Great Technique to Learn Hand Position on Guitar, Bass – even Cello & Upright Bass

On this blog, there were photos that just didn’t upload – if you’re interested in this subject, please go to the tabs at the top of the home page and put the pointerer on “HOME” and a drop down menu will appear. You’ll see an article for blind & visually ikmpaired guitarist and bassists – click on that and you get the text and the photos.

Thanks for reading and visiting!.

So what are your thoughts? Please reply on this blog and visit my other blogs for Prof. Dave @ Large and Prof. Dave’s Guitar & Bass Buying Advice. You can sen an email to dave@openmindedmic.com or reply on this page. I’d love to hear from you. Prof. Dave

 

A REALLY Bad Song / A Brilliant Song of Protest: The Same Song?

A REALLY Bad Song & A Brilliant Song Of Protest – The Same Song?

I’ve long held great fascination with both songs of protest and conscience and really bad songs that got serious sales and massive amounts of radio air time. Among the songs of protest and conscience, some of the obvious great offerings include Pete Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome”, Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’”, Phil Ochs “Outside OF A Small Circle of Friends”, Barry McGuire’s “Eve Of Destruction”, and The Guess Who’s “American Woman.” Ok, the last one is a weak entry but I loved the way it sounded so I threw it in.

On the really bad song side, there are thousands of candidates for the worst. Captain and Teneille’s “Muskrat Love” (I get sick just writing that), Richard Harris’ highly controversial “MacGarther Park” (some love it, some hate it: I’m sick of it), The Shangrala’s “Leader Of The Pack”, and the song I consider to be among the elite worst,Sylvia’s “I’ve Never Been To Me.” All notable – but one song, one brilliant, incredible song, managed to make both of these lists, but not at the same time.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, the Turtles were a major force in popular music. A bunch of good looking, very talented guys with a unique sound and almost everybody liked what they had to offer. In the early 70’s they went to their business manager and as the story is told, wanted to do some experimental music, branch out into acoustic stuff. They were obviously inspired by the music revolution of that day where you had amazing and diverse musicians like Jimmi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Cream, Crosby, Stills & Nash,  Carlos Santana, Janice Joplin, James Taylor and Led Zepp who were all exploring new frontiers in musical expression.

Their manager, believe it or not said “NO!” to their request. He reasoned that the Turtles were a hit machine and there was still a huge market for the type of music they wrote and played and they were to continue to write that type of “stuff.” Needless to say the guys were upset with their manager’s suppressing their artistry so they took the anger and got some revenge.

What they did, was write the worst song they could come up with. Threw every cliché in the book into the lyric, a dull predictable melody with bland harmonies and a snooze of a lead break. They recorded this song which will go down in music history, without a doubt, as their biggest hit: “Eleanor.”

When I learned the story behind “Eleanor” the song went from my worst song list to the top of the songs of protest as the most brilliant of the bunch. I love the Turtles, and in their honor, here are the lyrics to that awful / brilliant song.

You got a thing about you,

I just can’t live without you.

I really love you Eleanor near me.

Your looks intoxicate me,

Even though your folks hate me.

There’s no one like you Eleanor really.

Eleanor gee I think you’re swell.

And you really do me well,

You’re my pride and joy etc.

Eleanor can I take the time,

To ask you to speak your mind.

Tell me that you love me better.

 

I really think you’re groovy.

Let’s go out to a movie.

What do you say now Eleanor can we?

They’ll turn the lights way down low.

Maybe we won’t watch the show.

I think I love you Eleanor, love me.

 

Eleanor gee I think you’re swell

And you really do me well,

You’re my pride & Joy etc.

Eleanor can I take the time,

To ask you to speak your mind.

Tell me that you love me better.

They don’t write ‘em like that anymore. Brilliant.

What’s your opinion? What’s the best protest song or the worst song ever given serious air time? I’d like to hear from you. Reply on this blog or write to dave@openmindedmic.com – thanks, Prof. Dave

Who Do You Want To Be?

Who Do You Want To Be?

Last week my dear friend Nydia invited me to go to a seminar with her in Philadelphia, and because it was Nyd, and because we were going to get a Center City burger before the seminar, I eagerly agreed to go. The subject matter of the seminar was “relationships” and although I used to be a psychologist, and thought I had some expertise in the subject, I never forgot what I used to tell my students at Warren County Community College: “We talk like we know. We act like we know. We think we know. We don’t know.” There’s always something to learn.

