Play it my way Sam

One of the things I love about music is that you can take a well known song and recreate it in your own style. Often when I have played in bands I would get some bright eyed person come up and say that I hadn’t played the song like the C.D. I learnt to smile and thank them for listening so intently to the band – I really appreciated their comments. Then another person would come up and say that they really enjoyed our interpretation of the song.

I realised that they both came from different points of view. One loved the C.D. version and expected to hear that every time whereas the other listened to what was there and decided whether or not they liked it as a piece of music. Neither one is wrong or right but when I realised this I stopped taking every comment personally.

I now play music for me, in my way, and if others like it that is a bonus. that doesn’t give me the excuse to be really bad but I know that there will be those who like my style and there will be those who don’t. If I don’t offer myself then I don’t really have anything to offer and I will chase others approval round and round in ever decreasing circles.

I may never be famous and loved by all but I know that I can hold my head and be proud of me.

So here are some tracks that I have created, being me.


Finger Picking Technique For Bass

Right- Hand Positioning

Position the Bass on your Right-leg and place your Right-arm onto the body of the Bass so that you are holding it with the underside of your arm, just below the elbow.

Photo Bass pluck 1

 Photo Showing the Position of the Bass, Right Knee and Right Arm

 This should give you control of the balance of the Bass and also freedom to strum the strings. At this point the Bass should fit comfortably and shouldn’t require any more support. If it does, then adjust the Bass on the leg. The left-hand should never be used to support the Bass as this will stop you playing the Bass effectively.

Right Hand Finger Technique

When playing the Bass you use the 2 fingers next to your thumb to pluck the strings. Here you will see a photo of the starting position of the pluck. You pull the finger across the string to pluck it and then end up resting against the string above it, if there is one. The reason for resting on the string above is that it ensures that you only play one string at a time.

Photo Bass pluck 2

Photo Showing Pluck Starting Position

 Photo Bass pluck 3 

 Photo Showing Pluck Ending Position

Exercise 1

Always alternate between finger 1 and finger 2 (the 2 fingers next the thumb) no matter what you are playing. Here are some exercises :-

1)         Finger 1 on string 4, finger 2 on string 4.       Finger 1 on string 3, finger 2 on string 3.

Finger 1 on string 2, finger 2 on string 2.       Finger 1 on string 1, finger 2 on string 1.

Then repeat the process going from string 1 to string 4.

2)         Finger 1 on string 4, finger 2 on string 3.       Finger 1 on string 2, finger 2 on string 1.

Then repeat the process going from string 1 to string 4.

3)         Finger 1 on string 4, finger 2 on string 3.       Finger 1 on string 3, finger 2 on string 2.

Finger 1 on string 2, finger 2 on string 1.

Then repeat the process going from string 1 to string 4.

All the exercises above must be practices looking at the right-hand and then practiced looking away from the right-hand. This must be done because you can only look at one hand and it is better to concentrate on the left hand.

Use a metronome at all times and increase the tempo( speed) as you feel able to. As with all exercises don’t think that you can just do this a few times and that is enough. You must train you right-hand every time you pick up the Bass or you will lose the ability.

Practice getting steady even strokes which hit every string evenly. This is the correct movement for playing the Bass. Use the metronome to practice playing at a steady speed (tempo), also making sure that you don’t drown out the metronome. This should help you to play at a consistent volume (dynamic).

To play dynamically you must have a reference that you can call normal and this is what you need to achieve with your right hand – every stroke being the same as the last and the next.

The right hand must, eventually, be like a metronome. This means that you can play in time and that there are no gaps in the music, that aren’t meant to be there. If you can’t play in time then you will never be able to play in a band.

Exercise 2

This exercise is used to give you more control over your right hand. Each exercise should be perfected while watching the hand movement and then perfected while looking away from the strings. The idea of this is that while playing you can only look at one hand at a time and it is better to look at your left (fret-board) hand. Below are string No’s in various orders.

1. a) Play each string with finger 1 then finger 2 in the orders given. You should aim to be able to play each exercise for at least 2 minutes without stopping or mistake. This may take a period of weeks but is essential.

  1. b) Play each string with 1 pluck but still maintaining the alternating fingers. (as in exercise 1 no. 2)
  1. c) Play each string 3 times but still maintaining the alternating fingers.
  1. d) Play the strings a differing no. of times but still maintaining the alternating fingers. (e.g. string 4 – 3 times, string 3 – 2 times, string 2 – 1 time, etc.)

Remember to use your metronome all the time and this will maintain your tempo. Start at a slow tempo of about 40 beats per minute and gradually increase the tempo.

Always maintain the same loudness and tempo (speed)

1)      4,3,2,1,2,3,4.

2)      4,2,1,3.

3)      4,3,1,3,2.

4)      3,4,2,1,4.

5)      Make up some of your own.

What are and why do I need – Scales.

What are scales.

All western style (not Indian or Chinese) music is made up of scales. Even though you don’t realize it you are listening to music made up from scales. There are number of scale types but the most common ones are used for the vast majority of music. The two most common scales are the Major Scale and the Minor Scale. These account for probably about 85% of all music.

 Why do I need scales.

 So if you want to play music you need to know scales and how they work. It is a bit like learning what words are so that you can read. There are many guitarists who simply learn things from hearing them and never know what they mean or how they work. This means they will never produce anything that hasn’t already been recorded which is very limiting.

Working out scales.

 All western music theory starts with the CHROMATIC SCALE (which is all 12 notes written out). The Chromatic Scale can start on any note but we are going to look at the Chromatic Scale that starts on C :-

C, C# or Db, D, D# or Eb, E, F, F# or Gb, G, G# or Ab, A, A# or Bb, B, C.

 There are no E# or Fb notes and there are no B# or Cb notes. There is no explanation for this it is just something that has happened that way.

The distance between each note is called a SEMI-TONE. This distance is the same regardless of the names of the notes, so the distance from C to C#/ Db is a semi-tone and the distance from E to F is a semi-tone.

SEMI is Latin for Half so 2 SEMI-TONES is called a TONE. So the distance from, say, C to D is a TONE.

To find any Scale you can use a, pre-determined, formula and the first Scale we are going to look at is he Major Scale. Because the Major Scale will start on C it is called the C Major Scale. So firstly we need to learn the formula and then apply it. To find the C Major Scale we need to use a formula made up of TONES and SEMI-TONES. The formula is :-


So to find the C Major Scale you must firstly write the note C. This is very important and if you don’t the formula will not work out correctly. Once you have the first note (C) you can then apply the formula.

