Update from field. by Eric.
I have been taken lesson's on the Liuqin (Small Mandolin/Lute-esque instrument) with a teacher named Mu Xue Liang (Snow Good Mu). He is a really nice guy, but he sure takes his Liuqin technique seriously. Our first two hour lesson was quite literally plucking open strings. Before we started these lesson I said, purely as a joke, that I wished our teachers didn't even let us touch the instruments until we had learned some sort of zen moral lesson about pride or patience by carrying around a bag of rocks until they become smooth or something along those lines. Of all the members of Matteo I seemed to get the closest to that. All my years of playing guitar, mandolin, banjo and the like seemed to offer me no assistance. I can't think of one thing I did right that first lesson --not even holding the pic. "Hold the pic like a Tiger holds it's cub, gentle but firm. Don't kill it," Xue Liang says to me. I start to play my chromatic scale again. "See. You are killing it!" "I can't kill a pic Xue Liang, it is a piece of plastic!" I respond. He looks me in the eye, "Yes, but you can kill the sound." That is probably the best description how I have been spending my time the last week, just hanging out in Chengdu, China mass murdering innocent sounds.
The painfully ironic thing about it is I chose to do the lessons on the Liuqin because I thought it would be the easiest for me to learn in the few weeks we are here because of my background in Mandolin. Now, after a week of two hour lessons I am still plucking open strings. And just starting to stumble through a simple folk song aptly called, " Golden Snake Dancing Crazy." (my own translation) The folk players only use what they call simple notation which revolves purely around the Do-re-mi-fa- so which I am also very unfamiliar with, next to every other unfamiliar thing about the music. At the end of every lesson I sort sit and think, "Wasn't I sort of good at music before this?"
Luckily, every afternoon and night has been spent doing what I am slightly more able to accomplish: creating music. I hadn't written a song in over a year up to this point, and being the principal song writer in the band that wasn't boding well for the future of Matteo. But coming here and being able to focus for just a few weeks on just one endeavor has really helped me open up that fickle vault of inspiration, and because I know this time is limited I'm looting the place...
We are all excited to show you all what we are creating. Thank you again to all who helped us make this a possibility. Hopefully you all enjoy the product as much as we have enjoyed the process.