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Thread: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

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    Registered User Dave Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    For anyone that's interested, Volume II is available now at www.endascahill.com. I got an e-mail this morning and immediately ordered a copy. I've been working through Volume 1 for a while and really enjoy it. For those not familiar with the book, it's an Irish Banjo Tutorial. Irish Banjo's are tuned GDAE so it's applicable to the mandolin. Volume 1 has tab available, Volume 2 is written in SN and tab. Anyway, just passing it along... (NFI)
    Last edited by Dave Weiss; Feb-23-2012 at 8:48pm. Reason: nfi
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Thanks for the heads-up, Dave. I'll be getting this.

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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    I got the first one as soon it was in sale
    and must say that I really like it. it's great for begginers.
    has loads of tunes and variations of them.

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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Does it talk about adding triplets. I have O'Neails and it just the tune but you listen to records and there are a lot of triplets added. I'm looking for info to figure out where and how to add these ornaments.

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    Registered User Dave Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Yes, he's got great explanations of trebles, triplets and other ornamentation. Explained so well that even I can understand it...
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    Registered User BBarton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    'Just ordered Vol II yesterday! 'Looking forward to it -- Vol I was quite useful (for both banjo and mandolin), and delivery time from Ireland was quick.
    Too many instruments...too little time

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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    I'm taking all your recommendations and I ordered Vol I.

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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Ticked me off. Got my Vol I yesterday and broke CD1 taking it out. Still looks like it will be a fun book.

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    Registered User Dave Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    I'll bet they'll replace the CD if you ask them. On the other hand it's no great loss, unless you need to hear how to tune your instrument, play the excercises or listen to the first few tunes played painfully slow...
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    My main complaint is the tunes should also be played up to gig speed. This way you have something to strive for. I hate to get to a jam thinking I got the tunes down and find I'm not playing them fast enough!!

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    Registered User mikeyes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Quote Originally Posted by montana View Post
    My main complaint is the tunes should also be played up to gig speed. This way you have something to strive for. I hate to get to a jam thinking I got the tunes down and find I'm not playing them fast enough!!
    One of the tenets of the book is that you learn the tunes and play them with good technique and speed will come later on. I think this is spot on. If you want to speed them up, get the Amazing Slowdowner (or other software) and speed the tunes up. Enda, who was an All-Ireland Mandolin player, says that the book equally applies to mandolin. I tend to agree for the most part.

    Here is my report on Volume II as reported in Banjohangout:

    It's hard for me to say properly how much I like Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor, Volume II. It is the first tutor to go beyond the basics of teaching tunes and a few ornaments and it does this very well.

    This is the book that I wish I had written, except of course I am not Enda Scahill and could not have done such a comprehensive job of laying out in great detail how to play the Irish tenor banjo. He goes well beyond what every other Irish banjo tutor has done by exploring what it means to be a musician, how to develop Irish style banjo and most important, how to develop your individual style. He does this by taking two well known tunes as test beds for ideas and continues to explore them throughout the book.

    As soon as you pick this book up you will realize that it is not a book that gives you instructions on how to play a tune and sound like Enda Scahill (although you could do a lot worse), instead it shows you how to develop tools and techniques through practice and how to put these tools together without being prescriptive. While doing so he tells you a lot about the way he plays but from the inside out. You don't get a note for note recitation of his playing, instead you learn why he plays the way he does and how to adapt his ways to your style.

    When you get this book, don't make the mistake of ignoring the first chapter on Relaxation and Reducing Tension. These skills are the key to learning to play Irish banjo at a level beyond beginner. Learning to relax will make seemingly complex and impossible things happen a lot faster and a lot easier. Every elite performer has learned these skills at some time and it is best to start early in order to avoid learning bad habits and bad technique that you will have to unlearn later on. In fact, read the book from front to back in that order, there is a reason he wrote it this way. His practice tips are invaluable and you have to learn to practice well if you want to be successful.

    There is a great temptation to go to the first tunes (which start on page 32) and learn them in a rote fashion without learning the first 31 pages. If you do that, you will sound like you learned them in a rote fashion - this means you will sound mechanical and have no feel for the music. It also means that you will develop a very heavy hand because you avoided learning to play lightly and in a relaxed fashion. John Lee Hooker once said about the blues, "Less is more." and the same thing applies here. A key concept in the book is to learn to play by barely playing the instrument physically. Not only will the music flow better if you are relaxed and have a light hand (both right and left, by the way) but you will find that these techniques will translate into your style. Instead of playing diddley all the time, you will start to play music and you will play music with your whole body and soul.

    There is a reason why Enda puts relaxation methods first and practice tips second before introducing any music at all. If you really want to improve your banjo playing you have to learn these skills otherwise you will never improve beyond your talent level. Becoming a good musician requires learning proper technique and practice. But technique alone is not enough, you have to learn the music and without good relaxation skills you will handicap yourself to the point that you will never flow with the music.

    Enda Scahill is a great musician, but first and foremost he is a teacher with a great understanding of the banjo, the music, and how students learn. His book is 80 pages long (plus two CDs) but it contains years of knowledge. By that I mean that his years of developing his skills are clearly the basis for this book, but also that you can mine the information in the book for years and learn something new each time you read it.

    If you want to become a good Irish tenor banjo player, you have to get this book. If you want to be a great Irish tenor banjo player you need to get this book because it gives you the basis to become great. Read it thoroughly, then read it again. Every time you pick it up you will find new insights.


