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Aug 22, 2021 - 2:41:56 PM
34 posts since 3/14/2020

Greetings,
I am very new to playing Banjo. I started out using a book and tried to teach my self. But it was a complete failure. I am now learning via Artistworks with Noam Pikelney. I am really enjoying. Yet I have struggled with many things. Some of it, such as timing, I can attribute to my total lack of any musical background.

There is one thing that I have not been able to figure out until recently. The way that Artistwork works is that students submit videos to the teacher and then the teacher will respond with a video critique. I practice songs over and over again until I am sure that I have it down, make a video, and then submit. The most recent video I submitted was Dink's Song at 55 bpm. So, a fairly slow speed, I should have heard any mistakes. The song has a pinch in the beginning. I played 2 pinches in the video, and Noam said I reversed some of the rolls and added or missed chords.

I have done this almost every time that I have submitted the videos of songs the first time, and do not notice the mistakes at all. I am not sure, kind of, how I practiced a song dozens, if not hundreds, of times, without noticing that I was adding a pinch.

Back up a year ago, my mother reveals to me that I have dyslexia. She thought that I always knew. Obviously it is not severe. But, when I looked back, it made a lot of sense.

After I was really frustrated when Noam pointed out all of the mistakes that I had made, I asked my wife, who is a special needs teacher, if my dyslexia could be the cause of my mistakes, her response was, "of course."

So, I am wondering if anybody, on here is dealing with the same issue, and how they have dealt with it.

Aug 22, 2021 - 3:01:20 PM
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965 posts since 10/31/2007

Hi Peter,
I, too, am dyslexic. I never knew what was going on until my oldest son was diagnosed. And I then put it together.
I have been playing for about 55 years. Not great, but at some point, things just start to connect.
Watching other people play and trying to coordinate my ear with the sounds I can make helps me get things going.
I usually just sit around and noodle. At some point, I get something that sounds like a familiar tune and with the basic chords and rolls, I start to sort it out. It can take time but it is fun to make it work.
I was on Artistworks when it first started with Tony Trischka. I had worked out Winter Wonderland and submitted it. Tony said is sounded good, even though I was using chords that did not quite make sense. LOL

BTW, when I was in college, I had to read written copy live on the air. I would always transpose words and stumble when I realized what I had done. The context was correct with the change I would make, but it made me wonder if I had some mental problem. I repressed it for years and ignored the issue until my son was diagnosed.
I am still in radio and if I have to read copy now, I ad lib from a list of points that need to get across to the audience.

Many creative people are dyslexic, trying to do things differently. Not a bad thing.
It just helps to know what is going on.
Tom in Maine

Aug 22, 2021 - 3:11:45 PM

texasdw

USA

11 posts since 3/5/2020

My daughter is dyslexic as well, so I sympathize. She's doing well with a vet assistant job.

With regard to music though, a HUGE reason for anybody to have a teacher is to critique your playing and point out all the things that you just didn't realize you were doing wrong. Trust me, this is just a part of learning an instrument -dyslexic or not.

Aug 22, 2021 - 3:50:11 PM
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Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

26399 posts since 8/3/2003
Online Now

Does you teacher record the song for you at a slow speed so you can listen to it and play along, as well as having tab for the song? That might help you understand and hear your mistakes. If he doesn't, you might ask him if he would and try it and see if it helps with hearing and correcting mistakes. Just a suggestion for what it's worth.

When I first started learning banjo, there was little or no tab so my teacher always recorded the song at a very slow tempo so I could listen and play along. Might work for your problem.

Aug 22, 2021 - 4:03:54 PM

34 posts since 3/14/2020

quote:
Originally posted by texasdw

My daughter is dyslexic as well, so I sympathize. She's doing well with a vet assistant job.

With regard to music though, a HUGE reason for anybody to have a teacher is to critique your playing and point out all the things that you just didn't realize you were doing wrong. Trust me, this is just a part of learning an instrument -dyslexic or not.

