Open Ears: A Journey Through Life With Guitar in Hand
With an introduction by Troy Nelson
This is no "instructional method" in the common sense. "Open Ears, A Journey..." is a collection (not complete) of columns Steve used to write for the 'Guitar For The Practicing Musician' magazine from the early 80's till 1999.
They have been compiled in this book in some kind of a random order, and to give away part of the bottom line of this review: This is a great book to read not only for guitarists or musicians... it could be quite interesting and entertaining for anyone, because Steve talks about a lot of other stuff than just licks or exercises.
The topics range from advice on playing and improving to columns (or as Steve calls them, "essays") about a lot of other things that musicians have to deal with: promotion, touring, preparing for gigs, keeping inspired, motivation.
Also, theres a lot of stuff included that might make you think... after all, those columns have been written in different phases of Morse's career, sometimes while being on tour or in the studio. Steve's a great observer, and some of his observations from touring (i.e. a visit to Japan) are briefly described or even part of the topic... great stuff.
It's fun to read... Steve has a unique sense of humor, you know that if you have ever seen him play live and heard his "ramblings" that he does in the middle of the Steve Morse-Band shows.
Some passages had me cracking up seriously... where Steve explains common phrases in recording contracts or performance-contracts, and what they actually do mean. He's being sarcastic, but actually gives away some great advice!
When it comes to the instructional stuff (regarding playing the guitar), there's some great advice to be found, not explained with bunches of licks and exercises. Instead, Steve tells you about his philosophies regarding playing and practising, and will actually make you think or try something new.
A negative part: The book has no written music or TAB, although some of the original articles did! "Speed Bumps" i.e. included TABs / notation of some basic runs. Based on those Steve gave away some new approaches on practising them.
As I said, the TAB / notation is missing in this compilation, which is kinda disappointing. But, based on what Steve says, you can make up some easy exercises similar to the original ones. It's about the explanation and approaches rather than about the actual licks. And most of those columns are "text-only" anyway.
Anyway, this is a great read for pretty much everyone, and at that prize, I definitely recommend it. Even if there are almost no licks involved, this book will help you, teach you a lot, and it's also great to read just for fun...
Steve Morse, an amazing player, great instructor and very good observer lets us be part of some of his life as a musician, telling us about his experiences on tour and in the studio.
You'll get both practical advice on playing, working with a band, songwriting etc. AND lots of stuff to think about...
Check it out, even if you are not yet a Morse-fan!