    Mike Keyes
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    [QUOTE=mikeyes;1030046]One of the tenets of the book is that you learn the tunes and play them with good technique and speed will come later on. I think this is spot on. If you want to speed them up, get the Amazing Slowdowner (or other software) and speed the tunes up.

    Using software to speed up a tune dosen't tell you how fast it should be played!!!!

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    Registered User MikeyG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    I have to agree with montana on this one. The playing on cd1 (of Volume I) is MUCH too slow. Keyes' suggestion to speed up the tunes using the Amazing Slow Downer is
    going to more than double the price for the US purchaser, making it a nearly $100
    price tag. That's quite unreasonable, in my opinion.

    Another point: the tunes ARE played at session speed (as well as slowly) on the cd's that accompany Volume II. It seems like the author is admitting his mistake.

    It would take little effort for Scahill to post up-to-speed versions of the Volume I tunes on his website. If he does that, I'll stop complaining (about the cd's).

    But some other parts of Keyes' review here are a bit exaggerated - for example,

    "If you want to become a good Irish tenor banjo player, you have to get this book."

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    Registered User mikeyes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    The trial version of Amazing Slowdowner is free so it should not add to the cost. As for how fast you should play the tunes, there is no standard speed. If you are a Clare fiddler you will tend to play them at a moderate pace, if you are from the North faster, if you are an American often lightening fast. Vol I is a beginner's book and he makes it clear that you have to learn how to play the banjo (technique) before you play fast. If you start out playing fast, especially if you have not grown up in the tradition, you simply will not get it. It is possible to play the notes fast, but not the music unless you learn good technique to start. That's the reason why the Vol II CDs are at a tempo you can play in a session. It is assumed that you have learned basic technique by then.

    As for getting to be a good player, there is no other book that goes into the detail that Scahill's books do. The best way to become a good banjo player is to have a live teacher, but that is not always possible. The next best thing is to go to workshops and have a permanent record of those classes. His book offers that and is consistent with his classes. I don't think it is hyperbole to say what I did.
    Mike Keyes
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    Irish Tenor Banjo Blog

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    Registered User MikeyG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    The Amazing Slow Downer is free to try, but the trial version will only play the first
    two tracks of a CD and the first quarter of an audio file. That doesn't make it a
    practical solution to the "speed" issue.

    Another gripe: there's a TAB booklet for Scahill's Volume I that must be purchased separately from the book but the tablature is printed so small that a magnifying glass
    is required (at least for my eyes). It's my understanding that Volume II contains the TAB as well as the standard music notation. Another indication that Enda recognized
    a "mistake" with Volume I. But those who purchased Volume I are stuck with tiny tablature and super-slow audio. I am not happy and will not purchase Enda's Volume II.

    A fair review should point out the weaknesses as well as strengths.

    Mike

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    Registered User mikeyes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Mike,

    I understand your criticism (especially about the TAB), I just don't agree with it mostly because I don't think tab has a good place in Irish music. Irish music is, above all, an aural tradition which used notation as a storage device but not as a recording device. Tab is very limited in the number of tunes available while there is a 300 year history of recording Irish trad in notation. You are limiting yourself if you don't learn notation.

    Enda did learn from his first book and his second volume presents a lot of good information. Of course it is your choice whether or not to buy it, but what he says in the second volume is what he offers in classes and workshops. I found it to be very valuable and it has helped my progression quite a bit. I left out a part of my review from banjohangout (http://www.banjohangout.org/topic/229297) which criticized the use of tabs because so many people rely on tab alone. I saw this as the major flaw in his first book but (because it isolated the tab user) not one that was important enough to disregard the rest of the work.

    In addition, this book is good for mandolin players but is limited because it is aimed at banjo players. Mandolin and banjo have a lot of similarities but they differ quite a bit too. If you only use this book you will have a good grounding in technique but will not have access to some of the peculiar qualities of the mandolin that can be explored. It would take another author or teacher for that - Paul Kelly, Marla F, etc. will serve a mandolinist who wishes to go on to a higher level as that is where the two instrument techniques diverge.

    You can use Windows Media Player (so I am told, I am a Mac person) to speed up or slow down music and stay in key - or even change key - and the instructions are somewhere in the forum or can be googled.
    Mike Keyes
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    Irish Tenor Banjo Blog

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    Registered User Dave Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Now you guys have piqued my curiosity.

    What is the established traditional speed for Crowley's Reel?
    >>>===> Dave

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    Registered User mikeyes's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Weiss View Post
    Now you guys have piqued my curiosity.

    What is the established traditional speed for Crowley's Reel?
    Dave, For the most part, Irish trad is dance music. Whatever works for the dancers without killing them is fine. Say 120 bpm-140 bpm or so.

    Mike
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    Irish Tenor Banjo Blog

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    Registered User Dave Weiss's Avatar
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    Default Re: Enda Scahill's Irish Banjo Tutor II

    Thanks Mike, I was being a little facetious...
    I think the books are an excellent way to learn techniques and rarely listen to the CD's. I'm not great at reading music, but I find that TAB does not do any justice to Irish/Scottish music. I've thoroughly enjoyed the books and picked up a lot of useful (to me) information, but I wasn't looking for a "how do I play this song" book.
    >>>===> Dave

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