We recently checked in to learn about what David’s been up to lately and to hear his suggestions on remote learning, a topic of particular interest in this era of social distancing.
Q: How are you keeping fresh and sane during COVID-19?
I try and get up earlier than my on-the-cusp-of-teenaged kids to (a) do my journal, (b) walk the dog (not my job – see teenaged kids just referenced – but one I now thoroughly dig) and (c) meditate. Some days I only get one of three in before the rest of the world surfaces, but that’s ok. And I practice about an hour a day during the week, which right now means studying harmony and composition – see below.
Q: What’s your most absorbing musical project at the moment?
I’ve been studying harmony and counterpoint for the past few years and am currently attempting to consolidate my third-species [counterpoint] chops and revisit some of the details of four-part chorale writing by cross-referencing all the textbooks I’ve accumulated. I swear, it’s much more fun than it sounds. Other than that, my studio landlord just gave me a couple of trumpets, so I’m learning to play the blues in F. So far, I’m terrible, which is also much more fun than it sounds.
Q: How’s the weather in Austin, meteorologically and metaphysically?
Hot as Hades already, just in the past week, so early morning and after dinner are the best times to emerge from the climate-control. Metaphysically, I’m writing this on the day the governor finally realized masks work, so we’re kind of caught in a cross-current of anticipating the results of past inaction and hope for finally starting to flatten the curve once we get past that.
Q: What’s your guitar teaching practice like these days?
It’s centered around my online membership, The Fingerstyle Five, which teaches people how to develop a solo instrumental blues repertoire, create their own arrangements, and learn to improvise on them. I spend my time developing new monthly lessons, conducting members-only live streams, and responding to people’s questions and video posts in the community forum. I also have a bunch of free material up on my Youtube channel, Fretboard Confidential.
Q: What’s your advice for guitarists who are learning from a video and don’t have access to the instructor?
Find a way to get some feedback from your peers. See if you can swap videos with other people working on similar material, or even just video yourself so you can look at it objectively afterwards. Work with a metronome, and from watching and listening to yourself afterwards you’ll learn in a hurry if your time is good and/or what you need to fix. Set the metronome a lot slower than you think you should! And when you watch your playback, also jot down any spots you see yourself stumbling, and zero in on those at your next practice session. Basically, you’ll be learning how to teach yourself, which I think is always the goal anyway.