One of our new members (and I'm sorry...can't remember just which one) asked how and what to practice a little while back.
I thought it might be good to throw up a thread and we can post how we go about our individual practicing.
Today I've looked at a bit of theory (notes on keyboard), worked on memorizing Ashokan Farewell and where to put the tremelo, played thru Big Sandy River several times and tried to resolve exactly which notes are 'ups' and which are 'downs.'
Also I have 14 flash cards I've made up with two or three finger chords that I'm finally making myself memorize and my husband drilled me on those.
Later today I will get 'on the metronome' for a while.
Let's hear what everyone does to practice.
I'll admit I had a more comprehensive practice today than ordinary. Often I just work, work, work, on one song to get it ready for video.
I really want/need to work on ALL of it more than I do.
BTW...does anyone have a link to some good drills to do to strengthen the left hand for making chords? I REALLY need that.
It was me that asked about practice. Lots of good ideas from most people. But unfortunately i haven't had the time to put any ideas into practice.
The only thing I've been working on is galway hornpipe. Almost ready to post a video, maybe in a few days. It'll be my first attempt at video so it'll not be nominated for an Oscar or anything. But please provide constructive feedback for me, on my playing not on the video. If its rubbish, then tell me. I would rather have that than people say things like " good first video"
Regarding your point about strengthen your left hand, have you tried using stress balls. You can also get devices, dont know what they are called, that you can exercise your fingers and hands. Available in most music shops and come in different tension depending on how easy or difficult you want.
I have been slowly working my way through Greg Horne's 'Beginning Mandolin', which just arrived in the post last week. A brilliant book which I'm trying to go through slowly, getting all I can from each lesson, rather than racing to the end which is my norm.
I like to vary my practice, I find plain routine a bit monotonous. I usually start with some simple scales, to warm up, then try a few excercises to try and improve speed and accuracy. Then I will play a few tunes I've learnt, both here in our monthly tunes and in the Mandolin group I go to in London.
I use the Greg Horne beginners book, and am trying to go through the Marilyn Mair book, too. The benefit of that one is there is no TAB - I really want to learn to sight read music.
today i practiced my chords , scales and the Gathering waltz from Mr Nigel Gatherers tune of the week . also had a brush with the punctuation police on mando hangout .
We don't got no punctuation/spelling police around here.....
Punctuation is over-rated. Important, but over-rated nonetheless
excellent im only just finding my way around a keyboard i cant be doing with trying to find dots and stuff anyway is anyone also learning scottish mandolin on here
jay A says you that knows where them dots and dash thingys are (only joking)
Being a new mandolin owner/player..as in about 12 hours or so old, I practiced not dropping my mandolin on the floor while getting the strap on. I practiced to see how many strings I could snap while tuning the mandolin. This took less time than you would think. I then practiced trying every which way to get the tailpiece cover off so I could replace the snapped strings...that took MORE time than you would think..
After accomplishing all these things, I practiced holding the pick so I didn't have to pick it up off the floor or shake it out of a sound hole..the cats thought that practice went very well. They also enjoyed the "let's get the pick before she does" practice. You wouldn't think they would be all that good at practicing that, seeing as they have never done that before. I considered calling Animal Planet and telling them I have the smartest cats ON the planet, but, I thought better of it. No need to call attention to oneself..all the media hype, never a moment of your own. After practicing just owning a mandolin, I tried actually playing it. I'm not one of those savants that can play anything that is set if front of them..and play it perfectly. I can read music and tabs, because I play other instruments, none of them very well, but the knowledge helped considerably, especially since the how-to books I ordered haven't come yet, so, for all I know, I may be playing the thing upside down. (I'm not really THAT bad..but close). So - all in all - practice went very well. The mandolin is still in one piece, the picks are all present and accounted for, with a couple of teeth marks from a 10-month old kitten named Smudge, the case closed all the way after making sure the strap wasn't in the latch, and I haven't taken to hard drinking. A good first day of practice!
Today I practiced rest strokes with a metronome set to 60bpm doing quarter, 8th, and 16th notes making sure to get good tone on the down and up strokes. I did this on each string for a minute or two. Then I practiced the Brighton Polka from the Mel Bay Irish Mandolin Playing: A Complete Guide by Phillip John Berthoud. It is a great little book so far. I recommend it with the cd.
