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JimHand - Posted - 11/30/2009: 18:02:38
I have been working on Foggy Mountain Breakdown for over a month. I can play it through slow, but when I try to pick up any speed it falls apart and when I try playing along with Murphy on the slow version on the DVD, I can't even begin to keep up. How long should I wait before going on to John Henry? I will keep plugging away at FMB, hoping that it eventually comes around.
dcb - Posted - 11/30/2009: 18:27:12
move ahead you will learn other things as you progress to other tunes. work on fmbd a little each day
Hoss - Posted - 11/30/2009: 18:30:27
I'm not a teacher (good grief not even close!) but having learned FMB using the Murphy Method myself I feel your pain. If you can play it even really slow you can still play it. Move on to John Henry now but keep working on FMB too and you'll be able to keep up with Murphy sooner than you might think.
johann - Posted - 11/30/2009: 18:34:30
I would say, move on. You can't force a single tune to get better. OK, I didn't use the murphy method, but I did hit a wall similar to yours once upon a time.
What worked for me was learning new tunes -- lots of them (at least a new one every couple days). Do the same thing for all of them: 1. memorize a break. 2. get the break down smooth. 3. work up some speed with the break (could be up to 120 bpm or it could be up to 80 bpm for instance -- up to you). 4. Play that break at least a handful of times EVERY DAY. 5. Play the breaks to all the tunes you know as often as humanly possible. 6. Go to (1) for a new song or the same song but a different version (usually up the neck -- or in a different key).
Seriously, its nearly impossible to perfect a single tune if that's all you play. What will help you most with FMB is learning John Henry. What will help most with John Henry will be the next tune to be learned.
Last word to really drive this home: When learning a musical instrument, don't get bogged down by a single tune or lick. Practice it, yes, but develop other tunes and other licks at the same time. Eventually you will find that everything starts to come more easily, including the tunes you had difficulty with before.
Edited by - johann on 11/30/2009 18:37:41
Jim T - Posted - 11/30/2009: 19:17:37
As a newbie myself (only a few tunes ahead of you) this looks like good sound advice to me. As I move from one tune to the next, I'm finding that often times I already know half of the new tune from past tunes.
PS: If you aren't working with a metronome, that would be a good thing to do. Just slow it down to whatever speed you need to to get through the song correctly. Then gradually speed it up a click at a time.
fixdent - Posted - 11/30/2009: 19:27:02
make sure you use the metronome....otherwise you will keep stumbling on the hard parts when you get to them....
Start it off slow, then add a notch to it every day or so....
My Golden - Posted - 11/30/2009: 22:56:04
I just played FMB slow many, many times, then gradually increased my speed in increments using a metronome. I really like Pete Wernick's "Bluegrass Banjo Music Minus One Banjo" to play along, and learn FMB, and many other tunes.
dgreen20 - Posted - 12/01/2009: 04:09:43
I've worked through all of her beginner dvd and I couldn't keep up on the slow versions of any song so I just forgot about the play along and played at my own pace. A few weeks ago I went back to the slow versions of each and magically was able to play along just fine. In my absolute beginners opinion I think it's best to learn the song and then move on to the next not worrying about speed. Just play in time at whatever speed works for you without error and increases in speed in all tunes comes along naturally.
KYSLOWFINGERS - Posted - 12/01/2009: 04:38:24
I'm at about the same place you are. And feeling very similar. I think instead of John "Henry", you meant John "Hardy". I too, can play FMB thru slowly. I'm working on John Hardy right now. I can also play it thru slowly, but just like FMB, it's one of those songs that just doesn't sound right if not played up to speed. I feel like I've hit a wall, but I'm gonna keep going forward. I felt sorta like this when I first started on Cumberland Gap, but now can play it at a pretty good clip (on a good day ). I think I'm actually having more trouble on John Hardy than FMB tho'. To me John Hardy has alot more timing "issues" that need to be overcome. I've loved this song for a long time and looked forward to playing it but it has been a struggle. Like I've said, I can play it note for note, but it requires more speed and precise timing to sound right. If your having the same speed issues, we're probably not the only ones that have. I bet 6 months from now we'll have a different story (fingers crossed ).
caseyhenry - Posted - 12/01/2009: 05:26:24
As long as you can play FMB all the way through slowly, without having to stop to think, about three times in a row, you should be fine to move on to John Hardy. (But don't stop practicing FMB, as well as all your other old material.) You're not going to get one song all the way up to speed before moving on to the next one. That would be torture! Just make sure you know all the licks well. Like Jim T said, a lot of the licks you know from FMB will be used in John Hardy, so you'll still be getting practice on them as you move forward.
