The Terrible Drawing, Horrible Riffing, No Good at Arting, Very Bad George

I am going to learn to riff, harmonize, beatbox, photo, and art.

I am not an artsy person. This becomes painfully obvious once you look at my drawings, attempts at musical composition, and pieces of writing (try watching me improvise on a piano — after 13 years of playing, I am still horrendous). This summer, though, that’s about to change.

My Gorgeous Attempt at Drawing a Human Being — isn’t it Beautiful?

This summer, I’m going to be living in Chicago, working a 9:00am — 5:00pm internship, and I’ve decided that, instead of watching copious amounts of TV during my ample free time, I’m going to attempt to learn some new skills.

With that in mind, I’m mostly going to learn to art. So, starting Monday, June 26th, I will attempt to watch exactly zero minutes of TV shows until the end of my ten weeks in Chicago, instead using that time to, well, art (I really should be studying for the MCAT instead, but it’s fine — everything’s fine).

Goal 1 — Write A Blog Post. Every. Single. Day.

This is by far the easiest of the items on my list to accomplish. I’m simply going to write about my progress and I hope that I’m not boring and that my writing doesn’t suck. In addition, I’ll probably try to write some posts about how insanely incredible the human brain is — I’m currently working on a piece about mirror neurons (just don’t hold your breath; I’ve been ‘working’ on it for like five months now).

Goal 2 — Learn to Draw.

This one, while not exactly ‘easy,’ will be one of the simpler tasks to accomplish — at least at first. I bought You Can Draw in 30 Days, by Mark Kistler, quite some time ago, and never got around to really using it (I can draw realistic spheres now, though, if that counts for anything)! I’m going to attempt to do one lesson each day, and see where that takes me.

Goal 3 — Learn to Riff.

For those who don’t know what this is, vocal riffing is the ability to sing sequences of very distinct notes extremely quickly. I am currently terrible at it (this is an understatement — I sound somewhat like a dying animal when I do it, to be quite frank), and so I will be using Natalie Weiss’ video series, Breaking Down the Riffs to hopefully improve at least slightly.

Goal 4 — Gain Absolute Pitch Abilities.

Of all of the goals I’ve set, this will likely the most difficult of the bunch. Absolute pitch is (more or less) the ability to identify any note, by name, and/or the ability to vocally produce a note upon request, both without a preceding reference pitch. Very few people have this ability, and it is either an innate skill or is learned in childhood (neither of which is the case for me). I will be attempting to accomplish this in three steps, which I will elaborate on later — for now, my main tool will be the website TonedEar.

Goal 5 — Improve My Beatboxing Abilities.

If you’ve ever spent more than fifteen minutes around me (in the past year), you probably know I can beatbox (#sorrynotsorry). However, my ability to keep tempo is mediocre at best, and I can’t make 90% of the cool sounds the guy below can. I am thus going to try and become a world-class beatboxer (unlikely, I know, but a nerd can dream), using various youtube videos (and, of course, by annoying everyone around me to death)!

Goal 6 — Become A Professional(ish) Photographer.

I have a DSLR, and I can (kind of) use photoshop, but I am by no means an excellent photographer. My method of photography generally consists of taking a billion photos on every camera setting possible, deleting 0.99 billion of them, and then over-editing the 0.01 billion that are left. Sometimes I manage to output a few gems (see below, maybe), but usually I’m incompetent. Again, my method for completing this goal will be to watch lots of YouTube videos and walk around the city taking too many photos.

My Attempts at Good Photo-ing.

Goal 7—Fully Complete P90X.

This is going to be another difficult one, mostly because it involves physical movement. P90X is a basically just another video workout that tries to kick you into shape — it’s difficult, it lasts 3 months, and requires extreme physical effort (which we all know I hate). I’ve borrowed a copy from a friend, and I’m going to be trying to stick to doing it at least five of the six days per week. I’ve ‘completed’ Insanity, another workout program, three times and P90X once (I say ‘completed’ because I’ve never successfully finish either program all the way through), and so I’m going to try to legitimately complete a program once and for all.

Goal 8 — Not Give Up and Watch TV All Summer.

The goal heading pretty much says it all.

Why am I writing about this? Well, for one, it will help motivate me. However, I also hope that, in the future, I will continue learning new skills and documenting my journey, allowing anyone who comes along to read my posts and learn those skills themselves. In addition, I want to prove that it is possible to be a jack of all trades, master of much (although I think Elon Musk’s already done a pretty good job of this), and that, with the internet, it is possible to self-teach pretty much any skill (within reason — I’m not about to try and learn to fly by flapping my arms repeatedly). Will I be successful? Who knows. But I’m sure going to try.