Chad’s Blog

My First Music Lesson

Last night, I had my first real music lesson. I have taken a couple bass guitar lessons before, and I knew the very basics. What the name of each string on my bass guitar is named. That’s about it. E, A, D, and G.

I’ve taken just a handful of lessons before, I never stuck with them. I’ve been thinking of taking them again, as one of my themes I’m working towards and with is Performance. Four years ago, I turned 45 years old. I opened up to try the things I always wanted to, but was too afraid to.

Things like:

  • Improv
  • Standup
  • Making and sharing personal projects more consistently
  • Skiing

I studied improv comedy and performed a couple of times between 2017 and 2019. In early 2020 I studied stand up comedy and performed once. Then the world went to shit. I’ve performed that same standup set from early 2020 twice recently (outdoors). I’m hooked. What was so terrifying before - standing up in front of people and creating an experience - is now like medicine to me.

Back to the music. I realized what I’m really looking for in my bass/music study isn’t to be Flea, or Claypool, or Jaco. I’m not seeking to be a technical and creative master of the instrument. I want to learn to make music, with the bass guitar as my tool. I want to be good of course, to be able to express myself through writing and playing music. To collaborate with others to make a shared experience for ourselves, and whoever may be watching and listening.

One can draw with a pencil, pen, computer mouse (not recommended), digital stylus, or their fingers. The tool isn’t the focus. Same is true for the bass in my case. I love the sound of the bass and how it can keep harmony and rhythm going throughout a piece of music. It’s my favorite tool at the moment. But my goal is to be able to play music, with multiple tools. I’d like to get to the point where I can improvise with other performers, just like with Improv.

Luckily my teacher has a strong interest in teaching music theory and an improvisational background. So we’re a good fit, straight away. Plus he’s a friend.

I made a sketchnote of my first lesson. It helps me to remember what I learned when I get it out of my brain and onto paper. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to ask for the kind of lessons I have just started taking. I would not have the ability to do even a simple sketchnote like this. Or express all these things in writing.

What will you be able to do in five years, that you would struggle with today?

The longest, most uncomfortable silence in history

Yesterday, at work, I asked a group of people some questions that caused “the longest, most uncomfortable silence in history” according to one attendee. Causing that silence, and the resulting conversation was the best thing I’ve contributed to work all week. Possibly all month.

That moment and conversation came about not because I have a list of go-to questions. I wasn’t about stumping or triggering someone. That’s a zero sum game. 1 winner + 1 loser = 0.

It was about being present and asking the right questions. Questions that challenged the way we do things. To probe for change. My improv teacher taught us that “You have two eyes, two ears, one mouth. Use them proportionally”.

That works in a lot of areas of life, I think. If we want to go deeper, to explore, and observe, to look for change, can we do that while we’re talking?

Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers. Pierre Marc-Gaston

I really miss practicing Improv. The classes and jams have made me a more mindful person. You have to be completely in the moment and practice active listening or else the scene falls apart. That practice of being present helped me while performing, and in real life. I just can’t do the online improv thing. I am in front of a computer all day (thankfully I still have my day job!) and I can’t seem to get past the fact of not being in the same physical space for performing. I should check in with the other improvisers I know to see how they’re doing with all this.

I participated in an audition for the Stranger than Fiction improv group today. I was a little nervous but more excited to get the chance to perform for several hours. The cast was kind and supportive and the other performers were great. I got to respond to direction from the cast and try out some games I hadn’t played before. Mostly it was scene work. Lots and lots of scene work.

I have two upcoming comedy performances:

First up is an Improv student showcase set. I’ll be performing with my classmates as a warmup of sorts before Stranger than Fictions “A Pulitzer Prize Losing Drama” performance.

  • Tue 3/31, 8PM

  • Seacoast Rep, 125 Bow St, Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801

  • Hosted by Stranger Than Fiction Improv and Comedy

  • $12

Then I’ll be doing a 5 minute standup set as a part of the New Hampshire Theatre Projects “Couch to Mic” class.

  • Tue 4/21, doors at 715

  • New Hampshire Theatre Project, 959 Islington St #3, Portsmouth, NH 03801

  • Suggested donation of $5

Back in Improv class! When I’m not in class, it’s hard to find time to practice with other people. I forgot how mind-bending it is to improvise. Our teacher said tonight that you have to be the actor, director, and writer at the same time. So true.

CHAP

I recently came up with my “Ethic” ala Todd Henry’s advice on the matter. The Ethic is your way to approach each day with what you think is important in life. Every morning, look at the day with the lens of your ethic, and act accordingly throughout the day. Then, review in the evening.

I spent some time thinking on this, and came up with these words, and an acronym to remember them by.

