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Geoff Hohwald Play Along Tracks can Create Amazing Results

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Aug 30, 2020 - 8:54:26 AM
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646 posts since 6/24/2008

Geoff Hohwald Play Along Tracks History
I've been working on finding an affordable way to give students crystal clear feed back on their playing for over 20 years. Typically a Bluegrass Musician hears himself play clearly for the first time when he goes into a recording studio to record a CD. About 7 years ago Tascam developed the DP03 SD recorder that had 8 individual tracks and could record and get CD studio quality sound and clarity while isolating each instrument. All of a sudden the student could record themselves playing with a jam track and then listen to what they just played on the banjo with CD quality. These recorders sell for around $300 a price that almost every aspiring banjo student can afford, We have had students attend camps that have been playing for years and never have heard themselves play with studio quality audio. Using the Tascam DP 03 SD Recorder at the banjo camps has resulted in several students having breakthroughs in a matter of a couple of days. Their timing improved, their accent improved and their tone improved.
Brief History- In 1999 Geoff Hohwald starting recording banjo play along tracks at multiple speeds so that beginners would have access to high quality Jam tracks that would start at one slow speed and gradually increase to tracks at faster speeds as the student progressed. This led to a series of play along CD’s at multiple speeds published by Watch and Learn and used in their Banjo Primer Deluxe Book , Acoustic Guitar Primer Deluxe Book and the Mandolin Primer Deluxe Book. These collections had Bluegrass Songs recorded at multiple speeds with live instruments. When played through a good sound system or headphones these CD’s give the student the feeling of playing with a live band.

The Live CDs at multiple speeds worked extremely well. Geoff however wanted to go to the next step and give students the same experience that professional players receive when they go into a recording studio. That is they can record their instrument or vocal, isolate it and then listen back to it. Geoff wanted to find a way that students could record their playing and listen back with clear studio quality sound. In addition students would be able to isolate the banjo and listen to the banjo separately. The equipment needed to accomplish this cost around $2500 in1999 and was not practical. It was also hard to learn to operate. Today you certainly could use an iPhone or other hand held recorder but these pick up background noise, and do not isolate each instrument so that it can be evaluated separately. So you need 2 additional things to properly monitor your playing. One is you want to have each of the rhythm instruments on a separate track so you can adjust the volume of each instrument and vocal. You may want to hear your banjo with just guitar or just a muted mandolin chop and you want to be able to turn each instrument on and off. You want to also be able to adjust the volume of each instrument or vocal. Two is you want the rhythm tracks to be recorded in a studio by top Bluegrass Musicians so that you get the same feel as if you could go back in time and record with Flatt and Scruggs or current top Bluegrass Bands.

Long story short we made a deal with 2 top Nashville Studio Musicians Curtis Jones and David Peterson to record tracks on the SD cards that work with the Tascam DP03 SD. We are using the recorders and tracks at our Geoff Hohwald North Georgia Bluegrass Retreats. If you want further information on the camps that include training on the Tascam DP03 SD go to geoffhohwald.com or email geoff@cvls.com. Following is a link to 6 Youtube videos showing a demonstration of the Tascam DP03 SD recorder.

youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVS...0H0OXJbb8

Edited by - GHohwald on 08/30/2020 08:57:32

Aug 30, 2020 - 9:08:36 AM

5452 posts since 12/20/2005

Looks very interesting, as well as promising.
One disturbing thing I have learned, by recording myself, it seems that I don't really hear myself accurately, while playing. However, a recording, simply made with my iPhone, does not lie. It's brutally honest.
It is like my ears lie to me.
I'm thinking the recorder you have developed might be able to help with this. I'm not sure if that was the intent while developing this, but it does look promising.
I'm going to be watching the YouTube videos today.
Thanks for posting this.

Aug 30, 2020 - 1:30:05 PM
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646 posts since 6/24/2008

Hearing yourself accurately on a recorder is not magic. It's just an accurate way to see how you are doing, make changes and then re record yourself to see change. This is just a way to get feedback so you can make corrections.
This is similar to what professional football teams do when they film the games on Sunday and then analyze what each player does and assign drills in practice to correct problems. Or better yet image driving a car with a broken gas gauge. This can lead to disaterous results.
Improving on the banjo has to do with analyzing parts of the song that are not accurate or in time and setting up as drill and repeating them over and over. Having chrystal clear feedback as you are doi9ng this will increase progress in many cases by up to 10 times.
If you are playing against tracks done by top Bluegrass Musicians you will notice there is a feel or drive to the music. You basically play a song with the track of the experienced musician listen back make changes and do it over and over and you will start to play with drive.
?The reason we record the tracks at different speeds is that it allows the student to play with proper technique. Following is a list of the SD Cards that we have with speeds and keys. It takes an experienced player that makes few mistakes about 25 hours to do one of these discs.
This really represents almost a hobby to me. I've been trying for years to develop materials that will help beginning and intermediate players play with power and confidence. We even do camps that last 2 days with 2 students and 2 instructors  that lets us focus on drills. The results are amazing.
Anyway here is a list of the discs. I don't recommend purchasing a recorder or discs until you leaern to operate the recorder.

