Posted by AndyW on Wednesday, November 21, 2018
Having now completed my beginners banjo workshop with Dan Levenson I now have some pointers to work on. The 'Jams' that happened both nights have also given some pointers.
From Workshop -
1. Keep hand more horizontal. [Dan pointed out my hand position wasn't quite right].[This will take constant monitoring to stop slipping back to my old way, but has benefits of being easier on my wrist, and hand position over scoop].
2. Learn Scales [I skimmed through that bit in the Clawhammer From Scratch book].
3. Learn to use chords. [Although I do know the chord positions I don't really use them intuitively].[This ties in a bit with Jams below].
4. Learn Tunes by ear. Only use tab [including Dan's books] to back this up and provide ideas. [This is a biggie for me and something I already know I should be doing. The fact Dan had said do this before even looking at tabs in his books is basically a kick up the ass to actually do this].
From Jams -
1. I know hardly any tunes so learn more. [I was pleased in a way that my practising with the OTJ machine paid off. Out of the 10/12 tunes I know 6 were played, and I was easily able to keep up in good time.][However, it's clear to me I should spread a bit thinner and learn a lot more tunes].
2. On the tunes I didn't know how to play I had to sit out. I couldn't intuitively vamp along using chords as it was difficult for me to recognise the chord changes. [OTJ machine provides chord charts so I can practice backing up on tunes I don't know. Hopefully I will start to recognise chord changes through this].
3. Learn to use G tuning. Having my banjo capoed constantly to A or DD isn't going to help.
Basically my motor skills are functioning well. I was pleased that I was probably the most techically proficient in my beginner class, and the fact I was the only player able to drop thumb can only be down to Dan Levensons teaching methods.
My ear however is absolutely terrible. Anywhere the ear was use in the workshop I was probably bottom of the class.
The above two things tie in absolutely directly with the way I have been learning up to now. Learning lots of tunes by ear and learning to vamp along to tunes should hoprfully address the imbalance.
New Goals to be contemplated and posted soon.
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 @4:18:17 AM
It's clear that you are an "active" student, Andy, and were very engaged with the workshop and jams. As I mentioned earlier, I played worse after my first workshop with Dan while I worked on changing my right-hand position to correct some bad habits. That investment of effort and time has paid off for me in a big way. Relying on your ear more is another big step. This will enable you to hear the chord changes initially. Later you will begin to pick up melodies on the fly. Getting away from relying on tab is also critical. You have work to do, but having clear goals will get you there.
Wednesday, November 21, 2018 @4:32:11 AM
Andy -I suspect you are like many if us - with a good selection of tunes in our iTunes library. One thing that helped me - I made up play lists that had tunes of a particular key. I play along with the play list, not having to worry about key changes between songs. Its a simple concept, adds to playing enjoyment, builds jamming skills, and its fun. Give it a try.
Thursday, November 22, 2018 @10:24:53 AM
Andy - always impressed by how organised you are with your learning, I'm sure it's going to pay off.
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