I have gotten much better since I have started using the lessons, so the critiques have been very helpful, but it just annoyed me a bit, that it was very obvious that the song I was learning had only one pinch in the pick up notes, but I consistently played two,


Edited by - pmartin9363 on 08/22/2021 16:04:20

Aug 22, 2021 - 4:08:55 PM

34 posts since 3/14/2020

quote:
Originally posted by Texasbanjo

Does you teacher record the song for you at a slow speed so you can listen to it and play along, as well as having tab for the song? That might help you understand and hear your mistakes. If he doesn't, you might ask him if he would and try it and see if it helps with hearing and correcting mistakes. Just a suggestion for what it's worth.

When I first started learning banjo, there was little or no tab so my teacher always recorded the song at a very slow tempo so I could listen and play along. Might work for your problem.


Yes, he does. Each song  has multiple view videos played at 55bpm and 80bpm.  I have used them. However, I do not have the best time with them because along with dyslexia I also have an auditory processing learning disability. So, I have found it hard to listen to the video while also trying to play my banjo.  Although I have found that just listening to the songs so that I know what they are supposed to sound like helps a lot.

Aug 22, 2021 - 4:11:33 PM

34 posts since 3/14/2020

quote:
Originally posted by lazlototh

Hi Peter,
I, too, am dyslexic. I never knew what was going on until my oldest son was diagnosed. And I then put it together.
I have been playing for about 55 years. Not great, but at some point, things just start to connect.
Watching other people play and trying to coordinate my ear with the sounds I can make helps me get things going.
I usually just sit around and noodle. At some point, I get something that sounds like a familiar tune and with the basic chords and rolls, I start to sort it out. It can take time but it is fun to make it work.
I was on Artistworks when it first started with Tony Trischka. I had worked out Winter Wonderland and submitted it. Tony said is sounded good, even though I was using chords that did not quite make sense. LOL

BTW, when I was in college, I had to read written copy live on the air. I would always transpose words and stumble when I realized what I had done. The context was correct with the change I would make, but it made me wonder if I had some mental problem. I repressed it for years and ignored the issue until my son was diagnosed.
I am still in radio and if I have to read copy now, I ad lib from a list of points that need to get across to the audience.

Many creative people are dyslexic, trying to do things differently. Not a bad thing.
It just helps to know what is going on.
Tom in Maine


Thanks Tom,

I taught history for five years and I never really could understand when I would spell words wrong all of the time when I wrote on the white board.  I do have a couple of other learning disabilities which I attributed it to, but still found it very frustrating.

Edited by - pmartin9363 on 08/22/2021 16:18:56

Aug 22, 2021 - 11:13:19 PM
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1267 posts since 8/7/2017

It's very important to listen to a song until you can hum, sing, whistle, (your choice) the song. This must be achieved Before you pick up your banjo. If you can't "sing" the song (w/o words) you will not be able to learn to play the song. Experienced musicians can do this quite quickly, for me it takes a while.... multiple listens.

Do not discount your own version if it's simpler than the song. You can always add embellishments after you are comfortable with a simpler version. I do this all the time. Most songs have an A and B part. I find it easier to learn them separately, rather than try to learn the whole song at once.

It's normal to miss the fancy bits as you are learning. Steps of learning are figuring out

a) that there is a fancy bit in there,

b) how it could possibly be played,

c) how to make the fancy bit easier to play.

I've been playing 5 years. Some songs I can figure out quickly, most take weeks.

My best learning tool is Audacity, a free program for computer. It allows me to slow down songs w/o changing the key/frequency. I can also change the key of the song to a key (tuning) I am more familiar with. Audacity will record the song as it's being played on the computer. Then, you can do the modifications you need (tempo slower, different key). You can select portions of the song to play over and over; this is very helpful in the tricky bits. Audacity can record songs from youtube or from a video you play on your computer, or from a .mp3 file song you get from Banjo Hangout.

VLC program plays videos and .mp3's. It's free. So, download a .mp3 or video from BHO. Start Audacity and start Record, then play the song (with VLC), to record it into Audacity. Save the Audacity file. Then modify the file as you wish (slower, change pitch). Save the modified song with an different name (protects you from screwups with Audacity, or simply if you change your mind).

