Classic Mornings

Rock School at Hickey’s Music Center – Read Kat’s blog!
Rock School at Hickey’s Music Center – Read Kat’s blog!

Hi, Kat here.

If you like to play guitar, or any instrument, sing, or even write music, but you just don’t know how to develop those skills – Then Rock School with Hickey’s Music Center is for you! They will team you up with other musicians, you will rehearse, get private lessons, and at the end of the 3 month session, you will be playing a REAL DEAL live gig!

I know for me personally, this is exactly what I have been looking for to hone in on my skill set, and network with other area musicians. Sign up and join me at Rock School. Click on the link below to get started, and I will see you at practice!!!!!

Let’s ROCK! Sign up for the next session here!


                                                                        Kat’s Blog


Hammer ons and pull offs

Yesterday’s private lesson was enlightening. Ryan showed me how to mess around with guitar solos by using hammer ons and pull offs. A technique I was never used to using when playing scales. It definitely opened up a whole new world to me, and I am hoping to come up with a simple yet descent solo for my blues tune, and for our Bob Dylan cover.

Rehearsal was fantastic! We focused on two songs that we hadn’t worked in since the first rehearsal; Pearl Jam’s “Corduroy” and Television’s “Marquee Moon”. We are making significant progress on those songs. My singing and playing simultaneously is coming together, and the rest of the group is becoming more familiar with their parts. We are starting to adjust our playing to one another to make our songs work which is a very good and necessary skill for a band to possess.

I am getting excited! I am certainly a bit anxious because our show is only one month away!!! I have to keep myself committed to practicing every day, and keep a calm/ positive attitude. That is why I love Rock School at Hickey’s Music Center. It is not hard for me to do that, because I know we are all there for the same reason to learn, to rock, and to have fun!

We still need to come up with a name for our group, so if you have any ideas fell free to share!

Here is a clip of Pearl Jam doing “Corduroy” live:



From Start to Finish

Practice makes perfect! No, we are not perfect, but we are at the point where we can get through entire songs. It is a big deal. The house is built, now it is time for perfecting and decorating. (a reference to my prior blog post). We were off last week, so I have had plenty of time to practice and get “it” together. Last night’s practice was excellent, and importantly SO MUCH FUN! The only bad part is that rehearsal ends too soon!

I notice a huge improvement in myself since the first day of rock school. For the record, I was so sloppy and out of practice for my first lesson, I could not even play my own song! Speaking of my own song, the blues tune “Devil’s Tavern” that I wrote is really taking shape. I was able to come up with a good rhythm guitar part, thanks to our instructor Ryan, who helped me figure it all out! The rest of the group is very supportive and are really helping to give life to something that started out as ink on paper and a melody in my head.

I truly enjoy playing with my band members. We are all there to rock and that is exactly what we are doing! We are getting to the point where we are looking around at each other and listening to ourselves as a whole, which of course is very important for a band.

We have me, our drummer extraordinaire, Natalie (who, by the way, is tasked with playing some very difficult drum parts), our harmonica Player, James (who just got a new harp mic and amp), our lead guitarist and vocalist, Ammitai (who brought his acoustic in for the first time yesterday), and of course Ryan Vanderhoof on bass, who is our kick a$$ rock school instructor (I don’t know how he does it). Our show is Tuesday, July 29th, at The Haunt in Ithaca. Now we need a name for our band… Any Ideas?

I mentioned previously, that a major challenge, for me, was playing lead and fill for the tune “Blind Willie Mctell”. I am happy to report that it is coming along. Ryan set my guitar up with a tremolo effect on the amp and it sounds really good over Ammitai’s acoustic. James, who is playing harmonica, wants to hear a version of the song with some harp in it, so here it is!

And some live versions:



Building a House

Things are really starting to come together. Last night’s rehearsal was another good one. We played the tunes on our own without playing along to the recordings. The good news: What we played actually sounded like the songs we are attempting to cover!  (A VERY good sign)

Was it perfect? No, but Ryan (our instructor) said something last night that I believe left an impression on all of us. He said that learning and figuring out a song is like building a house. First, the goal is to build a solid foundation, then concentrate on the structure. Painting and decorating and all of those other details really cannot be considered until the foundation and structure are solid. I couldn’t agree more.

