Fingerstyle Guitar: Wonder How It’s Done? Take Lessons and Find Out!

After yet another month-long bout with laryngitis (yikes!!!!) I am back in the saddle, not only performing but teaching, too, for the first time in a few years.  I’m really enjoying the process of showing some folks who are new to fingerstyle how to lend a new level of subtlety and expressiveness to their playing.  If you’re in the Santa Cruz area and would like to learn fingerstyle technique yourself, it would be my pleasure to show you the ropes – read on!  This post is for you.

I teach because I know I have something to offer that’s fundamentally different, bringing students an empowering advantage, now and in the long term.  Along with the depth of understanding that comes from having played this style of guitar for 20 years, my education and experience also have a distinctive breadth.  Playing with creative satisfaction, getting the most value out of the practice time we put in, and in a way that’s safe and sustainable for the human body over the long-term, are all elements that any musician needs to address.  It’s a little of everything, from music theory and instrumental technique, to anatomy and cognitive psychology.  Fortunately, however, you don’t have to spend the next ten years of your life pursuing degrees and certificates trying to understand all these topics.

That’s because I’ve done that for you.

It took me a few tries to figure out exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, but parts of everything I studied along the way turned out to be to my advantage as a musician and as a guitar instructor.  As a professional massage therapist, educated in psychology at the graduate level, and having done almost as much classical guitar and music theory coursework as I did for my major as an undergraduate, I look at things through many lenses.  The wonderful thing about that is that I can draw your attention to what I see and give you a glimpse through the same lens I’m using.  I can help you learn simple, practical ways to work with the mind and body to make best use of their potential, rather than struggling blindly against their limitations.  I go far beyond explaining how to read tablature or how to make the best use of Travis picking patterns, into the seemingly little things that make all the difference in the world.

Knowing just a little about how chords are put together can unlock a host of possibilities for new sounds.

A simple change in hand position can change the tone color of the instrument and help develop the mood and meaning we want to express.

For some of us, a minor adjustment in the way we hold the guitar or put our picking arm over the body of it can expand the boundaries of what we’re physically able to play.  For some, it may also reduce our long-term risk of repetitive strain injuries from playing in ways that needlessly stress our hands, arms, or even our spines.

In the long term I hope to be able to offer lessons online, but until I find the right technology to teach beyond local (or for that matter, national) borders…Santa Cruz locals, I’m all yours!  If you’re interested, please contact me for details.

Woodshedding, Writing, Bollywood, and Good Things to Come

Gratitude and Opening to New Things

I’d like to thank all the great folks who showed up to the George Harrison (belated) birthday celebration on April 23rd.  Peter and I had a wonderful time, and it’s always so special to me to be able to remember the man and musician who got me started playing guitar in the first place.  We couldn’t have asked for a better crowd to share in this special set!

You might wonder what I’m up to next.  Well, although recuperating enough to sing properly again and preparing for that tribute took a lot of time and energy, I pretty much always have at least a few creative projects happening at a time and a few more on the back burners.  Now is no exception.

Back to the Woodshed

I find that life is so full of highs to celebrate, lows to process, conflicts to work out, and new possibilities to explore, that there’s absolutely no dearth of subject matter for songwriting.  In fact much as George Harrison said, being a songwriter is such that you find yourself writing songs sometimes whether you want to or not; it’s just part of how the experience of living works for you after a while.  I’m finally taking time to flesh out some songwriting ideas that I’ve hastily scribbled out while I’ve been keeping up with life’s multifarious doings over the last couple of months.  I’ve also been listening to some different music lately and I’m interested in seeing if any new influences come in technically.

I also have a chance right now to pick up on some largely neglected pieces I’ve wanted to learn, and do some good woodshedding.  How many of these songs will actually join me on stage is not clear, but I’ve been exploring music from genres in which I don’t normally play much, including blues and funk.  I’m hoping to hit the stage with some refreshing new surprises soon.

On Stage: Music and Bollywood Dance!

So where are you going to see me perform next?  This spring and summer, I definitely plan to visit open mikes at The Poet and The Patriot and at The Ugly Mug more frequently than I’ve been able to in a while (exact dates to come), so if you’re local and would like to see me, you should have plenty of chances soon!