Having written C then count up a tone to find the next note ( use the Chromatic Scale for this) – D.

Then count up another tone from D to find the third note – E.

If you continue to apply the formula you will get  the C Major Scale. You will know if you are correct as the last semi-tone will bring you back to C. You should get the notes :-

C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C.

Having found these notes you can find them on the guitar. You will find that as you play them in alphabetical order that they should sound familiar and the reason for this is that the Major Scale is the most common and popular Scale in modern music and the C Major Scale is the most common Major Scale. This makes it a good place to start.

Below is a diagram showing an example of the C Major scale as it appears on the bass. To understand the diagram you need to know that the vertical lines are frets and the horizontal lines are strings. The bottom horizontal line is the thickest string (E string) and the top horizontal line is the thinnest string (G string). You play the notes in alphabetical order and you are playing a scale.

bass Scale 1


Using positional playing start at the C note at the bottom of the diagram (string 3) and play it with the 2nd finger and then play note D with the 4th finger and so on until you get to the note C at the top of the diagram (string 1).  The numbers below the diagram are fret numbers.

Putting on Bass Strings – The do’s and don’ts.

As with everything there is a right way of putting strings onto the Bass. Things to remember include:-­

1)        Never take all the strings off the Bass together as this will damage the neck of the Bass.

The neck of a Bass is designed to work against the tension of the strings so if you take all the strings away the tension in the truss-rod will have nothing to stop it bending the neck. This sort of damage is unrepairable and the only course would be to replace the neck. So replace only one string at a time and try to ensure that the new strings are as close to the tuned tension as possible.

2)    Bridge

For Bass guitars the bridge end of the string normally has a bullet connection so they are easy to attach.

There are number of possible connections. The first is the through the body connection. With this one you simply push the string through the hole at the back of the Bass, then run the string over the bridge and connect it to the headstock. Another has the hole in the back of the bridge, so you thread the string through the hole and over the bridge and connect it to the headstock.

3)         Headstocks

When putting a string on the headstock you will come across two main types of machine-heads, as shown below.


 4 string bass head


 5 string bass head

The diagrams show how the strings should look in relation to the machine heads. (a) shows that the strings go from the inside outwards and (b) shows that the strings go from underneath upwards. Always to turn the machine-head anti-clockwise.

Place the string through the hole and then guide it around the machine-head, making sure the string sits underneath the end sticking out of the hole.

Never cross the windings over each other but have them sitting neatly next to each other.

Don’t use more than 3 windings for all the strings. If the windings fit tightly together then the friction between the windings and the machine-head will keep the string in tune. The windings should also be tight against the part of the string that went through the hole. A correctly wound string is shown below.


bass string winding 


You should have bought a Bass tuner by now, follow the instructions that come with it. Usually you will have a gauge and when the needle reads “0” the string is in tune. Tune all the strings and then just play them individually so that you will become familiar with the sound of strings in tune. Beware that when you tune strings for the first time they may take a while to settle down so don’t be surprised if you have to tune them a few times before they stay in tune.

If you have put the strings on correctly then turning the machine heads clockwise will lower the pitch of the note (the needle on the tuner will move to the left) and turning the machine heads anti-clockwise you will raise the pitch (the needle on the tuner will move to the right). If you are unsure whether the a string is in tune or not always lower the pitch of the string and then work up to the correct tuning. This will ensure that you don’t break strings.

Buying a Bass Guitar.


 1)   THE BODY.

On the body of electric guitars you will find PICK-UPS. These come in two types, the Split Single Coil and the Full Single Coil. Most Basses come with a bridge pick up and a neck pick up. Nowadays the Full Single Coil is the most used over the range of Basses. Different Basses will offer different combinations of pick-ups and certain combinations give the sound of certain styles whereas others are a compromise of different sounds.

On the BRIDGE (where the strings are connected to the body)  you will find the mechanical parts for setting up the bridge. Do not touch this unless you know what you are doing as any adjustment changes the tuning of the instrument.

On every Bass you will find a SELECTOR SWITCH, TONE KNOB, VOLUME KNOB AND JACK SOCKET. The selector switch enables you to select different combinations of the pick-ups available. The tone knob changes the sound from the pick-ups in the same way that a E.Q. control changes the sound on a hi-fl. Sometimes you will have a tone knob for each pick-up but normally there is only one. The volume knob changes the volume coming from the pick-ups and leaving the guitar. Again you could have a volume knob for each pick-up or just one for all. The jack socket is where you plug the guitar lead into to connect you to an amplifier.

2)   THE NECK.

 This consists of the FRETS and FRET MARKING DOTS. Most fret marking dots appear on the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th frets although there are variations or no dots at all. The front of the neck, where you put your fingers, is called the FRETBOARD.


This is at the end of the neck and the main parts are the NUT (where the strings pass through), and the TUNING or MACHINE HEADS. All Basses will have TRUSS RODS and the TRUSS ROD COVER can be found on the Headstock.


Before you start learning the Bass you have to buy one. So, what makes a Bass a good Bass or a bad Bass? There are certain general things to look for and do when you are buying a Bass. The main ones are :-

1)         Look for signs of abuse – Holes in the wood, especially the neck and Fret-board, dirt on the Fret-board, etc, . look for signs that something is broken and that something similar, but not the same, has been put in it’s place.  Broken tuning heads will not hold their tuning and a Bass that doesn’t stay in tune is worthless. Tuning heads can be replaced, but be aware that they are not cheap  and this can seriously increase the cost of the Bass.

2)         Hold the Bass so that you are looking along the front of the Bass from behind the Bridge and the Neck is facing away from you. Now look at the frets and check if they are all parallel to each other. If they are not, this means two things – Firstly that the neck is warped and will only get worse (it will not get better), and secondly the Bass will never be in tune all the way along the neck. By this I mean that even if the open strings are tuned, some or all the frets will he out of tune. These things make the Bass totally worthless – DO NOT BUY IT.

3)         Look at the width of the Neck. If it is larger than 2 inches/5 cm, at the widest part, then it will be physically more difficult to play correctly and you may find that you have to compromise your technique. DO NOT BUY IT.

