View Full Version : Can we have a real beginner's project?

May-10-2004, 10:06am
Hi, this might offend some who are involved in the beginner's project so far...but I am just way above my depth in this project.

I found the project when you all were halfway through Sally Goodin...and I was just stunned that such a tune was picked as a "beginner's tune". Yes, it's great to challenge people, but some of us simply cannot play such tunes, no matter what the bpm, without making major mistakes.

I got Cherokee Shuffle to sound OK, but again I never posted a version, since I simply cannot make it through this version and not make major mistakes. And my mandolin teacher was amazed that the version I was playing was supposed to be a beginner's version. It was the easier version posted on co-mando, btw.

To me, a beginner's tune would have a lot of quarter notes, rather than long passages of eighth notes. Or it would be a slow waltz or air, something like Ashokan Farewell. Or maybe a fairly simple tune like Cripple Creek, or Old Joe Clark, one of the classic beginner's tunes.

Cuz we're *beginners*! I think in 6 months or so, practicing at the rate I've been practicing (at least an hour every day, several hours/day on the weekend) I might move beyond beginner stage. But I'm 42, and these fingers are clumsy and I simply don't learn tunes quickly.

So can we split the current project up into a beginner's and intermediate group? I'm willing to help out by working out simple versions of some of the tunes and posting them in TablEdit format.


May-10-2004, 11:45am
I know what you mean, it's intimidating. I don't even want to post my recording when there are other recordings that sound like a professional band. I think I even heard backup singers on one. There should be a section for beginners and one for the people that just want to show their skills. (YES, I'm just jealous)

Michael H Geimer
May-10-2004, 11:47am
I hear you loud and clear, but I repectfully disagree with the suggestion to split us up, as I think we're a good group as a whole. Splitting us up would create a situation where some of us are deemed "better than others" by virtue of playing on the "Varsity Team", and to my thinking that's not the spirit of the Project.

But, if the versions being chosen are leaving you behind, then we certainly need to address that ... more so, because while you're the first one to speak out and post on the issue, it's likely that you are not alone in feeling the pressure, and being left behind.

I am a long distance runner, and to find joy as an amature runner one really has to embrace the concept of 'running your own race'. I'll be running the Bay-to-Breakers race next Sunday, and I assure you all the Kenyans are not worried about me. More to my point, neither am I concerned about the Kenyans ... or the naked people, or the floating Tiki Bar, etc. What's important is that I understand my own capabilities, and exercise them to the best of my ability. Where I finish in terms of the Bell Curve is immatterial to my personal success or failure. In fact, the only failure that's possible would be to give up, or succomb to the disappointment of judging oneself against someone else's standard.

Co-mando, as a source of fiddle tunes, has not been very satisfying to me. The versions up there all seem to be transcriptions of someone's 'break' or some 'cool' variation. I wonder where we might find some more 'bare bones' style TAB or TEF, etc.

Like you, I was surprsied by the version of Sally Goodin that was up as the example TEF file. I had learned the tune long before the Mandolin Project from a Butch Baldassari video I have, and his version is so much simpler than the TEF file posted. My first thought on looking at the TEF file for Sally was "My pinky's just not gonna do that, so I'd better distract everybody with some vocals." LOL! (Note: Here I am saying we should relax and not judge ourselves, but I was nervous as all heck when I posted my version. I truly expected to get chewed up by the critics. This is after all, The Mandolin Cafe! I think everyone gets a little stage fright in front of their peers, but in the end we shouldn't hold back our efforts just because we're nervous - IMO)

Even though I do think my version sounds pretty 'polished', were I to show you my final phrases and fingerings in contrast to the originally posted TEF file, then you could see how I really simplified the fingerings in order to reach my target tempo ... and I have no guilt about doing just that, but for the record that's what I was nervous about ... I thought I'd get 'busted' for having simplfied the phrases so much.

What I think we need are some true brackets of difficulty so that everone who wants to participate in the project can find a good fit to their personal level of ability, rather than just one 'official' version. Of course, it is much easier for me - someone with a long musical history - to go find or invent a simplier variation than it would be for someone new to the language of music. It is important to post these more approachable versions when we find them, rather than just saying, "It's cool. Play whatever version you want." While that's a great outlook, it's not actually very helpful to the true beginners.

More thoughts?

- Benignus

May-10-2004, 12:23pm
Yup, I agree with Benignus.

I like hearing the different ways folks approach the tunes.

I wasn't able to whip Cherokee Shuffle into shape in a month--time and all that--but it was fun to learn and I'll still continue to work on it. It's one of those tunes like 8th of January that I can't find a groove in that I really like.

May-10-2004, 12:29pm
Well spoken benignus, it would be nice if we could really address this/these issues so all feel welcome, or more importantly, all feel like they cna participate.

There is a range of skill level and experience amonst us, and a whole lot of variety in approach and playing style. It is so neat to see (hear).


May-10-2004, 12:53pm
I agree, we were all once (and still are) beginners. Just watch me at a jam, sometimes I forget everything I have ever learned in the past 5 years and it sounds terrible! I shake it off and learn (mentally) from it. I wish some of the big wigs would post their versions to get a even more diverse mix. Listen to the MP3 section, there are some incredible pickers on this site. If you think you nailed a song, at whatever speed/level, post it. Don't be shy, learn from it. We are all learning from it and I'm going to listen to whatever is posted. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

May-10-2004, 1:12pm
Benignus, I know what you're saying, but I would still be strongly in favor of a real beginner's group. I don't care that there's another "Varsity" group at all.

My local bluegrass association is just in the process of starting a beginner's jam circle at our Monday night jams. The head of the association said that when you've moved beyond the beginner's stage, you will have to move up to another group and make room for "real beginners". That's just the way it works.

And although the current project isn't a circle of players trading licks, it still has that feel. And I am intimidated as hell by the level of playing in this "beginner's project".

Yes, the choice of arrangements is the biggest part of the problem. I'm not so sure that voting on half a dozen choices is the best way to solve this, either. I think we should find, or make ourselves, simple arrangements of some of the "essential bluegrass tunes" and just have Craig, or someone else, pick one of those simple arrangements.

Again, Cherokee Shuffle is a great example. Part of the problem is that the tune is rather difficult. The other problem is...it doesn't sound like Cherokee Shuffle! It sounds almost nothing like the versions of CS that I've heard played. There's no shuffle in the first part. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

I really am not trying to be a wet blanket here. I want to contribute to the Cafe community--I'm plenty willing to sit and work out slow arrangements of a bunch of the "essential bluegrass tunes" and post them for the group.

Thanks to all for listening!


May-10-2004, 1:22pm
I, myself, am a total beginner when it comes to the mando. When I first started to follow this project (and playing in general), I was really intimidated by better players. But now (after a long time), I'm starting to get over this intimidation factor and I see an ecounter with a better player as a learning experience.

