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Banjo as Milepost

Sunday, December 3, 2006

So today, I slowed down, played things I like, and all went swimmingly.  By the end of the second hour (first hour at lunchtime, second after dinner) I felt in control.  I'm almost back to where I was, a few steps down the road and a lot of miles to cover.  And to paraphrase a favorite song of mine, I'll know I'm there when I get there.  I am sure there'll be a lot to see along the way.  ("It will be hard, I know, and the road will be muddy and rough but we'll get there, heaven knows when we will get there, we know we will.")

I've been mulling over some ideas that came to me while considering the "I don't get..." series of threads on the message boards recently.  What is a perfect player?  Is there such a thing?  Can we define "perfect" in this instance? 

There's much to be said about technical excellence.  I think we all aspire to it, because the technique is the tool that allows us to create.  My dad always says that a carpenter is only as good as his tools, and that's true--if we define tools in this instance as the physical actions that we perform in order to make music.  Let's face it, it's not about the instrument itself.  There are players out there that could make five rubber bands stretched over a cigar box sing.  I do not think that technical perfection is achievable in the purest sense.  There are too many variables--instrument, anatomical differences, personal history, cultural influence.  But we all know banjoists who are approaching perfection as technicians.

Then there's talent.  Imagine if Mr. Ma had handed his son a golf club and Mr. Woods had handed his son a cello.  By whatever set of circumstances, these boys were given the tools that enabled them to discover and develop their natural talents.  And talent is a leg up, no matter what field.  Talent discovered early in life, while the brain is still soaking up information like a sponge, is a big leg up.  But I also think that talent only changes the level of the playing field for a short while.  There's no reason that anyone with enough determination, practice, work, and time can't make up for lack of talent and level the field again. 

So that brings us to the elusive quality of performance that separates the artists from the craftsmen.  We call it expression, or heart, or feeling.  It's a lot like porn--hard to define, but you know it when you see it.  I define "art" as a creative work that evokes an emotional response.  So this unnamed quality is best defined by how it effects an audience.  It's important to keep in mind that audiences are people, too, and bring their own personal experiences to any sort of artistic performance.  Because we are all different, our responses will all be different.  When we collectively arrive at a group response (think crowds of screaming, swooning fans at Beatles' concerts in 1964) are we really responding at all to the art?  Or are we swept up in a mob mentality that makes us respond to each other instead?  I don't know.  I am not sure anyone can know.  What I do know is that art is not science, in that creativity can't be measured.  Which is a very good thing, in my opinion. 

1 comment

Banjo as Straightman

Saturday, December 2, 2006 2 comments

Leftovers

Friday, December 1, 2006 3 comments

Homecoming

Wednesday, November 29, 2006 3 comments

Back to Basics for Both of Us

Sunday, November 26, 2006 Add Comment

Thankful?

Thursday, November 23, 2006 Add Comment

There Are No Small Victories

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 2 comments

Banished!

Saturday, November 18, 2006 Add Comment

The Blink of a Proverbial Eye

Thursday, November 16, 2006 4 comments

Keeping on Keeping on

Wednesday, November 15, 2006 7 comments

Life takes bad turns

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 13 comments

Banjo as Transition

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 1 comment

Apple Butter Addendum

Monday, November 13, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Security Blanket

Monday, November 13, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Invisible

Sunday, November 12, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Balance

Saturday, November 11, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Common Ground

Friday, November 10, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Routine

Thursday, November 9, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Jungle Background

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 Add Comment

Banjo as Subtlety

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 Add Comment

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www.joancheck.com
Playing Since: 2006
Experience Level: Novice

Interests:
[Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: researcher, writer, editor

Gender: Female
Age: 62

My Instruments:
1984 Deering Intermediate

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Profile Info:
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Created 2/17/2006
Last Visit 11/14/2014

I'm a research specialist and mom enjoying life in the Poconos. I'm a new picker, having a grand time and making progress! I am forum coordinator of one of the most successful live online trivia forums on the Internet: visit us at www.eggheadtrivia.net! I have a research business--I do market and industry research for the architectural and engineering industry. I'm also a film and book reviewer--check out my lastest opinions at filmedge.net and postroadreview.com.

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