Mandolin Progress, Week of 24 Oct 2022

I record myself fairly regularly to give myself an opportunity to step back and listen. It is a great way to look for places that I need to make improvements, but is also a good opportunity to compare how I’m doing and the progress I’ve made.

To facilitate this, in addition to whatever I am working on in my practice plan for the week, I often record the same songs over again. Bonnie Tammie is a good example. I have a recording of myself playing it from right after I first started lessons, the first time, in 2016. I was even worse than I am today, if that can be imagined.

A few other of my regular check-in recordings are Clinch Mountain Backstep and Whiskey Before Breakfast, because I know them pretty well AND they are fun to play.

So this is my first week posting some of my progress videos here. They are confounded here because I am also trying out the tone on my Epiphone mm50e. I bought it to use for a punk folk project (it has a neat pickup system), but right now it is also standing in while I am between primary instruments.

Clinch Mountain Backstep

I still have some notes that fall out of time because of things like incorrect pick direction, but this was a good one to hear the tone of the Epiphone. Still deciding on that.

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Make Me Down a Pallet, Mandolin

I worked this out first on guitar. Gillian Welch sings this in E flat (in C but capoed up 3), I believe, and that fits my voice best, but was a devil on the mandolin (where we don’t use capoes) at first. Figuring this out was not only a topic at my last lesson, using a key signature dice and transposing to whatever key comes up was one of my assignments.

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Make Me Down a Pallet, Guitar

And then the same on guitar.

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The Wind that Shakes the Barley/JohnStinson’s

I learned this a few weeks ago and have been working on them. Getting close(ish).

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Whiskey Before Breakfast

The double stop potatoes at the beginning are new. In my lessons right now I am working on the transition from rhythm to lead, and you can see that it is still an early work in progress – especially with how disorganized my fingers are for the first A part.

And that, is where I am at the end of this week of practice. I probably won’t get this week’s practice plan up until tomorrow, because I haven’t made it yet.

Practice Plan, Week of 23 October 2022

I am excited to start sharing this new post type. I plan out my mandolin practice for the week every Sunday. I will make a longer post talking about how I do my planning and what I include and am looking for, but here is a quick summary.

I follow a format that I learned from David Benedict (not directly, of course – although I think he’s super rad, I have never met him) that has five sections: 1) New Material, 2) Developing Material, 3) Performance Material, 4) Techniques, and 5) Musicianship. I also indicate in my plan whether I have a lesson and what my plans for playing with others are for the week (I have a goal to play with others at least once every week).

Starting today, I am going to be posting my weekly practice plans here on Turtlshel. Obviously I am a bunch of days late posting this week, but a person has to start somewhere.

Practice Plan for 23 October 2022


26 October 2022

Playing With Others:

Old Time Music Jam at North Portland Hostel Cafe

1) New Material

  • Tune: Cripple Creek
  • Song: Bury Me Beneath the Willow

2) Developing Material

  • Bluebirds Are Singing for Me
  • Clinch Mountain Backstep

3) Performance Material

  • Jenny Jenkins
  • Fiddle Tune Medleys using Bonnie Tammie, The Wind the Shakes the Barley, Bag of Spuds, John Stinson’s, and Old Favorite.

4) Techniques

  • LH ergonomics
  • Double stops
  • Bluegrass box

5) Musicianship

  • Transposing (using the key signature dice)
  • Standing while playing
  • Ear training

O Pennsyltucky – Chords and Lyrics

Have been working up an even folker version of Mischief Brew’s O Pennsyltucky for our Gomi Onna project. As part of that, in keeping our songbook together, I made a file with the chords and lyrics. I though maybe other people might want it as well.

Click for PDF

Párnástánc (Pillow Dance) – Tabs for Mandolin

I am still working my way through Chris Haigh’s Hungarian Fiddle Tunes. Some of the melodies are super alien to my ears. Some of them I recognize. This one (the Párnástánc) I posted a recording (below) to a mandolin Discord and someone asked for a tab of the tune. So here is a PDF (also below) of the melody in standard and TAB notation.

Image of the sheet music, containing standard and TAB notation for mandolin, for the tune Parnastanc.
Click for PDF
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Why is being a nerd bad? Saying I notice you’re a nerd is like saying, ‘Hey, I notice that you’d rather be intelligent than be stupid, that you’d rather be thoughtful than be vapid, that you believe that there are things that matter more than the arrest record of Linsey Lohan. Why is that?

John Green
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If you like nerds, raise your hand. If you don’t, raise your standards.

Violet Haberdasher
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In fact, the world needs more nerds.

Ben Bernanke, Former Fed Chair
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From the Archive: MTG Tuck Boxes and Storage Dividers

From the Archive: MTG Tuck Boxes and Storage Dividers


A bunch of couple of years ago my oldest kid (who is turning 18 this year) was introduced to Magic: The Gathering at the after-school activity program at his middle school. At home, being the oldest, his siblings were just a hair too young to be able to fully comprehend the nuances of the game, and so they were quickly defeated and quickly demoralized. That’s when I got involved.

A couple decks later, a few tutorial sessions with an adult friend who had played since the beginning, and several e-bay bulk lot orders and I suddenly found myself with WAY more decks and cards than I knew what to do with. So what does an autistic nerd do? Obviously not save both time and sanity ordering a couple of deck cases and some bulk storage boxes online. Instead I designed custom tuck boxes and custom dividers for the bulk storage boxes (that, at least was something I had quite a few of).

As part of the From the Archive series, I am reposting the files (printable pdfs are below – ai files, fonts, and other resources can be found in the .zip file at the bottom of this post.

Tuck Boxes

These are intended to be printed duplex on heavy card stock. The trim and fold lines end up on the inside, with the colorful graphics on the outside. After cutting out each box with a hobby knife and a ruler, I used the ruler and a semi-sharp tool (I think I actually used the pocket clip of the cap of one of those blue Bic pens) to score the fold lines so that I got nice clean edges and corners. After that was just a glue stick and some assembly.

60-Card Boxes

60-Card Side-Load

60-card side-load box with no card sleeves (inside)

60-card side-load rainbow (outside)

60-Card Top-Load

60-card top-load box with no card sleeves (inside)

60-card side-load rainbow (outside)

60-card side-load tree (outside)

75-Card Boxes

75-Card Side-Load

75-card side-load box with no card sleeves (inside)

75-Card Top-Load

75-card top-load box with no card sleeves (inside)

75-card top-load rainbow

75-card top-load red

75-card top-load green

75-card top-load blue

75-card top-load black

75-card top-load teal-ish

Bulk Storage Dividers

These are also intended to be printed on heavy card stock (although not duplexed). I used a hobby knife and a straight edge to cut all the straight lines and then very carefully trimmed the radii of the tabs. These are separated into files by color. Each color has the following dividers:

  • Land
  • Creatures
  • Artifacts
  • Sorcery
  • Enchantments
  • Instants

The Files

MTG bulk storage dividers: all colors

MTG bulk storage dividers: white

MTG bulk storage dividers: black

MTG bulk storage dividers: blue

MTG bulk storage dividers: colorless

MTG bulk storage dividers: green

MTG bulk storage dividers: red

MTG bulk storage dividers: master

MTG bulk storage dividers: all files combined

Resource Files

.ai files for the tuck boxes and dividers, various vectors, and fonts.



As always with these types of things, I have to state that MTG is the intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast. I do not own the copyright or trademark to any of the branded materials in the files. These files are made available for educational purposes. And anything else I should have said.

Nerds get caught up in minutiae, because there is a tremendous and fulfilling sense of control in understanding every single detail of a thing more than any other living creature.

Chris Hardwick
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