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Monday, November 29, 2010

Why bands never seem to work out for me...

Current mood: pissed off

 Inspired by a thread I've just seen in the Pit, and also something I've been thinking about recently. 

  The following is a list of things that I feel have contributed to my lack of success either getting into bands or why they've failed when they've been up and running. 

1. 'Non-musicians'- this is something which baffles me and at the same time annoys me. Particularly for the worship bands I've played in, many of the people in this band don't consider themselves to be the same as gigging musicians, or that their performances each week aren't the same thing as a gig (OK, there's usually no pay in worship bands, unless you're lucky, but in terms of what was expected of us was the same- to play songs in front of an audience). Which leads me onto my next point...

2. Volunteer musicians. Now I know that in some way nearly all musicians who play in bands are volunteers, but many of the bands I played in relied on people volunteering and with little auditioning or checking of people's ability to play, it seemed that some entire bands were just full of bedroom players with little idea of how to play alongside other musicians in a band setting. This was a sentiment shared by other musicians in these bands who, like me, were wanting to or were gigging and so it became very frustrating. 

  It also meant that some years there were famines of musicians and others huge gluts. Like my first year of bands where we had a band of 10 guitarists. Or the next year where there were 5 bassists. Auditoning people, or at least operating some sort of weeding-out system would have helped. 

3. Crappy bandleading. Seriously, if you call yourself a bandleader, then act like one. I had one bandleader who point-blank refused to make any sort of band schedule so people knew in advance when they were playing (it being a uni band it was always in the same place luckily). Then this same person wondered why he didn't keep musicians for very long and why the ones that he DID manage to keep hold of eventually left.

4. Elitism- this something that ran through every band I was in. From stupid chauvinistic attitudes from joining a band with no other girls in it, to stupid gear elitism (I was fired from a band for wanting to play fretless bass and not my 5er bass all the time). 

5. Bad organisation/practicing- one of the reasons my only really 'successful' gigging-worthy band (not my actual band as such but one I joined, and when I say successful, I mean one who actually played anything I was happy with) collapsed was simply because no-one knew what on earth we were to do at practices. At $40 a time, it was an expensive way to just do something I could have done at home. I requested the chord sheets when i joined so that I could write my own basslines....and I didn't get them, and ended up being fired from that band. 

Eh, I'll think of any more and do a follow-up blog. Good to get this off my chest though. 
3:31 am - 1 comments - 2 Kudos
Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Why I have become a deist.

Current mood: happy

  I kinda wanted to lay off the religion blogs but this is a highly personal thing I want to put down into something written.
  Some people might have noticed that my user title has changed to 'deist'. So I thought I'd do a blog on this and people can read this for themselves.
What about all the other religions you've supposedly been?
I believe that whilst I have probably been a deist all my life, I was searching in the wrong place for what it is I am. It may have been in Christianity and Judaism I sought some knowledge of the divine, whilst in my stage trying to be atheist I sought reason.
 I was also unaware until recently, when I began to read Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason that I found out there was a way I could reconcile reason with the divine- deism.
So what do you now believe?
  I believe that there was a God who created the universe, a supreme force who cannot be given titles such as King or Master, which puts limit on the infinity of His power (and even my use of the word 'He' here is largely for convenience). But I believe also that God has nothing to do with the universe besides being the Prime Mover. He does not answer prayer, punish sins or intervene in human affairs either... 
   I also hold that the true knowledge of the divine cannot be found in a holy boook but in study of the universe and its laws through science, which in itself is infinite.
Why do you hold holy books like the Bible and Qur'an to be false?
Firstly, these books rely on the principle of divine revelation. Here this will mean any scripture which it is claimed was given by God to man through a messenger or prophet. This is the principle of the Qur'an, of the Torah and of the teachings of Jesus.
 These can only be revelations in the first instance. It is only revelation to the person who actually witnesses the revelation first-hand. If they were then to tell someone else who did not witness the revelation for themselves, it is little more than hearsay to that person. 
  The other is the simple reason that such books often run contrary to established and verifiable scientific and empirical fact. Such a thing is not helped by the attitude among the religious to have not just faith but unquestioning faith. This stifling environment allows the most preposterous ideas to go unquestioned, and you only need look at Creation Science to see this in action.
  Plus there is the simple fact that such books are riddled with inconsistencies, errors, plain out-and-out absurdities and atrocities on a grand scale. A truly holy book would, to my mind at least, not contain such wrong ideas.
Wouldn't it be easier to just take God out of the equation. A God who created the universe and then disappeared seems unnecessary.
  My thinking on this is something along the lines of the following, and there a re a number of deist writings which agree with me.
  Imagine a football. In itself it cannot move. It NEEDS something to unite matter (the ball) with the motion or action (moving across a field). This is the footballer, who kicks the ball. Now note that the footballer in performing the action has nothing to do with the ball once it is kicked away from him. He kicks it and it then has nothing to do with him. So it is with God.
What about faith?  
  Faith is a dangerous word. Instead a better term used by deists is trust. With faith, you have to simply accept a certain idea, often without empirical date to justify it. Trust is altogether different in that this requires evidence in order to do so. I quote Voltaire at this point:
  "What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason."
  I hope this answers any questions. Feel free to ask any more on my profile or on the comments section of this blog.
9:10 pm - 9 comments - 0 Kudos
Friday, August 20, 2010