I think it's easier to learn old time frailing or clawhammer, than learn bluegrass. The melody is easier to pick out in the old time styles, for a beginner. But you should learn what you love best. Teachers vary greatly in their ability to impart knowledge. Don't be afraid to try several to see who fits best with you.

Audacity download:
https://www.audacityteam.org/

VLC download:
https://www.videolan.org/vlc/


Hope this helps. You can send me questions via BHO's personal message system. Glad to help (as are most BHO members, in my experience)

Edited by - BrooksMT on 08/22/2021 23:17:09

Aug 23, 2021 - 5:30:09 AM
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34 posts since 3/14/2020

quote:
Originally posted by BrooksMT

It's very important to listen to a song until you can hum, sing, whistle, (your choice) the song. This must be achieved Before you pick up your banjo. If you can't "sing" the song (w/o words) you will not be able to learn to play the song. Experienced musicians can do this quite quickly, for me it takes a while.... multiple listens.

Do not discount your own version if it's simpler than the song. You can always add embellishments after you are comfortable with a simpler version. I do this all the time. Most songs have an A and B part. I find it easier to learn them separately, rather than try to learn the whole song at once.

It's normal to miss the fancy bits as you are learning. Steps of learning are figuring out

a) that there is a fancy bit in there,

b) how it could possibly be played,

c) how to make the fancy bit easier to play.

I've been playing 5 years. Some songs I can figure out quickly, most take weeks.

My best learning tool is Audacity, a free program for computer. It allows me to slow down songs w/o changing the key/frequency. I can also change the key of the song to a key (tuning) I am more familiar with. Audacity will record the song as it's being played on the computer. Then, you can do the modifications you need (tempo slower, different key). You can select portions of the song to play over and over; this is very helpful in the tricky bits. Audacity can record songs from youtube or from a video you play on your computer, or from a .mp3 file song you get from Banjo Hangout.

VLC program plays videos and .mp3's. It's free. So, download a .mp3 or video from BHO. Start Audacity and start Record, then play the song (with VLC), to record it into Audacity. Save the Audacity file. Then modify the file as you wish (slower, change pitch). Save the modified song with an different name (protects you from screwups with Audacity, or simply if you change your mind).

I think it's easier to learn old time frailing or clawhammer, than learn bluegrass. The melody is easier to pick out in the old time styles, for a beginner. But you should learn what you love best. Teachers vary greatly in their ability to impart knowledge. Don't be afraid to try several to see who fits best with you.

Audacity download:
https://www.audacityteam.org/

VLC download:
https://www.videolan.org/vlc/


Hope this helps. You can send me questions via BHO's personal message system. Glad to help (as are most BHO members, in my experience)


Thanks Brooks,

I have never tried to sing the song first.  Singing is something that I have never been good at, but if no one is listening.

Aug 23, 2021 - 7:21:53 AM
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2580 posts since 5/2/2012

First of all, I admire your fortitude in sticking with learning the banjo.
I might suggest contacting a speech-language pathologist and get an evaluation if you have not already done so. That person could hone in to your specific challenges with auditory processing and hopefully would be able to come up with a treatment plan.

Aug 23, 2021 - 9:46:12 AM

2 posts since 8/20/2021

I am not dyslexic, but my family is. What I've learned about dyslexic learning is that most dyslexic people are hands-on learners. If its possible, I would suggest getting a live teacher, but I do understand that they can be hard to come across.

I don't think the critique-video is a very good learning environment for your learning purposes right now, especially if your just starting out. I think the main key for dyslexic people is to focus on one thing at a time. Me personally, I wouldn't worry about beat right now, too many things to focus on at once can become overwhelming and then the banjo learning experience gets ruined. I would work on getting comfortable with
the basics first.

But most important, just have fun! If you enjoy it and keep at it for long enough, you will get good. Good luck!

Aug 24, 2021 - 6:09:54 AM

34 posts since 3/14/2020

quote:
Originally posted by elitholt28

I am not dyslexic, but my family is. What I've learned about dyslexic learning is that most dyslexic people are hands-on learners. If its possible, I would suggest getting a live teacher, but I do understand that they can be hard to come across.