4)         Play a note on every fret of each string. By doing this you will hear if any of the frets buzz (as opposed to sounding cleanly). This can mean a few things –  the fret has come loose and is higher than the others, that the neck is warped (this is indicated by more than one fret buzzing or the same frets busing for all the strings), or that the Saddle in the Bridge is at the wrong height (it is normally too low). THESE MAY BE REPAIRABLE BUT IT IS BEST TO SIMPLY NOT BUY THEM.

5)         Check the Tuning or Machine heads. If they feel loose, rattle or don’t change the tuning as you turn them then you will never be able to keep the Bass in tune and you will have to pay for them to be replaced. THESE MAY BE REPAIRABLE BUT IT IS BEST TO SIMPLY NOT BUY THEM.

 6)         Check the distance between the strings and the tops of the frets. This is called the action of the Bass and the larger the distance the harder the Bass will be to play. Be careful, the action may have been lowered in order to make the Bass appear easier to play but you will find that all the frets buzz and the only way to remove the buzzing sound is to raise the action.

7)         It is not advisable to buy a really cheap Bass, even for a beginner, as the reason the Bass is cheap is that it is not very good. A Bass that is not very good will make playing a lot harder and often results in the beginner giving up all together, as a Bass teacher I have seen this many times. Spending around $200 – $300 is a reasonable price and Basses do not lose value overnight so you should be able to get most of your money back if you choose.

8)         Firstly check all the electric’s work by plugging the guitar into an amplifier and trying all the different settings on the selector switch and any other switches, turning all knobs while playing to check that they are making a difference to the overall sound. If you get noise created by the movement of switches or knobs then this will not get better so either get the shop or seller to repair the problem or don’t buy the guitar. This will cause you no end of annoyance. When trying out the guitar either take your own amplifier, if you have one, or use the cheapest amplifier in the shop. An expensive amplifier is often set-up to make guitars sound better than they do in reality so beware. A cheap amplifier will give you a much better idea of how the guitar sounds.

9)         The Bridge of an electric guitar is generally more elaborate than other types of guitar and therefore can present their own problems. Check for damage. The examples below show what the bridge should look like when it is set-up correctly.

10)      Check that all the screws, etc., are adjustable and that there are not any missing. Lastly check that the tremolo arm, if there is one, works correctly by playing all the strings and then moving the tremolo arm towards the body of the guitar – GENTLY. After doing this check that the strings are still in tune and if they are not this would be a major problem, so DO NOT BUY IT.

 11)       Lastly play the Bass for a few minutes. Get used to the sound and feel of the Bass. Do you like It? This is very important because if the Bass does not feel good in your hands then you are less likely to want to play it.



Day in, Day out Passion

There are many types of passion in this world but one that always inspires me are the people who go about their business day in day out, quietly doing what they know is right. The person who loves to write and so they commit to writing a newsletter every month. When you ask them they calmly say they have been doing it for twenty years. Their passion is not restricted to bursts of genius but a steady heart that never wavers. There are people that I have known who understand that the people living on the streets are just as hungry when it rains as when the sun shines. Their passion saw through the weather forecast to something more important than being warm and dry.

What does this have to do with music – not a lot, but the passion is the same.

I have known some musicians who will never be famous, as in record sales and concert tours famous, but their memory will live in the many lives that there music has touched.

I remember a movie called Mr. Holland’s Opus. Mr. Holland wanted to be a composer but he began teaching to pay the bills. At the end of the movie he completes his opus but his crowning moment is that it is played be all his past students. It was only then that he realised the impact of his love of music and his love of his students. I was a great moment but it was also sad that it took so long for him to realise it.

Below is the performance of his opus. Enjoy.

The passion is back!

Sometimes you have just got to believe that you can re find your passion. When I decided to start playing guitar again it didn’t come easy straight away but I kept trying. I decided to play for 30 minutes a day whether I wanted to or not. Apart from being ill recently I have maintained this discipline and now I am pleased to say that 30 minutes of playing is no longer hard.

I have downloaded the chords for songs I have never played before and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. It is like I am learning all over again but with a lot of skills to help me. I did think about all the old songs I already knew but decided I need new everything. Maybe one day I will go back to old favourites but not now.

So the passion wasn’t dead just buried under a whole load of negative experiences. I can and will turn it around even if it takes months. However if it takes days I will be happy as well.

I have moved to a new wordpress page.

Click on the link below to see my new wordpress page. There will be music posts, health posts, life posts and information on my new book – “Need more money – The light at the end of the tunnel.

Find out how you can be rich by controlling where your money goes. Create a plan for financial freedom today.

Heard some great music lately.

My wife and I went to a blues music festival just over a week ago and heard this all girl group, called Quatro, who were absolutely amazing live. They were very talented and passionate. We were amazed at their ability to move with violins and a cello and play complex pieces perfectly. My wife plays violin and was lost for words. We loved them so much that we bought their c.d.’s.

So here is a you tube video of them. Truly worth a look.


We look forward to seeing them live again. Check out their other videos.

Well would you believe it that I went to work on the project and had to print a couple of things first. While printing there was a bang and everything went off. After resetting the mains electricity the only thing that would not work was my computer. I took it too a computer repairer today and got the “oh my that’s really old. I am not sure there are parts for that.” After some discussion I was offered a solution that was either get mine repaired, but it is old, or upgrade to another computer that may be compatible with the files I have it may not. The hard drives may work, they may not. I could lose all my programs but I could just buy new ones. This the second repair I have had to do on this computer and it is looking like repairs could become a regular part of my life. However the newer computer poses a lot of stress and what ifs and maybes.

Music is on hold because of the pending doom of spend, spend, spend now or spend, spend, spend later. I have some money that I have saved and my music is really important to me but I am tired that computers are money pits that promise much and offer a lot less.

I am going to have to bite the bullet and spend now, work through the stress and hopefully come out the other end free to create again.

I know there is not a great deal of passion in todays blog but the reality is that sometimes to enjoy the thrill of passion you have to embrace the pain and move on. The one thing that I know won’t help is doing nothing. Maybe this is another test to move me forward. I believe that there is a lesson to be learned in everything.

