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Thread: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

  1. #1
    Mandolin Apprentice joni24's Avatar
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    Default Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    OK, I "discovered" mandolin 9 months ago when I bought my first instrument. Now I'm completely hooked and wanting to learn as much as I can as fast as I can. Here's some of the stuff I'm trying to focus on: FFcP, mastering double stops, playing up the neck, learning more chords, basic crosspicking, smooth tremolos, improvising off of basic melodies, increasing my speed, improving my tone, and learning as many fiddle tunes as I can absorb. Am I crazy to want it all? Is there a recommended order in which all this good stuff should be tackled?
    2007 Kentucky KM-1000
    Goldtone Banjo-Uke, with steel strings & mando tuning (my 'Manjolele')
    Harmony A-style, f-hole
    2010 Martin OM-1
    & miscl other strings, keyboards, accordions & percussion toys

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    Long , Strange Trip Jim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    No, there is no particular order and crazy or not learning all of it is what it's all about. If you are not frustrated by taking on such a task then more power to you. I've been doing this for quite a while and your list of things you're working on is pretty close to mine. All I can say is have fun doing it, I know I do.
    Jim Richmond

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    Registered User billkilpatrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    crazy is good and the answer is "no" to the biting part and "yes!" to all the rest - particularly ffcp - (it's a great tool)

    - bill (sometime resident of quechee)

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    Registered User Sandy Beckler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Here's some of the stuff I'm trying to focus on: FFcP, mastering double stops, playing up the neck, learning more chords, basic crosspicking, smooth tremolos, improvising off of basic melodies, increasing my speed, improving my tone, and learning as many fiddle tunes as I can absorb.

    Join the club.....

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    mando-evangelist August Watters's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    It's good to work on more and varied skills, as long as you feel each is reinforcing the other. Keep your time for each activity short, and move on to the next thing before you get tired. I like to work on one idea for 15-20 minutes, and then move on to the next. I like to think of four categories for using practice time, each occupying the same amount of time:

    New Rep - things I haven't seen or heard yet
    Old Rep - tunes I know and am maintaining or improving
    Technical/Conceptual exercises - the calisthenics of practice for mind and fingers
    Improvisation exercises - built around a chord progression, melody, scale, rhythm, etc.

    If you find these categories useful, you might try organizing your practice time this way, which will help to balance the way you use your practice time. Your list, for example, looks heavy on the technical/conceptual side, which is fine if that balance works for you -- but I'd be careful not to burn out on the technical exercises; be sure to get plenty of time in playing tunes!

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    Mandolin Apprentice joni24's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by August Watters View Post
    Keep your time for each activity short, and move on to the next thing before you get tired. I like to work on one idea for 15-20 minutes, and then move on to the next.
    Wow, thanks everyone for the encouragement and great advice! I agree that short spurts of practice are best for me: either when my arthritis kicks in or I start to get bored, I know it's time to move on to something different. The important thing for me is that the fun needs to be in the journey, not just in the ultimate goal.
    2007 Kentucky KM-1000
    Goldtone Banjo-Uke, with steel strings & mando tuning (my 'Manjolele')
    Harmony A-style, f-hole
    2010 Martin OM-1
    & miscl other strings, keyboards, accordions & percussion toys

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    Registered User Santiago's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Short spurts of quality practice builds quality playing. Learn things slowly and cleanly not fast. Long jags of low-quality practice builds bad habits.
    Eastman 605 and Kentucky 300e mandolins.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by joni24 View Post
    Am I crazy to want it all? Is there a recommended order in which all this good stuff should be tackled?
    So yes, do all that, but make sure you play regularly with other people. Sit in on and join a weekly jam. Gets some context and reinforcement.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
    We cannot put off living until we are ready. -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset

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    David Mold OldSausage's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    And eat a balanced diet containing lots of fruit and vegetables.

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    Registered User John Duncan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Get it all!
    John H. Duncan
    Fiddle for Buncombe Turnpike

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    Mandolin Apprentice joni24's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    ... make sure you play regularly with other people. Sit in on and join a weekly jam. Gets some context and reinforcement.
    The best I've found so far is a monthly bluegrass jam which I attend religiously. Hey JeffD, being from upstate NY would you by chance know of any weekly jams east of Albany?
    2007 Kentucky KM-1000
    Goldtone Banjo-Uke, with steel strings & mando tuning (my 'Manjolele')
    Harmony A-style, f-hole
    2010 Martin OM-1
    & miscl other strings, keyboards, accordions & percussion toys

  12. #12

    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    No guts..........No Glory.
    good luck

  13. #13
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by joni24 View Post
    Hey JeffD, being from upstate NY would you by chance know of any weekly jams east of Albany?
    East of Albany? You mean Mass, VT? Hmmm. Not my normal stomping grounds but I did find this: http://lakeparan.wordpress.com/music-calendar/
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
    We cannot put off living until we are ready. -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset

