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