Private Practice Before Private Lessons

Someone asked me if I teach private lessons after my volunteer ukulele teaching gig the other day. It was really flattering. I said, no, I don’t but that private lessons won’t matter unless you can find time to practice at home in the first place. I said that I was happy to send her home with the music we already played and a homework assignment.

We live in this fantastic internet age where you can get lots of beginner lesson material for free. All you really need to start learning an instrument is:

  • lead sheets for a couple of easy tunes you want to learn

  • some basic technique practice patterns

  • commitment to practice regularly

By “regularly” I mean multiple times a week and at consistent days/times. Ideally, this is first thing in the morning during the first 3-12 weeks that you’re trying to add a new routine or habit to your life.

I do have to applaud the person who asked if I teach private lessons for being willing to spend money on it. For some people, spending money helps to ensure commitment. But in my own experiences, spending money has never guaranteed my own commitment so I don’t take for granted that it is enough.

One must first establish a regular pattern of musical practice. Only then should one seek out instruction. Because what are we seeking after all, except feedback on what we ought to practice?

Franco's Jazz Picks - May 2019

I pulled together my "get off book" practice list for May 2019.

  • Don't Get Around Much Anymore
  • I Thought About You
  • Invitation
  • Lady Bird
  • Nica's Dream
  • Recorda-Me
  • Someday My Prince Will Come
  • Tenderly
  • Yesterdays

Some of those are new tunes, some are ones that I need to refresh/maintain. The objectives for this list are as follows:

Be able to...

  • memorize the common key(s) for each tune
  • sing the melody, bonus points if I can play them.
  • move through root motion on the tunes without a chart
  • play any intro sections and codas that are special
  • execute trades without chart open
  • take a solo that I like the sound of
  • bonus points: write out the chart from memory, with chord qualities

Double Bass Shopping, Epicure Cafe, and... The Kensington Day of The Book 4/28

What I've been up to lately.

This weekend I spent a lot of time at Foxes Music checking out double-basses. Unfortunately for me, the one I love is more expensive than a couple of my most expensive electric basses put together. Also, I'm not certain that I'm the right caretaker for a fine instrument at this point.

They say your first motorcycle should be something used because you will probably drop it, crash it, or do something otherwise foolhardy that will make you glad it wasn't new. True for expensive instruments? I don't know.


Last I got to hang out at Epicure Cafe for the 3rd Sunday Jam run by Jerry Bresee. It was sparsely attended, probably owing to Passover and Easter. But I liked how friendly and casual it was. I got into longer conversations with people than usual and found 3 music educators in attendance. Very cool!

I had the chicken kabob for dinner! It was good!


On 4/28 at 11am I will be joining Sisters Uke and Friends on Bass to play at the Kensington Day of the Book for a couple sets on the porch of the Sweat Shop.

I met Liz Brinker and Cinda Smith a couple years back at the Strathmore Uke Fest and they have been really great musical collaborators. It should be a good time!

Sisters Uke and Friends - Kensington DOB Flyer.jpg

Franco Jam Sighting: 4/7/2019 at Minton's Academy of Music

I played at the Jazz Jam yesterday at Minton's Academy of Music in Ashburn - there was FB live video. I rotated onto the stage a few times:

  • 00:14:50

  • 01:34:xx

  • 02:35:xx

Minton.png

It's really nice to get to play jazz in the daytime while I'm mentally sharp.  And the other bass players, Fernando and Zack, were really inspiring to watch and listen to!

The next Minton’s Jam is on Cinco De Mayo… who’s bringing the margaritas?

Big thanks to Minton’s for being a great host! Check them out here: https://www.mintonsmusic.com

Franco's Jazz Picks, April 2019

An important part of how I organize learning and internalizing Jazz tunes is to try to spend time with a set of songs each month. I assemble a playlist with many versions of those tunes and listen a lot. I assemble a playlist in iRealPro and use it for practice.

These are tunes I will be spending time with in April 2019.

Top 10:

  • There Will Never Be Another You (Eb)
  • Have You Met Miss Jones? (F)

Medium

  • I'll Remember April (G)
  • Well You Needn't (F)
  • Whisper Not (C-)

Medium Up:

  • Best Things In Life Are Free, The (C)

Bossa:

  • Girl From Ipanema RB, The (F)
  • Watch What Happens RB (Eb)

Blues and Rhythm Changes

  • Anthropology (Bb)
  • Mr. P.C. RB (C-)

Waltz:

  • Bluesette (Bb)

Ballad:

  • Star Dust (Db)