Just my two cents, but maybe it will help some people..


May-10-2004, 1:25pm
I can see both points of view here. What are folks thoughts on having one group like it is now, but having the song selections of the month be different between beginners and more experienced players? For example, there would be 2 separate votes going on at the beginning of the month. One for beginners and one for experienced. The choices for beginners would be more in the beginner level, and for experienced, more on that level. But the overall group as a whole could remain as one group, just playing different song selections a month. That way the group doesn't get split. People aren't feeling (as) intimidated by different folks abilities, and people can offer support to each other across the board regardless of skill level.

Don't know if it'd work, but its an idea...

May-10-2004, 1:29pm
Mandofiddle, I like that idea. Especially if it's clear what the arrangement is that we're voting on.

May-10-2004, 2:16pm
You all have very good points. I pointed out very early (but more like little hints, I think) that the picked version of Sally Goodin was way beyond my ability and definitely not a beginner's version. I had played Sally Goodin from Bert Casey's book and played that. I didn't try the posted version of Cherokee shuffle, but played something I had invented out of listening to Aubrey Haynie's recording. For Cattle in the cane, I have no choice, since I haven't played it before and haven't heard it much at all, but I've found one managable version of it at Co-mando. Just wish I could make it sound like Cattle in the cane...

The good thing with having this one group is that the beginners can get advice from the more experienced pickers. But if some feel intimidated and don't want to post their tunes, something has to be done.
I like the idea of having different tunes of the month for beginners and intermediates. There could be two different versions available of the same tune, or maybe totally different tunes. If we did the later, also the experienced pickers could get a great challenge by picking a very complicated tune for them.

Co-mando has some simple versions at least of the tunes I've looked at. Another page where there are loads of tabs and sheet music, is www.jaybuckey.com. There is a link named Free stuff and there you'll find lots of different tunes on different levels. I think they're in gif format.

May-10-2004, 3:10pm
rmcintos: Just some thoughts.. - a REAL "pro" will NEVER try to "intimidate" your playing - or "blow you away" - He(she) may offer some suggestions - and possibly even do a "simpler/easier" version/tune to accomodate you - The pros only have ONE person to impress...: THEMSELVES(and sometimes that's difficult to accomplish - trust me). http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

May-10-2004, 4:11pm
Wasn't the point of this project to help us LEARN different songs? If the songs are too advanced, nobody is going to learn them. I definitely wouldn't want those who are more advanced to stop posting their songs, because they are awesome! The intimidation comes from having to post your recording (most likely of just the melody, for beginners) up there with people who have complete songs with guitar, bass and harmony tracks. I think what Kelly_guy was getting at is that it would be helpful if all of the true beginners were grouped together, that way we could learn a simpler arrangement and see who's LEARNING the tune and not just PERFORMING the tune. I saw someone suggest the version of Cattle in the Cane that Sam Bush Plays on Mandolin Extravaganza! If that's for beginners then I'll have to quit! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

May-10-2004, 4:18pm
Thanks, joshro, that is one of my main points. The level of difficult of the songs even isn't such a huge issue--I can always play something at 40 or 60 bpm, after all!

It is all about learning the tune. I voted against Fisher's Hornpipe for this very reason. It's a tune I already know, one of the few that my fingers still remember from when I first tried playing mandolin 14 years ago. I want to try to learn a new tune, well enough to maybe play it at a bluegrass jam.

May-10-2004, 4:35pm
Perhaps it's time to make kind of a charter for this group... looks like there's a fine start in this thread.

I think it makes the most sence to post a beginners version of the selected tune and let the not-so beginners either create their own version or search out another version. Why break up the group? The point is to learn the songs together. It shouldn't matter what level you're at. There is ALWAYS someone better than yourself. Ask any pro there is (except perhaps Frank Wakefield) and they will tell you they envy someone elses playing...

I'm not sure where the list of songs to vote for came from but perhaps it should be re-thought to reflect some of the changes/opinions that are being expressed here.

Michael H Geimer
May-10-2004, 4:59pm
" ... The pros only have ONE person to impress...: THEMSELVES(and sometimes that's difficult to accomplish - trust me). "
- Moose

Yup Moose, you just hit the nail on the head ... the path of music has an ever expanding horizon. The best players I know are both approachable and humble ... it's the guys who'll tell you how 'advanced' they are that ... well, that aren't.

• # • # •
" ... and let the not-so beginners either create their own version or search out another version."
- Dasspunk

Great points, 'punk. That puts the burden where it should be ... on those who would go looking for things more difficult.

OK ... who's got a line on an easy version of CITC?

May-10-2004, 5:00pm
rmcintos: Just some thoughts.. - a REAL "pro" will NEVER try to "intimidate" your playing - or "blow you away" - He(she) may offer some suggestions - and possibly even do a "simpler/easier" version/tune to accomodate you - The pros only have ONE person to impress...: THEMSELVES(and sometimes that's difficult to accomplish - trust me). #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif
I don't think people feel intimidated because of attitudes of the pros because you all are very helpful and nice. The thing is that it doesn't feel good to post an extremely beginner-like recording along with a full-blown professional thing with harmonies, singing and guitar back-up.

Dan Adams
May-10-2004, 5:20pm
One of the reasons I joined into this group was to record a 'beginners' version of Sally so the 'beginners' would know what the tune actually sounded like in its simplest form. After hearing the very first post, I knew it was moving into a direction I don't believe this thread was intended to serve. I remember learning Sally with two fingers only one position on the fretboard. All of the sudden, it got way too complicated, way too fast on this thread. The Bennigus version was by far above and beyond anything I would have expected in a 'beginners' forum. There were versions of tunes posted that were so far advanced, I can see how the 'beginner' was being intimidated. I warned of this in a very early post of the project. Back to the basics! I'm also at fault for posting a moderately speedy "Cherokee Shuffle." Not an easy tune to learn for a beginner. 'Cattle in the Cane' is going to be even more difficult for a beginner to learn, and once again, I'm at fault with a version ready to post. So.... I agree somewhat with Kelly somewhat that this thread is beyond the beginner level, but I also agree it has become a great forum to share tunes. I think different levels is a good idea, but isn't that what Misc. Musings accomplishes? I love the forum, it has given all of us an opportunity to learn software that enables us to share music. It has also given me an opportunity to re-visit old stand-bys, that are sometimes forgotten. So I await the final concensus. The work so far from the beginners and accomplished players alike is fun to listen to, and there is something to learn in every track. It's a great ride, and it gets me signed on every day to watch the progress! Keep up the good work!

Time to learn Jeruselum Ridge! Just kidding. Dan

May-10-2004, 5:50pm
Ok I just changed my whole post!