    The entire staff
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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Jim Richmond has it right. I've done exactly the same as you & what Jim seem to have done,but i've done it within the context of learning tunes.In other words i've learned 'only' what any particular song or instrumental requires. Over a period of time,all these bits become part of your bag of skills,to be used 'as & when' you need them. The only thing i've left out is the 'crosspicking' bit,which for me,has limited appeal,
    Ivan
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    Registered User Justus True Waldron's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Joni -

    Not that I am at all an expert at any of this, but your list sounds quite similar to my practice habits! My thinking is that when you play music you utilise all of these things combined, so why focus on practising only one thing for weeks at a time? It could also just be I have a short musical attention span while practising... I like to mix it up. I'd also like to second the advice to learn more tunes and play with people more. Once you have the basic understanding of how bluegrass works, learning different tunes almost allows you to mix and match phrases, which can be helpful. Playing with people gives all this work application. Are you still practising any of the stuff from Jesse Cobb? I was very into that for a few weeks, but sadly now I've been spending a lot more time arranging/planning and practising with the band I started for recording/some shows coming up. Still, even the couple weeks of arpeggios (Or "arpreggios" as Jesse seemed to say) made a noticeable difference. I'm looking forward to getting back to practising my instrument, rather than practising how to be a band... it's all good though.
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    ...but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Chewing might take a while, but that's where the flavor is coming from...

    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

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    Mandolin Apprentice joni24's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    East of Albany? You mean Mass, VT? Hmmm. Not my normal stomping grounds but I did find this: http://lakeparan.wordpress.com/music-calendar/
    Good find! I've gone to 3 of these already... one is my favorite monthly jam, one is open mike (and I'm not really into that), and another is almost strictly contra music with 3-4 very accomplished fiddlers. The others are 60-90 mins away, but I think it's time to check some of them out. No guts, no glory, right?
    2007 Kentucky KM-1000
    Goldtone Banjo-Uke, with steel strings & mando tuning (my 'Manjolele')
    Harmony A-style, f-hole
    2010 Martin OM-1
    & miscl other strings, keyboards, accordions & percussion toys

  18. #18
    Mandolin Apprentice joni24's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by Justus True Waldron View Post
    Are you still practising any of the stuff from Jesse Cobb?
    Hey Justus, nice to hear from you. So far I've logged about 10 hours on Jesse's recommended scales, arpeggios, etc. I remember he "promised" that after about 100 hours of practicing this stuff we'd become much more confident on improvising during breaks. Since that class I've discovered FFcP, which covers much of the same exercises and is even more portable across the fingerboard. For those not familiar with FFcP, here's a link: http://jazzmando.com/ffcp.shtml
    2007 Kentucky KM-1000
    Goldtone Banjo-Uke, with steel strings & mando tuning (my 'Manjolele')
    Harmony A-style, f-hole
    2010 Martin OM-1
    & miscl other strings, keyboards, accordions & percussion toys

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Quote Originally Posted by joni24 View Post
    Good find! I've gone to 3 of these already... one is my favorite monthly jam, one is open mike (and I'm not really into that), and another is almost strictly contra music with 3-4 very accomplished fiddlers. The others are 60-90 mins away, but I think it's time to check some of them out. No guts, no glory, right?
    Check 'em out. You really never know what you are up for.

    I routinely travel an hour or hour and half to go to a jam. Often I make a road trip out of it, load up the car with other musicians who would go but for the gas money. There is something very very cool about filling a jeep with two mandolins, two guitars, and a banjo, and associated musicians, and heading out.

    Turn on Charlie Poole's "Hungry Hash House" and crank it, and head out on the highway lookin' for old timey adventure.
    As much as I post, I pick a whole lot more. Just sayin'
    We cannot put off living until we are ready. -- Jose Ortega Y Gasset

    The entire staff
    funny....

  20. #20
    Registered User pefjr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    You just have a mild case of Mandolin Fever. There is no known cure, so just get used to eyestrain from reading music, to the sore finger tips from pressing too hard on the strings, and relax, enjoy, and develop your own STYLE. Don't copy, create.
    I have the world in a jug, and the stopper in my hand.

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    Registered User dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    I would throw in a bit of advice here, while working on all of these exercises - USE A METRONOME!

    You will be glad you did later, to get used to proper timing... Also it is almost like playing with another person except other people vary their tempo more.
    I should be pickin' rather than postin'

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Am I biting off more than I can chew?

    Ok, so here is my take on this question based on my own 10-yr journey.

    I think having lofty goals and vision is great. Aspire to learn as much as you can about as many aspects
    playing as you can. I have found, however, that it is MUCH faster to "kinda" learn many different things
    than to learn a couple of things very very well. I get discouraged when I can't play the things I am trying
    to learn with the clarity and tone I would like to get, and that happens to me when I am trying to do
    too many things in parallel. These days, I prioritize. I might spend a whole hour practicing one phrase of
    a new fiddle tune, for instance, or a even new scale pattern. I find that my tone and clarity goals are
    more important than my overall repertoire goal -- more like a depth versus breadth thing for me at the moment.
    Your mileage may vary, and hey, you may also learn way quicker than I do

    Enjoy,

    Rob
    Last edited by RobP; Apr-17-2012 at 2:20pm. Reason: typo
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