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Banjo versus TV: Week 41

Posted by jrjenks on Thursday, November 27, 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. This post covers 10/7/2008 through 10/13/2008. Yeah, I'm a month-and-a-half behind in posting this. It's been a busy month-and-a-half. Can we get caught up soon? Yes. We. Can.
Banjo 272 hrs, TV 244 hours
  • Things I took away from this week's banjo lesson:
    • We discussed my plans to devote some of my practice time to right-hand drills and some to left-hand drills. I'd gotten the idea for practicing each hand in isolation from sessions at Midwest Banjo Camp led by James McFinney and Bill Evans.
    • For left-hand drills, I struck a deal with the redhead that lets me play very softly at the other end of the coach while we watch TV. By "softly" I mean "using both the Field-Cutler Banjo Mute and my decapitated foam paint brush mute." And by "very softly" I mean "also I'm playing without fingerpicks." I demonstrate this for Dave and he says that's probably as much as I could possibly mute the banjo, short of "hiring someone to play it in a different room."
    • For right-hand drills, I'm working up some more practice tabs based on bugle calls, which can all be played without even using the left hand.
    • Dave says my right-hand timing is "really solid" and that my left-hand transition to chords is "(slight pause) gettting there." He reiterates his advice that I focus my eyes on my left hand a lot, at this point in my education.
    • We discuss vamping. Dave says the goal is to hear some of the notes, then choke them off. Being a recording engineer, he likens it to the effect that Phil Collins gets using a noise gate for electric drums: a sound, then a little carry-over, then the sound is gone.
    • We talk about ways to really change the sound of the banjo.
    • I've been practicing straight rolls. Dave says it's now time to start playing around with note substitutions and omissions like so:

    • We worked on a simple version of Little Maggie. (The simple version goes G F GFG. The book versions go G F GDG.) I need to learn to slide on my pinky.
    • I should seek out more occasions to use the G chord that's an F formation between the 3rd and 5th frets.
    • Dave says I'm doing well. Yay!

    Also in the last week:

    • This is the second time I've caught the radio show Sound Opinions and the second time I've really liked it. This week's show, #150, is about music and the brain, featuring neurologist Oliver Sacks. In August I'd heard show #143 with Tony Visconti, "the man behind the glam-rock sounds of T. Rex and David Bowie." I'm going to have to subscribe to the podcast.
    • Moved my sawed-off banjo project from design to construction. Hope to finish it in the next week.


    Cross-posted at J.R. Jenks' blog

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