It was a good seminar even though a chunk of it was dedicated to selling people spots in upcoming seminars. Among the ideas raised was “who do you want to be” Interesting way of phrasing it. Not “what do you want to do?”

I gotta’ be me! I gotta’ be me! What else can I be but what I am? Words of wisdom from Frank Sinatra – or was it Steve Lawrence? It wasn’t Nat King Cole, I know that. Perry Como? Alright, I’m sticking with Sinatra and if I’m wrong write me a caustic, nasty reply on this blog and I promise to ignore it.

What an incredible question: who do you want to be? We always ask kids “what do you want to do when you grow up?” We never ask what do you want to be? So what do you want to be? What do I want to be? We’d get answers like “I want to be happy.” “I want to be loved and I want to love.” “I want to be appreciated and show appreciation.” “I want to be generous.” “I want to be calm.” “I want to be trusted.” I’m sure you can add generously to this list and I think that would be a good idea.

I’ve been blessed in my life to have a handful of folks who have answered that question with abundant persuasiveness, likely without consciously addressing it, but stating it in the way they live their lives. My family, Dad, Mom, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces and the boys in my life (Josh, Ryan & Isaac) all showed me who the “be.” Some great friends, co-workers and colleagues also gave me cause for gratitude.

This week I was in touch with my beloved buddies Marcia and Linda who I worked with in the Child Study Team at Warren County Tech a few lifetimes ago. These two are certainly included in the group I described above and they reminded me of the one year anniversary of the death of another beloved member of that team, Helen Liebow. Today I’m reflecting on how Helen answered the question “who do you want to be?”

Helen was an exceedingly beautiful woman in every sense of the word except the conventional sense of the word. The woman was incredibly loving, gentle, deeply caring, her compassion was abundant, tolerance overflowing, humorous, smart and amazingly generous. With Helen, you never needed to worry about the conversation running dry. All you had to do was say “Good Morning” and she’d take it from there.

Helen asked a lot of questions and often one right after another not giving time for an answer. She wasn’t being rude, that’s how her mind worked. She laughed a lot and didn’t spare herself as the target of her humor. I’m going to use the word “be” again: it was so easy to be around her. Did you catch how that sounded in that last sentence? Who I was being when I was around her, was somebody that I liked being.

Helen, being such a warm, caring, humorous person, it would stand to reason that her life was easy with an absence of struggles. Considering her generosity it would stand to reason that she was a person with substantial financial depth. It may stand to reason, but it wasn’t the case. Helen struggled for years with a myriad of very serious health problems. There was no hidden cache of cash either. Without going into detail, Helen never had a comfortable day, never had it “easy” but somehow managed to take circumstances that would sour the strongest among us, and still be sweet through and through.

I miss my friends that I rarely see since my work was outsourced, at the same time Helen, Linda and Harvey were outsourced. It was done to save money and there was no political agenda or avarice in the decision. Oh, look at that: a pig just flew past my window.  I miss Helen.

When I think of who I want to “be”, I can’t completely answer that question, but I hope that being with Helen gave me direction and a model of who I want to be. People just don’t “be” better than her.

What do you want to be? Do you have a Helen in your life? Write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com or put a reply on this blog. Also, if you know who sang “I Gotta’ Be Me” I’d like to know that too. Prof. Dave

Information & Transformation

Information and Transformation

This week I was inspired by a connection I made with a blind young man from California who wrote to me and we subsequently spoke on the phone. SJ wanted to learn the bass guitar and was looking for some resources to get the job done. I made the usual suggestions, which are valid and helpful, to check with the State’s Division of Human Services or a branch committed to help the blind and a few local advocacy groups. I also advised SJ to check out the technology assistance of www.dancingdots.com a great resource for software and hardware for visually impaired and blind musicians. Good information? Yes, of course. But something’s missing.

It seems the something that’s missing is also the cause for me slowing down my blogging – how much information can I find and forward to the readers? Quite a bit, but SJ got me to begin to think that it’s not so much about information as it is transformation. That last thought came out of my discussion with SJ and was expressed in a correspondence with the beautiful Gena from Virginia. So the next question appears to be, “what the hell am I talking about?”

