From Worst To First – Boston Strong!


For the First time since 1918 the RedSox have clinched Major League Baseball’s World Series Championship at HOME!


Boston Strong is not just a cliché anymore this year! It’s a reality! They went from being One of the Worst Team in the American League to being the Best in the World! The Marathon Bombing served a a launch point for team.


This is who we are: CHAMPIONS!
So take some time today to reflect and remember that every day is a great day and that it’s an opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Love. Is. A. Choice – Choose Wisely!

Love Is A Choice - So Choose Wisely

I saw this quote recently, and I thought that it deserved to be heard:

“The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. This is why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness’ sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind, love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice, it’s seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.”
– The Great Kamryn

I couldn’t have said it better myself.
So I won’t!
Love. Is. A. Choice.

Choose Wisely! And remember that every day there is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!



Everywhere you go it’s there. You go to the computer store and it’s there. You go to the music store, it’s there. And don’t forget the grocery or pharmacy (drug store to some). It’s there too!!! What is it?


At this time of year, candy is the number one item being sold. I find that it is almost impossible to ignore. So how do you cope?

Do Push-ups as often as possible
Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry
Drink lots of water
Healthy alternatives – raisins, cereal etc
Workout (Did I say this already?)

It’s all about the will power and what you allow yourself to consume. So I will keep smiling and use today as an opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Always Looking To Give!


Yesterday my coworker asked for help with bad project that I was delighted to help with. She asked me to help distribute 2 tons of apples that was picked by her organization. I was stunned. I sat. I thought. I made a few calls that helped to feed somebody else.

The main point of this post is that I was able to focus totally on somebody else for a few minutes. And I felt really good about myself and about the fact that there are people out there that care enough about their fellow man that they would take the time to pic 2 Tons of apples and give it AWAY!!! Talk about playing it by ear! It doesn’t get any better than that. Or does it?


I’m smiling and taking an opportunity today to play it by ear and you should too!

Technology – Hindrance or Help?


Well I thought they were a relic of the past, but the do exist. Cassette Recorders! Wow! This is what someone used in rehearsal TONIGHT to help them learn to play by ear. It through me for a loop because with the preponderance of smart phones and apps galore, it seemed kinda out of place to have a device like the cassette to record and then playback for the purposes of playing by ear.

The thing to remember is that you have to use the technology that you are comfortable with. I remember when I used CDs AND Cassettes to help me. In fact I used the Tascam Guitar Trainer (pictured below) to help me learn things.


Then I quickly moved onto the Tascam Guitar Trainer MP1 (pic below). This used MP3s and allowed you to slow down the song to be learned without changing the key just like the original guitar trainer.


With the advent of smart phones, it’s even easier to get a song and be able to slow it down to understand what’s happening with the song. I use an app called Audio Speed Changer on my Samsung Android. iOS devices can use Music Speed Changer, which functions in the same manner – It allows you utilize songs in your library and allow you to manipulate the speed as well as the pitch of a particular song


Additionally the advent of the Internet has changed the way that music is viewed. The Internet has made it much easier to get scores, guitar tabs and also brought a great program such as Audacity –  Audacity Link

I think the singularly most significant impact of the Internet on playing by ear is YouTube. It provides a forum for like minded people to chare ideas, to post how to videos and great concert moments. It’s an awesome resource. There are tons of schools that give free YouTube lessons. SoAll you have to do is find the right person to follow and you will be all set. My next question is, it right to use all of this technology to help you to learn or is it not good? You be the judge…. And remember to smile and know that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Got Lemons? – It’s Lemonade Time!!!

 When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade! But use Sugar and Water

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “When Life gives you Lemons, Make Lemonade!” You may say this is so cliche. But I totally believe it. The reason I know that it’s so is because of how Lemonade is made. You take lemons, and you squeeze the juice out of them. Then you add water, and sugar until you are satisfied.

I recently was handed some lemons in my life as it relates to my job. Recently our family went from two cars to one car. There are other situations that I don’t like in my life such as my daughter is away at boarding school and we miss her terribly.

But in all these situations I can still smile and have a positive attitude because of my Faith and also for the friends and family who surround us as well as the love and gift of music in my life. I find myself singing songs of praise and songs of hope.

In all of the happenings around our family, we have been able to spend more time together as a family. It is such a beautiful thing. We have been able to sing together. Just this past weekend we were able to put together a birthday song for one of the kids uncles’ birthday while my daughter was home on leave.

