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"No More Blues"

This has been a great week getting back on track with practicing. I’ve found ways to get at least 3 hours of practicing a day all week WITHOUT staying up too late. Remember that old routine of finishing practicing at midnight or even 1am, well it simply wasn’t sustainable. This week, I’ve got it down to around 11pm every night. Every day, I’ll look at the schedule and find where I can fit the 3 hours in and plan day by day. It’s a much more flexible approach that adapts to what the day brings. I’m not gonna call it success yet though. If there is another thing I’ve learned, it's that success and greatness comes from doing things consistently over time. A week of good sleep habits, and practicing is not success, just yet. If I can get to 4-5 weeks straight of this, then suddenly it gets habitual and then part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth every day. It’s the same thing with everything else in life when you are trying to change habits. If I’m trying to clean up my diet and be healthier, I can’t just eat the right foods and exercise for one week and expect great results. I’m sure we’ve all experienced trying something new for a few days, loving the initial results, but then falling by the wayside as your other life habits take over. Discipline is the only thing that will help drive the change over time. There will always be days where you lose that focus and eat a whole plate of nachos (ie: yesterday), but once you get those good habits embedded in your daily mindset, it 'should' be easy to get right back to it. So that’s the challenge. Can I say the same thing next week, and the week after…

I’ve replaced a piece to my concert rep! The piece is called Chega de Saudade (No More Blues) by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Super excited about it. The version I’m looking to cover is by Jane Monheit, a Jazz singer from Oakdale, New York. Her album “In the sun” has a classical guitar and voice duet that is one of Hilary and I’s all-time favourite jazz recordings. The guitar (and voice) are NUTS! It has the fastest Bossa Nova beat I will ever play and requires intense groove and accurate timing. But my love for the piece will keep me working at it.

The problem is, there is literally NO sheet music, or accurate enough chord transcriptions published online. Nothing that is consistent with the studio album version. So, I’m learning and transcribing it by ear! I haven’t done this since I was in high school or early university, which was a long time ago. But, I was kind of known for this back in the day. I remember learning the guitar part for “How Deep is Your Love” by the Bee Gees for my boy band with Cliff, lol. That’s another story. But it basically involves me listening to the song measure by measure (sometimes second by second) and figuring out how to play it by just listening and matching the notes on the guitar. There are different tools now. Thank you YouTube for putting a “playback speed” option on your videos. I can slow the song down to 25% so I can really hear each note. It’s still pretty fast, but a lot more attainable. After learning a few seconds, I’ll even videotape myself playing that part of the song so I can refer back to it later. We could probably use some of it for the documentary as well! It’s faster than writing it down, and good for remembering where on the guitar to play those notes. Not the easiest thing for sure, but I NEED to get this one right. The plan is to have Hilary sing, too, which we are both super excited about. We’ve been listening to this piece since we got married, and it’s never left us. On the bright side, I know that whenever I learn anything by ear, I’m able to play it memorized almost immediately. So, it really front loads the preparation of the piece.

It’s been a grind… It’ll be worth it though. It’s such an epic piece! After the struggles of the previous weeks, it feels so good to take giant leaps forward.

-- Noel

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