You know what you need to do in order to become a musician: practice, practice, practice and if you’re a blind musician what you need to do is repeat “practice, practice, practice” twenty times. If you aspire to be a classical musician, or a play jazz, you know you need to understand music theory and use various types of assistive technology to facilitate you learning of theory and musical scores. That’s all about information an dit’s important stuff.

Transformation is about making changes, refusing to rediscover your history and create a future. It’s about strengthening emotional muscle, discovering paths that you didn’t know existed and at times beyond discovering paths, creating them. Hannibal once stated “We will either find a way or make one.” He made one.

So back to SJ, as we spoke he assured me if there was a way to get the job done, he’d do it. Was there a tutorial available to take a blind person through the steps to learn how to play bass guitar. I told him, I didn’t know of any. He said an online resource that was mostly descriptive and auditory would be great. It would be a big asset to those blind and visually impaired folks who aspire to play music.

So John and I got to talking about this as being a good idea and we decided to launch a project to put bass and guitar lessons geared toward blind and visually impaired adults, online. No path existed so we’re making one. We plan to have the first batch online by the end of March and continually add to that. We’ll be looking for funding and that won’t be easy, but not impossible either.

Thanks for the input SJ – information fueled transformation. Good slogan actually.

What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear from you. You can email dave@openmindedmic.com or reply on this blog. Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

Everybody Needs To Mind Their Own Damn Business

Everybody Needs To Mind Their Own Damn Business

Admittedly, this one starts out with an attitude intact. As many readers know from reading my other blogs, I’m blind. And because I’m blind I don’t have the luxury of transporting my ass from point “A” to point “B” quickly and easily in a car like I used to do, I use mass, public transportation. Whether it’s a plane, train or bus, there’s a group of strangers bound within a container of time and space. We share the air and the soundwaves. It’s inescapable and can be dealt with using a modicum of common sense.

Don’t smoke on the plane? I think that’s a good idea because we share the recycled air. Be reasonably clean and odor free, this may sound prissy but I like that too. It’s tight quarters, do the best you can to respect body space and we’re all happier. Well, not all, some people enjoy and even pursue a lack o dearth of body space. Keep your voice down is a good idea too. Cell phone use is unacceptable? I think that’s over the line and an unexamined gripe many people express.

Recently I was on a bus heading out of New York City. It was a regular commuter bus and it seems that the driver and two passengers who sat in the front knew each other and were engaged in a spirited, loud conversation that inspired rolling laughter. I really ahd no objection to that, after a hard day at work and for the driving dealing with New York City rush hour, laughter had a musical quality. But they weren’t quiet either.

I don’t know what they were talking about; I was absorbed with my own thoughts and ideas. About thirty minutes into the journey, my son Ryan, who had been trying to reach me and we kept exchanging messages called me on my cell phone. I answered, spoke a few words when I heard the driver sternly say “TURN OFF THE CELL PHONE!” Because I tend to be mindlessly compliant I said “good-bye” and because I tend to be incurably curious I asked “Why?”

“IT’S THE POLICY OF THE BUS LINE AND I ENFORCE IT. THERE’S A SIGN AT THE FRONT OF THE BUS.”

“There’s a Seeing Eye dog at the bottom of my feet.” We left it at that.

The brief episode got me to thinking, what is it about cell phone conversations that’s so disturbing to so many people while two or more people talking is considered normal and generally not a disruption. On Greyhound Buses, the driver always announces that if you need to use your cell phone, keep the conversation short and speak low so you don’t disturb others on the bus. That sounds reasonable enough, it seems a similar consideration to be used for all conversation: even though brevity is emphasized for cell phone use in particular. So why is a person using a cell phone with a moderate voice so objectionable?

I think it’s because most folks are quite nosey. If two people are having a conversation near me, I can coyly capture the entire adventure by simply listening. When someone is on a cell phone I can only listen to one side of the conversation and have to either imagine or be frustrated about what the other person is saying. This agitation could be easily remedied if people would learn how to mind their own damn business. Thank you Uncle Julie for giving me that wonderful line. I’ve used it often in my life. While I’m thanking people for great lines, thank you Ryan for “Volume doesn’t impress me.” It doesn’t relate to the immediate circumstance, but I’ve used that line often too.