I am a beginner.. I managed to learn both songs, record them and post them. Yes, my versions are a lot slower, and maybe I left out some notes! But hey, I learned so much it was amazing.

Like has been said above, there are easy versions of the tunes out there. Feel free to use whatever you want! The point is for you to learn!

Also, like said above, feel free to record something at your level and post it under Misc. Musings.

I think the project is perfect the way it is... Maybe Craig should post a couple versions of each song. Or if someone has an easier version of the tune, they can email it...

This is not a competition. Nobody is judging your performance. They might offer some advice, but nobody is here to give you a hard time!

I haven't seen anyone bragging about ther version either! And yes, I sometimes feel discouraged after listening to some of those versions, but also I feel inspired! I get so fired up that I can't wait to pickup my mandolin and learn the tune!

I do think we should stay to simple tunes. Especially tunes that you would encounter in a jam.

If you have any doubts, just listen to my recordings! Pure beginner - no shame! Believe me, my wife will tell you how bad I am!

My only thought is that maybe a month is too short a time period.... But it does force you to practice more!

It's all good!


Coy Wylie
May-10-2004, 6:08pm
First, whatever you all want to do is fine with me.

I've been playing for several months now (playing a lot mind you). My version of Sally was not the official version for that was beyond me at the time. Yet the more advanced recordings of CS motivated me to work hard, play faster and be more creative. It's not difficult to put down a second track with a mando chop and/or a third with a guitar background if you happen to play that instrument or another.

I think that for many the official versions of the tune of the month may be too intimidating. I agree with those who suggest starting with a very basic version of the tune that anyone could learn and then encourage those who can to embelish or do more difficult versions.

I listen to and appreciate all the versions that have been posted. Again it is not a competition but a mutual encouragement society.

Coy Wylie
May-10-2004, 6:11pm
Oh one other thing. Someone else noted that the co-mando versions are usually transcripted breaks from great players. These are often too advanced for beginners. It would be great if some kind person who is able to create tabledit files would make some true beginner versions.

May-10-2004, 7:24pm
I'm just so delighted to even have this forum, I'm not about to start complaining about anything. #My offerings are mediocre. Not terrible, not great, just OK. #That's how good I am today--mediocre. #And that's what I am trying to overcome.

I was blown away by a few of the first tunes we saw around here, but then a couple of brave souls put their "beginner" versions up, and I figured, hey, what #the heck? #I mean we can't see each other. #Very few of us know each other. #So, what's to be intimidated about?

Btw, I just posted my (our) version of CITC. It can't be too hard, or we couldn't play it. #We botched the ending so bad, I just faded the recording out. #Oh, and it's not on the project page, it's on the page where you upload to. #I couldn't even find a folder to put it in.

May-13-2004, 5:17am

Thank you for raising this issue! I suspected this was a problem. First, as I have said before, this is OUR project so I want to make it as productive for everyone as possible. My intentions were and are to provide the resources for this group to LEARN, SHARE and have FUN. Thus far, I think this has been accomplished. However, improvements certainly can be made. Yes, this project was started as an effort for beginners, but this is a very difficult label to define. Some of us have been playing for years and still consider ourselves beginners. Even labelling music as "for beginners", "for intermediates" etcetera is not easy.

For those struggling to keep up, I'd like to encourage you. The fact that we choose a new song every month does not mean YOU have to learn a song in a month. If you are still working on Sally Goodin, that's OK. Keep it up! Set your mind to it and pick it apart note by note. Choose a simpler version if you like. Take a year if you want. Memorize the song. I still consider myself a beginner, and I remember looking at songs like these and thinking it was 10 years down the road. But, they are not. After learning simple tunes like Wildwood Flower and Ode to Joy, I was craving something more fun. For me, the best thing to do was pick a tune I liked regardless of level of difficulty. Then, I spent months working on it; memorizing it measure by measure. When I finally got it memorized, it did wonders for my confidence and abilities. I stopped looking at most songs as impossible. Some just take longer to learn. None are too difficult. To date, I still can't play any of these songs to professional speed (or half that) but I do have a couple dozen tunes memorized. It gets easier and easier, and more and more gratifying. So, no matter how long it takes you to learn Sally Goodin, or Cherokee Shuffle or Cattle In The Cane, we want to hear'em. No one cares how slow you play. As it has been pointed out this is NOT A COMPETITION! Just have fun with it and keep pushing yourself and share your accomplishment with us when you're done. It's just as pleasing to hear a polished mulitrack version of Sally Goodin at 200bpm as it is a mono-version of Cattle In The Cane at 60bpm. The point is we all know how hard it is to learn a song, record it and share it to all. This is not just a place to learn a new tune, but more a place to share your accomplishments with others that appreciate what a big deal it is!

Regarding the choice of tunes, I've asked before that people offer suggestions for tunes to include on the monthly list. There was some response, but very little. I continue to be open to any suggestions. Currently, I have a list from which I select the songs you see in the poll each month. Mostly, I have aimed to choose what seem to be bluegrass "standards", although I realize this is not completely accurate. If anyone has a suggestion as to how to develop a list of songs, I'm open to suggestions.

As to the version of tune, I have always said "use whatever version you like". The TEF link, MIDIs and MP3s I provide are merely meant to be resources and NOT definitive. In general, the songs we have learned so far are not too difficult, but I do agree there are easier versions than the links I have provided. My resources and time are limited, so I have just choosen version which were easy to find and that I liked. However, if anyone finds/has an easier version than those I provide, please send them my way and I will post them on the MP site (granted the material is not copyrighted).

The idea of having this group split has been suggested, but I would like to avoid this. Although there is a big range of levels of experience and talent, I see this as our strength and not our weakness. Those that are struggling to keep up will be "pushed" to stretch themselves further than they might otherwise and those that are less challenged to learn a simple tune will be inspired to improvise and innovate.

We have 167 members so far, but only ~20 recordings of sallyg and cshuffle. There are many possible explanations for this: the songs are too difficult, one month is not enough, the song choice sucks, still working on Sally Goodin, can't get Audacity to work, the mandolin is in the shop, lost interest, etecetera. It is impossible to speculate all the reasons. I'd like to hope that most are finding this project useful, but perhaps some changes need to be made. In a month I will be working 80 hours a week for the next 5 years, so my time will be very limited. I'd like to get this project a little more fine tuned before then. Please offer any suggestions you may have to make this a better place. Then, I'll create a poll or two to get everyone to vote on possible changes that need to be made.

Thanks everyone!!


