I take visual art classes with the most amazing person; Kaye Buchman. Her art classes have moved online and it has been a highlight of the week to meet with her and the other students. I’ve been saying that the pandemic has taught me that, “A good teacher in person is going to be a good teacher online,” and Kye certainly proves that to be true.
Kaye and I always talk music almost as much as we do art, so I wanted to write a theme song for her art studio; KB Studio. Building community is the name of the game at Kaye’s studio, so I was thrilled when one of the other students, Mary Ridley, agreed to sing the song I wrote. Enjoy the music and take a look at kbstudio.us if you want to build your visual art practice. She is fantastic.
You can listen to the song right here. And, you can download the notation of the song, here.
This fall I published my latest zine, The Sticker Method: Creating a Habit of Practice. This is a method for taking a lot of the stress that can come with being a learner/do-er out of our lives. I’ve developed the method over my lifetime as both a teacher and a student.
I am a user of The Sticker Method and one of my favorite aspects of it is that the method can be used for anything. If you’ve heard my music, seen my drawings, watched my skateboard videos, or if we’ve talked about developing a habit of going to the gym, then you’ve seen The Sticker Method in action.
What are you going to practice? I’d love to know. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ve been playing guitar for a long time. And, I teach a lot of guitar players that haven’t played for very long (comparatively).
Learning to play is a lot of work, and for the most part it’s very solitary work, so “the public” only sees the “finished” product.
As a teacher, I can tell that it is difficult for students (especially adult students) to believe that I have had, and continue to have, all those same challenges that they have. I’m not special, I’ve just been doing it for a long time. The work isn’t any easier, I just know how to do the work.
Here is a short excerpt of a tune I recently wrote. It has a part right in the middle where my fingers need to make a move that they are not familiar with. Now it’s time for me to take my own advice! Slow down. Play with intention. Don’t let your habit take over because your habit doesn’t know it.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played this very short section over the past couple days. Finally, it’s starting to come together.
It’s taken a lot of work. The work is the thing to do.
This week’s episode, Fighting a Virtual Pandemic (embedded at the bottom), is all our actual pandemic as it relates to a video game called World of Warcraft.
I don’t really play video games, but I still find the episodes about video games so interesting.
There is a moment at about 17:80 when the interviewee, Virginia Wilkerson, talks about the different reasons people play video games. She says,
People live life for different reasons and people play video games for many different reasons. I’m sort of like a skill and achievement-based player. I want to be the best in my class that I can be. And then there are people who play purely for social reasons that aren’t interested in going to the high level raids and really maxing out their characters. And then you have a small subset of people who play just for the economics of the auction house in World of Warcraft. And then you have lots of people who play for the roll playing. Like it’s Dungeons and Dragons or something similar to that.
Here description of the 4 reasons people play video games caught my attention.
Skill and Achievement
Role Playing/Character (which I would call emotion)
I see those four facets in my own reasons for playing music. It made me pause and think about how I relate to those aspects of playing.
For skill and achievement, I do like to do my best, and be known as someone with a high level of skill. But, I don’t go out of my way to be the best player or something. I play to my abilities and standards, and I don’t worry about music else.
I do play music for the social interactions to be sure. I think that is why I excelled within a musical community like the Old Town School of Folk Music, which puts a high value on the social aspect of music.
And, I do think that I have a character when I’m playing. I LOVE to be on stage and I love to put my limited acting range into the music I play. For me, this is where the emotion of my music comes out. I don’t have a character in the way that David Bowie or Bruce Springsteen have, but it’s there. It may be subtle, but know I’m a different person off stage than I am on.
If I had to put a number on these aspects of my interest in music it would be something like 30% skill, 30% social, 15% money, 25% character.
Those numbers are very different than my drawing work. That is more like 50% skill, 25% social, 5% money, 20% emotion.
What about you? Why do you do things like play music or video games? Or dance, draw, play sports, write poetry, ride a skateboard? I would be interested in knowing. I’ll leave the comments open. Thank you for sharing.
For someone who is relatively new at playing music, learning a new tune, or a bunch of new tunes can be overwhelming.
Because of this, I thought I would share my process for learning tunes. Maybe you’ll find it helpful to see how I do it. In this video I learn the tune Nancy on my harmonica. I learn an arrangement from my good friend, Jonas Friddle. I highly recommend checking out more of his music at jonasfriddle.com
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Here is a quick guitar lesson for total beginners. This is my usual first lesson for both youth and adult musicians. If you can do this, you can do anything on the guitar! This will get you started.
If you do get started with this lesson and are looking for some more in depth study, let me know! I’ve moved all of my teaching online for the time being and would love to meet with you. We’ll have you playing in no time!
Here’s the Rain, Rain Go Away video lesson and here is a free download of the lyric and melody sheet.
During this challenging time of life I’ve been inspired by the Marquette Makers’ Project to keep busy with some creative work.
I’ve made a lot of lessons like this, but this is the first one where I used a virtual whiteboard and recorded my voice along with the drawings I made on the whiteboard. It turned out pretty well and I learned a lot!
In the video I mention two songs that use the minor 2 chord. Here are lyric and chord sheet for those to songs
Wow! What great musicianship at the packed house for Family Harmonica Workshop at Saturday’s 2020 Winter Roots Folk Festival! Most of the attendees had never played the harmonica before and they plowed through ALL of my teaching material for the day. Three of the songs were the classics – Hot Cross Buns, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Boil ’em Cabbage Down. The last was an original song by me called Juice Box (which you can learn to play here.) We even had some juice boxes at the end to celebrate our music.
Looking forward to another opportunity to play together!
Photos and video by Susan Rutter Divine, Katy Divine and Sue Demel.
Today I’m teaching my first workshop as part of Winter Roots Festival in Marquette, MI. In honor of this big day I wrote a new song for you to learn on your harmonica! It’s called Juice Box and it’s all about everyone’s favorite drink . . . a juice box!
Here is some recordings of me singing and playing the song. The first recording is just the harmonica part. The second is my harmonica, my guitar and my voice.