Some, and perhaps many people have voiced strong objection to cell phone use and how disruptive it is and in response we’ve experienced an encroachment of petty rules and limitations where what’s in order might be just using some garden variety common sense and consideration. We share the little enclosure, keep you voice down. We share the little enclosure: mind your own damn business.

What’s your thinking on this subject? I’d like to hear from you: but not on the cell phone. You can reply on this blog or send an email to dave@openmindedmic.com. Thanks for stopping by. Prof. Dave

On Behalf Of The Less Than Perfect

On Behalf Of The Less-Than-Perfect

I don’t make my living writing political commentary and for those of you who have read my political commentary you may think there’s a good reason for that. I make my living producing shows where people have an opportunity to perform, present their music, songs they’ve written, do magic or standup comedy and if a puppet show was in town, I’d put them up there too. I don’t perform much anymore, certainly not for a living and if you’ve seen me perform you’d likely think there’s a good reason for that too. I’m not perfect. Not as a producer, performer, writer or a man.

There are times when we know something is absolutely true, but somehow don’t believe it anyway. My friend Nancy posed that idea to me last night in the form of a question, and it’s been rattling through my head ever since. We all know, nobody is perfect, but I swear we don’t believe it. We know it, but we don’t believe it. So who do we believe is perfect? I don’t know if it’s a “who” as much as a “what.” It seems to be that “it’s” “what” we’re always comparing ourselves to.

I think this disease called perfect, starts when we’re quite young. When you’re a preschooler, you bring home a drawing and it’s right up on the fridge with rave reviews. You sing “The Bear Hunt” song and Mon and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa howl with approval and applaud. If you’re off key, you don’t know it. If your drawing is unrecognizable to anyone else but you, you’re unaware. You draw and you sing without the burden of self-consciousness. It doesn’t last long.

When you get into the magical world of Kindergarten you become aware of what others are doing and are capable of doing. Dad said you’re beautiful, but everyone else in class says that she is. I liked to sing, but that kid can actually carry a tune. I bang away on the piano, but she actually plays it. Uncle Buddy said I was smart, but Uncle Buddy’s an idiot – there are lots of kids smarter than me. And it goes on and on and is reinforced with testing, competitions, measurements and how people respond to you.

The problem isn’t the testing or competition. I think the problem is an absence of acceptance and forgiveness for our scars and imperfections.  I don’t know if humans have always been this harsh on themselves and the others of our species, but we are now and it’s the cause of much suffering, and perhaps suffocation of joy. Oh god, I hate when I start sounding like a sermon..

Some examples may help this. In the spring of 2008, in Parade Magazine, that free magazine inside of Sunday papers, a reader asked the editor “why does Hillary Clinton always wear pant suits and not a dress?” I was glad to see this question because I personally lost a lot of sleep wondering about that myself. The editor’s answer was that Hillary’s legs aren’t her strong point. So Hillary wore pant suits because she doesn’t have great legs. At that moment the light came on within and I realized that must also be why Barack Obama and John McCain wear pants! They have lousy legs.

Does It really matter if Hillary’s legs weren’t gorgeous? Not just as a presidential candidate but any other measure of being human? Beyond absurd but highly acceptable thinking at the same time. Is this a contradiction or a paradox? (thanks for that line KC).

In the music industry, all recording studios use computers to modify sounds so they seem perfect, even if the performer is less than perfect and performers are less than perfect. They all do it and modulation for pitch and tone are done by computer at live performances as well. It’s an illusion but we buy it.

Our massive media influence caters to this illusion and perhaps that’s the “what” I referred to earlier. That’s what we compare ourselves to. We don’t measure up; we can’t measure up because we’re comparing ourselves to a mirage.

And then there’s Hadar, my brilliant yellow lab, Seeing Eye dog and best friend I ever had. As I get older and show it, Hadar’s love doesn’t waver. If I perform and blow it, he still wags his tail and is happy to see me. When I sing he listens with ears up and is totally absent of the judgment I wish I was absent of them. He’s free of these comparisons and he gets it while we’re slaves to them and don’t. Why do we pay attention to these judgments?  They’re worthless, yet we do listen and act as if they’re precious. Another paradox, not a contradiction.

I don’t know that Hadar is right. But I do know that when I embrace his life view, I’m happier and willing to do much more. And we have the audacity to believe we’re a superior species.