Banjo Practice SD Cards available to be used with a Tascam DP03 SD Multitrack Recorder

SD Card #1 David Peterson  (Vocal Songs) Note: Speeds on the order of disc. For some reason the speeds are not in order.

Little Maggie Key A Speeds in Order 60 72 86 110

Will The Circle Be Unbroken Key A Speeds In order 60 110 86 72

Wayfarin Stranger Key Em Speeds 50 60

Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky Key G Speeds 55 72

Old Home Place Key Bb Speeds In Order 60 72 110 86

In The Pines Key E One Speed 70

SD Card #2 Curtis Jones Banjo Instrumentals On this Disc the songs are grouped by Speed in this order

All songs at 60 in the following order.

John Hardy Key A

Train 45 Key B

Blackberry Blossom Key G

Cripple Creek Key G

Cumberland Gap Key G

Then all the above songs in that order are grouped at 72 86 96 and 105.When you look at the menu on the disc you will see them grouped this way. This was an experiment to group songs at each speed.

SD Card #3 Curtis Jones Fiddle and Mandolin Tunes that can be  played on the banjo

Temperance Reel Key G 60 72 86 96 105

Big Mon Key A  60 72 86 96 105

Whiskey Before Breakfast Key D 60 72 86 96 105

Billy In The Lowground Key C 60 72 86 96 105

Angeline The Baker Key D 60 72 86 96 105

St Annes Reel Key D 60 72 86 96 105

SD Card #4 Curtis Jones Instrumentals that can be played on the banjo

Foggy Mountain Breakdown Key G 60 72 86 96 105

Black Mountain Rag Key A 60 72 86 96 105

Bill Cheatum Key A 60 72 86 96 105

Old Joe Clark Key A 60 72 86 96 105

Salt River Key A 60 72 86 96 105

Clinch Mountain Backstep Key A 60 72 86 96 105

SD Card #5 Curtis Jones (Vocal Songs)

Pretty Polly Key G 60 72 80 105

Blueridge Cabin Home Key G 60 70 80 105

Wild Bill Jones Key G 60 70 80 105

I’ll Fly Away Key G 60 70 80 105

Bury Me Beneath the Willow Key G 60 70 80 105

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
quote:
Originally posted by Leslie R

Looks very interesting, as well as promising.
One disturbing thing I have learned, by recording myself, it seems that I don't really hear myself accurately, while playing. However, a recording, simply made with my iPhone, does not lie. It's brutally honest.
It is like my ears lie to me.
I'm thinking the recorder you have developed might be able to help with this. I'm not sure if that was the intent while developing this, but it does look promising.
I'm going to be watching the YouTube videos today.
Thanks for posting this.


Edited by - GHohwald on 08/30/2020 13:35:33

Aug 31, 2020 - 5:51:21 PM

1003 posts since 1/26/2011

I've been working with Geoff for several years. First as a student, where he encouraged me to purchase a Tascam recorder for feedback. I worked out licks, playing them over an over against a metronome while recording them, and then listening back to the results. I was surprised at just how far off my timing was. Until you record yourself and then actually hear what you're playing you don't really know just how far off you are unless someone tells you, and sometimes people just choose to not play with you rather than tell you. There was also the added benefit that I could go to a lesson with Geoff and he could hear what I was doing, and even record tracks for me while I was at the lesson.

Then he worked with Dave Peterson on the first SD card. Now I could play against a Nashville level musician while recording myself, which pointed out the need to continue to work on timing and drive. My drive was pretty much non-existent, which was pointed out by the real time feedback. It's better now, after spending a number of hours playing against Dave and now Curtis Jones, who both have excellent timing.

I used the recorder every day, working with Geoff, and since I was getting fairly proficient using the Tascam he asked me to come to his banjo camps and work with other students while I was there, showing them how to use it during practice. If you do decide to invest a Tascam and SD cards, I suggest you attend one of Geoff's camps. Due to the virus, I believe he's limiting them to 2 or 3 days, 2 or 3 students per camp. You get a lot of individual instruction, and can also get an overview of the Tascam and some practice using one while there.

It's an invaluable tool, is fairly easy to use with some basic instruction, and makes practice a lot of fun. I believe it will really jump start your practice sessions, and allow you to improve your playing quickly.

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