Monday, 15 June 2009

Charity Webcast - June 20

Hi all. Hope you’re well. I just want to mention a charity event I'll be doing this week which I hope you'll want to support......

From June 20-27, Cancer Research UK are running a fund raising event called Busking Cancer where musicians busk ( as the name suggests!) and donate the proceedings to helping cancer research. When I saw it, I decided I definitely wanted to get involved in some way, but soon realised my diary is pretty full between those dates. The only free time was Saturday night and busking in a town centre on a Saturday night is probably a pretty risky venture!!

So instead, I will be busking….from my house. At 8.30pm UK time (International times can be found HERE ), I’ll be doing a 30-45 min live solo bass webcast which you can watch at I’ll also be recording it so don’t worry if you’re not able to see it live, you’ll still be able to watch the recording at the same website (although miss out on heckling me via Ustream’s chatroom thing!)

All I ask is that you make a donation to Busking Cancer at their Justgiving site – You can do it any time, you can even donate in advance if you really want to ;-) . When you donate, please enter “Alun Vaughan webcast” or similar in the Comments box so that we can identify the donations from this event.

I hope as many of you as possible can tune in for this, and help raise money for a really worthwhile charity.

Thanks in advance,

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Freedom To Fret

Hi. Today's post is a slightly weird one for me because there is no real way that I can give you a definite example of what I'm suggesting you do. Intrigued? Then read on....

As bass players, or indeed any instrumentalist, it can be very easy to allow our hands to fall into patterns they are comfortable with rather than playing what is right for the music. Then, when we try to escape the comfort zone, we may find that our playing suffers - notes are cut off or buzz, wrong strings are plucked. As a result, it's very easy to fall back into the same patterns as we know they are "safe".

So this exercise aims to free us up from playing "safe" and, if I'm honest, you may not want your nearest and dearest hear you playing this one! Basically, what I want you to do is play constant 8th notes but completely freely in terms of pitch. As soon as you find yourself playing a pattern, change direction - go in the opposite direction or change strings. Play chromatically, play tonally, skip strings, make sudden position jumps - just play! If you find something that makes you stumble, play it again :-)

So why am I making you play this free jazz nonsense? Simply because, you will be playing patterns which your hands may well find alien and won't be "built in" to your muscle memory. I have found that this exercise has not only improved my accuracy, playing it for several minutes also does wonders for your playing stamina and may well help you find new ideas that you can introduce into your everyday playing.

Until next time, have fun and comments/questions are welcome as always :-)