A Christmas album, eh?

So this isn’t just going to be a blog post that plugs my new Christmas album, entitled Merry Christmas from the Jayme Lewis Band, which is of course available at Bandcamp.com (where you can name your own price), as well as iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, and Amazon MP3…

Ya I guess I kinda overdid it there, huh?

Anyways, the reason I bring this up is because I want to talk about why I really made a Christmas record. Sure, tis the season and all, and everyone likes to hear Christmas music during the holidays (well, maybe not everyone). But my reasons for doing this were much more along the lines of attributing to the growth of my musicianship and bass playing, and not so much from an artistic standpoint or a marketing strategy. Allow me to explain.

Most of these arrangements are YEARS old. I’m talking 16-year-old Jayme sitting in his bedroom at his parent’s house trying to sound just like Victor Wooten… That kind of old. I’ve been racking up arrangements of Christmas tunes, patriotic tunes, nursery rhymes, and all sorts of familiar songs for as long as I can remember. I just finally decided to release a few of them for you to hear. I mean, it is Christmas and all…

Whenever I discovered a new technique like two-hand-tapping or double thumping, or an intricate musical concept like reharmonization and chord substitutions, I learned them by implementing them into songs I already knew. I do this because it makes it easier to internalize the technique, because technique on it’s own is just that; it’s technical! It’s not music, it’s not a song, and it’s not anything that anyone wants to listen to. Learning a technique is easy – but applying it; now that’s the tricky part. So when I learn something new I toss it into a song that I’m already very familiar with, that way I don’t have to focus on the technique AND a groove AND a melody AND a chord progression AND something that will sound catchy or rememberable… If I pick a song I already know, then about 90% of that other stuff is taken care of. And if I stay within the realm of public domain then I can sell it later, too 😉

For instance, lets say you want to learn how to play a bass line with you left hand and tap a melody with your right hand. It might be difficult to come up with something on the spot if you’re not inspired or you really have no direction about where to start. So let’s try “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Could you play that melody from memory? I bet you can. And if you could do that then I guarantee you could play it with one hand (your right). Now do you know what chords should go underneath it? Again, I’m pretty sure you do because that whole song is basically I and V. Now can you hear a drum beat to imitate or a grooving pulse underneath the whole thing to make it sound interesting? I’m sure that wouldn’t take too much effort, either.

You see where I’m going here? Practice these “hard” and “difficult” concepts with REALLY EASY MUSIC THAT YOU COULD NEVER EVER FORGET IN A MILLION YEARS and all the sudden the concept becomes not only useable, but also easier! So the next time you try to learn something hard, try it against something REALLY easy and you’ll be on your way to learning it that much quicker.