I first heard about 'The Echo Lab' while I was at Perth College UHI, I can't remember if it was when I was attending or while I was working at the fresher's fayre. Either way, I ended up attending a taster drum workshop there last year.
In the intervening months, 'The Echo Lab' has gone from strength to strength, developing their student base and recently opening up a new premises at the Tayview Industrial Estate at Friarton in Perth. 'The Echo Lab' is still run by Charlotte and Kerr but they are now able to offer recording services and rehearsal space along with guitar and drum tuition.
I plan to make use of the 'The Echo Lab' recording studio very soon, me and my friend Sean have a little band called The Dust Jackets and once about every 5 years we get round to writing some new songs. However, my guitar chops are severely lacking, so I thought I would try a guitar taster session with Kerr to shake off the cobwebs and get me back into a new practice regime.
For some mad reason, I decided to cycle in from Abernethy with my electric guitar strapped to my back. I've recently purchased an electric bike which has become my main form of transit and I wanted to see if it was a suitable method of transporting my instrument.
On the ride in my head was full of all the possibilities that this lesson could bring about. I've never really applied myself to the guitar and with Kerr's guidance, I reckoned I could really come on leaps and bounds. Up until this point, the only shredding I had done was at the Small City office, covering up one of the boss's nefarious business deals (I kid! I kid!). But I reckon I would soon show those metal boys how it was done. Within a couple of years, I reckon folk'll be referring to me as, 'the white Hendrix'. Hell, give it time and they'll be calling Hendrix 'the black Colin McSloy'. It's possible ... likely even.
When I arrive at 'The Echo Lab' I am greeted by Kerr and he shows me into one of the practice rooms. The place looks lush, I love how they have painted it in yellow and white to match their branding, it's a really nice touch.
Kerr starts me off with some exercises that are designed to improve finger strength, coordination and get you using the whole fretboard in a joined-up way. Often when you start learning scales you tend to get find yourself stuck between the same four frets and exercises like these help to break that habit early on.
He chooses each piece he teaches his student so they get something particular out of it. It's not just learning a song for the sake of it but almost like an exercise that improves your technique.I did exercises like this when I was learning the bass so I cope fairly well with them. We have a discussion about the best way to incorporate these exercises into my practice. Kerr said it's really important to be able to play them cleanly with good technique but also to challenge yourself with faster tempo's. He suggests mixing things up by playing them once at a comfortable speed which you gradually increase and then playing them at a faster speed that is slightly out of your comfort zone.
Kerr then checks what chord's I know and we establish what open and Barre chords I am capable of. He then asks what songs I can play so he can get an idea of what song he will teach me in the second part of the lesson. It's been ages since I picked up a guitar and the only thing I can remember off the top of my head is 'Strange Currencies' by R.E.M. I've always enjoyed songs with arpeggios or broken chords so Kerr decides to teach me 'Roxanne' by The Police.
As he teaches me the song I recognise the chord shapes from 'Every Breathe You Take', it's almost like two power chords stacked on top of each other. There is a wee pinky slide on the last chord and I can already see how practicing the finger exercises will make this easier. I find stringing the chords together fairly challenging and I will have to practice to get it up to speed, it's somehow faster than it sounds. Kerr says he chooses each piece he teaches his student so they get something particular out of it. It's not just learning a song for the sake of it but almost like an exercise that improves your technique.
I really enjoyed my lesson and Kerr was a great teacher. I had planned on practicing the song and making a YouTube video of it to show you how I got on. Hendrix, when I get my guitar back you better watch out! I'm coming for you!
Perth Festival of the Arts has joined forces with its 2020 artists to create a 10-day online celebration to ‘celebrate the arts together'.
May 21st Thursday 2020
Dougie Maclean's new Perthshire festival this summer: Cardney Concerts.
March 18th Wednesday 2020
Party at The Park, the South Inch, 27th and 28th June, will feature fantastic live performances from The Charlatans and many more!
March 12th Thursday 2020