Today, I practiced 5 major scales, worked on Brushy Creek Waltz, and relaxed a bit with Ash Grove.
So far today I've reviewed some of Greg Horne's Beginner book, played thru several tunes trying to work on how I strike the double course of strings, worked on the timing of the waltz I'm working on and worked on memorizing Westphalia.
I want to work on some chords and some scales a bit later on.
This is hard work but I love it.
Also...I have to remember to get on the metronome each day for timing work in general.
AWK...so many things to think about at once.
Sorta reminds me of when you take a golf lesson and there are 17 things about your swing to remember...it seems so anyhow.
kristibob , your june 14th reply was very very funny
Kristibob you are hilarious! I just got mine Saturday and have already broken a string while trying to tune and don't know how to ger the tailpiece off. I think I'll go practice my fiddle at least I know how to tune it and change the strings.
Thank you, ian and Ifiddle I have found that laughing at myself is just WAY more fun than swearing at myself for ever having decided to play the mandolin!....As for practice today...I got my how-to books, finally, and was delighted to have a "mandolin scales and studies" book. I'm not delighted, anymore. Overwhelmed would be a better word. Do you have ANY idea how many scales you can practice on one little mandolin!!???....about a zillion!!..no..I have never actually counted to a zillion...but there are lots and lots and lots of them!! There are 151 pages of nothing but scales in all kinds of keys that I think someone just made up to make practicing miserable for the poor fool who purchased the book! I know that doing the scale exercises is a great way for me to warm up before "real" practice...that it will aid in flexibility and all of that sort of thing, and knowing how to play the same scale in a zillion different places on the mandolin will enrich my playing somewhere in the future...like about 2017...it will take me that long to get through this entire book!!! However..I have decided to do 4 pages at a time, and I will do those 4 pages until I can do every scale, top to bottom and back again, by heart..with no looking at the book or the instrument. That's how I do things. I set the goal of 4 pages by heart...it's a small goal..but that is the best way to do things for me. If you set an insurmountable goal, you have a tendency to quit because getting anywhere just isn't any fun, and learning has to be fun or you just won't do it. Today..I practiced my 4 pages of scales, then did 45 minutes with my Mel Bay book and 45 minutes with my Wayne Erbsen book. Then, I did 45 minutes with my Wayne Erbsen guitar book. I take breaks in-between, for things like eating and going to the bathroom...lol.
Oh..Ifiddle...I found out, by trial and error, that my tailpiece cover slides on and off. I watched a video on the internet that had the guy "popping" off his tailpiece cover, and I herked and herked on mine...but it doesn't pop off..it slides off..lol
I guess I should mention that I actually used a guitar with my new Wayne Erbsen guitar book..didn't want to leave with you thinking I was playing mandolin from a "how to flatpick a guitar", book.
Practise, I'm working on the end of the second A part on Ashokan Farewell. I'm wanting to get that down so I can work on the B part either later tonight or tomorrow, and hopefully have it down well enough that if anybody calls it in the jams this weekend at Wahoo, I can at least play along.
The tremolos.... well, maybe I'll wait on those. I'm thinkin a kinda cross-pick around the note would make a pretty fill there too.
I am SO diggin' this Mid-Mo!
Practice today was only great! I toiled mightily on my scales..just about have all the pentatonic scales down pat, and will start soon on the major scales. I worked in both of my how-to books for mandolin and worked in my guitar book, too. I am thinking that I might scale down my guitar now. I'm a bit older and, after having two shoulder surgeries in the past, it's tougher to get around my dreadnought. I am thinking about trading it in where I bought it here in town and seeing what kind of deal I can get on something that is a bit easier for me to play. I cannot see being without a guitar, but my lovely OG4 just isn't getting the attention it deserves. It would be hard to let go of it, though...so I'm a bit torn on the issue. In the meantime, I will concentrate on my mandolin and enjoy the heck out of it. After all of the "work"...I relaxed with Ash Grove, Brushy Creek Waltz, and just picking out some of my favorite songs by ear..I love doing that. I hope all are well and happy in mandolin land.