Conflict - Positive Passionate Discussion is key to building trust on a team. Work, Family, Sport, etc. Any team. I’ve seen how these discussion move teams forward so well. But as humans we’re hard-wired to avoid conflict. I’m practicing and training to run toward conflict, but am hard wired to avoid it.

Humor - I love making people (including myself) laugh. I’m currently studying improv and standup comedy. I think humor is one of the things that is a basic human emotion, that transcends language and cultures. I want to find the funny in the things that divide us to show how we’re not so different after all.

Amor Fati - The old Stoics had this concept, “Love of Fate”. Or at least it’s been popularized recently. Either way, it means finding problems and making them opportunities. Flipping problems on their head. By doing this often enough I’ll get good at it, and like conflict above, run towards problems. I recognize that the levels of difficulty in each of our own problems vary greatly. I try to remind myself I am not trapped in a room with a bear to keep perspective.

Plus - As story tells, animators and other folks at Pixar have a concept they call “Plussing an idea”. You take an idea, and build upon it. Discarding what isn’t working and making it better. This isn’t binary; good/bad. It’s a way to examine ideas and build upon them. I see a correlation in the first rule of Improv here which is “Yes, and” - accepting the reality in the moment, and building on it. So I try to find the good parts in ideas and build upon them. Solo, or with the teams I am on.

I think it’s OK if these change as you practice. That’s how you know you’re growing?

Storytelling

For 2019 I chose the theme of “Compounding”. Not strictly a goal, but a single word that should be present at the top of my mind when facing decisions, hardships, and successes. I wasn’t as good as I could have been in regards to using that word to help me progress past certain boundaries, and obstacles. But I did have some successes with it.

This year, I’m not going to forget the word compounding, but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a new theme for 2020. That theme will be Storytelling. I’ve come to this word for a variety of reasons:

  • I started my professional career as an animator, which is a kind of storyteller who works with movement.
  • Over the last two years, I’ve been studying and practicing Improv comedy. An act of creating characters, relationships and stories on the spot and in the moment
  • I’ve been very mindful of the stories I tell myself over the last year. Especially the ones that are from the always chattering monkey mind, which insists that I’m too much of this, or not enough of that.
  • At work, we use User Stories to help us understand the users of the things we build. “As a Blogger, I need to write an article, so that I can express myself. User Stories are indeed stories. They tell the who, what, and why of a given action.
  • I have been tinkering with parts of a puzzle, and never putting them together completely. Web Marketing automation with zapier and other no-code tools, iOS and MacOS automation, Coaching services, Niche Job Boards and Tshirt sites, and many other “failed” side projects. Lack of focus is my story there.
  • I’ve been using images to help solve problems at work. These kinds of business drawings tell the story of the company or users.
  • Just this month I had conversations with people I’ve known for a long time that reminded me of the things I miss, and that also happen to be the most rewarding experiences for me. Telling stories.
  • We all tell stories to each other. It’s how we communicate to have people empathize with us.

All of these related thoughts (and maybe some I’m currently forgetting) have me coming back full circle to remember my love of storytelling. By bringing that to the top of mind as my yearly theme I can refocus and create.

I’m strongly considering creating an animated short film. It’s not really that I want to animate or relearn a 3D application again, it’s more like that feeling where I want to express myself in a visual way. To tell a story. To feed my good wolf.

My improv starter post series, based off of @macgenie microblogvember prompts feels like it’s run it’s course. It was a great exercise for me but I don’t think I’m getting value out of it anymore. So I’ll use the prompts to keep going on the daily posts but not necessarily with the improv starter theme. I’m confident I’ll be able to hit the 30 days in a row mark and hopefully many more.

Stay

  • Tim, our dog obedience school is really taking off!
  • Babe, don’t leave me. Stay with me…
  • Doctor, I cant move my arm

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember(#)(https://micro.welltempered.net/2019/11/01/microblogvember.html) is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where(#)(https://blog.chadmoore.net/2019/11/02/if-youve-ever.html) offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Touch

  • Dad, tell me about that touchdown you three in high school again
  • Careful near that electric fence, Private
  • Ewww! Jimmy don’t touch me you’re gross.