Best of luck,
minstrelmike - Posted - 12/01/2009: 05:31:40
Move on. Learn one new song a week. No matter how good you have it after a week, learn the next.
It's going to take you 5 or 6 weeks minimum to have anything worked out for any song.
If you wait, you end up learning only 8 songs/year instead of 52.
Work on all of them. Until one of them starts working for you, it ain't going to sound very good.
Once one of them works for you and you find the groove, the others that you've been practicing magically get better.
If the song that works for _you_ doesn't come up until lesson 5 or lesson 11, well you're better off getting to it as soon as possible.
Me personally, I read thru the whole book or go through the whole set of lessons once
before I start on anything, and then I usually start with what is familiar, not necessarily what is on page one.
It ain't a Bible and those aren't Commandments;l it's just music.
rollinalong - Posted - 12/01/2009: 08:19:35
Move on the John Hardy, but keep going back and attempting to play it along with Murphy. It'll help keep it in your head CORRECTLY, and one day all of the sudden you'll go wow, I can play it with her! In my experience the DVDs are a stair stepping process where you build on the licks that you know, adding more and more as you progress. What I didn't do initially was keep going back. After a while of playing from memory, when I did go back, I found that suddenly I could play almost up to speed, but what I was playing was WRONG. I had left out an entire measure in my memorized version of Fireball Mail. I had to "unlearn" some other things too and that is NOT easy. In fact to this day, I can not get Fireball Mail the way Murphy plays it. I have my own version that I eventually fell into after struggling and struggling to "unlearn" some things that I played 10,000 times incorrectly from memory. Move forward, but go back and review too.
Tam_Zeb - Posted - 12/01/2009: 08:45:29
As a devotee of the Murphy Method. I would echo the advice to move on.. I still can't get my head round John Hardy after a year but I pop back to it every now and then. Some licks come easy others take time.
justagrinin - Posted - 12/01/2009: 09:45:33
I would go with what Casey said she probably knows. LOL... and like the others are saying one day you will find yourself playing along with the video. Good luck
JimHand - Posted - 12/01/2009: 10:26:47
MANY THANKS to all for the advice and help. At 56 and being a bass player, this banjo thing is really daunting at times.
minstrelmike - Posted - 12/01/2009: 10:47:42
Man, you should have told us you were a bass player.
That changes everything ;-)
JimHand - Posted - 12/01/2009: 14:51:15
Mike: That is why I have such a problem at times, all these years I have been playing 1 note while the banjo player was playing 8. Also, I sing bass and therefore I have a hard time hearing/finding the melody. I do also play guitar but not too much lead but I have been working on that also. Thanks again for all of the advice!!!
5stringpicker2 - Posted - 12/01/2009: 15:09:16
Def good advice move forward but keep working on FMB it will eventually come to you, Just keep on a keep'n on.
Moonpie50 - Posted - 12/20/2009: 15:58:18
Keep on playing more tunes as you go along sounds like pretty good advice to me. I am sure going to start doing that myself. I heard someone say once to use the songs as a vehicle to learning the techniques of the insturment, and now that makes total since to me. I like the murphy method myself and actually have learned alot from her. My goal is to buy all of her dvd's which I already have quite a few now. I play the dulcimer and memorize the tunes to play so when someone wants to play wildwood flower I can play it without looking at a book. Which I think is so much better to me, because it has enabled me to pick out other tunes by ear and get them pretty close. Good luck and keep on pickin!
5-stringreiny - Posted - 12/20/2009: 16:46:19
Keep progressing through the DVD... and of course, keep practicing the songs you already have learned. I learned FMB via the MM three years ago, and I still cannot play it to speed... but I have found that continuing to progress throughout the DVD series helped me to improve all the previous songs I learned. Biggest thing for me is to feel confident in the song you just learned before progressing to the next one!
barbbanjo - Posted - 12/21/2009: 21:29:17
I love learning with Murphy Henry. I echo what everyone else has said about moving on as long as you have all the notes down. But keep practicing it every day. A little side here - don't get discouraged if you don't learn as many tunes a year as someone else. As long as you are learning at your pace and practice every day and you're having fun you're doing it right as far as I'm concerned. I'm jealous of those who seem to learn so quickly - I always mark my slowness up to age or menopause or something else intangible! If you learn more slowly than someone else you can think up something for yourself!
SMBanjo - Posted - 02/26/2010: 17:31:22
For me once I had learned all the songs I was better at the rolls just because I was using them in different ways. That helped me get them down better but thats just me.
'Gourd?' 10 hrs
'Early Nitty gritty B,G.' 12 hrs