I got my metronome today. I did all of my scales work with it, as well as with my how-to books, so I could get accustomed to the little beep it makes. My piano students always hated working with a metronome until they learned that it's just a tool to help with consistency, timing, finger placement, all of that jazz, and those are the primary reasons I got one. I know..a piano teacher didn't own a metronome...lol. I have two really nice keyboards with metronomes built in, but they are across the room from where I practice my mandolin, so I found one for $5.14 that is a little clip-on doodad with all of the options you need..rhythm, tempo, value..the regular stuff, and it works quite well. After I did all of the necessary practice stuff, I decided to work on Jay Buckey's arrangement of "This Land Is Your Land" with the metronome. I will spend a good deal of time just getting familiar with the piece, just hitting the right notes at the right time, then I will start with the metronome at half-speed and work my way up to the speed on the mp3 on Jay's site. So far, so good...the metronome isn't bugging me and I think it's going to be a valuable tool for my guitar stuff, too. I hope this Saturday finds you all well and happy.
Today, I allowed stuff to get in the way of mandolin playing! I know..how could I...but I had to see an insurance guy to get the check for the repairs for my car that was hit on May 31st..in a parking lot..while I was parked..the other guy's fault, but it took way too long to get stuff done. I'm grateful, however, that I get to finally get my PT Cruiser to the shop tomorrow and get her fixed..need to replace a tail-light cover and deal with a small scuff on the rear corner panel. After all of the car stuff, I had to go to the bank, then the store, then home, do some pet stuff, eat...I didn't pick Minna up until 9pm!! Because I'm tired tonight, I didn't do much, as I'm never too good when I'm tired, but I did get a pesky scale figured out and about an hour with my books, then ran through the "Eighth of January" and "Harvest Home" just for fun. I did practice...but not much.
sorry to hear about your accident. That must have been unnerving to say the least. It's hard to play when there's all that intense stuff going on and so many things to do. Life happens sometimes that's for sure.
I can relate to what you're saying about taking an unwanted break from the mando though. I never thought I'd ever take a break. I was playing everyday and now it's going on 3 weeks that I've hardly picked it up at all. My family had to take care of our mother during this time. So many things got shuffled down in priority, but I 'm starting to get that strong pull to the mando again. If I have too much on my mind, I'm not going to get a lot out of practicing. I also cancelled a lesson during this time, and when I did go again, we took it slow. For the first time I actually forgot a chord! Funny thing though, the other day a rubber band I pulled off a fruit container twisted into a perfect treble clef on the kitchen counter. I couldn't believe it and I left it there for days afterwards. I didn't play in the end because of all this other stuff, but I wonder if I had played, maybe things might have been less hectic overall...
The song we started in a lesson was "Let it Be," by the Beatles. My instructor chose it which is a great song for me at this time. It sounds great on the mando with mostly strumming and some picking. Keep your fingers crossed that we both can get back to playing. It'll be sweet, that's for sure, a happy reunion.
I'm back home from a trip to my Mom's home in KY. I took my mando and practiced back in a bedroom and at her insistance in her living room for a bit but it wasn't the same as being able to do a full bore practice at home.
I'm ready to refill my coffee cup and dig in here this morning with the metronome and the scales and working on the timing and striking both strings. That is still hard for me when I get distracted by trying to remember where the next note is. But time will sort it out I think. Time and lots of hard work.
Rosemary...I'll look forward to a video of your playing 'Let it Be.' Love that song. Do you have tabs for it or do you play from notation?
Kristi...I know...I can't practice when I'm tired either.
One thing that I starting doing last week was trying to memorize tunes as I learn them. I used to just play them off of the sheet music. I found that I couldn't play without the music. Last week I started over with my fiddle tune book and started trying to play them without looking, using my ear to guide me. I messed up a little at first, but really it wasn't too bad. I can now play three of them completely without looking at anything. It makes my playing sound better because I can focus on my tone and technique and how it sounds rather than on looking to see what note comes next. I'm amazed at how much better I sound and how much faster I can play. I recommend that everyone try this and see how it works for you!
I worked on two finger chords, and picked my way through Ballydesmond Polka #3
Worked a LOT with my metronome and trying to pick the notes more cleanly as I gradually increased speed. Not easy. Nope. Not.