May-13-2004, 5:48am
I'll caveat this with the fact that I'm not a participant in the group. #Having read the discussions, it is apparent that there are people who are putting up very polished non-beginner quality material. #My understanding was that the purpose was to allow people to work together with others at their level. #No matter how often you say it isn't a competition, the fact is that evaluating progress can only be done by comparing. #The fact that you have 167 members and only about 20 recordings would suggest to me strongly that you have a beginner's group that has been co-opted by intermediates.

Just read this thread. #You have people telling you this isn't working for the true beginners and you have people with years of musical experience (mandolin or otherwise) telling those beginners they are wrong about how they feel.

I'd suggest that if you've ever played on stage (and been asked back), especially if you got paid, you should not be in beginner's group like this.

May-13-2004, 7:54am
Thank you, Tim, you nailed it. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


May-13-2004, 7:57am
This is from Craig's original post:
"as i'm seeking some inspiration to learn a new song, i was wondering if any non-professional players would be interested in picking a tune that we all don't know and spending a few weeks to learn it together? "

The word beginner is not in it, BUT, I think those just starting off would benefit greatly from this, more so than those that have been playing for a while. Although I am not a beginner, I learned a few songs from it (I am CERTAINLY a "non-professional") and it was fun. You, Kelly_guy and others have a point. This is a great tool for beginners to learn new songs and push them at a month long pace to get it down, and share their accomplishment with fellow mandolin maniacs. I already know Fishers Hornpipe which is a hard song and took me forever to learn(assuming it wins the poll) so I won't post mine next month (plus it will never sound like Josh P). But, if there is one picked again that I don't know and have never played, it is going to be hard to resist not learning it, feeling good about it and wanting to share. But since it is the beginners we want to encourage, regardless of the intent of the MP, maybe you all are right. There is a lot more work involved as a beginner to learn this stuff than someone that has been playing for 5 years and although it is fun to listen to some of the polished stuff, I would rather hear the beginner's accomplishments and encourage them to learn new songs.

May-13-2004, 8:25am

I was wondering for a moment if I'd completely misread Craig's original post, which you quoted. So I went and found it. Um, the title of the thread is "calling all beginners". So yeah, I assumed it was a beginner's project.

Reading through the MP page, it's not at all apparent that MP is a beginner's project.

So I guess this is what I'm asking for--a beginner's project. Whether it be MP or a new project, that's simply what I'm hoping for. I think it's really cool that there are other songs being posted, the Misc Musings songs are fantastic. But yeah, hearing a professional-quality recording of Sally Goodin as the first recording of the project...whoa.

May-13-2004, 8:31am
I totally stand corrected, I read the thread w/o reading the title.

May-13-2004, 9:20am
I guess this issue will get settled with or without my input, but I still want to pipe in a point or two. #

One of the things you will be told by any good instructor and in most good instruction books is, listen to and play with people who are better than you are. #So, for that purpose, I really like hearing somewhat better versions of the tunes than my own.

As for the really professional sounding ones...I guess I agree with Kelly. #I can hear them on CDs. #

Having said that, I don't think Benignus's first version of Sally Goodin is the same as a "professional" version. #Same goes for his Cherokee Shuffle. # He has a great recording setup and dynamite skills. #But, #everything I've heard from him has been playable, if not with the same quality and polish, at least I can pull useful ideas from him.

I guess this just points out the difficulty in segregating this group. #Defining the 'professionals' ain't so easy. #

How about reposting some guidelines, much like Craig's original stuff, and see what happens from here on? #The vast majority of what I've heard is very useful to me, and I am certainly one of those perennial beginners.

May-13-2004, 9:26am
I'll concede that it is a tough balancing act. #I used to play golf a lot and I wanted to play with better players so I could learn. #At least for myself, I also wanted to play with people only a little better so I wouldn't feel completely out of place and so I wouldn't slow them down. #Me playing against Tiger Woods would not be fun for either of us. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif

May-13-2004, 10:24am
I would suggest that the criteria for joining the group is that you want to learn a tune... period.

I discovered this group a bit late, near the end of the Sally Goodin month. I never saw Craig's original post that started the group. I saw folks learning a tune together. What a fantastic use of technology and what a fantastic idea. I wanted to join in.

I'm a bit puzzled with the way this thread is going but it has a valid point... I think it makes sense to offer up a basic TEF of the tune. It would also make sense to choose tunes that make sense for the group. I think latter is accomplished via the vote and as Craig mentioned, feel free to suggest some tunes.

Thankfully, there is ALWAYS someone better than yourself. If you're lucky enough to have access to them, ask them questions; get help; get advice.

May-13-2004, 12:57pm

Your Tiger Woods analogy is a good one and I agree with it as far as playing together live. Much like at a jam, players will gravitate to like-skilled players. In this case though, I think it does not apply. My recordings are not holding you back nor are anyone elses holding me back.

I would not play golf with Tiger Woods but if there was a way that I could show him my game, get some help/pointers/advice/etc..., hell yes I would. What I would certainly NOT do, is tell him that he's too good to view my swing. Is he intimidating? Hell yes... but I'm not gonna improve by watching Charles Barkley's game! Plus, I'm better looking than Tiger... so it all works out in the end.

May-13-2004, 2:28pm
Well said, Tim!!
I don't really think the tunes are bad choices, but since this started out as a beginner's project, the versions should be beginners versions. You, Craig, say they aren't too hard, but in fact, I've played for 7 years and I think they are very difficult (Cattle in the cane is ok but the posted version of Sally was very advanced). I'm not a good player even after 7 years, due to lack of time to practice, but I'm not on beginners level either. I would like this group to go on, because I think it's great with all the feedback, and it has really increased my motivation, but with some modifications. First of all that the posted versions are very simple. Basic stuff. No double stops, minors, or variations way up the neck. Bluegrass standards generally are very simple, so post the basic versions. There are beginners who don't know where to look for basic versions. The advanced players can make up their own version if they want some more challenge.

Btw, it's great to see you back, Craig!!! I've missed you!

Coy Wylie
May-13-2004, 4:43pm

Whatever happens don't get discouraged by the comments in this thread. Your ideas and creativity here have been invaluable. I really appreciate you. I read on another thread where you are about to begin a job working 80 hours per week. Just finding time to practice your mando will be enough of a challenge without trying to please everyone here.

If you need some help, several of us would be glad help where we can.

Martin Jonas
May-14-2004, 4:11am
Posting basic versions isn't so easy if we're sticking with TEF: somebody has to prepare the file. #Because of the vast number of files on Co-Mando, Craig has so far been able to use their files. #If there is a feeling that the Co-Mando files are too advanced, then that source would be cut off and it's a question of either looking around for more basic ready-made settings or making your own. #Just copying out a beginner's arrangement from a tunebook or a tutor isn't an option: these are copyrighted. #It's fine for any MP members to put these versions up if they happen to have the tutor; it's not fine for us to scan or tabledit them and put them on the web (quite apart from the amount of work that is needed to tabledit even a simple tune, which is clearly unreasonable to expect Craig to do).

