View Full Version : What are the priorities ?

Jul-27-2005, 5:05pm
I'm a beginner. I've had some lessons and have the idea of moveable scale patterns and arpeggios and know a few chords. Now, the problems: I've had to give up the individual lessons for a while but one of the great ambitions in my life is to actually play with people,so I enrolled in a group bluegrass enemble. Now I face certain humiliation and panic but what the heck, gotta do it sometime. So, now I've got a month before this thing starts. My strategy is get a few scales, arpegios and chords as "under my fingers" as possible and start practicing chops with a metronome. But which chords and scales should I focus on and what else do you recommend (other than xanax) thanks

John Flynn
Jul-27-2005, 6:22pm
Contact the instructor/leader. Explain your situation and see if you can get a list of the tunes/techniques he is going to start the group out on. See if he has any collateral (tabs, chord charts, recordings). If not take the list and hit all the tab/MP3/MIDI sites and find the tunes on the list and start learning them. Going in knowing the chords and melodies to the tunes that you will actually be working on will put you miles ahead.

Jul-28-2005, 9:52am
Don't be too intimidated. I've seen national acts were the mando player played nothing but chop chords, no solos. (They did sing though.)

Jul-28-2005, 10:52am
If i were a beginner in this situation, i think i'd focus on playing rhythm with chop chords first and just take whatever breaks i got by playing simple stuff out of chop position. #Niles' book BG Up the Neck is really good for this.

Nobody will probably much notice if you pass on breaks or even mess up a break, but everyone will notice if you screw up the rhythm.

Also, paraphrasing the melodies is a good suggestion. #Beyond that you can get a lot of mileage out of pentatonics, Niles has a book for that too.

Jul-28-2005, 2:07pm
As a slightly beyond beginner, here's what I recommend--

Learn the I, IV, and V chop changes in the the following common keys...



(The letter under I is the key and the next two letters are the IV and V chord for the key).

I found that order is roughly the order of frequency of songs (G most common, second most D, etc) so learn them in that order.

If you can't play 4-note chop chords, play 3-note chords; if you can't play 3-notes; play 2-note chords. Nothing wrong with just playing two-note chords if you have to. You'd do not want to fumble and be late on a beat which brings up the next point.

It's most important to always be on time in rhythm. Sacrifice adding pitch to get the timing right. If you lose track of the chords, just mute all the strings and go "click" until it comes around to a place where you can get back on track.

If you want to spend $20 to get a little before hand practice, you could try Pete Wernick's Bluegrass Jamming DVD. It has some tips to get you started and some super simple songs to get you started.