KB’s Theme – song for my art teacher

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.

The Sticker Method: Creating a Habit of Practice

Available now from Etsy!

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 jasonplaystunes@gmail.com.

On Practicing – Sept. 2020

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.

Why do you play video games? Why do you play music? Why make art?

Imaginary World Podcast is one of my very favorite podcasts.

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.

  1. Skill and Achievement
  2. Social
  3. Money
  4. 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.
  • I’ve built a career out of teaching music, so I can’t escape the financial aspect of it. Getting paid to make music allows me to make more 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.

Let’s Have a Pizza Party! – Songwriting with 2nd Grade

It’s Saturday and for many people that means pizza!

Here’s a fun song to go along with your pizza party.

Some second graders from Hibbard Elementary and I wrote this song in 2018.

“Cheese and pepperoni! We’ll drink some juice!”

Here is a lyric and chord sheet that you can download to learn to play the song yourself!