Dotted Eighth Delay Studies

Setting up the U2/Hillsong delay in a variety of situations.

The Sessionists

Esther Subra (vocals), Serena Chew (keys), Justin (guitars), Alphonsus (drums and percussion)

Thoughts on G.A.S.

Why you should save up for an expensive guitar.

Setting Up Disaster Area DPC-8EZ and DMC-8D MIDI Controllers

An easy-to-follow video tutorial to get those patches programmed!

An Overview of My YouTube Channel

Feel free to browse some of the playlists on my channel. Hopefully this leads to you liking and subscribing!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gladwell's Rule

I'm sure you've heard of Gladwell's Rule at some point in time or another. It has become the mantra for self-help and a guide post for the hopefuls who want to excel in something, be it a hobby or a professional activity. Simply put, Gladwell's Rule says that if you want to excel in something, you have to put in an average of 10,000 hours to reach the standard of professionals. This was backed up with research conducted on budding musicians in conservatories and athletes-in-training, where the researchers tracked their practice/training routines and tried to establish a direct correlation with their eventual results.

Just for fun, I tried to estimate how much time I put into playing my guitar. My rough conservative estimate of the amount of time spent practicing, noodling and gigging are as follows:

15mins of practice per weekday
3 hours of practice over Sat/Sun (including worship prac)
2 hours of gigging per week (including serving on worship teams)
(15x5)/60+ 3 + 2 = 6.25 hours per week

I have averaged this out with the consideration that I used to put in 8-10 hour practice regimes when I was in Secondary school, and I used to gig every 2nd night at one point in my life. Now, I'm happy with not practicing the entire week, and probably clock in practice only for the purposes of playing in church, teaching guitar, serving on Sunday, and the occasional gig with YFC. Over 14 years, this gives me:

6.25x52x14 = 4550 hours

Alamak. I'm way short of Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule! Quantitatively, it looks like I have to increase my practice time, which I have resigned to admitting that it's downright impossible. Family, work and ministry commitments are just too demanding to accommodate this goal of reaching 10,000 hours.

I will take encouragement, however, that I have nearly reached the halfway mark, with mathematical proof that I'm semi-pro :P

Before some of you despair that you will never reach 10,000 hours, several scholars and psychologists have debated Gladwell's rule. They say it is inconclusive that the rule is universally applicable--mathematics students who take part in competitions and memorize the terms in irrational numbers (like Pi, for example) take only about 500 hours to become proficient at reciting numbers from memory. It is easier to be considered a prodigy at areas where the competition is significantly less (like reciting numbers).

For further reading:
Malcolm Gladwell - Outliers
Why Gladwell's Rule is Wrong

Practical Tips for Gigging Guitarists

I'm a rusty performer. I firmly believe that 90% of the work behind a performance is in preparation (obviously, apart from memorizing your parts). You may be able to nail every single note down, but if you've forgotten to bring things that are crucial to your setup, all that hard practice may be for naught. My latest gig with While It's Day helped to wake me from my slumber. I made so many mistakes that could have been avoided if I was just a little more careful with preparation and planning.

Here are three tips I'd like to present:

Pack the night before the gig
Common sense, right? Unfortunately, possibly because I've been playing for so long, I assumed that I'll automatically bring everything I need. That was a big mistake on my part. Here's what happened: I lugged my pedalboard onto the stage, I took it out of its case, propped it up and started making connections...and then I realized I forgot to bring the power supply!

Maybe I should have spent that 10 minutes the night before to run through what I needed and pack accordingly. I realized that this wasn't the first time I forgot to bring stuff because of my erroneous assumption. I've forgotten capos, cables, picks; it seems that the smaller the device, the easier it is to forget to pack!

It never hurts to have spare equipment
So now I had a giant pedalboard that was ready to rock but there was no power supply. Thankfully, we were playing at the Woodlands Civic Centre, which was quite near the Woodlands outlet of Standard Value. I hopped into a cab, made my way to Mike's shop, met him there (catching up over a one-minute conversation), bought a power supply, and came back in time for sound check. This incident may just be the most dramatic pre-gig experience I've gone through ever!

This led me to write a staple list of things that should be in my gig bag/pedalboard bag:

  • Guitar strap
  • Picks - the more the merrier!
  • Capo
  • 2 cables (for my guitar and from the output of my pedalboard)
  • Spare patch cables in case of cable failure
  • Spare 9V batteries, in case my ebow runs dry, or my bassist friend needs one for his active preamp
  • Spare power supply (now you know why!)

Know your gear
By the time I hit the stage with the band, I was a little frazzled. I have a Budda Bud wah which doesn't have an LED to indicate its on/off status, and when I used it for a song, I forgot to rock the pedal all the way front to disengage the wah. I remember our stage volume being quite loud, so I think I couldn't really hear that my wah was still on. I only realized this when I came home and starting running A/B tests between my power supplies, and was wondering why there was a nasty spike in the mids that just won't go away. If the wah was on since the first song, that meant I played the next song with the wah on the whole way through! My apologies to Leon (our soundman), I'm sure you were wondering why my tone was so honky!

I wonder if I'll have another gig with this much drama. But on the whole, I had a fantastic time playing with such a wonderful band.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Would You Respond?

I chanced upon this video when browsing a fellow YouTuber's guitar lesson channel. Don't let the Grammar Nazi in you dismiss the video just because of its title--sit down and listen to it. Listen to the anger in the mother's voice. Observe how the guitarist (the subject of the verbal assault) doesn't speak a word against his mother. If you can, put yourself in the guitarist's shoes.

It is unfortunate when one doesn't have the love and support from loved ones. I've been there before, and perhaps even now, I face parental/societal disapproval of what I'm doing with my life, particularly because I devote so much time to music, the guitar, and my ministry. Music is important to me. At one point in my life, I was dreaming of world tours with the band, playing 250 nights a year, playing for sold-out concerts at iconic venues (I have dreams of playing at places like the Royal Albert Hall, Budokan, and our very own Indoor Stadium), and living for the thrill of performing.

Alas, the sad fact of life is that not every boy who dreams of becoming an astronaut becomes one. I have resigned to the fact that I will probably never play in a band that will do world tours, or cut chart-topping CD's, or get to do guitar clinics to inspire young guitarists to play with all their heart and soul. That being said, I have hope: I'd like to think that the musicians I jam with are world class!

I commend the guitarist for not retaliating against his mother. Whether or not he was inwardly spiteful is unbeknownst to us, but I think it was a good move not to speak up. It may appear to be "cowardly", but I'm very sure that silence in this case is the best way to keep things cool and under control. Hear the conviction in the mother's voice. There's no way she will be persuaded by a verbal exchange. She won't understand the value of music in the confines of her son's room. And you know what? I also think that this mother will not understand even if she saw her son performing on stage, where I believe he will be visibly passionate.

I'm in no position to speak about parenting, but I think it's not very helpful to attack your child's dreams and aspirations. I can testify that it really hurts. It shakes a person to the core. It shuts him out even more--he'll want to prove you wrong. He'll want to do it because you said he can't (if he follows his rebelliousness to the end).

How would you respond? How would you speak as a child to your unloving parent, or as a parent to your child with a supposed "useless" dream?

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More