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember(https://micro.welltempered.net/2019/11/01/microblogvember.html) is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where(https://blog.chadmoore.net/2019/11/02/if-youve-ever.html) offerings as we would do in an Improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Space

  • Bro, move over, you’re taking up the entire couch!
  • With this mission, we move the human race deeper into the cosmos than ever before. Captain, launch!
  • Janet, I still feel like there’s something between us…

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember(https://micro.welltempered.net/2019/11/01/microblogvember.html) is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where(https://blog.chadmoore.net/2019/11/02/if-youve-ever.html) offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Cold

  • I didn’t have enough money for the heating bill. It’s going to be a tough winter honey
  • Ah my best customer, would you like your usual flavor today Jim?
  • Get your feet off me! They’re like ice cubes!!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Star

  • Did you ever think it would be like this Gertrude!?? The fame, and money. We’re stars!
  • Captain, we’re getting an extremely odd gamma radiation signature from Venus.
  • Jimmy, your exam answers were stellar. You’ve earned yourself an A+!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Frightening

  • Honey did you hear that noise in the basement!??!
  • yes, Barton, my trusty assistant, soon all will cower in fear from me muhhahahhhaaaa!
  • Mom, I want to be pennywise for Halloween!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Stick

  • I tell you what, Lenny, these ribs sure do stick to your ribs! mmmm mmmm good.
  • Oh, I’ve tried mediatation, bruh. I just can’t make it a habit
  • Dad, coach said I really stuck the landing today!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Street

  • My Lord, the peasants! They are rioting in the street.
  • Honey, can you remind me where I’m supposed to turn again?
  • Dad I got my gear, let’s go out front and play hockey!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word prompt as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance. I look up the word, and write as many openings as I can think of off the top of my head.

Mean

  • Dolores, I don’t like the way you spoke to me last night
  • Dad, I did throw an interception but my coach was such a jerk to me
  • David, don’t speak so harshly to the dog!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance.

Fancy

  • Honey that new coat looks fantasic
  • Oh dear, I’ve spilt my fountain pen ink all over myself
  • Your aunt will be here in 10 minutes and the house is still a mess!

What’s this post all about? Microblogvember is a daily writing prompt the folks at micro.blog are participating in. I’m using the one word as a suggestion for who, what and where offerings as we would do in an improv performance.

If you’ve ever seen an improv show, you’ve likely heard one of the performers ask the crowd for a suggestion. This one word, or short phrase, is used to connect the performers to the audience and inspire scenes. Sometimes that word is not literally used in a scene, it’s really just a jumping off point. I’d thought I’d uses these microblogvember prompts to spark an idea for a scene each day.

We improvisors focus on the “who what where” of a scene to build a relationship betweenthe characters we are making up on the spot. So my responses will likely be a short post with a who what and where.

Mark

Son, if you draw all over your homework, the teacher wont be able to read it.

That’s my prompt and response for the day. If I were to start a scene with that offer, the relationship is pretty clear, as is the what, and the setting could be inferred.

I’ll keep doing this each day from the prompts.

A couple of things surprised me last night before my first performance of improv for an audience. I was very nervous while commuting to the theatre. So much so that I serious considered turning around and not showing up. I made it through that self doubt, and got to the theatre. That’s a bit unlike me. I knew I’d be nervous, but to consider bailing out at the last minute was not like me.

The second surprise was that the nervousness just instantly disappeared when the show started. Our group “One size fits all” went on second. When the first group’s feet hit the stage all my tension and nervous energy simply disappeared. I’m sure it had something to do with the warmups we had as a full team (every performer who participated in the show) and as individual teams. My teacher, Tara had us do this really wonderful warmup she called Pulse. Standing in the wings of the stage, in near darkness we played a silent little game that really aligned us and built some real synchronization for us as a team.

But again, that drop was strange. That energy just went away and I couldn’t wait to take the stage. A friend referred to it as a roller coaster and it certainly had that feeling to me. I want more of it.

All the Sprint ceremonies are today, the “all in one day” model if you will. Plus, my first ever improv performance is tonight! So it’s a Big Day. Today I’ll be hyper-focused on being present for the Dev and Comedy teams I am on.

Improv class was great tonight. We’re all light years ahead of where we were a month ago. Still more much learning and practice to do!

I’m better at not entering a scene in nuetral. I still have challenges starting scenes. Have to keep it simple and specific.

Surfing the flow

I caught up with a friend tonight. He said:

Surfing is like riding pure energy. There’s a moment where you transfer natures energy through the board to your feet and up through your body; out to your outstretched arms. Before it all falls apart and returns to the water.

I like this a lot. I’m now asking myself how do I make performing sketchnoting, bass guitar and improv more like this?

Is it knowing tools and process well enough so that you can detach from the everything in your life and focus on the flow. The now. The energy.

Or maybe just focus on that flow and make mistakes until you get to ride it a bit. Repeat until you know the tools and process and can therefore stay in flow longer.

I’m performing in an improv show for the 1st time in front of an audience on 10/29. Until now it’s been classes and practices in front of other performers & teachers. What’s the word that means excited to finally get in front of people and terrified to do so at the same time?