Learn how to Play An Instrument- A No Nonsense Guide To practical Jamming

For some people, learning how to play an instrument is all too intimidating. We like to over complicate the process of music making and get discouraged right when we can’t get sound like what we’d imagine we would sound like in our heads.

I started playing the bass in 2008, I sounded terrible those first couple of months, and only through the long drawn out process of trial and error did I even attain at least some play ability. I eventually took lessons from a blind man named Dawson (https://www.facebook.com/dawsonmusic) and that was when I got my steady foundation of my bass skills.

Over my 6 year span of bass playing, I have learned some tips that can be universally applied to virtually any instrument of your choice.

Some Things to THINK about

1) Stop Over-complicating it- Give yourself a little credit, learning an instrument isn’t easy; but it also isn’t hard either- it is possible.

2) You will not be the best, but you should still practice- You may not be the best, but you will never get close if you don’t put the time in.

3) Find the Instrument that is right for you- Everyone has their own instrument that fits them, mine is the bass- yours might be a Guitar, a Banjo, the Drums, a mandolin, maybe even a violin. When you do find the instrument right for you, Never buy the most expensive one at first- you need to ease in to it-

4) Play around with it- You don’t have to delve right into a structured and well planned syllabus, get comfortable with your instrument. Find your style as well as your confidence, you can’t possibly learn something successfully if you don’t get to have fun with it.

5) Chords- The Most fundamental aspect of music is all found in the chords. So your proficiency in chords could make you compatible with other musicians.

6)  Tabs- I never learned how to read music, nor did I ever want to, I feel like for the most part some people want to trick you into believing that you must be able to read music before you can advance your playing. I do believe that is something worth learning, and useful, but some people just don’t have the time to learn this skill, in fact it is a whole ‘nother skill in its own. Tabs- are much easier to read, and are easy to find on the web. Sites like Ultimate guitar ( http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/) give you a fast and easy way of reading music- and therefore are a very important tool for the musician.

7) YouTube- Tabs aren’t always up for grabs- and may not even be your style, if you prefer someone explain how to do something, and show you than YouTube is always an option (and sometimes it is your only option). YouTube has metronomes, Gutair fills, drum loops.

8) Make your own songs- Why just learn other people songs? Put your creative skills to work for once and orchestrate your own rhythm.

9) Collaborate!- Find some friends or other people in your nearby area that play instruments- some experienced players can shoot you some tips, and correct some mistakes. Jamming is a form of art among some circles, and creates a truly original sound in its self. Jamming brings people together, and overall improves over time.

Learning to play an Instrument is much more than some noise that’s about to be made. It is a form of self expression, and self determination- and anyone can do it.


The Best of Today’s Psychedelic Music-

I was first Introduced into the world of Psychedelic Music after I had encountered Tame Impala’s “Feels Like We only go backwards” one night on Pandora- and since then I have acquired the love for the genre. I don’t always listen to psychedelic but it is my favorite genre, I love the overall strangeness and mellow vibes of this type of music.

Through my years of jamming out to this genre I have come across 5 bands that I think are the staples of this music, and have included a links to several Music Videos on youtube-

1) The Growlers


Coming straight out of Cali, the growlers was formed in 2006 and have quite a track record, On a side note They are playing at Wakarusa(http://www.wakarusa.com/artist-lineup/2015/growlers/) this year, they are a truly remarkable band-

Notable Tracks- Burden of the captain(link above), Old Cold River

2) Allah Las

Allah Las is an extraordinary line-up that is from the California sun as well as the growlers- They are a mystical and  apprehensible band and have patented their own style. Most importantly, they are a band that even sound good live!

Notable Songs- No Voodoo(link below), Sacred Sands, Follow you down, Artifact,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaeP-7VWFHY (No Voodoo)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiJYecS0vU0 (Tell me whats on your mind)

3) Tame Impala

This Legendary Australian band has defined today’s psychedelia, Tame impala has an arresting sound, and is relatable – (Their best Album to Date(opinion)) is Lonerism,


4) Mac Demarco

Mac can lay down some truly remarkable tracks- the Canada born musician is the most unique and strange character on the sound-waves and He Is definitely worth Listening to- His song writing is Gilt-edged, a topflight act that is out of this world and bound to be world famous-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bfTTeZOrs4 (ode to Viceroy)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGh97zsBfWk (cooking up something good)

5) Blackfeet Braves

The opening riff to this song will make you instantly hooked to the song- Blackfeet Braves have an incredible instrumentation and collaboration–

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbVV0fR0q-Y (oh so fine)

Psychedelia is worth the exploration and these Band’s make it a worthy adversary among st the all others, and make this genre relevant.