Beginning violin: Suzuki method (part 1)

Current mood: creative

  Suzuki method is one of the most popular of all violin teaching courses in the world, and possibly the best-known also.
  Suzuki method was developed by Shinichi Suzuki. He noted that a child does not learn to read until the child was proficient in SPEAKING it, and that children will pick up new languages not by formal reading but by listening and speaking.
  And with this, he developed the Suzuki method (sometimes called 'Talent training'). This involved:
- The teaching of young children by the Suzuki method, so that they were immersed in the music from the beginning.
- Emphasis on playing rather than technical details. Many traditional books of the time had concentrated on technical detail rather than playing itself, and Suzuki regarded this as both unhelpful and not useful.
- Encouragement of children to perform publicly and also attend classical concerts by professional musicians to see for themselves the way in which they play.
- No auditioning or musical aptitude test. Suzuki's belief was that there should be a ground-up approach, and that instrument learning should be accessible even to those without any previous musical knowledge.
Criticisms of Suzuki method
Suzuki's method came with its own criticisms, which included:
- Many teachers were low-level performers with no formal qualifications. This has been addressed and now there are qualifications in Suzuki method, which a prospective student can ask about. For the American Suzuki association, basic performance competance is a pre-requisite.
- Performers' poor sight-reading skills and seeming robotic playing. This is the responsiblity of the teacher to address, and many teachers of Suzuki now add additional pieces to the set pieces.
- The method relies on audio recordings, and the quality and the traits of the performances is largely subjective.
- Suzuki was largely seen to concentrate too much upon baroque pieces, with no study between pieces as to style according to genre. Again, this can be dealt with by the teacher choosing to use alternate pieces to the set song books, and by study within the lessons as to styles of different genres and of similar pieces to the one played.
- Some very young children were not ready for formal education in music, and the need to practice at home may be unhelpful for someone so young.
Part two shall cover some of the practical aspects of Suzuki method.
9:48 pm - 2 comments - 1 Kudos
Monday, June 21, 2010

You know you're a prog-rocker when...

Current mood: crazy

Just a fun little list I'm writing....
You know yóu're a prog-rocker when:
- The idea of 6 time sigs in a song doesn't faze you one bit.
- Your ideal drum kit has (among other things) 6 toms, two snares and enough cymbals to make Neil Peart have a nervous breakdown.
- Listening to a 14 minute long song is normal to you.
- Capes and pointy hats are seen as normal things to wear.
- you worship Tubular Bells as a work of artistic genius.
- you can't write a song about something normal to save your life. See for reference: Animals by Pink Floyd, 2112 by Rush.
- Standing on one leg and playing the flute seems like a great idea.
- New Standard tuning.
I'll think of more later. If you can think of some more, add them to the comments and I'll update later.
1:17 am - 15 comments - 8 Kudos
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tips for the beginner violinist (part 1)

Current mood: cheerful

  People often ask me about violin, so I thought a blog would be a good idea. I will type a proper document and link it here on UG for people who want pictures. 

