I like the idea of FFcP because I find patterns helpful in "speeding up" learning. I learned the chop chords the same way: Play the D --> E -->F, G --> A -->B in the same positions.
My concern is that learning scales to me always feels disconnected from playing music, i.e., I can sit and play around with fiddle tunes (which seems immediately helpful/fruitful/fun or I can sit and practice scales. The later seems abstract/fruitless/dry to me.
Is there anywhere that I can find ideas for movable closed-position riffs (e.g., movable pentatonic riffs)? These would let me practice the positions in a more "applied" manner and more likely be useful in the next jam session.
Are you looking for something like this?
Pentatonic FFcP work from Ted:
Thanks for passing this along!
This idea, but I'm looking for "licks" that you can use in a jam. For example, in The Mandolin Picker's Guide to Bluegrass Improvisation, Jesper has "licks" (as he calls them) that you could actually use in a jam session playing a tune in the Key of A... but they incorporate open strings and therefore are not movable. This means that one memorizes them by rote. He has you transcribe them but doesn't say a lot about how... you're kind of on your own.
I'm looking for something like Jesper's licks but tied into FFcP so that there's a system behind it... and they are immediately useful in a jam (pun intended).
You might find this book useful:
Bluegrass Up the Neck by Niles Hokkanen
It contains licks and some songs you could learn and take to Jams. The first part of the book mostly plays out of FFcP position 1 (first finger) in the sense that a lot of what he demonstrates is based on that pattern, although he doesn't call it that per se.
e.g. in the key of D a lot of the patterns would begin at x75 x and would use the major pentatonic scale in D on the top 2 strings x x 5 x 7 x 9x xxx5 xxx7 xxx12
He also uses a lot of double stops out of that position.
Later on he demonstrates playing out of a chop chord which could be either 3rd or 4th finger FFcP depending on how you were fingering it.
Playing out of a chop chord, the root chord is either the "G" or "D" shape. Either way your ring finger is on the "1" note for that chord. Position shift the hand so that your "1" finger is there and play your closed position pentatonics or melodies from there. When you're done slide the hand back to the chord position and carry on chopping.
If I might make a suggestion: Set aside some time in your practice schedule to improvise. It'll sound bad at first, but that's because it needs practice. Keep practicing and it will get better. Sing small licks and then try to play them. Play small licks and then try to sing them. Play an entire solo only with three notes. Play it with only one note, changing the rhythms. Play three notes, then make up a solo around those three, adding in passing notes. Move the three notes up by half a scale (easy with FFcP, just another string up). Etc. Play with it. Playing takes hard practice just like memorizing.
Also, try to find transcriptions of solos that you like online. If you find parts you like, steal them and use them in other contexts. Recently, I learned a small lick from Topsy that stuck in my head and its come back quite often when I improvise.
The big thing is: Practice. Any part of your playing that you want to get better needs practice.