Just this week my youngest son felt some serious pain. His room was getting smaller and smaller because he never put anything away. So he had the pain of tidying his whole room. So far it has taken him 5 hours although some of that was him complaining that no-one was helping him. I smiled and let him feel the pain. Today his room is tidier and he has been bringing these amazing things to show us that he hasn’t seen for months. I gave him the task of getting a piece of paper and on one side listing the benefits of a messy room and on the other the benefits of a tidy room. The first side had the words “nothing at all”. The other side had 6 different reasons for a tidy room. He has written it and it is going on his bedroom door. Every time he leaves the room he will be introduced to the benefits of a tidy room. I wonder if it will have an affect.

I have known for about a year that I need to spend money on my computer, now I have got to do it.

Here I am, I have had this music project sitting there for a couple of weeks and every time I have gone to it there has been something else to do that takes my time. Sound familiar. I really want to do it and finish it but something has stopped me. Could it be fear? I choose what to do with my time and not do. The honest truth is that as long as don’t do something I can’t fail and be rejected as not being good enough. How stupid is that! Never succeeding because I never want to fail. Writing it down is my way of telling myself how pointless this view is. I know that if I saw someone else doing the same thing I would want to encourage them to look past the fear of failure to see the possibility of success. So why don’t I do it myself? I have battled with fear all my adult life and when I have failed it is like saying to myself “I told you so”, but when I succeeded I didn’t celebrate I just saw the next battle.

I have been away for a few days with my eldest son to a quiet place where we could talk. As we did I realised that he has some fears about his future. I decided that now I have something bigger than me to work for. When I overcome my fears and celebrate my failures my son will see a better way to live and, hopefully, do the same.

So, I am starting the music project and I will use this blog as a kind of diary as to what works and what doesn’t, whether I get the job of composing for a film or not, all of it. I will celebrate success or failure because I will have overcome myself and shown my son how to overcome fear.


Just as a footnote. I have to say that my e store is not up and running as when we came to test it, my wife was able to buy the item and then there was no page for her to go to download the item. This has been a cause of much frustration and if there is anyone out there with the ability to sort out this problem I would really appreciate HELP. I have failed because I don’t know what to do next and as of this moment I cannot move forward. Please help. I can pay some money if you can solve the problem.

Hello. Today I took a step forward in my journey to realize my dream of having a successful business that helps people realize their musical dreams. I am on the whole illiterate when It comes to how to make things happen on wordpress. I have taken a long time to master posts and pages, urls and short code, but today I set-up my E-Store and Shopping cart all by myself. I found the right tutorial for my product and followed it. When I hit a problem I went back and tried something else and it worked.

I was amazed at my own ability and the fact that I stuck with it until I figured it out. So my first Store item is available and there will be many more. I can only get better from here. I know there is much more work to do but I feel elated and for now that is pretty good.

I have been listening to a series of talks by creative people who have successful online businesses via the Right-Brainers in Business Video Summit. The annual event is finished now but I highly recommend it to anyone who thinks they can’t be successful. Like me, these are ordinary people who dared to say I can do it, and did.

I am going to sleep well tonight after my mammoth achievement.

I’ve been out of work for 3 years. I have been refused interviews for jobs that I am over qualified for. I am 50 and I am looking at who am I. Am I lazy and living off the hard work of others or am I a man who has realised that I must take control of my life and not rely  on the idea that some one will employ me. I have a good brain, a drive for life and years of experience. Like my friend that I talked about in my last post I choose to respect myself even if employers don’t. At the moment my life is in transition. I no longer believe that there is a job out there for me. I now know that I must create my income for myself.

Once I got my head around the idea of working for myself it actually began to be exciting. Nearly a month later and I haven’t earned any money but my life has changed and I know it is only a matter of time before the money follows. I have been listening to a free online conference by creative people who run online businesses and the information has been priceless. I have learnt that it is all about relationships and that asking the right questions opens doors that otherwise stay shut. It is not about sell, sell, sell it is about how can I help you achieve what you need and therefore achieve what I need.

Soul searching for me means that the future looks good. The future isn’t tomorrow or the next day but looking at 2 years time and working towards it today and tomorrow.



I have been busy the last few days. I went to encourage a friend to get out of a toxic job that was making them sick. They are a brilliant person in their field and yet they are under appreciated. They have so much valuable information to sell but are put off by the whole management of it. So there I was saying to them to pay someone to do the things they can’t. They said I have no money to pay someone so I said tell this person ‘I will pay you 10% of everything you earn for me.” They thought for a moment and said “What about you, will you do it.” What an opportunity, yes I will.” We have talked twice since and have a clear direction to get started and I couldn’t be happier. My friend will soon be free of that toxic job and I get paid to help them.

Today I started learning about another one of my passions – share trading. I love numbers and turning them into money. Shares are a great way to do it. So I found a share market game where I can trade shares with virtual money and try out my ideas without losing any money of my own. The winner of the game is the person with the most amount of money at the end and the prize is $3000 of real money. Everyone starts with $50,000. However the game started in February so I am behind. But today I made $262 profit in my first day. I started the day ranked 4,212 out 10,000 but I think that tomorrow I will have moved up. I have a plan for tomorrow and we will see. For me this is like playing computer games that stretch your mind. I am learning a lot and having fun.

I also taught guitar and recorded a piece of music that I hope will be used in a short movie. I am sitting here tired but really up. Tomorrow I carry on working on my third book and record some more music. Maybe make some more (virtual) money on shares or lose some, spend time with my wife and kids and visit some friends to swap stories.

Life is good.

Hello. I have been going through a journey in my life over the last two weeks that has brought me back to the dreams of my childhood and teens. I have sat down and started from the point of view that I am my greatest asset. I have lived and learned for the last 50 years and accumulated the ability to create ideas, then break them down into components, research the best way to realize each component and therefore complete the idea. Sometimes the ideas are huge and scary but when I break them down into what can I do today to move closer to the goal scary is gone. A win under your belt leads to another and another, then even a setback becomes a new opportunity. Wow a problem helps me go somewhere I hadn’t thought of before.

My life this week has been a round of possibilities and big ideas, excitement and a renewal. I know I am not young again but I feel like that young man who left home believing the world was his oyster. I have no concrete plans but lots of ideas to research and lots of steps towards big ideas.

Life is good.

Hello. I struggled for a while over what to put on my blog. I wanted to write about music and my passion for it, but I found that when you awaken passion it flows into all the areas of your life. So my dilemma was is this the right place to share my other passions. My wife is a very wise woman who said – “whose blog is it? Is it about you? What is worse, writing nothing while you make a big decision or just realizing that there is no big decision and just write?”