There are some good, basic arrangements freely available on the web (I'm a big fan of Nigel Gatherer's site (http://users.argonet.co.uk/users/gatherer/tunes/tab.html)), but it's not as comprehensive as Co-Mando. For example, here is a nice Cherokee Shuffle. (http://users.argonet.co.uk/users/gatherer/tunes/tab/tab1/cher.html)

Having said this, I don't think the Co-Mando versions of Sally Goodin and Cherokee Shuffle were too intimidating. #The Sally Goodin arrangement in particular was pretty ideal for us, I thought, in that it had the easy version at the beginning to get started on and then became progressively more difficult in the variations. #Depending on skill level and confidence, that gave us the option of picking and choosing which parts to play: the tune works just fine with only one or two variations. #In the event, I think there were only one or two of us who recorded the full Co-Mando version, everybody else chose to either just play the easier bits of that version or to go for a completely different version altogether. #CS on the whole, I thought, was an easier arrangement (although I took longer getting a feel for the proper rhythm), but with less obvious scope for homemade simplification.

I think part of the impression that the recorded versions were too slick or advanced comes from the fact that most of them were double-tracked with either guitar or mandolin chop chords underneath the tune. #Having a solid underlying rhythm like that transforms any bluegrass dance tune, but can't be reproduced by yourself when practising. #That may give the impression that the playing on the MP3 is more fancy than it actually is, especially if there is a third overdubbed track with vocals. #Overdubbing like that is an acquired skill, but has little to do with mandolin playing and more to do with being comfortable with playing in the relatively abstract context of a recording studio, even if it's an improvised one in your study.

Speaking for myself, I have been challenged by both Sally Goodin and Cherokee Shuffle (neither of which I had played before) and gradually found a way of playing them after a fashion. #I haven't got around to recording CS yet (maybe this weekend) but I've put up my version of SG with just a single melody track, no double stops, no up-the-neck playing, no rhythm overdubbing. #That's largely because rhythm playing, ANY sort of rhythm playing, is still a complete mystery to me -- unlike some I've not come to the mandolin from the guitar and I haven't got the first idea of how to listen out for the right chord changes. #I've also put up four slower tunes in the Misc section, again all single melody tracks. #To put this into perspective, a year ago I had never touched any sort of musical instrument -- the mandolin is my introduction to playing music and I've been pursuing it pretty intensively over the past 11 months or so. #I've never played on a stage, never taken lessons and the only two other mandolin players I know (both at about my level) don't live locally so I hardly ever get to play with them. #So, I think it's fair to say that I'm a beginner and as I'm self-taught and practise on my own, I really appreciate this virtual support group.

So, although I know that there are many here with much better playing ability than me, I feel happy with the tunes and the way the MP is working out. #I wouldn't mind having a few non-bluegrass tunes to vote for, but then I can't complain because I, like most others, haven't given Craig any suggestions for other tunes to put to the vote -- I probably should propose a few, maybe a couple of O'Carolan tunes.

Maybe one way of avoiding intimidating arrangements would be to have a link to the proposed TEF file for each tune in the voting section. #This way, everybody can see what they're letting themselves in for and if you don't think you'd be motivated to tackle that particular arrangement, don't vote for that tune. For next month for example, we can get a beginner's tune by voting for Bonaparte's Retreat and playing Nigel Gatherer's version (http://users.argonet.co.uk/users/gatherer/tunes/tab/tab6/bonpr.html), which isn't very difficult.

Sorry for the longwindedness, but the essence of it is that I don't think there's too much wrong with the setup as it is and that I'm grateful to Craig for that.


May-14-2004, 5:09am
In lots of situations we benefit from the efforts on volunteers. I generally have little tolerance for people who don't volunteer, reap the benefits and complain. #At the same time, constructive criticism should be welcomed. #How to balance those two principles is the trick and if I strayed too far off center in this thread I apologize..

I didn't mean to offend anyone, especially the ones doing the work without compensation. #I was motivated to post by the response to valid suggestions which really boiled down to "get over it".

May-14-2004, 9:14am
I didn't mean either to offend anyone, and I can't express enough what a great idea this is. But the fact is that there are beginners who don't feel comfortable in the project because the level is too high. There isn't much support for beginners online, more or less everything is for intermediates or advanced players. Something is needed for beginners. And then I don't mean folks who played the guitar for 30 years and can learn the mandolin in 2 weeks because of the guitar skills, I mean real beginners. Folks who never touched a stringed instrument before.
I agree with whoever said that he was happy to play with someone who is just a little bit better than he is, but really advanced players make him feel that there is no way he can reach that far. That's exactly how I feel and why I don't join in at the regular jam not too far from where I live. I jam happily with some Danish and Dutch folks at the festival in Gränna though. They are better than me but not too much. I still feel I have something to give and add to the jam. This is very important to me. Now this isn't a jam, and this was actually a side track.

What I really wanted to say was that I love this project and it gives me good challenge (even though I don't use the posted version, I use another one or make up my own) and motivation (especially for recording! more for recording than for learning the tune...I must say). But if it's not possible to find easier versions of the tunes, maybe it shouldn't be called a beginners project.

May-14-2004, 9:50am
This thread has served a purpose. It is clear that this is an issue and an effort should be made to keep it at a moderate level.

Learning fiddle tunes can not only be enjoyable but is an essential way to become a better player. This is really why we are here after all. I don't see how a "beginner" group could ever work. What happens when the "beginner" gets a little too good? Do you reward them by asking them to leave?

The benefit of learning as a group can also be it's detriment. There will always be difference of opinions. In addition, participating in this project takes not only mandolin skills but also computer and recording skills. I'm sure folks are struggling with these as well.

The group is here to help... just ask.

May-14-2004, 10:45am
i have created a couple new polls in the Yahoo!Groups in order to get a better idea what the majority of people think the issues are. please vote in order to provide some objective feedback. additionally, i would appreciate any ideas for other polls that should be there in order to optimize feedback.



May-14-2004, 10:49am
You have a good point there. My idea would be that the beginners group start out as a beginners group and that the beginners go on to intermediate level as time passes, but that there would always be resources for beginners. I can see potential problems with that, though, just as you point out.
However, I don't want to complain anymore. It seems that this thread isn't really getting anywhere anyway.
If it's a big problem to find basic tabs of our tunes, I could actually make them. Probably not in Tabledit, because I've tried and it's just hopeless unless someone can teach me and explain how to change all the weird standard settings. I use a software called Power Tab Editor, that is much better, except it doesn't show the timing stems in the tab system, only in music notation. But you can download the software for free and listen to the tune in midi format, and get the timing that way.
What do you think?
Has anyone checked out www.jaybuckey.com? There are lots of tunes there, most in music notation though, but they are simple and basic. Unfortunately I can't find Cattle in the cane.