This is my sugar and Water. It’s Sweeeeeeet! And remember it’s OK to smile at your Lemons and continue to Play It By Ear!

Humility – A Most Important Attitude

Humility - All Great Leaders Possess It  - Courtesy

One of the most important attitude someone can have is HUMILITY. It’s the attitude that is the most teachable. There is something about a humble person that says, “I’m Teachable.” It is a beautiful thing.

I know that I don’t know it all and I pray every day that God keeps me humble and teachable. I don’t ever want to get to the place where I feel I know it all, because there will be something else to learn. There’s a song that exemplifies Humility in a profound way. It’s one of my favorite songs – Amazing Grace. This version was sung by the Hunte Family back in February, 2013. The beautiful thing is that they were HUMBLE enough to listen to me and learn their parts. Additionally when the idea for the intro was given to me by my wife, Michelle, I was able to listen to her as well. We love to sing together. Enjoy!

Smile and remember that every day is an opportunity to Play It By Ear!


Attitude is Important – Get A Good One

This will be my shortest blog to date and it simply says – Your attitude goes a long way to learning to play by ear. It’s a mindset if you will. I have heard it said that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” I have found this to be so true. Your attitude determines who you are and helps to define what you do in life.

Positive Attitude - Play It By Ear

If you have a defeatist attitude, you will be defeated. If you have a negative attitude you will have negative experiences all the time. The inverse is also true. If you have a positive attitude about yourself and about life and the things in life, then you will definitely be able to do so much more than you can imagine. Thoughts?

I’m smiling as I think positive. I know that today will be another opportunity to Play It By Ear

Hard Work Trumps Talent – Everytime!


I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. Sometimes when I play people tell me that I’m very talented. And they are right to a certain extent. But I do not think they see the thousands of hours of practice and all the mistakes that I made along the way.

I have had to take whatever “TALENT” I had, and use “HARD WORK” to get where I need I am today. One of the great examples of hard work augmenting talent is seen in the life of Pedro Martinez, RedSox pitcher. He said that he would spend 7 hours everyday working to improve himself. Because he had such a small frame (154 lbs that pitched 97 mph) he had to work that much harder to overcome the pain of pitching. He kept working hard. He kept his goals in mind.

If you don’t work on the talent that you have you will lose even what talent you have. The question is are you ready to work, to do the hard work necessary to achieve your goals? If you do, you will go far. You can overcome, but you have to put in the work…

Wanna Learn? – Share What You Got!

A Little Piano - Playing It By Ear

So my daughter started high school recently and she has already been tasked with helping her classmates in some of their subjects. So I told her that it’s a proven fact that when you teach something to someone else you reinforce that concept in your own mind. Share what you’ve got. You only helps yourself at the same time.

So I decided to take my own advice and share a little bit that I did at a service recently. I apologize for the camera angle, and the quality of the sound as I used the camera on my smart phone.

The beautiful thing about this topic is that everyone has something good that they could share. Sometimes what you have to share is there but you don’t know it.

In music, I was able to learn as much as I did because I shared what I learned with my friends and they shared what they learned with me. So we built a community of common knowledge by learning from each other. In fact we still have “shedding” sessions from time to time where knowledge transfer takes place.

Share It. It’s a beautiful thing! You just might learn something in the process.

Back To Bass-ics 101 – Cadences


In a recent blog post – It’s All In their Bass – The Foundation, I talked about what I thought was a fundamental part of learning to play by ear – Hearing the Bass Line. This practice is not new but was used extensively with Figured Bass back in the Baroque period of music history (circa 1600 – 1750). This can be seen in the works of J. S. Bach and in his contemporaries.

Why do you want to listen to the Bass Line? Well, I think that the bass lines offer a way to map out the structure of the song. But what is it about the Bass Line that is so important? Well it leads to what is called the cadence. Cay-what? Cadence.

Example of a Cadence courtesy of Wikipedia

According to Wikipedia, cadence is defined as “a melodic or harmonic configuration that creates sense of repose or resolution [finality or pause].” Cadences give music it’s harmonic phrasing and provides points in the music for rests or pauses. In the language of music, cadences are seen to be somewhat like punctuation with the weaker cadences working like commas and the stronger cadences working as periods.

