweeps and multi-fingered, two-handed hammer-ons.

Your humble narrator, on the other hand, was inspired by technical players like Steve Morse and Alex Lifeson, as well as Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks. They could wipe the field up without such pyrotechnics, on sheer playing ability alone.

Fast forward 30 or so years, and we have YouTube videos and mobile apps that can teach us anything about any instrument. I tried a few of them and they’re okay. Sure, I learned the basics of sweep picking (finally), but I still can’t sweep pick. Mostly because I don’t really want to. The point is, a YouTube video or phone app is only useful if you spend time NOT engaged with the video or app, practicing in the real world.

I’ve found that while videos and apps are cool, the lessons haven’t changed since the old days of Mel Bay books, which were actually printed on paper. There’s not much difference between learning Clair de Lune and Every Rose Has Its Thorn except the actual notes. Spending hours with the new knowledge after you learn it is still as important as it ever was. Watching Steve Morse describe his strict alternate-picking practice routines allowed me to take my playing to another level, after I spent about a gazillion hours practicing on my own. To show my appreciation, I even made my own alternate-picking practice video (which you can watch here) in the hopes that I can help inspire at least one other person to practice, practice, practice.

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