May-14-2004, 4:26pm
Hi Craig et al;

I have been gone the past week and am just seeing this discussion for the first time.

A couple of things to think about. In study after study conducted about learning, the overwhelming evidence shows that group learning far and away creates the most succesful learning.

What the group supports reflects the values of the group. Groups that recognizes and rewards achievement of all of its most vulnerable members is rewarded with usually close to 100% participation and is a group that grows.

Groups that have become competitive, become dysfunctional with resentments, low participation, and high per centage of complaining.

Those results are true all around the world in every size group from family groups, to businesses, to organizations, and including governments and nations.

There are tendencies in every group for cliques to form because people naturally gravitate to those they feel most comfortable with. Cliques within a group often create competition and comparison. (ie..when I post a recording, who responds enthusiastically or is there a response, same for posting a request or message in the forum) Do I feel as included and responded too as others.

All people new to playing are intimidated. When a group as a whole responds to the newest members slightest attempt to reach out, that sets the tone for those who might be fearful and even more intimated. Fear of rejection along with fear of failure are two of the most powerful emotions connected with beginners. A group that has its members aware of this, ready to recognize and respond to the beginners needs creates a warm safe environment where progress is not about competition but about feeling supported no matter how badly I screw up.

Out of my intial fear of how I would be percieved when recording Sally Goodn, I used vocals and guitar back-up so I would not feel so naked and out there. I realize that I set a precedence doing that because, not every one can do that, and so would feel that much more naked and vulerable posting a recording.

One of the things, I would suggest perhaps, is to limit the recording of the song of the month, since we are focused on the mandolin, to a simple recording without embellisments or added tracks, bare bones so to speak. Any one who wants to post a backed up version could submit that version to Miscellaneous.

The other suggestion, is for all the members. Remember how good it feels to have everyone tell you how good they felt about your recording, make sure that you download and are as enthusiastic about all other recordings just as quickly as you were responded too. If you have experience, and see someone reaching out who seems intimidated, respond to them, take the time to post replies and be inclusive. I include the need for me to be as aware of that as anyone.

Craig, your work was done because you created the idea and participate with so much enthusiasm and engergy. It is up to the rest of us to make sure that this group feels welcoming, safe, and rewards any who desire to participate with warm, enthusiastic support and replies.



Don Christy
May-14-2004, 6:06pm
I've been away from the group for a while and am just now getting to this thread.

I am a true beginner.

Yes the songs have been a stretch.
Yes Benig's first recording was intimidating

But I decided - so what. I'm going to try and learn to play them and learn to record them. It was a real thrill to get feedback on Sally G. This group has been so supportive that my confidence has really increased.

I wouldn't want to see any real changes (other than maybe a posting of a simpler version of songs). If not for this group, I would hardly ever practice my rhythm chops and certainly wouldn't have learned to make multi-track recordings on my computer.

Speaking as a TRUE BEGINNER, I REALLY like this group.

Thanks Craig and everyone who participates.

May-14-2004, 10:07pm
I'll echo ducati's and some others' comments -- this project was a bit intimidating at first. That said, I'm glad I forced myself to post my attempts anyway. I may not play anywhere near as well as some of the other "beginners" in this group, but I do enjoy listening to their versions and have tried to learn/borrow some of their techniques....

I just think this is such a wonderful idea and project -- #it's forced me to stretch myself with more challenging tunes than I would normally choose, and given me a great incentive to actually focus on and learn a specific tune -- rather than working on 3 or 4 tunes at once and learning none of them very well... http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Anyway, this has all been said in previous posts -- sorry for being repetitive -- but many thanks to Craig for all his efforts and patience.


May-14-2004, 11:26pm
I put up a post and then decided to delete it after listening to the Cattle in the Cane recordings that are up so far.

Since the majority of the people actually participating in this project seem happy with it, I don't reckon it needs to be changed for them, but I definately think a different approach would be nice for the large number of people who signed up but have never posted a recording.

It could be a lot of them are just happy with lurking, but I think there are a lot of people who just don't see a point in posting their efforts when there are people putting up stuff that I personally wouldn't even classify as intermediate.

I really enjoyed listening to the cattle in the cane recordings, I think they sound wonderful and I like hearing the different takes and I think it would be great if all the mandolin players in the cafe had a forum to post their versions of recordings for us to listen to.

However, they don't fit with what my idea of a "beginner's project" would be. I personally would prefer to have a seperate area for beginners recordings. Not to classify people into good, better and best, but because I'm looking for totally different things from a beginners recording than from a recording far beyond my abilities and I just would prefer not having to wade through one to get to the other.

I think it would be very cool to have as many people as want to post recordings that are whatever level for people to listen to and learn from, but I also think it would be nice to have a place where beginners aren't having to put there recording up next to stuff that is if not professional quality at least far, far more advanced.

May-15-2004, 3:17am
You have many points, Harlan. I have also experienced this group - advanced or beginners - as very supportive to everyone, which I appreciate a lot and that's why I've sticked with this although it sometimes feels way advanced.
I like the idea of not using other instruments in the recordings. Actually, it's mostly the flashy guitar and bass back-ups that makes the recordings sound professional, I think.

I like your input and your idea too, Jaded, the beginner recordings wouldn't need to be on a separate group, it could just be as a separate group of recordings on the MP site, that way our group wouldn't be separated. Even if there are beginners who are happy with it as it is, I wouldn't want to chase away other beginners who feel intimidated and don't want to post because of the level of the recordings, if simple things could be done to avoid that.

Michael H Geimer
May-20-2004, 3:28pm
I'm in a quandry now. I have finshed my CinC, but am hesitant to post an Mp3.

I actually did post it right after I was done. But, I took right back down after reading Jaded's comment above. How could I leave something up after reading about another version being taken down because it's author didn't feel it 'meadured up' to the current submissions. I thought that posting my version might give validation to the comment that the project has been "co-opted by intermediates".

While I'm not about to accept personal responibility for any feeling "intimidated", it is clear that people are backing away from this project because they feel there are judgements being made on the comparable quality of the submissions. (I would like to add that "intimidation" is probably not the best term, as I'm certain no one has posted MP3's with any intention of making another member feel bad, or timid, etc. "Intimidate" by defination implies action designed to make someone else feel intimidated.)

On the other hand - I've been named as someone who's recordings have discouraged others from participating. While I'm certainly not offened, it has hurt my feelings a little. No one ever likes feeling unwelcome.