What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear from you. Please reply on this blog. Thanks for reading.

Do What You Can

We Do What We Can

A good friend of mine who lives too far away from where I’m writing, sent me an email, that was typical of Karyn, overflowing with her understated courage and insight. Without going into unnecessary details, she’s had more than her share of difficult times, setbacks, and what’s euphemistically labeled “challenges.” She continues to amaze me as being a generous, caring, loving person. Is that in spite of the circumstances, or, perhaps, have the circumstances given her an edge?

I know many people who have “had it easy” who are bitter, selfish and morally bankrupt. I also know some who have “had it easy” who are abundantly grateful for their blessings too. Through my work I’ve met many blind people, some of whom are mired in self-pity and invest the life in limiting opportunities to make a difference and blind people who are dynamic, happy, productive and unstoppable. It seems that circumstances certainly have an impact, and can change outcomes, but will, drive, personal responsibility for your own life and resilience direct what you make of your circumstance.

Resilience is making the most of what you have and the least of what you don’t. Do what you can. Being a musician would be so much easier if we could just sit down, put a paper in front of us and read music, but we can’t: do what you can. Memorize, use Braille, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse until you get it. It’ll take longer but you’ll be doing what you can.

Be mobile, learn how to navigate, use a cane, a guide dog (I highly recommend that), learn your immediate environment, think before you cross, close doors so you don’t whack into a half opened door and if you do, brush it off – you hit it because you’re blind, not stupid. Do what you can.

Do what you can. People will judge you, usually not with anger but with overbearing pity. Out of kindness wanting to do everything for you so you don’t have to do it yourself. One day, while waiting for a ride a helpful man jumped out into a busy street to stop traffic so I could cross safely and then told me it’s OK, I can go. I told him “Thanks but I’m not crossing the street.” I can’t change other’s mindsets, but I can handle it calmly and not surrender my independence or judgment. Do what you can.

You’re blind and it’s your job and my job to be helpful, carry our load, lift our share of the weight, contribute to good communication and relationships. There’s nothing that should prevent a blind person from being generous, passionately speaking up for a cause or having a joyous home filled with music. Do what you can, and don’t stop doing what you can. Good advice Karyn. Thanks for another gem that you probably thought was no big deal. I’ve come to expect that from you.

What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear from  you. Please leave a post on this blog or write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com – Thanks, Prof. Dave

Review: Teach Me Bass Guitar

A Review of “Teach Me Bass Guitar” from The Learning Dock

This highly acclaimed instruction program is completely worthy of the high acclaim. Besides beign a musician, I’ve been an educator for almost 40 years, and this is as fine an instructional program as I’ve ever seen in any area of instruction.

About two years ago I developed a problem with my left hand and had trouble with the strings on the guitar so I decided to give bass a try and it was a good choice. The nice, big, chunky strings were a lot more agreeable to me. I knew music and the basics of playing bass, but after a few months I realized that if I wanted to really get to the point of playing at a high level, I needed instruction. I did two very smart things – at the same time no less – I got a bass teacher and bought a copy of “Teach Me Bass Guitar.” Both are indispensable.

Even though I can see where someone could teach themselves bass guitar just by using this program, I still strongly recommend using this program and a bass guitar teacher.

There are a lot of music books, DVD’s, CD’s and other media out there to offer you instruction in playing bass guitar. In my view, the things that make this program unique are the instructor, the breadth and depth of the instruction and some very unique and effective uses of technology.

Roy Vogt, the instructor for this course, is a master bass player with a Masters Degree in Bass Guitar. Very good credentials to start with. Roy has a great way of clearing describing and demonstrating what he wants the student to do and what you need to do to master a particular lesson. In every lesson, Roy plays bass in an ensemble suing the lesson as a basis for playing and then steps aside and lets the student play with the band. Play along isn’t unique to this course, it’s something that’s done in another program that I love and endorse, “Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar” by Legacy Learning. It’s a great tool to enhance the learning.

The material covered is amazing and it seems to cover the full range of skill and knowledge one would need to become an accomplished bassist. One warning, this course doesn’t promise that you crack open the case one day and the next be challenging Marcus Miller or Stanley Clark for bass supremacy – maybe Gene Simmons; I shouldn’t say that. In truth, Gene is a pretty good bass player.