I don't think the critique-video is a very good learning environment for your learning purposes right now, especially if your just starting out. I think the main key for dyslexic people is to focus on one thing at a time. Me personally, I wouldn't worry about beat right now, too many things to focus on at once can become overwhelming and then the banjo learning experience gets ruined. I would work on getting comfortable with
the basics first.

But most important, just have fun! If you enjoy it and keep at it for long enough, you will get good. Good luck!


Thanks Eli, I am enjoying it very much.  The thing that I have found the most frustrating so far is not my slow pace of learning but rather understanding how to read tabulation. There is a pretty good video on the basics, but it was not enough for someone like me that has no background in music.

I have slowed my pace (how fast I am moving through the videos) way down, and have keep all my playing to 55bpm, unless I know the song really well. The only song that I am practicing at 80bpm is Cripple Creek.  This seems to be helping a lot.

I tried to get in person lessons, but the only guy around only provides lessons during the work day, which I cannot do.

Peter

Aug 24, 2021 - 7:30:15 AM
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Owen

Canada

9579 posts since 6/5/2011

quote:
Originally posted by pmartin9363
.....understanding how to read tabulation. There is a pretty good video on the [tab] basics, but it was not enough for someone like me that has no background in music.   

As a beginner, I think (?) a b-i-g help for me would be to have the words to the song printed under the staff.  I find it nearly impossible to match the words to the notes I'm trying to play... regardless of where I start in.  I find some of that ^^ in beginning instruction books, but so far, there's a pretty much impenetrable wall when it comes to fitting the words to regular (?) tab.*   

* = A few years ago a teacher gave me a tabbed version of the melody notes for "Will the Circle... " along with the words, and I can do it reasonably okay ... most of the time.  I have a tabbed version from with some embellishments.  Do you think I can figure out how/where to fit the words into LRB's tab?   So far, ixnay, nada, zippo.   

[I do acknowledge that I might not be totally "normal" w.r.t music.  wink ]  

Edited by - Owen on 08/24/2021 07:42:45

Aug 24, 2021 - 8:02:28 AM
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Players Union Member

DC5

USA

20426 posts since 6/30/2015
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by pmartin9363

I taught history for five years and I never really could understand when I would spell words wrong all of the time when I wrote on the white board.  I do have a couple of other learning disabilities which I attributed it to, but still found it very frustrating.


Although my learning disabilities were never officially diagnosed - we didn't have learning disabilities back in the 50's and 60's, we were just slow.  My son's Asperger's diagnosis made a lot of sense as to the issues I was having as a child, and an adult, along with ADD and face blindness.  When I was teaching science I told my students about my issues, and it helped a lot, both with their own issues, and they would help me with mine - especially in spelling.  They knew that I understood their issues, and we could work together to get them through. 

One of my students gave a talk on her dyslexia, and it was one of the best things I saw regarding student learning.  I brought her to a local university where I was working with student teachers and her 5 minute talk ran over an hour with all the questions.  Most people have no idea what a dyslexic is going through.  I tried to get our principal to let her present at one of our professional development days, but it never came to be - which is really too sad. 

Aug 24, 2021 - 8:10:41 AM

Owen

Canada

9579 posts since 6/5/2011

Ooops... I see my editing seems to have made <littlerockbanjo.com> disappear.   That's the version with the embellishments that I referred to ^^.... "a tabbed version from ___________ with, etc."  

Jack Hatfield highlights the melody notes in his tab in BG Banjo Method [Book One]. yes

Aug 24, 2021 - 9:53:03 AM
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Tommy5

USA

3898 posts since 2/22/2009

Cripple Creek is a crap song , it is just a bunch of licks basically which is why banjo teachers put it first to teach timing and licks that you will use forever. Your not playing it wrong, you are just playing your version of the tune, . If you played it the way you wanted to , then you didn’t make a mistake , you just improvised a different take on the tune.it is your banjo play it the way you want, don’t overthink it, a tune with a definite melody you can whistle to will do easier to reproduce on the banjo, but there is no substitute for a good live banjo teacher to show you what you are doing wrong if anything, If your slow rendition of cripple creek sounded like music then you are making progress , it is bluegrass, it isn’t the opera, your goal isn’t to reproduce music the exact way it is written down,

