365 DotU, Day 112 Is Hoping For A Little Grade Inflation

Now is as good a time as any, I suppose, to repeat once again what the point of this cover song exercise is: I’m here to learn. I have skills to improve, new techniques to learn, new technologies to understand, and a need to practice and refine the skills/techniques/etc. I already have. I’m not posting these (often embarrassingly bad) songs to demonstrate my genius. I’m posting up my homework, and sometimes it deserves a low grade.

Today’s homework is all about learning a new technique: Travis picking. Right hand technique on the guitar has always been difficult for me. It’s VERY different from bowing, where I’ve got that lovely stick to manipulate* and a lifetime of practice at doing so to build on. I’m slowly beginning to learn things like palm muting and the sound differences generated by different pick weights. I occasionally even manage to do some picking on individual notes — someday, playing a lead lick won’t be impossible for me (maybe). I have no finger picking skills whatsoever, so my bandmate Josh suggested that I learn some — in this case, that I learn Travis picking. He showed me how to do it and suggested a song to try, so I had at it.

In retrospect, it’s possible that I should have started with something a little…well, easier. :) Still, I didn’t make too horrible a mess of Iron & Wine’s Naked As We Came. I ended up doing a radically simplified version — I don’t walk the bass line around the way the original version does, and there are a whole lot of ornaments and additional notes that I just can’t do. Still, I think I caught most of the bits of it (more or less). It’s the kiddie version! :)

I think I may do this one again once I’ve learned to do it correctly (instead of in this oversimplified form). It’s still really¬†hard for me to sing and pick at the same time. Also: Every time I get even slightly distracted (itchy nose, stray thought), I lose track of my right hand pattern completely. I think I’m going to go back through the ol’ Folk Song Fake Book and dig out some old traditional tunes to accompany and get my hand in order for a while.
*Obligatory: That’s what she said…

About L. M. Bernhardt

For a good long while (15 years or so), I taught philosophy at a little private university in northwest IA, and occasionally branched out into playing music, dabbling in photography, experimenting with food, and writing nonsense on my blog. The philosophy teaching part ended in 2017 (program elimination via prioritization), but never fear! I've just finished my MLIS at San Jose State University, and I'm currently on the market looking for new adventures in either philosophy or LIS. For now, I labor at a fairly interesting administrative job in order to support my dogs in the lavish manner to which they've become accustomed.
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