One thing that really helped me learn how to pick properly and get good tone is the rest stroke. I practice them with my metronome and anytime I play a piece where there is a quarter note, I do a rest stroke. You won't always play like that, but it is a tool for getting the proper distances for picking into your muscle memory. This video helped me a lot!
and this one:
Ben...thanks for th tip! I've watched the tremolo lesson by this woman many times. But haven't seen the one on right hand technique. I think she's a really good instructor.
Getting ready to pick up my mando and practice those rest strokes!
Karon, hey! You are welcome. Anything to help a fellow beginner. I think she is a good teacher too. A lot of people don't see the point of rest strokes, but they are important at least when developing your fundamental technique. There is a reason why they are used in classical music so much.
I really think working with a metronome is essential too. I remember when I first got one and it seemed like the darn thing kept slowing down and speeding up. I was so sad when I realized the metronome wasn't broken. John McGann talks about that in one of his lessons. I had the same experience he did. I use mine all the time. I can now play a piece of music from sheetmusic properly now without even having previously heard the tune because I play the notes/divisions in relation to the metronome pulse. I tap my right foot and move it in tandem with my right hand. It helps keep me in time.
I think I read that we aren't supposed to type in all caps...so this might get axed...THANK YOU!...for the videos!!. I had no idea how to go about learning the tremelo stuff.. I have a musical background, so I completely understood what a tremelo is, and why it's a nifty skill to have, but had no idea on a good way to practice getting good at it. Now, with this video, I have learned the right way to practice and, almost more importantly, I have learned to give myself some time. I don't have to have a perfect tremelo in the first two weeks of mandolin ownership. Believe me, I'll take at least those two months the instructor advised, and then some. The right hand technique video is also SO helpful! I try, being a "self-teacher" to absorb what I read in books, and in the videos that I have used since getting my mandolin, and having that voice tell you, "This will help you do this better", is really great. When my Dad was alive, all the music I did was for him, with him, about him..and he was always there to offer advise, or to learn something new from me, so he is the only voice I ever had, outside of school band classes. I have been without him for 24 years..and this is the first time, in all of those years, I have done music without him. I try really hard to stop myself from saying, "I wish Dad could hear this..I'm doing way better that I thought I would...I wish he could see me learning this thing.". I know..I'm 54 years old..should be over that stuff by now, but I"m not..so learning this mandolin, practicing this mandolin, is way more for me than adding another instrument to those I can almost play..lol.....it's the first time I've done it without my Dad. That's a big step..and I am very glad I did it. I tell you all this because music has been in my heart since I was little. My mother wrote in my baby book that I sang my first whole sentence..so it started a long time ago. Learning the mandolin, by myself..for myself..is a really big thing for me, and that's why I value this site..and you people..and videos like the ones I've used..it's all helping me stay focused on learning and remembering how to have some fun. I know..I ramble..lol..I just wanted to let you know that the videos and the advice and the humor really do matter.
I'm glad you liked those videos. They helped me too. You can caps talk to me anytime. I don't mind!
Kristi, the tremolo isn't just a nifty skill to have. I think it is one of the characteristic stylistic techniques that makes the mandolin sounds so.........mandoliny! hahahha! I think that is why so many people stress over it. I'm focusing on just playing melodies and keeping good time right now...especially switching between rhythm and melody playin!
OK...have a new goal.
We've done half a dozen tunes so far this year as tunes of the month. I'm gonna go back and pick up each one of those and practice it until I can play it through at a decent speed with no mistakes and then work with the metronome to up the speed on each one...slowly but surely.
I LOVE having the memorized tunes to work with. It makes it really easy to do the videos and chart the progress.
Metronome work is becoming more and more essential and I'm getting the feel for how much it's helping.
I'm working on Big Sandy River today.
And I'm working on memorizing some chords. I have 15 I'm memorizing. I can readily name 8 or 9 of them. When I get this 15 down pat I'll add more.
Also...plan to work on some music theory.
Also...hope to spend a bit of time each day playing along with various backing tracks...boy...that's hard for me now but I'm beginning to be able to 'catch' some of it...and I'll get better with work, work, work.
There's a lot to be done...but I'm loving all of it.
Karon..that is TONS of work!..You'll do well, though..and have all of that stuff down pat in no time!
