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Banjo versus TV: Week 32

Posted by jrjenks on Sunday, August 31, 2008

A weekly check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s resolution to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV. J.R.'s a few weeks behind, so he's furiously getting caught up in order to concentrate on the Four Corners Folk Festival.
Banjo 215 hrs, TV 182 hours

Things I took away from this week's banjo lesson:

  • I really need to set aside the time to warm up before my lesson. My Mountain Dew solo was much, much worse than it was when I was working it up this week.
  • Still, I'm really pleased at having created my first solo without so much as a glance at tablature.
  • We talked a lot about wrong notes. (Go figure!)
    • A music prof of Dave's (from his Washington College days) told his singers, "If you hit something wrong, never let your face show it."
    • Joe Pass wrote (possibly in a book called The Zen of Guitar) that if you hit a wrong note, hit it again. Hit it again. Hit it again! Make something out of it.
  • My left-hand position is troubled.
    • My thumb should be lined up with the index finger like a pair of pliers. Instead, my thumb is currently about three inches down the neck from my index finger. I'll work on it.
    • I should get used to using my left index finger for barre chords. (I keep wanting to use my middle finger.) Dave says I'll thank him for this later when it's time to switch rapidly from chord to chord.
    • The second string is difficult to barre due to the crease in your phalanges that hits just above that string. Practice.
  • We played along with a great Sam Bush recording of Old Joe Clark.
    • This is a great version for me to play along with at this stage in my chord control. It's in the key of D, which if this was a I-IV-V song would mean D-G-A. That would be bad, since I'm not good on the A chord. But it's a I-IV-flatVII, so it's D-G-C. And I know a couple of C chords! (Another song like this: The Rolling Stone's Great Expectations
    • I had a "hot damn, this is fun" moment about 20 minutes in to that. (The first 19 were a little rough.)
    • We also listened to version of Old Joseph by the The Dillards.
  • I told Dave (proudly) that it's been a struggle not to crack a book these last two weeks. Dave says the point of this is not struggling, so he gives me the OK to crack a book if there's one particular tune in one particular book that I want to work on. He says that learning from the book is a valid way of learning, although I'm also now ready to learn in other ways, too.
  • We talked about muted banjo.
    • I told Dave that I've been practicing about half of the time with a muted banjo, as recommended by James McFinney at Midwest Banjo Camp. McFinney says it really lets you hear what your right hand is doing.
    • I showed Dave the mute I made from a foam paint brush.
    • Dave played a version of Richland Woman Blues with Maria Muldaur (of Midnight At The Oasis fame) on vocals and uke, with Bill Keith on muted banjo.
    • I told him the redhead loves the sound of the muted banjo.
  • What's next in my lessons? More playing along with recordings. That's the prelude to being able to play well with other people.


Also in the last week:


Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

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