First lesson – new student/old friend

Tonight I worked with a new student, however this was not someone who was newly known to me, Caroline and I go way back, she is an exceptionally talented and skilled singer who I’ve had the pleasure of watching perform in some spectacular spaces including a smasher set at Secret Garden Party. We’ve also performed together for the classic ‘wedding singer’ situ so I was fully aware of her high level of comprehension and musicality. Caroline has identified wanting to establish more of a command with her guitar, she’s already got several open chord voicings down and has a goal to work towards, a brief if you will, she’ll return to the ‘wedding singer’ and perform at the bride’s request Shania Twain’s ‘From this moment’. According to the You Tube comments a popular choice, we had a listen and agreed that the vocal will need modernising yet feel the tempo is nice, it’s pace is gentle and will suit the ceremony. However there are a multitude of chord harmonies employed, the song itself all being a repeating pattern which changes key twice; starting in G and arriving in A then finally B. There’s some very 90’s song-writing at work here a rather laboured push on the emotional dynamic, the song just doesn’t really feel like it goes anywhere to me but hey, the bride will be happy and that’s the gig! We started with running a chromatic exercise which helps to warm up and establish sequential fingering, it’s always a challenge for the lil pinky trying to develop some individual control. We could look at physical aspects so shoulder, elbow and wrist alignment, thumb on the neck bevelling position, not choking the neck, fingertips, etc and a few minor adjustments had a huge effect, wherein lies the beauty of this monotonous and non-melodic scale. This can be so essential when starting, it certainly wasn’t something I spotted till later, that learning to play requires more than playing, there are steps to be taken, steps which can improve a technique tenfold for when the time to play does come. It’s a form of training, the mind frame of learning to live in the preparation, you can’t skip this then rock up to play in the big match on Friday night. So should teachers think more like managers, less trying to entertain a student but more give them what they need? Is this bordering on Whiplash territory? Hey, I like to push and be pushed back!

Moving on, we arpeggiated the chord progression for the first key centre using a finger picking pattern which she played through very quickly and efficiently with smooth changes and nice touch. This was super intriguing to me, she could play chords from having learnt them and was accurate in their voicings but possessed very little individual control per finger or dexterity

It is clear that a few little exercises are going to make marked difference here and I’m excited to work with Caroline again on this, she has the potential to be able to develop as a player to a very high standard judging by what I saw tonight, combine that with her voice and POW; it’s gonna be special.

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