I practiced scales and rest stops with the metronome for two and a half hours this morning with Minna. Everything is coming along quite well. Then, for fun, I did Ash Grove (from the Jay Buckey site) with the metronome, trying to get it up to speed. Karon, I also love getting stuff in my head..I don't have to worry about which note I'm supposed to be playing and I can concentrate more on "how" I'm playing instead of "what" I'm playing. Ash Grove was a great piece for me to start with because it was easy to memorize and has a minimum of what I call "fancy" work..the runs and licks and all of that stuff. I played the MP3 and set my metronome up to the right tempo, then noted it on the sheet music I printed, and had a blast keeping up. I do really well with only two trouble spots. Now, I'm going to practice scales and rest stops with my new guitar!
Hi all! I was going to start pretty much this exact thread when I thought to myself maybe I should just search Google about how to practice first. So I just read this whole thread and it seems that everyone simply has a random song, skill, or technique that they start to practice with. As someone who has played for about a year I find I am frustrated with my practice routine lately. I have tried staring with scales, chords, songs, skills, and such but I feel I should be more advanced then I am for how much I have played. Is this uncommon? Does anyone else get a feeling? I suppose I now understand that if there was a place everyone would just start there. Well thanks for the help! I'm now inspired again!
Rasta, I don't have a random song or routine. I spend about five minutes a day practicing right hand technique, then spend a bout 20-30 minutes working on a basic fiddle tune. Fiddle tunes for mandolin teach your ear basic melodies, scales, right/left hand dexterity and coordination. There is a reason why so many mandolin books and videos start you with them. They teach you technique while also teaching you to play actual music instead of a boring exercise. It is similar to what etudes in classical music. I'm working my way through 20 standard fiddle tunes right now getting the melodies down and in my head. Then I will move on the more complicated intermediate versions, then on to the advanced versions. ONce I can play the tune and get it in my head, I try to memorize it so I can play it without looking at the music. I also try learning the chords to the tunes instead of just the melody. It is better to have a short focused practice every day than a marathon where you try to learn everything at once.
It is taking me a little time to get back at a routine. I usually warm up with scales for my left hand and alternate picking drills for right. I have started on Arkansas Traveler in the last couple of days, working through the piece bar by bar trying to get it memorized. I listen to others play it to get an idea of the tune. I know that in this tune, I need to keep my right hand going, keeping the tempo. This has always been a challenge for me. I am interested in knowing if those 20 fiddle tunes come from a particular source and or what are they? Happy picking All!
Hey Nanaimo,I'm using a book called, "Bluegrass Mandolin Solos That Every Parking Lot Picker Should Know" by Steve Kaufman. I have the guitar version too, and they are both some of the best instruction books I can reccomend once you have your basic technique down. The beginner versions start off real easy. There there is an intermediate version and and advanced version that you could use to win contests if you can learn it. You go through and learn all the beginner versions first, then the intermediate then the advanced. That way your skill level increases in total instead of being a beginning picker at one song, an intermediate at another etc. The book is expensive, but it comes with 6 CDs with examples of all the versions and Steve walking you through each one slowly and helping with trouble spots!
This is it if you want to check it out:http://www.homespuntapes.com/Instruc...solos-series-1
Thanks for the info!
Ben...I've seen that book highly recommended elsewhere....just might have to give the old credit card a workout this morning.
I have been doing not much other than full concentration of right hand technique. With the mandolin being my first instrument and being totally self taught frankly I have taught myself some errors. I admit that I have been resting my pinky finger on the mandolin for support and this is wrong.
But what a problem to correct. It is so difficult to correct this when you know you would have no problem playing the song if you can just cheat and rest that pinky for support. But doing it incorrectly will hinder any opportunity to get up to speed with my picking.
I'll keep working on it and I'm still here enjoying all your posts.
My dog woke me up at 5am this morning..after I got to sleep around 2am..so I mostly practiced staying awake...lol.
I spent about an hour and a half on scales and the metronome - working on consistency, fingering, making solid contact with the strings on Minna..and making sure I get the rest stops right. For fun, I worked on the two problem areas that were bogging me down in Ash Grove, then played along with the MP3 several times and did very well.
