Mark Wood

2015-04-25 20.40.15

I saw Mark Wood perform up close, met him, talked to him, and had my picture taken with him. What a thrill! He travels around the country to high schools as part of his Electrify Your Strings program, and he was at a school not very far from me.

I’ve mentioned him in past posts, and several tracks from his CD’s are on Violin Bitch’s playlist.

I love what he is doing, getting kids excited about rock music with strings. What he is doing is the reason for my deciding to go in the direction I am.

I told him of my difficulty in finding someone to teach me what he does. He told me there are seminars (or whatever he called them) around the country for teachers.

Which I am definitely looking into.



It’s a funny thing when two accomplished musicians – guitarist and violinist – can sit down and not know what the fuck the other is talking about.

For example ~ last night at my electric violin lesson, P. was teaching me improvisation. Of all playing, this is the area I am most weak in. I literally cannot play a damn thing except the simplest of tunes without music in front of me.

So he rattles off let’s play something in Ionian mode, F# major. Just play triads, we’ll go through the chord progressions, 1st, 3rd, 5th, tonic etc.

On paper, I can work that out, sure. But he can whip through it all as easily as breathing.

Here’s the thing ~ I think in key signatures, like ok – F# major has 6 sharps ~ run through what each scale note is in my bogged – down classical head.

Guitarists and pianists think in chords, therefore hand shapes and finger patterns. P. used a term for that but I can’t recall what it is now.

I can’t come up with an analogy to describe the disconnect between guitar language and violin language. Which I suppose is the same as rock vs. classical.

My mission is to build a bridge between both worlds. Translation!

An Empty Room Has Great Acoustics (Am Trying Hard at Optimism).

2015-04-19 15.55.14 HDR

I played in this church today, a concert I was very reluctant to do since it was kind of far in a place I had never been. But it ended up being easy to get to, and the concert went well.

My stand partner and I were cracking up from the very first piece we played, God Bless America. Well, the rest of the orchestra was playing the version in D. My stand partner and I however somehow had the old version in F. Lucky for us it was short and easy to fake. I don’t know what she did, but I just improvised the melody and I guess no one noticed. I had a session of barely-concealed hilarity.

Our conductor was cranky during rehearsal and the early part of the concert but by the end, a complete turnaround. Typical conductor, right?

Music aside, I still feel derailed, as I have since January.  As happy and perfect as 2014 was for me, 2015 has been a complete shit hole. Am still trying to understand what happened. Maybe karma is working its dark magic on me.

I hope my posts haven’t been a downer. I am no good at bullshit – faking happy clappy –  or anything for that matter is not my style.

I had fully intended to leave this orchestra because I just can’t commit to the necessary practice for their usual ambitious programs. And being Principle of the 2nd violins carries way too many expectations of perfection.

Two of the mucky-mucks of the orchestra asked me today to please reconsider, The conductor asked me, what can he say to convince me to stay? I said pick easier music haha, but we talked a bit, and came up with a workable solution.

So I’m still with them…………

The other thing………there are always negative and positive reactions to shit.



After waiting a month, the Metallica music I ordered came. Took forever but I transcribed the melody of Time that is written in the bass line into treble clef. Tedious but done.

Putting it aside for now –  focus on One.

Have had to shed one of my classical things that doesn’t make money for me.

I have to tell you this story as it made me seriously laugh (?!):

after an orchestra rehearsal last week I was in an elevator with two other musicians. One asked me how my lectric violin lessons were going, I said great! It’s different, cool, exciting, fun. I said it makes classical feel so boring now.

One got all indignant, saying well I don’t know about that! The Russian Easter Festival Overture (that we’re playing) is pretty challenging! The other agreed with a silent but vigorous nod.

Challenging has its place, but ain’t the same as “fun.” Poor things think they’re having a great time.

Oh, wait……that was me not long ago.

Rock School

2015-04-08 17.10.05

Learned some new cool shit. My teacher/mentor is a guitarist, Paul. Around 60, he’s been around, seems to know his stuff. After our first session of getting on the same page with what I want to do, we got to work this week.

Last time he gave me a list of songs to listen to, all kinds of music. The exposure I’m getting to music and bands/performers I never knew about is valuable, not mainstream stuff, although some is.

The song that excited me most is Time (Pink Floyd) – the guitar solo alone is just mind-blowing. I happened to be hanging out again at Barnes and Noble – remember my previous post on that!! haha yes I’ve been having a tough time still but there is light – and happened on a book called “The 100 Best Guitar Solos of All Time” – music and tabs! And Time is in it.

Are you kidding me?? I can mine this book the rest of my life.

At our session this week Paul played the chord progressions while I played the melody. Holy shit, how cool was that! I was really nervous to be honest – this is so outside my comfort zone, which is exactly what I want.

He told me how cool he thinks this is, teaching a violinist rock, and that he is honored and humbled that I am willing to do this with him. I said are you kidding? I am the one honored that he would take me on as it’s very outside the box.

The most rewarding parts of life are not inside the box, anyway. Create your own thing that works.

Anyway, he then whipped out a wah-wah pedal and hooked me up. That was amazing.

He wants to teach me improvisation, and some other electronics starting next week. I was honest in letting him know my areas of inexperience – there are plenty I don’t even know of yet.

He recommended I get a Dark Side of the Moon CD.

I’ll be happy to get a little confidence in me.

Session at the Rock School

I never did tell you about my session at the rock school did I? Spent time with a guitarist to learn about amps and effects and stuff, see what my lectric is capable of. The guitarist was really charged up about it – an excuse to play with toys!

A list of what we’ll be playing with:

wah-wah pedal



digital delay

stereo digital

analog delay

rack effects

and he mentioned a Lexicon 3000 and Roland SDE 3000

He also wrote out chord progressions for me to play with certain rock tunes before we get together again.

Spent a while talking about what I’m looking to do.

This will be a blast!

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