My first thought was that I could limit my particiation to The Home Game. That is, I could 'play along' with the tune of the month, but just not post. That's a personal compromise that hopefully will allow me to continue my learning without discouraging others. It would also insulate me from any self-concious ideas that I'm being viewed as a 'show off' by the group.

Well ... something came up in the CinC thread, and in I admitted to being done with my version. Harrmob, and Dasspunk chimed in encouraging me to post ... and here I am back in this thread ... wondering aloud about how best to behave.


May-20-2004, 3:45pm
Benignus, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings with my comment. It's not fair at all for me to turn my clutziness and inexperience into bad feelings for others. I think you should post your version.

The fact is, some people are naturals at this. I'm not. I still enjoy playing, and I was just trying to be honest about the fact that I did feel intimidated by some of the other recordings. Is that your problem? No, of course not. It's nobody's problem but mine.

I was hoping that this thread would lead to some honest discussions of what the goals of this project are. It seems to have done that, at least. And it doesn't seem like very many others share my reticence about posting tunes. Well, judging from the poll, at least.

Only 19 out of 172 members of the Yahoo group have taken the poll, and only 2 besides myself, of those 19, say that they feel intimidated. Yet more proof that it's really mostly my problem! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

Again, sorry for the bad feelings. You're a talented player, and I'd like to hear your version of the tune. I want this project to continue, and I'm willing to work to help it continue. I'll do what I can to help transcribe new versions of tunes to TablEdit versions, and post them for the group.

And I'll post my version in the next few days. I doubt I can go any faster than 70 bpm, but hey, that's what I can do at this stage of the game!



May-20-2004, 3:52pm
After seeing only a couple CITC posted, it has shed some light on whether or not to post if you feel you are not a beginner, for me at least. #One thing that I wish someone taught me when I was first learning to play, was how to....step up to the plate. #Whether on the internet or a jam. #I stayed in the corner of many jams and just chopped, now I wish I would have at least given it a shot, that is how you learn, the nervousness of how you might sound takes a while to get used to and now it is apparent the internet has become another useful tool. Has nothing to do with playing, it's all in your head. #We are all mando maniacs, regardless of how advanced, and we are all learning the song. #Thats my "current" opinion.

Michael H Geimer
May-20-2004, 4:14pm
Thank you Kelly_Guy.

You were the one I was personally hoping would reply. I am not offended, nor was I ever ... I'm just also a self-concious person ... many artists seem to share that trait.

I have not viewed the poll, nor would I really base my opinions on such a device. Neither, was I going to take advice from Harrmob, Dasspunk, or any of the other players offering these more challenging versions. I needed to hear it from you - the original poster - #to feel reassured about the situation.

I also heartily agree with Harrmob about 'stepping up to the plate'. That's why teachers insist their students perform at recitals. Playing for an audience - virtual or otherwise - is a critical ingredient to musical improvement. Believe it or not, most audiences are not at all critical ... they don't care when you slip up on a note. They would only get upset if you were to stop playing.

What does that tell you?

Thanks again ... I'll post when I get home.

So .. does this mean we can all keep pickin' together?

- Benig

May-20-2004, 5:02pm
I'll add this...

I think I was in 6th grade and playing saxophone in band. We had a concert and I was to be a soloist. My first! I was scared to death. The band was playing, it came time for my solo, I stood up in front everyone; looked out onto a sea of parent's smiling faces; took a deep breath and... blew the nastiest screech you've ever heard. The entire place erupted in laughter... lol... I stuck to it though, finished it out and quickly sat back down.

It takes guts... a lot of 'em, to put yourself out there. Looking back my debut still makes me laugh... but I never worried about making mistakes in public again.

Jump on in, the water is fine...

May-20-2004, 11:27pm
Just to make it clear to Ben, I did not take down or avoid putting up a recording because of being "intimidated", I wrote a post that i later revised somewhat after listening to the current crop of recordings.

I haven't posted recordings lately, because I just haven't really felt like working on the songs. I am not personally intimidated by anyone's recording. I pick in jams several times every week with professional musicians and if I know the song I'll take a break when offered with no reservation.

I just think that since there are large numbers of people who are not posting recordings for whatever reason, that maybe some alternative would be nice for that group of people.

I enjoy listening to everyone's recordings, it is just my personal feeling that the project no longer really feels like a beginner's project.

However, the main reason I have not really been participating is that i'm not that interested in learning the songs.

May-21-2004, 12:59am
Reading through some of the posts on this thread there is a sense of frustration and an over competitive atmosphere. So I thought I'd add my own 2 cents.
You sometimes hear even advanced professional musicians saying that they feel they are still just beginning. It's the idea that the more you know, the more you realise how much there is to know. There is no end to it. So what's a beginners project? The way I see it, we're all beginners - if we are here firstly to learn. No matter where you are with your instrument there will always be other individuals who have taken it further than you. It is human nature to compare ourselves with others and learning an instrument is at times a humiliating experience. But at the end of the day it's only your own pride that's getting hurt. Be the best YOU can be - what else is there? I mentioned in another thread recently that I actually considered not buying my first mando after having watched Chris Thile on video. I thought what's the point of starting to learn a new instrument at the age of 41? What a dumb attitude! I'll never be anywhere near Chris Thile, but I've decided to have as much fun with this great little instrument as I can and give it my best shot. And you know what - it feels good to be a real beginner!

May-21-2004, 4:02am
If everyone who has more to learn is a beginner, than everyone is a beginner and the word has no meaning.

There is a difference between sometimes feeling like a beginner as you struggle with a concept that is more advanced than what you know and truely being a beginner.

May-21-2004, 4:03am
Don't worry about it, Benignus. Post your version, at least I would love to hear it. After this discussion it doesn't seem like the active members mind, really, and that we shouldn't change anything here.

Kelly: I know you are not alone. I'm in contact with another member too who do not participate because of the level and I think there are more of them. There are several members at the project who have never posted or added any recordings. I'm not sure but I think at least some of them might be beginners who just don't think they are "good enough" or however I can explain it. And they won't come back in any case.

I think most of us realize that this is an intermediate project. We're having fun and we're happy with it as it is. Some beginners are confident enough to participate even if the level is a bit high, and that is great. I don't like to leave others out, but it seems that there's nothing to do to improve the situation here for those who feel they can't make it because of the level. I was hoping this discussion would result in some kind of change so that everyone would feel comfortable, but it didn't, and we have to respect that.

I'm working on a website for beginners. Something like our project, but for beginners who feel our tunes are too difficult and who don't want to post beside professionals. It's not to steal members - it's for those who don't participate at our project for any of the expressed reasons, so that there is something for them. Learning together like this is such a good thing. I know that if I had been a true beginner I wouldn't have participated in this project. Now after some years I can feel the tunes are difficult but a challenge that makes me have to work hard, which is good for me.
I want to help beginners in some way and will try it by offering this workshop.
I don't think it's about dividing people in "bad and good" pickers, it's all about people's preferences. Those who don't mind, participate here, and those who feel the level is too high, participate elsewhere, where the level is lower.
I don't want to offend anyone, and I certainly won't stop participating here. I just want to help the beginners who have left this project.

