1 Riff a Day Challenge

Ever since September 1st, I've been participating in one of those online "post-one-x-every-day-for-y-days" challenges on Instagram (@cristinaawilliams) and it's been absorbing the spare time I had been trying to set aside for blog writing (or writing or most any other creative endeavor in general).

It's the 1 Riff A Day challenge started by She Shreds magazine. And it's been an illuminating, encouraging and yes, challenging experience to say the least.

She Shreds Magazine (http://sheshredsmag.com/) is an amazing resource for someone like me - a female guitarist and bass player - especially because it above all focuses on the music, the musicians and the gear. There's no cutesy-ness, not much pink or otherwise gender-specific touchstones except that it reminds us that there are LOTS of guitarists and bassists out there who happen to be women. The information about axes and pedals is spot on and the interviews (and gear list) of the artists and bands they spotlight is really inspiring. As social animals, it makes a huge difference to see yourself reflected in so many other people when you're just not used to it!

So when She Shred's instagram account posted about a September challenge of posting a short video of yourself playing a riff every day, I felt a big YES inside. Which is weird because the idea of videotaping myself every day is NOT appealing (even now after doing it for 17 days straight). I haven't vibed with the whole 'selfie' culture - it's just so... vulnerable. I'm not the kind of gal who likes to spiff up every day - basic hygiene is the most I strive for during the week - so the idea of revealing my less-than-perfect self to the instagram world every day gives me an uncomfortable wiggle in my stomach every time.

But this is a challenge - and a part of me strongly felt that I needed it.

So every day - working around my job-rehearsal-performance schedule - I work out a riff and post a video of it. It can be almost anything that fits between 15 seconds to a minute. It can be something you create that day (which is what I usually try to do), on almost any kind of instrument - though guitars and basses are the norm or it can be a cover, something you already wrote before - or with the modern onset of looping pedals and recording software - it can even be a compilation of sonic ayers that you build with different riffs (I've seen LOTS of cool examples of this!)

I've been recording an assortment of riffs on acoustic guitar, electric bass and electric guitar. The last has been really special for me because I realized I hadn't played electric guitar in YEARS! Since moving to bass in The Modeens back in our LA days, I just hadn't picked it back up. Jamie let me borrow one of his that I've coveted for a while - an Eastwood remake of an Airline Bighorn - which is soooo light and easy to play. I still have my Ampeg Junior Jet amp and dug out an old Overdrive/Distortion pedal Jamie had given me ages ago. My fingers feel like sausages on these thiiiiin strings (compared to bass or acoustic) but it felt SO good to feel the thrum of electricity on all six strings again.

And I've been surprising myself. Pushing myself to tap into some central source of creativity and share it with the world every day of the month. And each day has been a revelation. I always think of myself as a singer first, writer second. Playing an instrument has usually been for fun, to help the band, to support the song. But I don't really, really think of myself as a Musician. 

But I do now. I'm not nearly as good as I wish I was and there's a lot more that I'd like to improve. But I'm finally owning to myself that I do have something to offer as a guitarist and bassist.

You can check out the snippets I've done so far here: 


Just, please, don't mind the hair.

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