Well isn’t life so much simpler when you ask the right questions.

So what am I passionate about? My wife – clever woman that she is. My sons growing to be men. I love teaching because I learn so much. I love creating ways to make money that doesn’t take me out of the home and away from my family.

I have been reading a lot and watching documentaries and they all lead me to a conclusion – that if I spend less than I create I am rich. I have been told that I cannot live on what I get but here I am living a good life and moving forward all the time. At the moment I have to admit centrelink pays my wages but I am busy working towards a future that frees me from dependence while not destroying my relationships with my family in the process. My creativity is up and I have learned that my greatest asset is my brain and my desire to use it. I am not sure what the whole future holds but I know that it is in my hands and it is up to me to mould it into my dreams.

Watch this space for more passion.

Hello.I went and played on saturday with the group BXTA. We played at a community centre and i learned a very valueable lesson. We had two sets and a bit of a gap in between. During the first set we had less than ten people sitting in the seats watching us. I felt pretty flat and i think the others did too. We sat drinking and i thought well that didn’t go well. We had talked about giving a cd away in a draw and we had announced it on stage. No one had come to us to enter the draw so we decided to go and talk to the people who were around, even though we didn’t really want to . We got email addresses to go into the draw and onto our mailing list and i got some positive feedback from people. At the end of going around i had a very different view of our success as a band. We played our second set and gave away a cd. Then we settled down to enjoy the rest of the music and eat something. There i was sausages in one hand and a hot black tea in the other when someone bumped into me and the tea burnt my hand enough for me to end up sat in the St. Johns ambulance area. I had to sit with my hand in water for 20 minutes. So we started chatting and i said to the St. Johns people that i liked the band that were on when one of them said “Yes they are good but i liked the one’s on before better.” “The trio?” I asked. “Yes.” It brought a smile to my face as they didn’t realise that i was the bass player and when i said they looked at me and smiled as they realised that i was. There you go! I didn’t think that getting my hand burnt would have a silver lining. In the end we had 35 emails and the BXTA mailing list is born. If we had taken what was in front of us we would never have known of the people that really liked us.

I wonder how many other times i have missed out on some great people and experiences by not looking deeper than what is in front of me.

We have some really exciting things coming up like a single release – soon. Then throwing ourselves into crowdfunding our first album. One day the dream is to play music full time, excite and inspire a lot of people  and get paid a lot of money for it.

What’s your dream? How cool would it be if it became real.

In the last 3 days i have played more music with more people than for a long time. I have been paid, which does feel good, but to have random people tell they like what you do feels so much better. To have friends and other musicians like what you do makes it all worthwhile. The future looks exciting as i work with more talented people. Two people are Rebecca O’Donnell and Josh. We are working together under the name BXTA. Have you heard of crowdfunding? It is a great opportunity for ordinary, people with vision and heart to invest in others dreams and be a part of their reality. We are looking to record an album of Rebecca’s songs and need help with the cost so we are in the process of applying to one of, the many, crowdfunding sites. We haven’t decided which yet but it will be in next month or 2. Would you invest in us? As the weeks pass i will give everyone more information and you will be able to listen to a single that we will have recorded ourselves. I look forward to sharing this experience with you. Steve.

Hi. My second book is published and after a number of setbacks with the internet i have my audio tracks loaded and ready to go. I am excited about Bass Book 3. So here is the synopsis of Bass Book 2. I hope you give it a try. The link is

This book is the second in a series of six books that I believe will take you, the reader, on a journey to becoming a completely passionate bassist. Building on the foundation of good technique you begin to explore Scales, Arpeggios and Rhythm. Next you learn to combine them to make music. The audio tracks enable you test what you have learnt and create your own bass tracks within the knowledge you have already learnt. You are beginning to be creative and even though there is a long way to go you can start. When I first started playing bass in bands all I knew was one scale shape and how to move it around the fret board to make every scale. The best way to be a bassist is to take every little thing you learn and use it. The thing with bass is that it is primarily a support instrument so you don’t have to know everything to be able to play in a band. This book will give you a very good grounding in one key. Book 3 will expand that to all the keys played in music. Enjoy the next step on the journey and use what you learn.



Learn to be The Completely Passionate Bassist


This book is the first in a series of six books that I believe will take you, the reader, on a journey to becoming a completely passionate bassist. Passion says I can, when there is no reason to. I have to say that playing music is so much more than notes and rhythm; it is creating moods, painting pictures and telling stories. It’s about the communication of the soul, a language that is global and timeless. As a guitar and bass teacher, of 30 years, I have learnt that my role is not about me looking good and being admired but it is about me helping you to realise how much you can create. Do you want to create music that inspires others? Book one lays the foundation with the all important technique. Then you are ready to move on and build more and more until you are free to fly solo. If you feel curious join me on this journey and see. Steve. 


If you want to buy this book click on this Url –

I have found that i become stagnant and predictable when i try to create  alone, but when i open myself to others i become better. It is interesting that i have gained a lot of knowledge of music but that cannot replace inspiration and enjoyment. I have often wondered what is the difference between two musicians who can play the same chords and rhythms, except one inspires the listener and the other plays well. Heart makes the difference. I know that when my heart is fully excited about my music it sounds and feels different. I feel confident sharing the music with others.

I am keen to collaborate with more people. Create in new ways. Expand my heart and love of music. Hopefully inspire others.

Look for bass book number 2. The first book took a lot of time and now i am feeling confident that the second will be a much easier story. I suppose i could rant and rave about how long the first book took and all the disappointments along the way but even though it was all those things i learned a lot. I am better prepared for the coming books and songs and music jobs. My mum used to say “When everything seems to be going wrong just take the next step and sooner or later you will get there.”  Well i think i took a lot of steps and now i think i have got there.  So where is my next destination? If i keep taking steps I’ll know some time in the future. Right now it’s exciting to not know everything about the future, just an assurance that i can live it and it won’t break me.

Lately i have been meeting some really great people and my creativity has never been better. I know that i need other people in my life to bounce off. Not because we both gain something but just for the fun of doing something great. I watched a movie the other day and i am looking for a copy to keep. The title really doesn’t do the movie justice. It is called “The 3 Idiots.” There was so many truths in this movie that it would take to long to list them all but the one in my mind right now said “Pursue  excellence and success will chase  after you, pants down.” You would have to watch the movie to get the “pants down” bit. So i have decided to pursue excellence and excellent people and let success find me.