You start playing music immediately and I think that’s important. You gradually begin to learn the notes up and own the neck which is incredibly valuable for playing bass. You go through blues, scales, inversions, learning about major, minor, diminished, augmented and other chords and scales in a progressive fashion so that as your understanding develops, so does your skill so you can deliver the sound you want. You get lessons in power chords, slap, tap, rock, blues, jazz and other genre of music. No matter what music you play, having exposure to different styles and techniques really adds to your bass playing tool box.

There are two technological applications that are unique to Teach Me Bass Guitar: the real time neck and the loop library. The real time neck is a great innovation. As Roy plays his bass, below him on the screen is the model of a bass guitar maple fretboard and as he places his left hand on a string, the fretboard lights up on the string and fret where he placed his finger. Once released, the position remains marked and the next note lights up on the fretboard. This visual enables you  not only see exactly where his finger is, but also gives a great visual of the pattern which is so important to a bass player. This is an excellent innovation.

The other innovation I loved is called the “Loop Library.” For each lesson, you can go to the Loop Library where you can have small segments of a lesson repeated until you advance it so you can really get what was being instructed, practice it and advance. This is particularly valuable in the more complex lessons and spending just a short time with mastering the small chunks helps you to put it all together.

I could not recommend a program more highly than this. You can take a deeper look by clicking on their link on this site. It costs nothing to look.

In this review, I gave a great review of a program that advertises on this site. I make a portion of my income from ads, including Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar and Teach Me Bass Guitar. The ads for these products appear on this web site because I have personally used them, both as a student and teacher and think they represent the best products out there. That’s why when I started this page, and subsequently this blog, I specifically asked them to place ads here and I was very happy when they agreed. These are great programs.

Use this, with a good teacher, and your progress will be amazing: not overnight, but amazing.

What’s your opinion? I’d like to hear from you. Post a reply on this blog or write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com. Prof. Dave

Review: Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar

What You Can Expect From The Guitar & Bass Self-Instruction Programs.

Laura from Philadelphia wrote to me and asked for some details about what’s in the DVD based learning programs that are featured in the banner ads on this page; specifically, “Learn & Master Guitar” and “Teach Me Bass Guitar.” Today I’ll focus on the Learn & Master series and tomorrow Teach Me Bass Guitar. I’ve used both programs both as a teacher and a student and found them to be a terrific resource for accelerating learning. I don’t agree with the marketing folks of these fine products and strongly belive that a skilled teacher is essential for feedback and direction, but using these programs with a skilled teacher will deliver exceptional results.

Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar is an extremely comprehensive program that’s detailed and very logical. It doesn’t attempt to make you an expert performing killer licks within minutes, it’s never that simple, but it does deliver solid lessons, examples and the teacher, Steve Krenz is not only skilled, but lively, informative and very likable.

The program, which has the golden name of “Gibson” attached – golden at least to those of us in the music industry who know what a magnificent lineup of guitars they produce – and true to its namesake, there’s nothing second rate about this. The program takes you from the basics of chords formation, developing hand skill, strumming, ear training, and then explores different styles of playing, lead and improvisation, and understanding the basics of music theory. There are “jamalong” CD’s in the package that give you the opportunity to practice your skills.

If you follow through on this program, you truly can set the foundation for becoming an accomplished guitarist. Included in the $149 package are 20 DVD’s, 5 CD’s, a large, detailed instruction book and access to their web page for additional learning. For my students, I feel it’s a great investment to have this comprehensive package instead of buying a $25 book every couple of months that’s not as informative or helpful. It’s certainly worth checking out so if you’re interested, just click on the “Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar” banner and you’ll be taken to their web page.

Learn & Master has a wide range of such programs, and the programs listed below also have home schooling programs available to make it part of a home school curriculum. When you visit the site, you can also check these programs out:

  • Learn & Master Piano
  • Learn & Master Drums
  • Learn & Master Ballroom Dance
  • Learn & Master Photography
  • Learn & Master Painting
  • Spotlight Series Learn & Master Blues Guitar ($89)
  • Spotlight Series Learn & Master Guitar Setup ($49)

The Spotlight Series programs are shorter and more focused instruction. My advice at this point is simple: click on the banner to Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar. It costs nothing to check it out.