Aug 24, 2021 - 10:37:31 AM

12281 posts since 6/2/2008
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by BrooksMT

VLC program plays videos and .mp3's. It's free. So, download a .mp3 or video from BHO. Start Audacity and start Record, then play the song (with VLC), to record it into Audacity. Save the Audacity file. Then modify the file as you wish (slower, change pitch). Save the modified song with an different name (protects you from screwups with Audacity, or simply if you change your mind).


Why record the song into Audacity in real time? It's my understanding that Audacity can open or import mp3 files. If that's the case, then once you have the song on your computer as an mp3, simply open it in Audacity to make any edits -- if that's what you want to do. If you're worried about accidentally over-writing it (since Audacity is apparently a "destructive" editor) just duplicate the file before working on it in Audacity. Maybe store your Audacity files in a separate folder to be sure you don't change something you want.

And why save a modified file? Why not just slow it down at various speeds for learning and reset when you're done?

Amazing Slow Downer also slows down audio without changing pitch/key. So does Transcribe! I've paid for Transcribe! but I think I used it free for a while.

I'm a Mac user. I've held on to an old version of the free/built-in QuickTime player app (version 7) because it included speed and pitch controls. The audio quality on altered files is not as good, but for listening/learning it's good enough.

Aug 24, 2021 - 10:52:06 AM
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74 posts since 12/12/2019

If you are having problems reading tab, print out your tabs and write the string number and fret position above to get used to understanding the tab. I can see how the bottom string position on the tab being the top string on the instrument can make it confusing. If you do this to a few songs you want to play it will get you more familiar with tab.

Edited by - TheWoodBoss on 08/24/2021 10:52:53

Aug 24, 2021 - 11:24:12 AM
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Owen

Canada

9579 posts since 6/5/2011

Frank: "I can see how the bottom string position on the tab being the top string on the instrument can make it confusing."

I try to make it a bit less confusing by making the line for the g string [top? short? drone?] a broken one.... a series of "dashes."    [And as I've only over used open G tuning, I also have the strings labeled "g D G B D"  over on the left side.]

Fwiw, in addition to the string number and the fret position I also have to have a line telling me which finger to use, and a line with "1 - and - 2 and, etc." ....... but I guess that's a whole other story.

.... and it might seem like nit-picking, but for me it's easier to see when all that ^^ "stuff" is below the diagram of the strings.

Thankfully, YMMV. wink    

Edit: Fwiw, I wish it was "for a few songs."  sad

Edited by - Owen on 08/24/2021 11:34:10

Aug 24, 2021 - 11:42:45 AM
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1615 posts since 2/9/2007

You can't play anything until you're able to hear it. You can understand tablature completely, but if you don't understand the SOUND you want to make, it's just like trying to recite something written in a foreign language you don't speak.

Find someone who teaches without tab.

Learning to listen comes before learning to play.

Timing always comes first in music. It's not just the foundation, it's the solid ground that has to be there before you can even start to build. If your timing is right, you can get away with all kinds of mistakes and still be making really good music. You can have every note right and played in the right order, but if your timing is off, it's just noise, especially on a banjo.

Aug 24, 2021 - 11:43:53 AM

1267 posts since 8/7/2017

Old Hickory

I did not realize you can drag and drop a .mp3 file on Audacity, thanks for the tip. You can't drop&drop a .mp4 file (eg BHO or youtube video); for these, I play the vid and have Audacity record it in real time.

I save modified Audacity files because it saves me time the next practice session. But one could do as you suggest; this would save space on your computer disk.

The auditory quality of an Audacity modified file is excellent, at least at the slow-downed speeds I use. Extreme slowdown, such as necessary to get every single note slow enough for my brain to process/find it on the fingerboard, gives bad audio quality, plus it takes the phrase all out of context. But it is one way to figure out a complex phrase if my ears&experience are not up to the job at a more musical playback speed.