Hi. Feeling good at the moment.  Someone has given me the opportunity to submit some music for a Tv series.  So i am back composing and loving it, creating ideas for a brief. Finding inspiration from Tv shows and You Tube. Then there is my cd collection.  Music coming in and out and all over me. What more can i say.

A little while ago i gave a cd of my music to a friend and she came back and thanked me. I was blown away. It is always hard to share yourself with someone but i am glad i did.  After her response i started putting my music online and i have grown in confidence, but what of her. She is now designing my ebook front covers. She has been unsure but i have no doubts that she is talented.  Sarah is a pleasure to work with and it is refreshing to find someone that is so talented and humble with it. Keep up the good work my friend and you will go far.

Reflecting on life in a passionate world i have been listening to new music and being inspired again. Last week i recorded my sons banging a collection of household items and i am working on a rhythm track. Then we are adding mouth sounds and see where we end up. It could a cacophony of noise or a revelation of brilliance or just plain fun. I have been watching a DVD of “The Script” and there was the behind the scenes section. One persons comment hit me and i replayed it. “Their songs are like they are writing my life.” The power of music to communicate to thousands and each feel the connection that is personal and real. I have learned the band are a bunch of guys who seem amazed at their success and just love their lives. The music is excellent and i am looking forward to more viewing. I am going into the studio for the first time in ages and i am excited and nervous, but more excited. I am recording music for my books and a few songs, so watch this space. See you. Steve.

Hello. This week has been exciting – the publication of my first ebook called “The Completely Passionate Bassist”. Go to and put Stephen Utting in the author search and you will find the book.
I was writing a blurb for something to promote the book and for the first time I really felt comfortable calling myself an author. It’s been a bit scary because all the time you talk about doing something it’s somewhere out there and there is not enough for anyone to have an opinion on it. It’s not a solid thing that people can reject or ridicule. However there is no real satisfaction in never finishing something because of fear. Then there is the amazing thought that people may and do enjoy your creation. So I leapt into the abyss of success or failure and it actually feels better than standing on the edge wondering how it would feel to jump.
I still have a lot to learn but i am going to learn by doing, failing, succeeding and doing some more. My wife has committed to 3 years of study so I have committed to keep going for the same amount of time but I am hoping to be going longer.

It’s been a while since my last post.  My life has been crazy. So many possibilities but no access to the internet. How good is it that the local library has internet. Musically I have been writing new songs and composing music for a movie. I have been encouraging others to use what they have in there hands instead of worrying abut what they don’t have. One guy has gone out and bought a computer recording setup and played a gig solo. He is like a child at christmas and it has been encouraging to me to see him grow in confidence. My renewed excitement has been a direct result of getting this website up and running and have others giving me positive feedback. I love seeing others grow. Last week one of my students gave her first performance to her family after 5 lessons. We played a piece together and she got very excited that she had achieved something. Her family were equally pleased and i know that the lessons from now on are going to be more enjoyable for her and me. I am looking forward to sharing more of the music coming out of my collaborations or even from some of the talented people i know who don’t have the confidece to share on their own. At the moment the computer with all my teaching material has crashed and won’t even start, so there will be a delay in more teaching chapters but they will come some time in the future. All the best Steve.

I wanted to take this time to say a big thank-you to everyone who has taken the time to write encouraging comments to my pages and posts. It has been an exciting time reading your thoughts. With people from many countries, including Brazil, U.k., America and Seychelles as well as here in Australia. A number of people have said that they want to follow my posts and for those of you that haven’t done this, please go to the subscriptions section and put your email in there. You will receive any new posts i write.

The other thing i would like to bring to your attention is the DONATE button. Please do not misunderstand, i am not doing this for money and that is why there is only one button and no further reference to it through all my pages and posts. However, if you can afford the cost of a cup of tea then i would be grateful. If you cannot, then please enjoy anyway.

The school holidays here have enabled me to take more time for this website and as a result i have been able to add  6 more pages. I did want to add more audio tracks but they will come later.

I am really enjoying seeing that people are learning from the knowledge i have gained. It has laid dormant for a long time and now i can share it. It is interesting that i was able to overcome the barrier of the internet once i overcame it in my mind. Lately i have been wondering what else do i have in my mind that needs overcoming. I realised i could be busy for a long time. How about you? Is your mind getting in the way of your creative genius? Have you settled for second best because you stopped believing in yourself?

Doubt is a killer and i have made the decision not to doubt any more. The words of encouragement i have received have made me realise that i am not alone but part of the great melting pot that this world is. Thank you again and please continue to enjoy.

I saw this You tube clip today and enjoyed it as the first musician seemed alone to start with but watch and see what happens:-

In my last post i said i was about to try out for a band. I did that last weekend and it was an interesting experience. They were looking for a thrashing, genius, rock’n’roll lead guitar player. I didn’t fit the bill. They were all in there forties or fifties and were talking about going on tour and record deals. I however saw ordinary songs and ordinary players. It was fun as a jam but i knew it wasn’t going any further. Every song had a guitar solo section and i struggled to find 16 bars of creativity for evey song. So we parted company. As i was driving home i began to think about where i am in life. I am in my forties and i have played a lot of music. I realised that being famous and rich had lost it’s appeal to me. At home i had a wife who loves me even though she knows my faults and 2 sons who want Dad around. I have learned to enjoy the music i do and the people this puts me in contact with. Nothing is about fame and fortune now and i am happier for it.

The amazing thing is that i haven’t been trying to be successful and suddenly i am getting offers to play and people wanting to connect with me. A friend has the dream to make a movie. He has written the script and has producers, actors and even some financial backing. I get to have a go at writing the music for the movie. I get to work from home (when we get one), around my family’s needs, watch movies as research and listen to their music. I want to use strings so get to listen to my favourite classical composers to get idea’s for string parts. Life is very cool. The movie may not make it big but we are enjoying the process.

I wonder where i would be now if i had learned, as a young man, to just enjoy the process instead of only being focussed on being famous. Still i am there now.

I was reading a facebook message by a young guy who is a musician and he was down because no-one was buying his music. I remember being there but i shared with him where i am and hopefully he will get his focus back on the music.

