It’s a four day weekend, and I took advantage of that to do quite a bit of guitar playing! And other related guitar work: as I mentioned last week, I’ve been feeling that my guitar was out of adjustment, so I decided to bring it in to get adjusted. Somewhat randomly, I decided to give Mark’s Guitar Repair in Campbell a try; we’ll see how different the guitar plays when I get it back, but I have a good feeling about that choice so far. He seems like a straightforwardly conscientious and knowledgeable guy, and he knew about the Rock Band 3 Fender Squier (e.g. telling me that he couldn’t work on the frets), so I’m hoping he’ll improve what he can while leaving the instrument usable with Rock Band.
I wanted to drop the guitar off on Friday (and hopefully I’ll get it back next Saturday), so I spent some of Thursday getting some Rocksmith practice in. Now that I realize how sensitive the tuning is to my finger position, I went through the scale drill mode again while making sure to hit the frets, and did a lot better this time. And I went through another set of songs (four of them, I think?); I also noticed that I seemed to be doing better at bending notes, so I went back to that challenge and managed to get a gold medal on it, as well as on whatever was the other technique challenge that I hadn’t gotten a gold medal on. I also poked around the manual a bit; Master Mode, which gives you double points but removes the in-game interface, sounds like a great idea, reinforcing the idea that the point is to learn how to really play these songs, not to play a game about the songs. A very pleasant time with Rocksmith, none of the frustration that I’d had on my other recent sessions with the game.
Because the guitar I’d been using with Rocksmith was in the shop, I went back to Rock Band 3 for my practice on Saturday and Sunday, and I’m glad I did. On Saturday, I went through my practice routine, and went through the last couple of Tier 2 songs and the first two Tier 3 songs. I’m going to add Me Enamorata and Good Girl to my practice rotation, and I’ll occasionally throw in Working for the Weekend. Which makes my practice rotation even longer; I was forgetting which songs were on it, so I decided to write it down, and the list is (marking ones I don’t plan to play every week as (sometimes):
- I Love Rock and Roll (sometimes)
- Last Dance
- I Wanna Be Sedated
- Take on Me (sometimes)
- More Than a Feeling
- Outer Space
- The Only Exception
- Jerk It Out
- Whip It
- London Calling
- I Need to Know
- I Got You
- Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before
- Need You Tonight
- Livin’ On a Prayer
- Me Enamora
- Working for the Weekend (sometimes)
- Good Girl
16–19 songs is a lot; but I’m learning something from all of them, so I hesitate to give any of them up. In fact, I should be learning more from them, and Me Enamora is a great example: it’s rather difficult for me right now, but difficult in a way that makes me think I could learn it if I put in the time.
So on Sunday, that’s what I did: I went through the songs on the practice list that had sections that I reliably can’t play (as opposed to the songs where I should be able to play any individual segment, I just mess up sometimes), and dropped into training mode for appropriate bits. (Which had the frustration that training mode on the one bit of London Calling that I miss on triggers a bug that freezes the whole console; le sigh. But now I know what to do and I should be able to practice that one offline.)
In particular, I spent some amount of time on Me Enamora. Not enough to actually be able to play it well—I came in not having gotten 100% on any of the training segments, and left having gotten 100% on only one of them, at least at full speed—but it’s a start. I’ll try to do that more often over the coming weeks. (Unfortunately, it also triggered a feeling that Rock Band doesn’t reliably detect fast pull-offs: there are several songs where I’m fairly sure I’m doing the right thing but it only gives me credit for a pull-off two-thirds of the time.)
I also played through some of the songs plugged in today, for the first time in a month or two. I’m very glad that I did that, and I should do it more. You could make a case that I should always do that; I’m not entirely convinced of that, I suspect that playing songs muted gives me a clearer (and less forgiving) view of what bits in songs I really don’t know how to to play at all, and might also be a useful bridge to allow me to learn a song while I’m still bad enough at it to feel embarrassed about listening to myself. Still, definitely something I should get back to, and possibly something I should make the norm—e.g. having gold stars or full combos be a goal is actively unhelpful in some ways.
A good use of a four-day weekend. And I’m looking forward to getting my guitar back; I’m also thinking I should get a guitar stand (instead of having my guitars lying against various walls), and I should probably get a better guitar sooner rather than later. And I should get a bass one of these months, too; though I really don’t have enough time for my guitar practice now, especially given that I don’t want to keep Miranda up on weeknights with my guitar playing, let alone to add another instrument into the mix! Maybe once I’ve gone through all the songs once in Rocksmith; or maybe Liesl would be interested in learning bass…
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