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Practicing during daily commute. Ear training.

Friday, October 19, 2018

I have a little practice banjo from Backyard Music that is light and inexpensive and indestructible that I keep in the passenger seat of the car.  When I get stopped at a long light, I roll down the window, stick the neck out the window, and play through some scales until the light changes.  Between lights, I'm listening to (and singing along with) ear training exercises from "Ear Training HQ."  I've gotten OK at recognizing the pentatonic scale degrees, but the fourth is giving me trouble.  It's alright--if I do the exercise long enough, suddenly my brain will know how to sing and recognize a fourth.  It's just a bit discouraging until then, because it seems there is no progress at all.  But the same thing happened when I was learning to recognize/sing the fifth.  I couldn't, and I couldn't, and I couldn't, then suddenly I could.  There was very little transaction between "couldn't" and "could," so I expect the same thing will happen with the fourth.

When I'm not driving, I'm practicing chords and scales in drop-C (aka old standard C) tuning.  Among the things I'm working on:

  • Major scale starting on the third string
  • Major scale starting on the fourth string
  • Dorian scale starting on the third string
  • Major chords
  • Minor chords
  • 7th chords

I'm doing all of the exercises around the circle of fourths, and everywhere on the neck.  So when I practice the major chords, first I make C major everywhere it can be made, then F major, then Bb major, etc.  

All of this is evidence that my goals have changed.  My goal used to be to learn just enough theory and do just enough exercises to be able to play a tune.  Now I want to get good at this tuning before I bother playing a tune in it.  I want to be able to play scales and chords fluently and easily, and only then play a tune.

-----

My instructor showed me a neat chord progression that he wants me to practice in this tuning (drop C):

I VI7 II7 V7

In C, that's: C A7 D7 G7

You can also annotate this chord progression as:

I V7/II V7/V V7

Which is the same chords, but explained differently.  This annotation points out that what your ear is hearing in this progression is a string of V I transitions, each one relative to a different chord, which is why it sounds neat.  My instructor and I talked about this for a long time.  I understand it pretty much, but it's very difficult to explain well because I've just learned it myself and haven't mastered it.

3 comments

Lucky mistakes

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 6 comments

Performing a song cold

Sunday, July 1, 2018 2 comments

Just scales

Wednesday, June 6, 2018 4 comments

Harmonizing the scale

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Add Comment

Scales and Modes

Friday, May 11, 2018 Add Comment

Teaching the right hand

Thursday, May 3, 2018 7 comments

Circle of 4ths practice

Monday, April 30, 2018 Add Comment

Why scales?

Saturday, April 28, 2018 12 comments

Will teach for food

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 4 comments

Acceleration

Thursday, March 22, 2018 3 comments

Switching from middle to index

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 7 comments

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Playing Since: 2012
Experience Level: Intermediate

Occupation: programmer

Gender: Male
Age: 60

My Instruments:
Short scale banjos, most of them with frets, and one without. Most of them by Backyard Music, and one Goodtime Parlor.

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All of them

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Visible to: Public
Created 10/21/2012
Last Visit 5/19/2021

Was born. Lived 51 years without playing anything. Dad handed me his banjo. Here I am.

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