Now that I’ve raved about this product, I’ll state the obvious that this is advertised on this web site and part of the income of Open Minded Mic is revenue from ads. In the case of Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar and The Learning Dock’s “Teach Me Bass Guitar” are ads I sought because I’ve used both of these products both as a teacher and a studnet, thought they were excellent and wanted them represented here.

If you have any comments or reviews of this item, or suggestions for other materials please write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com or post a reply on this blog. Thanks for reading. Prof. Dave

Overcoming Prejudice

Overcoming Prejudice

Is there prejudice and bias against you because you’re blind? Of course there is. Isn’t that illegal? No, it’s not illegal to feel prejudice toward another person for any reason one may choose. What’s illegal are acts like refusing to serve a person in a reastaurant because of their race, ethnic origin or religtion or failure to hire a person because of a disability, or firing them because of having a disability or failure to promote someone due to any of the above.

People who express their prejudice in the public arena or workplace have become a bit cagey and sophisticated and know they need to say the right things if they want to do the wrong things and it’s up to the person selected against to “prove” the decision was based on bias. No easy task and in my opinions, the laws place pressure on people not to act in an unfairly prejudicial manner, but it doesn’t stop the behavior: not by a long shot. So are they completely worthless? No, not completely. They do put pressure on us all to open our doors, if not our hearts and when doors are open, in time,hearts open too. It’s called “acclimation” in psychological circles.

Prejudice against blind musicians isn’t usually expressed the same way that other types of prejudice, such as racial bias, are experienced. It’s usually not associated with hostility or mistrust, but more likely misspent pity, assumptions of what you can and can’t do and the “can’t do” list is typically lengthy and the “can do” list is microscopic. I’ve been treated to this prejudice many times in my life as a blind man and as a musician. As a musician, I felt the reality was could I make the sound and if I could was it as good as or better than someone else making the sound? If life were that simple: it’s not and it’s not.

Stereotypes are deeply imbedded within us and resist direct challenge. The word stereotype comes from the old printers who created a plate with words on it, stamped paper and created a “stereotype” where if you saw one page, you saw them all. All the pages looked alike. While examing the origin of words another word comes to mind in this discussion: respect. “Re’, the prefix indicating “again” and “spect” or “to see.” When you respect someone you “see them again” and when you sterotype someone you see what you think you already know about htem.

So how do you impact and alter someone else’s thinking and prejudgment and overcome a stereotype they hold of you? You can’t, not by direct challenge to it at any rate. The prejudice that we need to address and overcome are the ones we harbor about ourselves and how others view us. This isn’t one of those positive attitude brings postives results rants, is it? No, but it is about the best way to change other peoples’ minds is to change your own mind.

When we foster prejudicial beliefs, we assume relationships between a person and our expectations whether that relationship actually exists or not. We all know it’s not just directed to blind people, but every race, ethnic origin, religion, society, culture, nation, region, state and even town can trigger prejudicial associations. Black, Indian, Irish, men who are short, women who are heavy, people who are rich, those who are poor, those we politically disagree with are stupid and those we politically agree with are enlightened; and yes, those who are blind.

“You’ve accomplished so much for a blind man!” is a comment that is well-intended, sweet, complementary and drowning in prejudice. How much should a blind man be able to accomplish? The comment assumes there’s a standard for blind guys and by that standard, I’ve done well. So, in terms of my accomplishments, how do I measure up to someone whose blood pressure is 110 / 70?

So as a blind musician, are you making the right sounds at the right time? Do you diligently practice, improve and refine your skills and knowledge? Do  you contribute to the music dancing in the air? Do people like you for who you are? Do  you include yourself or exclude yourself from participation and life? Do you acknowledge your accomplishments and forgive yourself your flaws or do you curse your blindness and life? Do you prejudge yourself?

In his confirmation hearing for the job of Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, John Roberts declared that he had no prejudices or bias, just an adherence to the U.S. Constitution and to uphold the law. I don’t agree with his politics, but he is a brilliant man and a superb jurist and that brilliant man and superb jurist made an absolutely absurd declaration. We all have prejudices, If we’re going to overcome prejudice, we first have to become aware of its existence. We all prejudge, and perhaps the most insidious, and damaging, is the prejudice we direct to ourselves.

What’s your opinion? I’d love to hear from  you. Please reply to this or write to me at dave@openmindedmic.com – thanks for stopping by. Prof. Dave