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Sore Fingers 2015

Posted by Erwin on Sunday, April 12, 2015

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Wow, what a week this was ! I've just come back from Sore Fingers, and it was just amazing. All my expectations were met, and even far beyond ! 

First, I signed up for Ned Luberecki because I've seen him on YouTube and he seemed a funny guy. Boy, speaking of funny, he is the real deal ! We had a great time in class, laughing with all his silly jokes or ludicrous stories ! But he always stayed on topic and it not detriment the information, rather the opposite ! And boy, can he play the banjo ! And not only "playing" in the musical sense, but "playing" as in "having fun with it". For example, the banjo was laying on the desk (yes, there was a desk for the tutor !), and he had a marker in his hand ready to write on the whiteboard. But suddenly he used the marker to hit the strings of the banjo, you know like a cimbalom-player, making the opening tune of "Bonanza" !

But being serious for a moment, I came to Sore Fingers with only one question : "What do I practice ?". Lately I felt a bit being stuck in a rut, not having a proper practice routine for the banjo like I have for the guitar. I just noodle around, practice some basic techniques, but not in a systematic way, play a song or two that I know... and before you know, it's time to go to bed and you feel you haven't done anything ! So, I came to Sore Fingers with that question. And BOOM ! On the first day, Ned - out of the blue, without me asking him - answered that question :

  • practice the forward roll, alternated with standard licks, and incorporate new licks steadily
  • practice the Foggy Mountain roll (slightly modified : replace the first two eight notes by 1 quarter note), with 2 finger partial chords on the first 2 strings, based on the 3 chord shapes (barre, F & D), changing position with every new roll.  
  • practice at least 1x/week to have good tone. Never mind speed or fanciness, just good tone (in rolls, PO, HO, slides, melodic, single string, ...)

These are the main guidelines Ned gave. There are some minor ones, but I guess you have to attend one of Ned's workshops to have the full picture.

But that was not all I learned ! In the evening, there was also what was called "Electives" : classes that you can choose to go to or not. I chose a class "Gypsy Chords". That class was mainly aimed at guitar-players, but I went there with my banjo, and I could make several of the jazz-chords. And it sounded really nice ! So, I began to feel a renewed appetite for jazz ! One of my roommates, Claude Robin, who's a very good banjo-player, and the sweetest guy you can imagine, suggested me to buy the books by Pat Cloud (and I ordered them yesterday !). He said that the books are good exercise for any banjo-player, even when you are not into jazz. 

So, there, that were for me the important things of Sore Fingers that happened on the musical level.

But there was so much more : getting to see Tony Trischa again, accompanying Ned Luberecki in class when he played a blues, shaking the hand of Bruce Molsky, the student's concerts, the tutors' showcases, the final tutors' concert, the friendships, the laughter, the music.... it was all great, great, GREAT ! 

3 comments on “Sore Fingers 2015”

Banjo Island Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2015 @1:45:18 PM

I was really inspired that Ned had worked out all the same nerdy scifi and rock songs on the banjo as me. :)

Nice to know I'm not *entirely* wasting my time on that stuff, and a good push for me to go back and bother learning all that other proper banjo stuff that I've been ignoring way too much.

Banjo Island Says:
Sunday, April 12, 2015 @1:46:47 PM

And of course inspired to meet up with my friend Erwin again.. :)

Jonny5 Says:
Monday, April 13, 2015 @5:23:10 PM

Thanks for the practise suggestions. I need to develop a routine to get out of a rut and freshen up my enthusiasm. Ned is in my area very soon so I'll try and get the full picture you referred to first hand.

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