Sometimes folks ask me why I don’t do more of my own gigs; why they don’t see me as a headliner out there more often.  If you have a venue or event in mind, by all means contact me – I’d love to bring the music to some new places and listeners – but it’s a bit difficult for me to spend much time seeking out gigs because most of my time and energy these days is focused on my efforts to grow my massage therapy practice.  Happily, the two interests will be merging this summer at my massage space, The Tree House, at 108 Locust Street, Suite C on the Mezzanine Level in downtown Santa Cruz.  The Tree House’s First Friday event this June will be showcasing the artistic endeavors of our healing practitioners, and I will definitely be bringing a guitar.  The party will be Friday, June 3rd, from 6pm to 9pm, with music by myself and other starting at 7pm.

And before that, on May 14th, I will be doing “something completely different” – I will be dancing in my third Bollywood musical with Gurus of Dance in the new musical Solaris.  Gurus of Dance productions are always full of fabulous Desi music, colorful costumes, beautiful sets, and amazing dance by professional and amateur dance teams of all ages.  If you’re not familiar with Bollywood, well…let’s fix that.  When you’re done watching this video from my first performance last spring, come on back…

Solaris will be playing for one night only at the Mexican Heritage Theater in San Jose.  Click here for tickets!

Mark your calendar – George Harrison celebration rescheduled for April 23, 2016!

While I’d hoped to do this closer to my favorite Beatle’s actual birthday, the happy truth is that there is no bad time for celebrating the life and music of George Harrison.

If you’re going to be in Santa Cruz on Saturday, April 23rd, and have some free time between 3 and 7, come see Peter Stroet and myself (as well as many other talented Santa Cruz musicians) at The Poet and the Patriot for open mike.  We won’t know exactly which time slot we have until the day of, but we’ll be aiming for one of the later ones, so that the most people possible can enjoy this mixture of mantra,  classic George pieces, and more in the spirit of George Harrison.

 

Where: 320 Cedar Street, Santa Cruz, CA

When: sometime during open mike, which runs from 3pm to 7pm every Saturday, probably during one of the later spots.

Age restrictions: 21+

Cost: no cover.

 

*Featured image is an extraordinary painting by Creative Bone.*

An Ex-Site-Ing New Development

You wouldn’t think a single woman in her thirties would be this into “dad jokes,” but here we are. Now that your eye-rolling muscles have had their daily dose of aerobic exercise, I’ll cut to the chase.

The newly redesigned, revamped, and renewed LanakilaMusic.com is now your one-stop shop for the latest news on my music and related creative projects and activities.  It’s mobile-friendly, up-to-the-minute, and totally 2016. 

No more embarrassingly long lags between updates, depending on Facebook to keep up (though I still encourage you to “Like” my page there), or having to wait for a chance meeting at Trader Joe’s to find out what’s going on. Follow this site for new blog posts, performances, and videos.

Let the adventure begin!

Postscript:  You might wonder how this long-overdue shift came to be…even if you’re not, I’d like to give credit where credit is due.  I’ve been puzzling over how to manage my own content on this and other websites (all three of them) for a good long while, but my friends at Bright Valley Marketing offered me some great advice and more than a little virtual hand-holding as I revamped my massage website, and then I was able to apply the lessons learned here too. I also want to richly and gratefully acknowledge Cruzio and WordPress tech support.  Beyond a certain point, talking to me about my web development needs is a lot like practicing veterinary medicine, but all these folks were nothing short of exemplary in meeting my piteous whimpering noises with capable, friendly help and getting me back on track to get my music out there 21st century style.  Hats off to all of you!

 

 

Happy belated birthday, George!

February 25, 2016 marked George Harrison’s 73rd birthday.  Though no longer with us in physical reality, he is as alive as ever in my heart, and ever will be.

Peter Stroet and I had a plan to play a special George Harrison birthday set at The Poet and the Patriot in downtown Santa Cruz the weekend after George’s big day, but just in the nick of time, I got hideous laryngitis and could not get through two lines without cracking a note. We had to postpone at the last minute.

I’d like to think someone out there might be reading this and getting enthused enough to ask, postpone to when?  If you haven’t played the rescheduled tribute yet, maybe I can join you!  Well, as of the date of this posting, we haven’t done it yet.  One week later, I’m still missing about half my vocal range and I’m still coughing a bit too much to be on stage.  Colds always seem to go for the throat with me, and unfortunately I mean that very literally.

But as George himself sang, “All Things Must Pass,” and that includes the swelling in my poor sad throat.  As soon as it does, we will reschedule and send a belated musical birthday card reverberating out into the ethers.  Check back here for updates – you can also subscribe to this blog, or if you’re a Facebook user, follow my page there to keep up on all the latest news!