17-Nov-2013 Music 1st

For too long we’ve been saying things like:

  • we really must get the next album recorded
  • we really ought to have a video for our new song (oh wait, we haven’t even recorded it yet!)
  • we should spend more time practicing¬† (insert instrument here)
  • it’s about time we added some new songs to the repertoire
  • we really should write more
  • another week has flown by – so much to do and so little time to do it in
  • we must manage our time more effectively

So we’re paving the way towards focusing more on the jiva music. We have a plan – not a very cunning plan, but a plan all the same – yes, we’re going to get organised and to this end Jimmy has been busily tap tapping away and researching and reviewing apps for this and apps for that. Huh? I thought we were going to get organised? Well, here’s the thing…

Perhaps with PCs and netbooks and laptops and smartphones and tablets and lots of other things the world is becoming obsessed with technology for technology’s sake – sure it’s great to be able to have email on the go wherever we/you may be, and text messages, and the latest news and tech updates delivered automatically (not to mention the ubiquitous Facebook and Twitter status updates of the whole world and their dog… or, more so, cats – cute though they are, and who had what for breakfast and so on and so on). Is any of this actually helping you achieve? No? Us neither… so we need to put the technology to work for us rather than work just for the technology itself.

The default home screen on Jimmy’s smartphone and tablet used to be crammed with icons for apps (for those who have not yet made the leap into mobile phone and tablet land, for ‘app’ read ”program’ – or is that ‘programme’?) for anything and everything. … diet, weight, maps, gps, alarm clock, diary, file management, weather, Twitter, Google+ (no Facebook though), notes, calculator, flashlight, barcode scanner, unit conversion, wi-fi analysis, web browsing, email, TV listings, media players, news aggregators, and lots more. But you get the picture. Read through the melee of apps again. Notice anything? Let’s rephrase that… did you notice anything missing? Where’s the music???

music-1stHence the plan – the default home screen has now changed, so that every time we switch the device on, or wake it from sleep mode, or press the ‘Home’ button we see a screen with a picture of a gorgeous Taylor 954CE-L7 12-string guitar (see pic in last week’s blog) surrounded, but not totally obscured, by music related items. There are apps for recording ideas both as audio and hand-written notes, some music theory and practical practise helpers, and also some reminders for what needs doing for our own music-related activities (eg recordings, video, songwriting, etc).

We also plan on allocating specific blocks of time (daily/weekly/whatever) to specific activities. So, for example, when Val says that Jimmy is in the middle of writer’s block it doesn’t mean he’s hung up on not writing anything… quite the reverse, he’s scribbling lyrics/notes on his tablet, or developing a guitar progression, or maybe recording a first rough take of an emerging song idea. If Jimmy tells you Val is at the keyboard it won’t mean that she’s surfing the web or updating a website commission… nope, she’ll be sitting at her Roland piano working out some pieces in between scoring bass lines for our songs and working up harmonies etc.

Of course, as the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” – our Music 1st regime is there to support, not replace, actually going out performing and being audience for favourite artists and contemporaries. This week saw us playing at the Songwriters Showcase @ The Top House – a small pub in North Shields, the evenings are organised by Ron Brown. We did a pre-arranged 40 minute slot in an environment that positively encourages self-penned material. We had a great time, an appreciative audience giving us a tremendous finish with the whole pub joining in heartily with our ‘One More Song’. Thanks Ron for helping to keep music live – especially the songwriters. We also performed at a couple of care homes this week, one celebrating Cilla’s 90th birthday. Lovely afternoon, and nice cake! The week was rounded off with a visit to Netherton Folk Club for the Rod Clements guest night. This is a lovely club run by Jack Wilkinson in the way that folk clubs used to be. It’s well worth a visit, so get yourselves along there.

Now, what’s next? Well, it’s head down for Jimmy now as he has a lot of mixing to do today (our ongoing recording project with a friend of ours) – Val is currently perfecting harmonies for our newest song ‘A Different Picture’ in readiness for recording… and then we’ll get down to the video!

Music 1st… it’s never dull at our house.

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