One of the beauty's of Audacity is the variety of ways you can use it to meet your needs. And it's free. I get so much use out of it, I gave the Audacity people a donation, but it's not required, and there is no Nagging to get you to contribute. I think they are a class act.

The only problem I've ever had is that setting up Audacity to record in real time off your specific computer/operating system may require fiddling with the recording options. There are several, and they can be combined in various ways. Keep records as you try each combination to avoid repeating previous failures *sheepish grin*. I take a screen shot of the Audacity panel after finding a combo that works, just for insurance.

Audacity works on many computer platforms: " Audacity is an easy-to-use, multi-track audio editor and recorder for Windows, macOS, GNU/Linux and other operating systems.
Developed by a group of volunteers as open source."

Hope this helps.

Aug 24, 2021 - 12:03:09 PM
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_jth

USA

14 posts since 8/24/2021

Tab is non essential to learning banjo. I play most of my songs by ear.
What can be helpfull is looking at the Chords above the tab if provided. I do not know if you have trouble with Chord shapes and your dyslexia. But if you can get your fingers to feel the shapes of the chords (and not confuse a C shape and an E shape in standard G tuning for example) then you can just take those shapes up an down the neck and play that way. In some cases the exact roll pattern doesn't matter either. I can do bile em cabbage down with a forward roll, a reverse roll, or an alternating thumb roll, they sound different, but they all work.
I did do a lot of song learning from tab. It was useful when I was taking lessons, that way I could remember what the teacher said. He transitioned me to Chords charts, and that changed my playing. Just my two cents.

Aug 24, 2021 - 12:54:37 PM

12281 posts since 6/2/2008
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by BrooksMT

Old Hickory

I did not realize you can drag and drop a .mp3 file on Audacity, thanks for the tip. You can't drop&drop a .mp4 file (eg BHO or youtube video); for these, I play the vid and have Audacity record it in real time.


Drag and drop (onto an app's icon or into its open window) is certainly a shortcut for opening many files. I wasn't even thinking of that.

I was thinking more of using File > Open  or  File > Import.  I assume that Import lets you bring in audio files that don't automatically open through drag and drop.

Audacity's destructive editing is why I would not use it as a digital audio workstation (DAW) for editing music files.  I'll do that in GarageBand (free on Mac) or Reaper (free trial/$60 purchase). These and other higher end DAW apps leave your original audio untouched. 

Aug 24, 2021 - 1:18:24 PM

Owen

Canada

9579 posts since 6/5/2011

Dan: You can't play anything until you're able to hear it. [......]  Find someone who teaches without tab.  Learning to listen comes before learning to play. <snip>

I'm guessing that a decent teacher should be able to determine whether one's listening skills are adequate.  Are there any other ways?   Would a teacher do some actual evaluation, or would it just become apparent by "osmosis"?

Fwiw, I've been told by a semi-pro guitar player/singer/entertainer at a jam that my "timing is good," but.......????.......

Aug 24, 2021 - 2:23:47 PM
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111 posts since 7/22/2012

I guess one candidate thought I have is, maybe try recording a given tune one measure or two at a time. Play it back to get somewhat instant feedback (to your own ears) and see if you are hearing what you intended to play. Repeat this many times, slowly, carefully, etc.

You could do this also for very simple things such as pinch patterns, short licks, basic melodies you are humming, etc.

I don't know if that's worth a try, glad you are having fun and hope you keep having fun with your banjo and the music, that's priority #1 I think!

Aug 24, 2021 - 4:16:55 PM
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34 posts since 3/14/2020

quote:
Originally posted by TheWoodBoss

If you are having problems reading tab, print out your tabs and write the string number and fret position above to get used to understanding the tab. I can see how the bottom string position on the tab being the top string on the instrument can make it confusing. If you do this to a few songs you want to play it will get you more familiar with tab.


I do not have issue with what string I need to pick. That has always been pretty easy for me. It is all of the other stuff...rests, the difference between a measure and a bar (which from what I understand there is none), I had issues with figuring out how use a metronome.  Most of this stuff I have a pretty good grasp of now,,,I think.

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