The foundation is being built, and the structure of the music being formed. A foundation created not by each of us as a single musician, but as a unified entity – a band! We are building this house together, and I can’t wait to move in and decorate.

Philosophical metaphors aside, we also worked on the blues song I wrote “Devil’s Tavern”, and it is really shaping up to be a very cool blues tune. Also, as I’ve mentioned before in previous blog posts (see below), it is a real challenge for me to play and sing “When the Levee Breaks” simultaneously. Well, yesterday was the first time I attempted to do so, and I am starting to get it.

Another Challenge that I am ready to take on, is to come up with fill and a lead guitar part for Bob Dylan’s “Blind Willie McTell”. Ammitai is playing rhythm guitar and singing that tune (great song), so that forces me to change roles. I have NEVER played lead guitar, but I will now. That is just another reason why Rock School with Hickey’s Music Center is awesome.  This experience is showing me that with enough determination, dedication, and practice, the sky is the limit!

If you have not heard of “Blind Willie McTell” check it out:

“Blind Willie McTell” is a song by Bob Dylan, titled after the blues singer Blind Willie McTell. It was recorded in 1983 but left off Dylan‘s album Infidels and officially released in 1991 on the Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) 1961–1991.

AND here is an actual recording of  the real Blind Willie McTell:



The Blues

First of all, I wanted to share the original version of “When the Levee Breaks” From 1929:

So different from Zeppelin’s version. It is truly amazing what they turned that song into.

Yesterday’s Rehearsal was very productive. We are doing a blues song called “Key to the Highway”, and that one is shaping up nicely. I am thrilled to share that we may also be doing another blues song, written by… Me!

I actually wrote it in 2007, and had tried to create my vision of it with other musicians in the past, but I never had that “nailed it!” moment. Well, last night I shared my vision with Ryan Vanderhoof (Rock School instructor) along with the rest of the band, and explained that I simply could not translate my idea to my guitar. I had the vocals and the lyrics set, a bass line in my mind, but never had success syncing it to the strings. Then, I simply hummed the bass line to Ryan and BAM! He nailed it!

Words cannot describe the feeling of being able to finally get an idea that has been bottled up for years – out! (I was practically crying tears of joy). Now I know how to play it on the guitar and the bass line is set. The name of the song is “Devil’s Tavern”, and I think it is truly going to be a kick @$$ blues tune. Our harmonica player was pretty excited too, because he feels he can really jam on this one.

Rock School with Hickey’s Music Center is one of the best things ever to come into my life. Ryan is an excellent instructor and works so well with others. I cannot express this enough to you – if you enjoy playing music, and want to develop as a musician, Rock School is for you. It is never too early or too late, and there is no better time than the present to realize your dreams. Rock school can help you do that.

“Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.” -Maya Angelou



Great rehearsal last night. We have a long way to go, but progress has been made since our last/ first rehearsal. One big challenge for me personally, is going to be playing more intricate rhythm guitar (than I am used to) and singing at the same time! As of right now, I am more focused on getting my guitar parts down, and then I will focus on the singing.

My private lesson with Ryan is right before band rehearsal. Yesterday’s lesson was productive, and Ryan taught me how to polish up my guitar parts on Led Zeppelin’s “When The Levee Breaks”. Yes, we are going to be covering that one! (hopefully) That tune is especially challenging to play, and sing on. I am determined to do it!

Before rock school, I was really neglecting my desire to play music, but now I practice every day (my fingers are getting broken in with the return of my calluses). Our Show should be sometime in mid to late July. Get ready, this could be good!

Interesting fact: you may not have known that this song is a very old blues tune written in response to the flood of 1927.

More info here:

Will we be able to pull this off? Stay tuned!



Last night’s Rehearsal was awesome. We have lots of songs to work up. I am going to be playing both electric and acoustic guitar, and sing. I may even play piano for one tune. We are doing some Zeppelin, BB King, Televsion, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, and the band even agreed to do a song I wrote called “Can’t Be Told”.

We have myself, a drummer (Natalie), a harmonica Player (James), A lead guitarist and vocalist (Ammitai), and Ryan Vandehoof on bass, who is our rock schhol instructor. Check out the videos below, to hear some of the songs we are looking at doing:



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