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http://lamkins-guitar.com/music/article/musical-goals
David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: motivation, performance, respect, music theory, technique, goals, @musings info
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Musical Goals

This is a hobby for me. I have a day job that pays the mortgage, etc. So money is not an issue, at least from a survival standpoint. However, money does have some value as a measure of the value of what I'm doing as a musician. To that end, one of my goals is to stop playing gigs for a cut (after expenses) of the door. It's pretty sad when the band's take-home for the evening, per member, is about three bucks and a couple of beers. Yah, that's pretty typical for "originals" bands around here - it's definitely a buyer's market.

I'm not bitter about the originals scene, but I do recognize that it's a dead-end for someone who, like me, is a hobby player. I have a blast playing out. But when you consider that for every hour on stage we spend about 40 hours in rehearsals... well, I'm glad I don't have to live off of the income - I'd be homeless and hungy.

I toyed for a while with the idea of joining a covers band. The monetary rewards are good (relative to the originals scene). But I realized, when our originals band started throwing in a cover every once in a while, that I don't enjoy doing covers. That's where I started many years (OK, decades) ago, and I don't have any desire to revisit that part of my musical development.

So, what to do? Well, I've been learning some music theory. That has been a tremendous boon, not so much for my technique, but rather for my creativity. And I've been working on other things, like understanding harmonic movement, relationship of scales to chords, voice leading, ... Stuff that most players associate with jazz technique, although I have no interest in playing jazz - at least not in the sense of playing standards (the jazz equivalent of a cover band).

The theoretical knowledge also helps me to communicate musical ideas with other musicians. I'm learning to be able to grab a chord that sounds good in context, and to name that chord from its notes and its place in the progression. I still have a long way to go to be proficient at that, but just the ability to puzzle it out at my present glacial speed - without books, charts or other aids - is a real thrill!

Technique-wise, I've been developing my right hand. I've learned to play using fingers rather than a pick, which has opened the door to being able to grab unusual chord voicings with skipped strings, and to emphasize some chord tones over others. I'd like to develop some ability to play chord melodies - Johnny A has been a big inspiration in that regard.

The big challenge for me is how to bring this all together. I'd like to develop my skills and material to the point where I can do a solo or duo act. Get out of the late-night bar gigs, and into something where I'm paid as a musician rather than a hobbyist.

July 26 2004 05:52:13 GMT