I only recently realized that I could write in this blog here. I figured I’d give it a try, and maybe even update regularly. Heck, it may be fun to document my journey in learning this wonderful instrument.
Due to my instructor’s travel and then my travel immediately following his over the holidays, I had a two month gap in sitting face to face with him. He left me with two assignments from November: Speed up the leads I know, and work on some of the backup techniques he showed me. I took the first one and decided not to learn any new solos, but strictly focus on a little more speed while maintaining consistent timing and note clarity and tone. Sure, I don’t play them perfectly, but I feel like I’ve improved a lot in the two months since I dedicated time to that. What songs? Fireball Mail, Cripple Creek, Your Love is Like a Flower, Blue Ridge Cabin Home, and The Old Home Town.
When I practiced backup, I had apparently not remembered how he tied the vamping, rolls, and “licks” together when he showed me how to do them. I had a decent understanding of them, but when I met with him this week, I didn’t put them all together at all, and we spent that whole lesson showing me how to tie them in. The good news is that I now have an even better understanding of how the 4 backup options he showed me work together.
The more I practice, coupled with my increased attention to banjo in songs I hear every day, I think my biggest improvement is being able to “hear” the songs when I’m playing by myself. Up until last month, I was playing by memorizing the tablature, but I couldn’t hear the other band members in my head. Now, I’m getting that some. The bad news is that now that I’m focusing on backup, I’m so concerned with technique and the mechanics, that I’m not hearing the songs in my head, so transitions are harder.
How did I combat this last night? I recorded a pretty slow rendition of Your Love is Like a Flower. Only the opening solo. For about an hour, I did nothing but play that back through my speakers and played backup with it.
In all, I feel comfortable with where I am for the time I’ve been playing. Like most, I’m looking forward to the day where I can play just about anything with more confidence and ability.
Thursday, January 23, 2014 @3:21:19 AM
You are doing great!!! The ear training and focus on technique is everything.... Keep it up!
Use the "back tracks" with your backup. Look in media archive (upper left side of this screen), then "music search", then click on "playing style" in "advanced search"..tons of them, thanks to Eric.
The "jukebox" has back tracks too.
Thursday, January 23, 2014 @5:30:05 AM
Thanks, Lynn! I just saw some of those back tracks yesterday and I can't wait to use them.
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