Thoughts from a small time Soundclouder

I have been a long time soundclouder, always posting my bass jams ,of course never with the intention of “Making it big” .I just have always wanted to make my music at least accessible. I have for the longest time just posted plain bass jams and nothing else, but nowadays I like to follow a drum loop with my bass jams. I do not use any professional recording devices, just my phone and an ipad or laptop for beats.

I have slowly evolved my style ,though my best jams are not on sound cloud; I still have some decent ones. I have a small audience(maybe growing i don’t know) and I like it that way, No pressure just music for music’s sake. I occasionally get a couple views a song but i don’t expect anything big, just as long as i get to make my own music.

I am a big fan of creative freedoms, and that is exactly what sound cloud gives me, the freedom to make anything (sound wise).I have also discovered allot of good unknown artists through the app. I have used sound cloud for years, and will probably always have an account. If you never use soundcloud, check it out and find something different to listen to, find something unique.

If you are ever on the sound cloud check out my page-https://soundcloud.com/colthorton

Mountain sprout and The Whole Fam Damily

Kings bar was packed, and the crowd was shoulder to shoulder. There was no practical place to sit in the bar and to make matters worse people were still crowding in, after walking through the denser part of the crowd i found an empty table for my girlfriend and i to sit. A friend of mine had rode with us and we were struggling to find him a chair, after we got situated we saw the first band take the stage- The whole Fam Damily. They had a very interesting sound. A groovy and funky bluegrass, and all the band members had the attire to match. Our table soon lost the good view it once had, people were making the area near the stage a spontaneous dance floor. They started off with a cover of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” as a sound check, they rocked the house. I looked above me to the V.I.P balcony and saw a whole line of people swaying to the rhythm of the music. The night was off to a good start, I never once thought this many people could fit into one little bar. But the vibes were right because everywhere there were sparks to be made. You could turn to the person next to you and say almost anything and start a conversation. People were friendly and the band members sat causally out front in the smoking area, and pretty soon The Whole Fam Damily played their last song. A song about love falling apart- and that’s the point where we decided to move spots, i could only get a glimpse of the band through the dance floor. So We headed outside for a fresh breath of air and sat near my other good friend(dusty) at a table full of people i had not met. Two members of the band mountain sprout were there so I Introduced myself. My girlfriend was excited and introduced herself immediately, which was unusual because she isn’t the most social person. the guitarist was also sitting there, and he explained the back-story to “dry counties” song for us. From the crowd of people stumbled this one drunk guy and his girlfriend, i overheard his conversation “Where is mountain sprout?” he said. “I don’t know..” his woman exclaimed. “Well Is there any way we could tell them to hurry up! they are suppose to play at 10 and its 10:03!”. I turned to my friend next to me ” Are you hearing the same conversation?” he nodded and before we could look back up the drunk man was near our table and in a very weird accent he asked “Is there any mountain sprouts at this table?”. He soon asked us, and i responded “I can neither confirm or deny that.” He seemed very intrigued by my reponse. “Well are any of you at this table members of the band?”. I pointed at my friend sitting next to me. “he is, he plays the washboard.” Which only seemed to intrigue him more. “Is it electric?”. “Of course it is!” I exclaimed. “Well is there way you could tell the band to hurry up?” he asked. “well i could, but that wouldn’t be proper bar concert etiquette.” i said diligently. He just wandered off after that and we decided to go back in. Now the bar was even more packed than before which led us to only one solution-the v.i.p balcony. After a brief security clearance with a tie dyed employee sporting dirty hippy laundry (Top quality tie dye shirts-  https://www.facebook.com/DirtyHippieLaundry   ) He was a very welcoming person, and not even the force of gravity could take the smile off his face. He would routinely hype up the crowd screaming, “Heeeeeeeeyyyyy who wants to Paaaarrrrtaay?” and then the crowd would scream it right back. Mountain sprout was setting up on stage, and the crowd gathered around in a state of anticipation. They opened up with “turkey buzzard” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr1mMlA1np4) and the crowd made an uneasy shuffle toward the dance floor. The fiddle player exploded with sound and my friend dusty came up to me and pointed out “Look at that bass player!Playing like that would make your hand go raw!”. Mountain sprout had a good fan base, because after each song the audience would howl and applaude louder and louder after each song. When i heard the opening chords to “Dry counties” ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPtKwO_186c) i could’nt help but stomp and clap along to the song, i never felt the urge to jump around all manicly, but nothing was stopping me that night. The crowded sang along as did i, and before i knew it the song was over. That was a good show and i had a hell of time cause the hour hands on the clock were going as fast as the minute hand and before i knew it the show was over and it was time to leave.