My Instruments

Aside from instruments like recorders, xylophones, and various percussive instruments that every child gets to play as they go through music classes in schools, I've learned a few instruments through either private lessons, classes, or symphonic ensembles. Other than my voice, which is my best and most polished instrument, my first "real" instrument would have to be the flute. I've not done much with it -- various school bands all the way through to university, for the most part -- but I enjoy just sitting and allowing a melody to form by itself as the flute sings. That's pretty much how a short quasi-outro melody came into existence for a song on my friend Steph's CD. I never took official lessons on the flute -- just what was taught to me in school and what I picked up through experience over the years.

I play a Washburn D10S guitar. I am by no means proficient -- indeed, I only started learning the instrument when I graduated university, and then my teacher had to stop giving lessons (and if you see this page, you know who you are. I have a question for you. Email me!), but the guitar already feels right to me. I now understand what a guitar-friendly key is and my writing habits have changed accordingly. Although for some perverse reason I still tend to write songs that require an obscene amount of bar-chords.

My other stringed instrument is the harp. The folk harp, to be exact. When most people hear the word harp, they imagine a massive instrument with what seems like an infinite number of strings. Well, the folk harp isn't quite that big, and the nature of accidentals is different -- a concert harp makes use of pedals that sharp or flat all the strings of a given note when they are engaged -- the folk harp has levers that sharp or flat an individual string. Key changes are harder on a folk harp. Actually, I started playing the harp before the guitar, so this is somewhat out of order here, but I hope you'll forgive me. I'm not a stellar harp player, really, and although I do enjoy some of the classic harp pieces, I'm driven to sing, so I tend to do things like arrange Sarah Mclachlan for the harp and back it up with my voice. It works for me and it makes an impression. But I must admit I haven't been practicing the harp much as of late. This isn't entirely my fault, as it won't hold a key...I've got to tighten the tuning pegs sooner or later.

I never took piano lessons, and, quite honestly, I don't really play the piano -- I learned the concept behind triads years ago and discovered that it was a short leap to "sight-reading" from guitar chords. So if you give me the chords to a song I've heard before, I can do a decent job of accompanying myself while I sing. It was this same concept that showed me the world of songwriting. Often, my songs are nothing more than guitar chords and lyrics scribbled on paper. The melody stays in my head. So while I can't say that I play the piano, per se...it's a very important instrument in my repetoire. And I don't have a decent picture of it right now... because you can't see the piano under all the paper piled on top of it. I'd like to say that will change sometime soon...but it won't.