I also spent an equal amount of time on scales, metronome, rest stops, and all of that with my guitar. I've played guitar a long time..but never well..just chords and fingerpicking, but I was a fair player..now, the picking is brand new, and SO much fun! After all of the "work"..for fun..I did Ash Grove on my guitar. One of the areas that bogged me down on Minna was easy as pie on the guitar.
I'm just having too much fun..even on no sleep..so I'm headed to bed, and if the dog barks at the wee hours, I'm going to get up and put the darn dog in the car...lol..with the window down..not really..but it's inviting. Goodnight, all!
I haven't had the opportunity to just sit and actually practice with my Greg Horne book much this week but I do pick up the mandolin and play through the 5-6 songs I know every day. Today I even had to go out in the back garden to play as every room of the house was being used by the wife or children to watch tv,play computer games etc.
It is at least encouraging that I can now rip through several tunes by memory that I was struggling to TAB along with just a month ago.
John Arabi, I do what you do too John. I think learning tunes by memory and practicing them is more important than running scales and exercises. I think of the fiddle tunes as little technique and ear training exercises. Steve Kaufman says that once you get about 50 fiddle tunes under your belt and can play them well and from memory, then you will be able to improvise like no body's business.
That's affirming to hear that others think learning the fiddle tunes is key, for that is what I'm working on. I'm trying to get competent in a basic version of each that I can play from memory, and learn to know which is which when I hear them!
I've decided to start with the top 20 from this site:http://www.oldtimejam.com/Jam.html
I start with the slow guitar track and work my way up to playing at speed with the banjo and fiddle ones. I'm thinking I should learn the rhythm part to play along on these as well. I like having a plan...
Hello, all..and I hope you all had a safe, happy holiday On to practice...I am one of those folks who really likes to practice. Even when I was a kid, with a sax, I never had to be nagged by my folks to practice. I knew I would sound horrid in front of everyone if I didn't practice, and I am just not fond of abject humiliation...lol. I have a practice "system" worked out, now that I have been playing a bit more and have added flatpicking the guitar to the practice schedule. I start with my mandolin, and hit the scales and rest stops really hard, trying to be consistent with speed, fingering, and getting those clear, round notes we are all so fond of, and memorizing the scales..not just where the notes are played..but which note I'm playing, as well. After about an hour and a half of the technical stuff, I pick out a song to play with. Today, that song is "Beauty in Tears", a Jay Buckey arrangement of a traditional Irish lullaby. It's simple enough that I'm not intimidated, but has a few little runs, that, with some practice with the metronome, get me up to speed fairly quickly, and I love playing along with the MP3. I started practicing the song today, and I'm at half-speed on both mandolin and guitar. I never hurry the process...I play the same stuff over and over until I have it memorized, then I don't have to worry about finding notes while I'm working on speed. I think practice needs to be fun...I know that, with solid work on the technical stuff, I can have fun applying what I'm learning with a song I pick for the practice session. I ordered a book a few days ago of fiddle tunes for mandolin, as I have read that they are great for fingering practice and all of that stuff. I'm looking forward to getting that book. I need to remind myself not to get ahead of myself, if that makes any sense...I need to remember to take stuff a step at a time so I have a good foundation for both instruments and I remind myself that all of the technical stuff, for me, is more important than playing a song with an MP3. I will be getting a little webcam around the first of the month so I can learn to use it and then learn to post a video. I'll let you all know when I've finally conquered that and when I am going to post the first one, so you can get the popcorn and soda and have a good laugh...lol.
Hello All... well I have officially completed week one of the mandolin. What a blast it has been. Everyone was right, my fingers are not as numb any more and practicing 2 hours a day has built up a nice calous already. I have managed to learn the first 11 measures of Cumberland Gap, also have made it though Angelina Baker (i think thats the title), Amazing Grace from the Greg Horne book, I have also tinkered around with the Soilders Joy song. That one has me a little stuck, but I will get through it for sure. I am determined to not let that one get the best of me. I have been practicing cords, but wow, those are hard. I didn't know my fingers could get in those spots between the frets. I have also been working on finger placement by runing the major scale up and down and different variations so my mind will just know where the fingers should be. I don't think I am good eough to post a video just yet, but my husband is going to help me keep a video diary so I can see how far I progress each week. Wish me luck on week 2 of my journey!!!