View Full Version : stepping stone songs

Sep-14-2005, 3:20pm
After wandering aimlessly for a couple of years it has finally occurred to me that this journey of learning the mandolin might go better if I learned songs in a particular order.

For example, I learned a bit of Rawhide early on, and later used that to develop a break for Foggy Mountain Breakdown cause I hang out with a bunch of banjo pickers. Some time later I was noodlin along with a Monroe CD and worked on Bluegrass Breakdown. I think things would have went much smoother if I had learned Bluegrass Breakdown first, then one of the other two, although I think I'm still missing a step between BG Breakdown and Rawhide.

Anybody got a series of songs that you think work well when learned in succession?

I'm thinking learning Monroe's songs in chronological order might be a pretty good approach, but I'm not so sure I have time to learn them all.

Sep-15-2005, 11:55pm
you might try learning the stomps all together- Bluegrass Stomp is a good place to start. Or learn a bunch of gospel kickoffs and turnarounds in chop position you can move around. You could also try learning a bunch of Monroe songs and tunes in a certain key to drill some classic vocabulary into your head and fingers. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of True Life Blues and Going Back to Old Kentucky in A...

or you could just learn the tunes that float your boat. : )

Sep-16-2005, 7:30am
Thanks Vincent, I'll have to dig up a version of Bluegrass Stomp to listen to. I've been listening to a version of The Old Crossroads, that's full of cool bluesy gospel mando.

I'm having a pretty good time with the float your boat approach, but noticing the relationship between Bluegrass Breakdown, Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Rawhide got me to wondering if folks had noticed other cases where learning song A made it easy to go learn song B which leads over to song C, etc.

Sep-17-2005, 1:55am
the best advice i can give you is to get the bill monroe dvd. also owning the sixteen jems book is good. if you want to play bluegrass mandolin, you cannot go wrong if you are getting it straight from the man, get that dvd! changed my life.

i also agree learning the stomps is a good start, learning all those monroe licks in those tunes is a good base. once you learn those all his other tunes fall into place much easier.
as for learning fiddle tunes, wich have a different style approach alltogether alot of the time can be garnished with heaping helpings of monroe licks http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif i would just learn them by the keys they are in... that is your best bet id say. stay with the traditional fiddle tunes as well...
monroe dvd!

John Flynn
Sep-17-2005, 9:12am
I came at this problem from a different tack for me an my own learning. I am a long-time mando player, but I have been doing mostly church music and old-time music and I am just now seriously getting into bluegrass. One interesting thing I found is this "Top Ten Tunes" poll on bluegrassguitar.com. They invited thier membership to vote for their favorite tunes to both play and hear. The results are at the link below. I have been involved in opinion research professionally and I realize that this poll has several aspects that keep it from being a perfect list. But I still think it is fairly valid.

Here is why I think this list is significant for learning: My goal is to be able to go to bluegrass jams and be able to fully particpate in as many tunes as possible. The probablility would be that if I learn tunes in the order of the number of votes each tune got, I will be improving my chances of knowing tunes likely to be called by the by the fastest possible rate. Some interesting stats. There are only 4 tunes with over 200 votes, only 17 with over 100 votes and only 36 with over 50 votes. That sets some pretty obvious priorites for learning, for me and my goal.


Dennis Schubert
Sep-18-2005, 7:32am
At some point, learn "New Camptown Races" in Bb. For me, it was a quantum leap from all those tunes in A-G-D-C.

Sep-24-2005, 9:04am
"Nine-Pound Hammer"...inside out and backwards....