  I'm assuming that the person reading this is an adult or teenage beginner, so all the references for sizing and stuff I make will be for someone of this age. 

 Also, this isn't meant to be a complete 'how-to' but a basic guide. Any questions, PM me. 

  Buying a violin 

   Before you can begin playing, you'll need an instrument. You can order these online or buy them in music shops (some places will sell violins solely). For an instrument such as violin, I would recommend that you go to a shop, as you'll need an instrument which is suitable for size, but also for quality- you can inspect instruments and check for faults, problems and the 'feel' of it. 

  Violins come in different sizes and these are for the most part standardized. The smallest size is 1/32 size, for young children of 2 or 3, but an adult will need the full-size violin, which is usually called the 4/4 violin. This has a fingerboard of 33.5cm (the fingerboard is usually black and this is where you put the fingers). 

   Bows will also come in different sizes, referred to by the same system (1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 4/4) as a violin. Bows will need a thing called rosin too, which comes in a small round 'cake'. 

  Pricing for a violin varies. A GOOD violin is usually at least $200+, whilst a pro-standard one can cost $10,000+. Bows will usually run in at $40 or so. 

 Materials for violins and bows are usually various types of wood, but there are also metal and carbon-fiber violins, but these are more expensive. Electric violins, which are similar in their working to an electric guitar, will also be more expensive and don't work without a headset or amp. 

  Tuning a violin 

  Once you've bought the violin, you'll need to tune it. Unlike a guitar, violins have two sets of tuning pegs. 

  Take a look at your violin. At the top are four big pegs. At the bottom there are some small screw-like things on the bridge. These are the fine tuners. The general idea is to get the top tuning pegs within a close amount to the desired note, and then to use the fine-tuners to get it exactly right. 

  The top-pegs are friction pegs- they rely not on mechanisms to hold the string tight but they instead rely on being pushed hard into the hole they sit in. The usual trick is to both turn the peg but also to push it slightly into the scroll (the top bit!). That way it is nice and firm.   

  The fine-tuners are adjusted simply by turning them, just like a guitar. 

The tuning for a violin is GDAE, the opposite of a bass or guitar. You can check tuning with a piano or other instrument, a tuning fork or an electric tuner. The violin sounds one octave higher than the guitar. 


  Most violinists will take lessons (it's not easy to learn on your own) with a teacher, and it should be easy to find a teacher. Ideally look for: 

- A teacher who is mainly a violinist and not just teaching on the side. You want dedication. 

- Ask about styles and different methods of playing. If you want to learn folk violin, make sure your teacher can teach that. If you want to be an orchestra player, ask about that. If you'd like lessons with some group work, ask about that. 

- Make sure you're happy with the teacher's way of teaching and their lesson plans. Think of your favorite teacher at school and the things that made them a good teacher. It's the same with violin, you want someone who is going to make the violin fun, not boring. 

- Think about time and money. You want something within your price range, but also you want a teacher who can give you as much lessons as you need. This is particularly true if you want to do grade exams or do something like orchestra playing. 

- Home or music school? It's up to you. If home teaching is easier for you to do, then do this. If you can get to a dedicated music school or violin teacher, then consider this. 

- Music theory and reading music: see next part. 

Suzuki method 

   Suzuki method is a popular way to learn violin. It's aimed at little children, but adults can also learn with it.

  It is basically the idea that instead of teaching a child from the start on how to read music as well as how to play, it focuses instead on memory and playing technique. The person being taught will move slowly, not moving on from one piece until the teacher is satisfied with their playing completely. Music reading is introduced only after the violinist has perfected practical technique, usually starting this with the 4th book. 

  The Suzuki method also relies on the student listening to recordings of the songs being learnt at home, and also group work. 


- If you're uncomfortable with music reading, this is a good method. 

- Suzuki method has a very good success rate in teaching people to play. 

- Difficulty is gradual, again with the violinist only moving on where the last piece can be played WELL. 

- It develops memory, a key skill for a violinist. 


- Generally it is intended for children, as parents are encouraged to get involved. 

- Some people may feel not good in playing in groups. 

- It can take a lot of time up. Students need to practice, listen to the recordings on the demonstration tape and attend lessons, a three-way process. 

