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Friday, August 9, 2019

Seven Years, Nine Months, Three Hundred Songs

Which long-range goal have you most recently attained?

Back  in November 2011, inspired by the film Julie & Julia - a different recipe every day for a year - and Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - Nina Sankovitch's memoir describing how she read a new book every day for a year - I gave myself one year to get my jazz guitar repertoire up to three hundred fully memorized songs. Although that number - at least in that time frame - turned out to be wildly over-ambitious, it wasn't chosen arbitrarily; I knew approximately three hundred tunes by heart when my voice gave out in 1978, forcing me at that time to abandon my acoustic guitar and singing act and get a day job. I decided late in 2011 it was time to fully commit to this music as I did to rock n' roll over the first half of my life.  

Today, seven years and almost nine months later, John Coltrane's Giant Steps was added to my list as song #300. Although dismayed it took so long to reach the goal, the positive by-products of all my   diligent practicing and memorizing on my playing are noticeable, even to me. On a recent gig with a good friend, I smiled at my improvising on the Richard Rodgers ballad You Are Too Beautiful. I know this might not seem like much to many people but being satisfied with an improvisational idea, no matter how briefly, is heaven to someone like me.

Phase two of the project - mum's the word on time frames this time - is recording myself doing all three hundred. Wish me luck.  



  1. This is an awesome accomplishment, Pat! I wanted to relay a connection with your improvisation milestone. This past Spring, Max was given his first full improvisation part with his Jazz Band. He sounded fabulous to me...the doting, tone deaf mother. He was very proud of himself, as he deserved to be. I then passed the video recording along to his private trombone teacher, even though I knew she would rip it apart. He took his lumps as she pointed out all the places he could improve, after all, that is what we pay her to do. But his proudest moment came when she congratulated him on having an impressive first improvisation. His smile was priceless. He leaves next week to study music at Immaculata University...I look forward to watching his growth, but especially to watch him watch his growth. It is great to hear you say that you could see your own improvement! That's what I hope for him.


    1. d; Thanks (again) for your comment, support, and the story about Max. How exciting that he's majoring in music!