Face Bra

Adventures in Practicing

I’ve been working on a Johnny Smith transcription by Adam Levy. The tune is “When I Fall in Love” from his Easy Listening trio album, and it’s gorgeous.

Johnny is known for playing close-voiced chords which require some extensive left hand stretches. He’s also known for incredible harmonies. Taking those together there’s no way I would have tackled learning his stuff by ear.

Having a nice transcription eliminates both those excuses. Time for a challenge. And if you’re going to undertake a challenge, might as well go all out. As noted in my last missive I recently learned some options for playing without looking at my hands. Closing your eyes, playing in the dark, or…

The Face Bra!

The Class

At least that’s what Demo Girl called it when she ran off with it over her shirt. I need to remind her that no one likes a smartass.

So without further ado, I present a futile attempt to play Johnny Smith blindfolded. Do try this at home, kids.

Yes, it’s clam chowder in places, but I think I did OK, all things considered.

I was going to make a control recording of me playing it with eyes open (i.e. cheating!) but I didn’t get around to it. You’ll just have to imagine how much better it sounds.

This piece needs more work, but I plan to do much more practicing in this vein. Firstly, it’ll probably do wonders for my posture. I get a kink in my upper back if I play for long because of my bad hand-watching habit. Secondly, it forces you to know a tune cold. I think going forward I will only consider a song “known” if I can get through it with the Face Bra on.

Try it sometime.

Jeremy Ulstad

Dad, IT Architect, Musician, Sailor

Minneapolis, Minnesota http://jeremyulstad.com