- Suzuki-trained teachers may be hard to find.  

  This is the end of part 1. Part 2 I will discuss the Suzuki method more, talk a little about the bow and some practicing tips. 


9:39 pm - 1 comments - 1 Kudos
Monday, January 25, 2010

Rant about uni stuff...

Current mood: Peeved off

  I need to vent but I'd end up with a warning for spam if I posted in the Pit so I'll put all the random stuff I've got here.
   Firstly, my new semester at uni (rant ahead). new semester, new modules to do, which means new books. They are SO expensive! Last semester three books of mine cost $50 EACH. What added to the pain was that those were the COMPULSORY texts for that module.
   But what gets me is that the professors often recommend their OWN books, or in my case, print-on-demand texts which are even more expensive than usual. :angry:
  Oh well, there's always the nice thing of being able to sell 'em back afterwards. :D
  Another thing that is really getting to me uni-wise is the timetabling. OK, this is something that can't be helped, but whoever thought of my uni timetable needs to be shot.
  Today (Monday) I have three lectures. No big deal. But they're back to back which means a sprint halfway round campus to get to the different lectures. We're told that we should be able to get anywhere on campus within 5min but this seems unreasonable given that some of the buildings in my uni are 12 floors high. I've resorted to rollerskates some days....
   Oh well, rant over. :wavey: 
10:12 am - 6 comments - 0 Kudos
Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My mind on...

Current mood: Stupid

This is a random idea I came up with from a YouTube video (cheers to theamazingatheist). Don't know how well this is going to translate out into text but here goes...

  The idea is that I just give my opinion on stuff. Please feel free to suggest stuff I can talk about for a future blog.

  Anyway, here goes. My opinion on...


Kinda cute, bit pointless. Waddle around, eat fish, smell of fish. Not much to say about them is there?

Nostalgia trip!!! Seriously, in third grade, my entire class was obsessed with the damn things. Ones that glowed in the dark, ones that lit up, metal ones, plastic ones....you get the picture. There were even tricks you could do with 'em- walking the dog, shoot the moon, rocking the baby. I must have wasted the better part of a year on the damned things. Major :facepalm:


American beer is pretty good. I must down enough Bud to warrant me buying shares in the company.
  As for British beer, yuck! It's like drinking battery acid mixed with bread.

...Foreign languages

As a lot of people know, I love languages and being able to speak and understand different languages. I think I'm good at them and I seem to learn them pretty easily. Even Mandarin Chinese. :D

Beautiful to play, bitch to tune the damn things. You merely look at them and they drop a half-step. I tuned my own violin this morning and it took me twice as long as it did to tune TWO basses to tune this damned tiny little piece of wood. Grrrrrrrr...robot Gibson violin anyone?


My fave philosopher. Not much more I can say.


Yum! Oreos are major win!


  I spend FAR too much time on there. I have no real friends....:cry:

Expensive bass gear

Try being a lefty and THEN you can whine. Seriously, there's about three LH basses around here within a 10 mile radius.

 Saying that, bass stuff is stupidly expensive. Don't know why.

Well that's me had a rant for tonight.

Dobro jutro for now!

2:59 am - 5 comments - 0 Kudos
Saturday, September 05, 2009

I'm going to be honest here...

Current mood: crappy

I forgot I'd posted a blog about my being ill a while back, and never really followed that up.

  So here it is, and I'm going to be as honest as possible here, I might as well get used to it and there's little point in lying about it.

  Firstly, I have been dealt a crushing blow: something I can't even see, something which I have no control over has not only taken two years of my life, but is likely to control my life for the rest of my life.
   This 'thing' I talk of? Polycystic ovarian syndrome. To give a basic summary: my hormone levels are messed up as the result of cysts on the ovaries. This means that I have high levels of insulin and other hormones in my body. The result is that my body cannot process carbs, and so I put on weight.
  The worst part is this: there's a good chance I will never have ANY children at all. Even recently, it was always my 'plan' of sorts to go to uni, find  a job, marry and have children, like pretty much all women do now. It's unlikely to happen, and the realization of this not happening is beginning to fuck me right up to the point where I'm reduced to tears...:cry: This illness basically robs a woman of fertility, of the one thing which women alone can do.