Just to let you know about the house, we lost ours to the bank some months ago. The auction is in 7 days. We live in a converted shed in a friends garden. It is a nice shed, has electricity but no water. We are glad that we have a roof over heads as there are plenty of others who don’t. We are happy because we are a family and we are together. There was a time when i worked 60 hours every week, i didn’t have time for my family and i didn’t play music. I just existed to pay bills. There are many people who have openly told me that i am crazy for giving up work but a home without love is just as much a prison as one with bars.

I can honestly say that money comes and goes, things are new for only a few days, but love endures. I am a lucky man to have love and it has inspired my music to even greater heights.

I have been invited to try out for a band as a lead guitar player, so this has got me thinking about what is a great lead guitar break. When i was studying music my guitar teacher was a mature jazz player and he started off by giving me all these sax and trumpet solos. He said to go and learn them on the guitar and come back to him. It was a bit like “Karate Kid” – ” Wax on, Wax off”. I had no idea why i was learning solos by brass and woodwind players but i respected him so i did it. After 3 weeks of doing this i finally decided to ask why. His answer has become central to my approach to lead playing. He said they have to breathe, so there are gaps in the music, there are pauses and the really good players think in phrases that they can play in one breath. The solo ends up being something that sounds like singing. There has a purpose and a message to the solo, it communicates something that is part of the songs charcter and adds something to the song that the singer could not.

Before i think of what notes to play i always ask these questions:-

Does the song need a guitar solo?

What is the mood of the song?

What scales best create that mood?

What guitar effect best suits the mood?

When you think in these terms it stops the attitude that produces the “play as many notes as you can, distortion everywhere, scream and wail until there is smoke coming off your fingers, self indulgent guitar solo” to every song that crosses your path.

Believe me i have stood in an audience and thought this guy has amazing technique. That was a brilliantly played solo, more notes than i could dream of. But after the 3rd time i was left feeling there had to be more than this blur of notes and twenty effects running at once. You just end up wanting more.

Now i look for a solo that says something to me, that shares emotions and paints a picture.

I have always been inspired by B.B.King because he gives me time to enjoy his playing before playing the next bit. He breathes into his solos and the audience do too. He is passionate about communication.

Below is him doing what he does best. Enjoy.

One of the interesting things about creating this website is that i have been able to create things myself. The audio tracks are quite basic at the moment, especially as i have much grander things in my head. However it has brought me to a place of deciding that the advancements in technology still cannot replace the thrill of playing alongside other musicians. There is that moment when it all connects and you can feel everyone going with the moment. When i grew up and first started playing the guitar the technology just wasn’t there. We didn’t even have computers, let alone the ability to record at home. We recorded onto cassette tapes and the quality never matched the sound of the moment. Now you only the ability to cut and paste loops of someone elses genius, plug in a mic, sing someone elses words and burn it as a remix.

To be honest those days when it took effort and practice to get it right and you co-ordinated 4 or 5 people to meet together to get those precious moments, it just seemed hard. But now, looking back, I would still prefer jamming in a shed to creating a masterpiece sat in front of a computer alone.

If you are beginning on this journey or you feel like its all a bit sterile go and find some musicians and play just for the fun of it. At first it will be hard but you will begin to gel and then watch the music flow. Music is best felt and shared with others. Don’t talk about money, band names or stardom just the music.

So often music is about the money these days. It has to happen quick or not at all. So many people have asked me how much money have you made from the website so far. I haven’t but i am enjoying myself creating. I know the money will come.

I am glad for all the great moments i had that haven’t been recorded but they are in my memory. The pleasure of just being around people, musicians who love to play.

Good music still takes time, effort, skill and heart. Enjoy before you earn. Experience as you learn.

I have added some of my recorded music in the section “Instrumental Music”. Have a listen and let me know what you think. Please.

I haven’t posted for a while as i have been busy preparing for a performance. Recently a friend and i have been jamming, with guitars, in his shed. We started getting some good comments from the neighbours and so when the opportunity came to play at an event we took the chance. The only thing is my friend had never played to an audience before. I also planned for my wife to sing some songs. We didn’t get the chance to practice much and the days before she was very nervous and not completely happy with me. My friends nerves also began to fray. The day before the event there was much practising and still a lot of nerves. I have performed many times alone and many times with my wife, who has a beautiful voice, and nerves are not something i have to deal with much but even i was nervous. We got there on the day to play for a breakfast crowd and a lunch crowd. The food was plentiful and very tasty so the crowd was in good humour. After a nervous start we grew in confidence and the 45 minute set passed at lightening speed. There was applause and as we moved amongst people there were compliments for both my wife, with her beautiful voice, and my friend who was singing better and better. I really felt good for them, especially my friend who couldn’t wait to get into the second set. The day finished on a high as the choir, who were singing after us, applauded our performance and congratulated us.

I know this performance will not make any headlines but for my friend it was a triumph where he overcame his fears and enjoyed the memory. My advice to him and anyone else is “you are going to make mistakes and you are going to forget words but those moments of pure genius when it all goes right will carry you through.”

Every musician lives for those moments when that indescribable something happens and you feel the music taking you to another place. If you get the pleasure of sharing it with an audience it is so incredible that you will dream about it years later.

When i arrived on that day i didn’t know how we would go but there were a couple of indescribable moments that we would never have had if we had stayed in the comfort of the shed, locked away from the world, playing it safe.

There are no incredible moments in playing it safe, only regrets. When i am older and all i have is my memories i would much rather dream of incredible moments than be subject to regrets. What about you?

There are many types of passion in this world but one that always inspires me is the people who go about their business day in day out, quietly doing what they know is right. The person who loves to write and so commits to write a newsletter every month. When you ask them how long they have been doing the calmly say twenty years. Their passion is not restricted to bursts of genius but a steady heart that never wavers. There are people that i have known and worked with that understand that people living on the streets are just as hungry when it rains as when the sun is shining. Their passion saw through the weather forecast to something more than being warm and dry.

What does this have to do with music – not a lot, but the passion is the same.

I have known some musicians who will never be famous, as in the record sales and concert tours famous, but their memory will live in the many lives that their music has touched.

