Re: What helped you the most when you were just starting out?
Not ever having played Mandolin before,& not knowing any other players,i bought the only tuition DVD i could find at the time,the one by Chris Thile.I knew that it wasn't for beginers,but i had no choice. As it turned out,his advice on how to hold a pick & about picking 'action',proved very helpful indeed. It only took me a couple of months to be able to retain the pick in my 'approximate vicinity',after that it was simply down to practicing (copying) what i'd seen.
The biggest thing to help one's self,is 'doing it'. My initial practicing was done in order to control my grip on the pick & to cleanly hit the strings i was aiming for & not the ones i didn't want - it came eventually. I then set about transfering several of my 'old standard' banjo tunes over to Mandolin. I'm an ear player,& have been for close to 50 years. I learned where to find the 'sounds' on the Mandolin that i was hearing in recordings & tried to incorporate those into my playing,up & down the fingerboard & well over the 12th fret. I know that they're 'notes',but listening to a recording,i couldn't tell right off which 'notes' i was hearing,but i found the 'sounds' & of course that 'named the notes' for me.
It really is down to practicing & for me,regardless of what others do or might tell you,you'll still have your 'own things' that you want to practice. For some it's the technical approach & they practice the 'technical' things such as scales etc.,for others like me,i prefer to get right on & play tunes.That doesn't mean that i neglect to learn the occasional scale or 3,but that comes as an addition to my 'music' playing,
Weber F-5 'Fern'.
Lebeda F-5 "Special".
Stelling Bellflower BANJO
Tanglewood TW-1000SR Guitar
Tokai - 'Tele-alike'.