  I can deal with the weight stuff, I can lose that. I can deal with the depression, I'm on medication for that. I can deal with the fact that I have a diabetic condition, I'm on medication and treatment for that.
  All the things I mention can be treated, but the fact I may never actually have a child of my own is one which seems to put the other symptoms and problems I have into insignificance.


1:52 am - 18 comments - 0 Kudos
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My hijab, my choice!

Current mood: bouncy

  I live in a city with a good-sized Muslim population. I see variations of hijab nearly all the time. I have no problem with this at all, and yet for some people it seems to be so.
  The wearing of hijab is probably one of the more recent contested subjects, from the possible ban in France to the wearing of the burkini at public baths.

  Now, I am a Christian, and questions of dress and modesty apply to both me and my fellow Kitabiyyah (other Christians, Muslims and Jews). So I thought I would add my own two cents at this point.
 Firstly, the term 'headscarf' covers a lot of ground, from simple pieces of cloth to cover the top of the head, right through to the chador and the burqa to cover the face, shoulders and head, leaving only a slit to see through.
    In society today, there is sex. Lots of it. It's used to sell cars, food, clothes and films. Even those simple things which you might not otherwise think about, such as the use of a pretty woman in an advert, is designed to appeal to a certain sensual element of us.
  But there is a fine line between sensuality and lust, and for the majority of the time, it is the latter. This means rather than a lasting, satisying way of presenting something, it is designed to be instant, raw and devoid of emotion.
   You might think 'what does advertising have to do with this?'. Simple answer is that the way society works, the societal pressure falls to the woman to be sucessful, beautiful and no consideration is given to interllect, talent or personality. All you see on screen is their looks.
  There is a reason now that women are the most stressed, paranoid and indeed miserable generation of the lot.
  This is where the issue of hijab comes in. Hijab, whilst a Muslim term, is a universal concept.

  Firstly, I should say I'm not talking as an expert on the Islamic doctrines of hijab, but that I talk as a woman.

  Firstly is the point I make above. The sexualisation of women means that whilst the looks of women are judged, their interllect and intelligence do not get a look in.
  The headscarf in that way is the way in which a woman can be free from that. In covering their hair, neck, shoulders and showing only their face, or part of it, you directly confront THEM- you have to talk to the face of the person, confront their intelligence and their mind.
  This can only show a willingness therefore to JOIN in society, to hold their own in their family life, job, education and so on.

   Secondly is the self-discipline which a headscarf can give. In covering the head, the woman is made to think of her conduct, the way in which she presents herself, and in the case of the Muslimah, it focuses their mind on being holy- a witness to Allah.

  Another thing to add to this is the decision of the Muslim woman to wear hijab and that it is her own. Most Muslim women, and indeed any religious person, choose to do so for what they percieve to be good reason. What type of headscarf and also when they wear it is again a choice of the woman and hers alone. Noone can be forced to do such a thing as wear the headscarf.
  It also does not prevent a religious woman from being human. It is often forgotten that any woman who chooses to wear a headscarf is still human and is still capable of doing all the things they so wish. 
   I wear a headscarf as I feel it is part of my duty to the Church and to God, yet this does not stop me from attending university, going shopping with friends or playing in my band.

 So there you have it. Headscarf= freedom.
2:04 am - 10 comments - 4 Kudos
Tuesday, August 11, 2009

An open letter to my idiotic friend...

Current mood: angry

  Sorry, but I'm going to have to write this simply to feel better about the whole thing. I'm very ...

Some background: I lived with, and indeed worked with as a session musician, with a 27yr old guy who turned out to be a complete waste of space. He was domineering, arrogant and lazy to mention just a few things. I ended up suffering depression and stress as a result of this guy.


 To my asshole friend...

 Firstly I really hope that at some point in time you'll read this and it'll actually reach your pea-brained mind and that'll you'll actually take it on board and ACT on it. Because I've wasted too much time and too much energy on you, and you cost me a year of my life and counting I'll never actually get back.