I remember a movie called Mr. Holland’s Opus. Mr. Holland wanted to be a composer but he started teaching to pay the bills. At the end of the movie he completes his Opus but the crowning moment comes when it is played by his former students. It is only then that he realises the impact of his love of music and his love of his students. it was a great moment but also sad that it took him so long to realise it.

I know that i will probably never be famous but my hope is that when i pass away that i will have inspired some people enough that they will miss me.

Below is the performance at the end of the movie. the beginning is a bit grainy but if you persist it is worth it.

Please check out my teaching notes. There are new ones coming in the next couple of days.

One of the things that seperates people from machines, when it comes to music, is the way which people can produce a pulse in music. Technical ability is good but some of the most memorable songs written are the simplest technically. What they have is that quality that enables use to connect with them. The writer and performer put their emotions into their music.

I can play everything correct on the guitar put if i have no passion for what i am playing then it will sound robotic. Many of my students have learned songs this way and simply say to me “when can i play it the way it sounds”. I have tried to explain that what they liked about the song wasn’t the chords and rhythms but they way it made them feel.

I was about 10 when i played in my first band. I only knew 4 chords but i played them with passion. We wrote 4 songs. I don’t remember what they were about but i remember the enjoyment of making them come to life.

So to you i can say from experience that for those you that think you are not talented enough learn from the rock’n’roll masters who songs are still played now. They weren’t the cleverest musicians but said what they wanted to say with heart.

Here are some of my favourites, i found on you tube.

I have always found it interesting the way judges on talent shows say they are looking for that hidden talent but still seem to judge someone by their appearance. I was looking at Britain’s Got Talent 2012. The auditions give us the good, the bad, the ugly. Then there are those who look like they should be bad when they really are so much more than good. They are inspirational! They have to endure the humiliation of being judged before they are allowed any sort of opportunity. Then after all of that they blow everyone away.

The following clip shows a teenage singing duo that fit into this category.

The incredible thing for me, as a music teacher, is that their teacher saw more than just two voices that may work together. The teacher saw a teenage boy who needed to sing with another singer who was passionate about people’s rights, passionate about his right to be respected. The teacher chose a partner that met his needs. She was so much more than another singer, she stood up for him, she encouraged him when he faltered, she saw his genius.

When he was offered the opportunity of individual fame he knew that she was of greater value to him than fame. She had supported him and when the opportunity came he showed how much he valued her.

For me this is where passion unlocks a world that simple mechanics cannot.

The teacher knew they could sing, alone or together. The teacher knew that there is more to a performer than the mechanics of their instrument. Performers need to be vulnerable to be great, they are passionate and that passion can be as destructive as it can bring out the genius.

For me these young singers have a lot to thank their teacher for. This teacher is passionate about them as people.

If you are looking to learn anything from a teacher, look for someone who will be passionate about you.

Good luck. They are out there.


So you might be asking, why another guitar teaching website? What do I offer that is so revolutionary?

Quick Fix or Lifetime of Creativity.

I think that through my teaching that I have found that people often want a short term fix and so many teachers are forced to give their students classic riffs and the latest and greatest song turned into its simplest form so the beginner can play it.

This then carries on until the student realises that they can play a bit of this and a bit of that but they have no clue why it works and most of all how to be creative themselves.


I chose early on that I would teach students to be creative from day 1. Those who stayed the distance are still playing and creating music for themselves.

So there are plenty of sites that offer the quick fix but if you are prepared to work and learn you can have a lifetime of creativity.


In my opinion there are four parts to being a complete musician and they are:-

  • Theory.
  • Technique.
  • Style.
  • Creativity.


The level that you achieve in these four parts will determine the quality of your music.


I believe that being a musician is about being creative. To do this you need to understand the language of music and communicate it so well that you touch people’s hearts. Does your playing enable others feel things that only music can help them feel.


It is about being vulnerable and real and finding confidence in these things.

I believe I have the understanding to offer to help you gain the tools you need. I cannot do it for you but my aim is to encourage you every step of the way to think for yourself and begin creating with what you have at any given point.

If you will allow me to walk this journey with you I can help you realise your full potential. Will you walk with me for a while?


All the best Steve.


I have been trying to put together a site for a while. For one reason or another it hasn’t happened, so I thought I’d have a go myself. I chose “Music for the Passionate” because I love music and I have found that passionate people inspire me, even if I don’t agree with them. I have always tried to inspire people to be passionate about all musical forms and expressions.

I love looking through You Tube and finding music that I can enjoy.

I am a guitar and bass player and I also teach. I have learned a lot over the years and I just want to share what I have learned.

There were all sorts of questions about how much to charge and how to market. It all became something that took me away from my goal – to share my passion for music.


So I decided to keep it simple. Everything is free.

Look at the pages and if you like them download the corresponding pdf file. (Pdf file download).

If you like what I am offering and it is helpful to you, please give me the price of a cup of tea or two if you wish.

I am English and I love tea. I have travelled a lot and tried tea from all over. You could say I am passionate about tea. Just as I am typing this my wife is boiling the kettle for a cup of tea – Lady Grey. Fragrant and uplifting.

At the moment I  have put some teaching material on the site. This is only a fraction of the material i have and i will be adding more each week. I have been writing material for the last 15 years for my private students so there is plenty to add.

There are also more titles to come, like Contemporary Guitar and Lead Guitar.   I also intend adding audio and video tracks to all the teaching material ( i am on a learning curve at the moment and this is the next step) so you are welcome to come back and download the updates if you wish.

Please leave any comments you want to make. I am just beginning on my journey so I would appreciate any help or feedback I can get.

Finding my old love again.

I went through a period of feeling sorry for myself and not wanting to have any part of music. I had been in a trio and thought this was going to be it. I loved playing the music and was enjoying the success that was beginning. But it was not to be and I packed away my instruments and decided to never play again. I buried myself in being successful in other areas and tried hard to tell myself it was the best choice. That was over a year ago and recently I toyed with the idea of selling my instruments. I thought I will just play them for a couple of times and then sell them. I played my guitar one night and an idea for a song began. It really shocked me. It has been a couple of weeks and I haven’t changed my mind but the more I play the more the choice is easier to make. This week I was asked to bring my guitar to a party. I did and I can’t say it went well but I played and sang and it felt good.

Will the future hold musical success and fame or more personal enjoyment but one is for certain. I won’t be selling anything and I will be writing new songs. Maybe they will end up on You Tube and I will celebrate my old love again.