One Year!

I started this blog a year ago, and I’m happy to say that it’s still going strong! You never know what to expect with this kind of thing…

I set out to accomplish some specific goals, so this feels like a good to reflect on the last year.

I started this blog because I wasn’t practicing enough. I was playing plenty of gigs, going to lots of rehearsals, and teaching a lot of lessons. I was playing a lot, but I wasn’t setting aside time for self-improvement. I have a full-time day job as well as a family with a toddler, so finding time to do all of the above and then practice is a tall order sometimes.

The personal practice time that I did have was focused primarily on transcribing, because I enjoyed doing it. I find it meditative and fulfilling. In recent years I had gone deep into what some might consider ‘niche’ content, mostly Maceo Parker and Lenny Pickett. But I wasn’t playing much of the stuff that I transcribed. Much of the Lenny Pickett stuff I couldn’t play at all. But I had hopes of publishing some day, so I focused on throughput.

I’ve since given up on the idea of publishing physical books. It’s an old-media concept. I rarely buy music books any more myself. I imagine that I’m not alone. I doubt that transcription books sell in large quantities or produce much revenue for any of the parties involved (especially relative to the amount of effort that goes into them). So I had the idea of starting this blog instead. Publish my transcriptions online. Give them away for free. Learn to play them. Practice in public.

I set a goal of publishing one blog post a week with a transcription of my own and a video of me playing it. Publishing them gives me a sense of accountability, even if no one else is paying attention. I notice if I don’t publish anything. And I cringe at every missed note in every video.

I’m happy to say that I’ve not only met my goal, but I’ve exceeded it! I published about 75 solos in the first year, exceeding my goal by almost 50%!

Many of the solos were things that I had transcribed previously, but not all. There were many weeks where I was able to transcribe, learn, record, and post a new solo entirely within the week – even meaty multi-page ones that required serious practice time.

There were months when I did more, and months when I did less. When I was traveling a lot I occasionally had to bank a future solo or two to keep the publishing pace somewhat steady, but the average worked out well.

Along the way, I learned a lot. My execution has improved noticeably (at least to me). People always say that you should record yourself when you practice and listen back to it, but how many musicians actually do this on a regular basis? It’s humbling, which also happens to be a super-effective tool for self-improvement.

I never set any goals for engagement with the blog, videos, or PDFs. That’s probably something I’ll think about more for the upcoming year. A few stats:

  • 9,000+ minutes of viewing on YouTube
  • 30,000+ PDF views on Scribd
  • 6,600+ views on WordPress
  • 2,500+ visitors to WordPress

I post these not to impress anyone (because they are not very impressive), but to compare against going forward. I don’t charge for my transcriptions. They aren’t perfect because I make mistakes. So I’d have a hard time taking people’s money for them. Besides, they are valuable educational tools (even with the mistakes), so I’d rather see a few more people benefit from them than to earn a few extra pennies here and there.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading if you’ve made it this far. I know that the coming year will have some challenges (more on that later), but I hope that my Two Years! post will continue the positive trend.

@SDartSax

 

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