There are four major types of cadences: Authentic, Half, Plagal and Interrupted. They each have their own characteristics and knowing what they look and sound like is important when listening and learning a piece if music.

The Authentic Cadence is the strongest cadence and it usually is the last cadence that is played. (See Pic Above). It usually involves a movement from the 5 (V) chord to the 1 (I) chord. More on that later.

The Half Cadence also called the Imperfect Cadence is any cadence that ends on the 5 (V) chord.

The Plagal Cadence is defined as a Cadence that moves from the 4 (IV) chord to the 1 (I) chord. It’s also called the “Amen” cadence because of the preponderance of its use in Hymn settings.

And finally the Interrupted Cadence rounds out the lineup of cadences. The Interrupted is defined as any cadence from the 5 (V) to any other chord other than 1.

Regardless of the cadence listed, knowing what they are is half the battle. Now all you have to do is Practice Them and you will be all set!

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

From Worst to First – Boston Strong – Endurance part 2

Boston Strong - We Endure
The year 2012 and 2011 were losing years for the Boston RedSox! 2011 saw the Sox lose a lead in their division and NOT making the playoffs. They lost the last game of the season.

2012 saw them losing 93 games with 69 wins which was the worst record in the American League East. It was also the 5th worst finish in all of Major League Baseball. It was not a good time for RedSox Nation! They were the laughing stock of the American League under Manager Bobby Valentine.

2013 proved to be a different outcome than 2012. The RedSox lead the American League East for most of the entire season. There was no expectation of winning this season as they had a new manager and a totally revamped team. How did they become the champion of the American League? How did they win the Pennant? How did they make it to the World Series to the chagrin of Yankees fans everywhere?

Boston Strong - We Endure 04.15.2013

They ENDURED! They embraced the motto “Boston Strong” and lived it on the field. This was out felt after the Boston Marathon Bombing on April 15th, 2013. It has been a magical season. The RedSox believed in themselves to play the game the right way. They went from worst in one season. Awesome!

It’s still remains to be seen whether the RedSox will win it all this year. But regardless of the outcome of the World Series, the Boston RedSox are already champions in my book.


Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Endurance – Never Give Up!

The Endurance Ship in Full Sail - Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Endurance – is defined by Wikipedia as the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue... Endurance may also refer to an ability to keep going through a tough situation involving hardship, & stress.

Ernest Shackleton - Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

This is exemplified by the Imperial Trans-Antartic Expedition that was run by Sir Ernest Shackleton from 1914 to 1917. It’s also called the Endurance Expedition because of how many months the people on the expedition had to wait to be rescued in very poor and cold conditions. The human spirit can cause a man to endure great things. These men endured because they believed that their leader, Sir Ernest Shackleton would return for them. He did!

And just as these men endured you have to endure as you learn something new or even as you continue in whatever task you’re engaged in. I remember when I started playing the guitar, I had to endure the calluses and hand pain. But I’m glad I did, because the end result is great opportunities to Play It By Ear.

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!

Say It Ain’t So – 9% of Kids Have ADHD!


Why Don’t French Kids Have ADHD? This is a great question that as a parent I don’t have an answer to. Here’s an excerpt from the article above:

In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

I was appalled to see that 9% – 9 PERCENT – of children in the U.S. are diagnosed with ADHD as opposed to 0.5% in France. Say it ain’t so! I don’t get it! What’s wrong with our society that we could allow something like this to be allowed. Is it because as parents we are too lazy? We look for the easy way out and we treat the symptoms instead of the root cause of the problem.

I daresay that it’s easy to see this phenomenon in our medical profession as a whole. I remember when I went to the Doctor and my cholesterol was extremely high, my doctor’s immediate response was to out me on Lipitor! Instead of trying to figure out what caused my high count, I was given a pill. I had another doctor try to give me an inhaler for asthma, but I was determined to not be dependent on medications, so I did something about it. (See my blog post on being Healthy).


I think one of the reasons for this kids ADHD epidemic is that kids are not active enough. A lot of kids are sedentary from the time they get home from school till the next day. What are they doing? They’re watching TV or playing video games.

Another reason is that a lot of kids feast on junk food as part of their regular diet. Foods filled with processed sugars, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Fats alter personalities. Soda with caffeine, as well as other fast food all contribute to the epidemic as outlined in the article.

So how do we fix this? Get outside with our kids and eat healthy and we will be much better off.

Smile and remember that today is another opportunity to Play It By Ear!