I recently took inventory of the bluegrass and oldtime tunes and songs that I know. While it is a huge increase from the 4 fiddle tunes I “knew” in July of this year, it just isn’t a very big list. Nothing compared to the pile of jazz standards I know, and not anywhere near enough to have the same kind of literacy in bluegrass/oldtime as I enjoyed on the piano with the body of jazz music. I want to know more, have a better vocabulary, and be all-around more fluent in speaking bluegrass (musically, that is) on my mandolin.(more…)
I know that I already posted that I won’t be posting a practice plan for this week, but I can’t sit around and not practice just because I’m sad. (I mean, I totally could, and I fully support a person’s right to just be sad and do nothing. But not practicing is actually doing the opposite of help).
One difference this week, I am also indicating practice for the guitar, which I really should be keeping as sharp as I can, even though I am not principally a guitarist and have no intention of becoming one. And this has little to nothing to do with a crush on Molly Tuttle.
You may notice that a lot of my practice list is very similar to two weeks ago. One of my big goals this week is to move this material off of my practice plan (by learning it). It’s just been a hard couple weeks. 🤷🏻♂️
Practice Plan for 06 November 2022
Mandolin: 09 November 2022
Guitar: I don’t currently take guitar lessons. But if I could find someone to teach me bluegrass styles – especially claw hammer guitar – I would totally jump at that.
Playing With Others:
Other than lessons, I haven’t made it out to play with others in a couple of weeks. I intend yo go to the Wake Up Rounder jam at Tomorrow’s Verse Taproom (4605 NE Fremont St in Portland)
1) New Material
- Mandolin Tune: Road to Columbus
- Mandolin Tune: Cripple Creek
- Guitar Tune: Cripple Creek
- Guitar Song: Amazing Grace
2) Developing Material
- Mandolin: Bluebirds Are Singing for Me
- Mandolin/Guitar: Bury Me Beneath the Willow
3) Performance Material
- Jenny Jenkins
- Clinch Mountain Backstep
- Mandolin: LH position
- Mandolin: Double stops
- Mandolin: Bluegrass box
- Guitar: Intro to Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar (Banjo Ben)
- Transposing (using the key signature dice)
- Standing while playing
- Ear training
YouTuber Jon Meyer picked up a mandolin and learned it for a production album he was working on. He recorded a video with ten tips that helped him get good enough fast.
Among the various YouTube playlist I keep is one titled “Bluegrass Idle,” where I save bits and clips that are interesting or informative, but that aren’t directly instructional. Today I saved one to the list that I thought also needed to be shared here: multi-instrumentalist and composer Tony Williamson explaining, in 1995, the development history of the American Mandolin.
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.
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.
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.
And then the same on guitar.
I learned this a few weeks ago and have been working on them. Getting close(ish).
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.