   Really the whole thing boils down to this: you're an asshole and a hypocrite.
  Let's start with your assholishness. You seem to think you're the authority on music, that you're some sort of lyrical and sound engineering genius. But the simple fact is that you're neither of those things.
  Firstly, you are seriously narrow-minded. You called progressive music crap and 'not music' and then have the arrogance to say that I'll never make a musician playing it. The thing I love and you knew that. Yes, I can accept that you have a different taste to me, but when you criticize a genre and not recognise it for simply another type of music, then you come across as an asshole.
  What hacks me right off is that you have the gall and the arrogance to dictate to me what I, a musician and a bandleader, should be PLAYING. See this thing with four strings in my hand? It's MY bass and I can do whatever I so wish with it. It's my freedom and the fact is that I'm in a band where we ALL want to play prog.

 On that note, you do NOT have the right to say what instrument I can or cannot play, and this is precisely what you did when I took drum lessons and you told me I was never going to learn to play, or when I took up self-study clarinet.
  You excelled yourself though in telling me that Christian music was 'naff' and outdated. Again, I can take criticism of music based on taste, but you came out and pretty much insulted a part of my faith in that I use my music to praise God.

  You also seem to have a major and irrational tick involving guitars in particular. You HATE guitars, no matter HOW much New Order and Rush you pretend to listen to. That means crap all, and you know it. The fact is that you think that being able to program a drum machine puts you above everyone else, and that virtual instruments are more valid than real ones. Well let me tell you now- I COULD have taught you bass and drums easily, but your attitude pretty much blew that out of the water.

  Add to that your obsession with young (college age, 17yr old) girls and your insistence you were going to get laid by all these teenage girls despite being 10 years older than them. This I find creepy- that you wanted a girl you could simply tell what to do, and that you were trying to get them into bed with you too.
  In particular I remember one girl who you knew was my friend, and you simply went through me to get to her like the vulture you are. You KNEW I was close to her and you used me like a stepping stone so you could bed her (or try to).
  You're also lazy. You claim and keep claiming that your band was going to record an album and you took a year out from studying to do this, only to waste it doing crap-all for the simple sake that you wanted me and other people to do it for you. You didn't even think to enquire into gigging, or buying recording equipment, or indeed anything. Yet you still claim you're going to be the next big thing.
  Your 'band' is laughable too. A pretty girl singing a catchy tune to some synth track is not a band. You not wanting a band where you weren't the bandleader isn't a band.
  Simple truth be told, a band is a democracy with a bandleader who isn't a fascist but someone held by the band to be able to do the job a bandleader is meant to actually do. A band knows exactly what to do and how to do it and your 'band' isn't any of those.
  Also, get your head out of 1987. It's not the New Romantics scene and yet you're under the misguided impression impression that pop music is still the big thing. You think that copying 1980s records and Girls Aloud makes you a star. Guess what? People don't care any more about pop music and certainly about manufactured stuff like you're holding to be the answer.
  I'm now going to go into some personal stuff and I hope that if you read this you'll come to the sudden realisation that you're a monster.
 I suffer from depression and you know and knew this. You actually remarked to me how 'I'd be dead before 30' (your words) and how you can 'emotionally manipulate people' (your words again). Well, when we had the first break-up two years back, you threatened me with violence, even my own death.
  Guess what? That sent me over the edge. The day after this argument, I tried to commit suicide. Not the first time I'd tried, but the first serious time I'd tried, and I near damn suceeded. There are times I wish I had suceeded, that my cold lifeless body was lying in the ground. But then that would be a victory for you, and I couldn't let that happen.
  Thanks to you, I ended up getting a concession to repeat the year and I also gave up a degree course I loved for one I don't particularly like.

  More generally you cost me precious time, time I'll never get back. All those coffee visits, all those dinner meetings, all that time I could have spent doing far better things. You wasted my time, my friend's time and my band's time.
 But I can thank you for one thing: during my 'Dark Age', I saw who my true friends were. It was people I held to be friends but I didn't confide in much who came to my rescue- they cared about me, talked to me like a human being and actually made me feel human again. Not only that but I now have better friends than you'll ever be in class and socially.
 So there you have it. My opinion of you. You're over in my life as far as I'm concerned.

3:22 am - 9 comments - 8 Kudos
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