If anyone is interested, you can e-mail me at bluegrasstjej@yahoo.se.

I really don't want the great pickers to stop posting their tunes!! It's wonderful to listen to your stuff, please continue to let us hear it.

May-21-2004, 4:28am
If everyone who has more to learn is a beginner, than everyone is a beginner and the word has no meaning.

There is a difference between sometimes feeling like a beginner as you struggle with a concept that is more advanced than what you know and truely being a beginner.
Like you say If everyone who has more to learn is a beginner, then everyone is a beginner.. This is a perfectly logical and meaningful statement.

And all beginners struggle with a concept that is more advanced than what you know

I really don't see the problem.

May-21-2004, 6:10am
I joined the project last night and after listening to all of the versions of CITC and Sally Goodin I was so inspired that I sat down and learned Sally Goodin. Thanks guys.

I don't think that anyone should be intimidated by listening to players who they feel are better players. Even though it is natural to compare one's skills with others, this observation shouldn't discourage them from participating. I have to admit that there are some very good performances (non-beginner?) posted but even the ones that were a bit shaky or played slowly were an inspiration to me. I like the fact that all of the people contributing are involved in shareing music and musical ideas.

I hope this project continues to grow.

Michael H Geimer
May-21-2004, 7:37am
Thanks for clearing that up. I obviously misread your post.

May-21-2004, 9:37am
Tjej, starting a new group is your prerogative, though I disagree with the decision... but I wonder if you've thought it through. Would your group be posting here to talk, ask questions, announce postings? If so, it may get confusing, not to mention that there will be little difference between posting to that group or to this one (just different servers). If not, will there be enough support for the folks? I wonder...

I appreciate Kelly_guy for starting this thread and all others who have joined in. It seems there may be "others" that we could serve better even though they do not seem to have the courage to even post to this thread themselves.

I would like to once again encourage ALL folks regardless of "level" to join in and learn a tune. I'm not sure how else I can say it... This is an exhibition not a competition... please no wagering.

Not for nothing, the only posts I've read that have made people feel uncomfortable or unwanted in this group have come from "beginners". The so called "advanced" folks have been nothing but supportive and encouraging.

May-21-2004, 11:16am
The thing isn't up yet, Dasspunk, still on development and thinking level. I'm just working on it. As I had planned it, there would be different forums to talk.
Enough support...I've been thinking a lot about that. I don't think there would be a problem. When you just start out, you don't really wonder about some complicated crosspicking style or how to do this and that cool lick. Also, it's not supposed to be a place to get instant answers of questions. It's for learning simple tunes together.
I knew people would object, and I don't like needing to do it. First I was thinking just a resource site, with tabs , exercises (such as scales and things like that), chord charts, useful links for newbies and I would post slow versions of basic tunes so that folks would get an idea of how they sound like. I didn't want to compete with this project and I still don't like to do that.

I would prefer having more resources for newbies on the mandolin on this project. Personally I don't mind posting my tunes along with very advanced ones (it just sounds like that sometimes!), as long as there are others at my level too, which has been the case at least with Sally Goodin and cherokee shuffle.
I know y'all are good folks as most pickers are and would help out if the newbies would have the courage to join in. The question is how to make them join in. I gave up this discussion for a while because there seemed to be so much disagreement on having easier tabs. I still hold on to my opinion though. If the tunes are basic (and then I mean REALLY basic, with only 8th notes and quarter notes and no triplets or double stops), the beginners could learn them without feeling it's way beyond their abilities. I would like to have the level of the tunes at the very basics, because then we can say this project is for everyone. If you have never played an instrument in your whole life, buy a mandolin and start learning it, you can't play things like the Sally Goodin version we played and most certainly you can't improvise either. The level of the tunes should be at the very lowest.
I think the best thing could be if there was one easy tab and one more advanced tab. If just the tabs and tunes are easy enough, I think with some support the beginners wouldn't hesitate to post their tunes with everyone else.

I know there are beginners who like it as it is, but I also know there are beginners who don't. Couldn't we just do something to make them want to join? It wouldn't be more strange than simply providing easier versions of the tunes.
Craig said there aren't any easier tabs around on the internet, but I'm not so sure. Can't we all go out chasing for them? Wouldn't it be great if the very beginning beginners could join in this group too?

Michael H Geimer
May-21-2004, 11:23am
I totally agree. There are obvious benefits to the project in searching out and offering the easiest versions we can collectively locate. It is the most objective way we can make this more accessible to everyone.

May-21-2004, 12:00pm
I just went to the Yahoo group and looked at the polls. Craig has set up a poll asking what the reason is folks haven't put up any recordings. The most common reason is problems with recording, and other reasons. Then many have also answered that it's too intimidating (I don't like that word either) and not enough time to practice. Noone has said the tunes are too difficult (but I know at least one who does think so). Only 20 people have voted, though, and one of them is me (just so that I could see the results).

Maybe it would be good with some recording tutorial on the main page. I know many of you are very good at recording, know Audacity very well, can give good advice and help out.

Let's go out and look for easy tabs on Fisher's hornpipe! That's a start. I really would like this to get back to being a beginner's project. Even if there's only one who thinks the tunes are too difficult, I think it's worth it!

May-21-2004, 12:07pm
I'm with you Tjej,

I think we all agree that finding basic TEFs of the tunes is the thing to do and none of us want to leave folks behind that don't want to be left behind.

I'm not interested in changing things for unnamed, supposed, "other" people. No, if folks won't speak up for themselves, then I've no use for them. Now if a member of this group needs help, I'll do whatever I can to accommodate them. All they need do is ask.

We've seen some of this already. Folks are posting their versions of tunes in order to help others. If a slow version of the tune will help, ask a member to record one for you!

I can tell you that I've learned pleanty from this group; beginners and advanced. I can already hear improvement being made in just three months of recodings (mine and others)! Imagine what a year would do...

May-21-2004, 12:19pm
Yeah, folks have improved a lot! After a year, it'll be interesting to hear!!

I agree that if people won't speak up, it's hard to help out. Seriously, I think that those who have left, are gone and won't come back, but let's change things so that future members won't give up. I'm glad we at last came to this conclusion.

It's a good idea to have members record slow and easy versions. Actually, if there aren't any easy tabs around, this is an alternative.

May-21-2004, 5:05pm
Personally, I would be interested in an alternative to this project. For the sake of avoiding confusion it would probably be better to set it up on a seperate website.

I quite frankly an am baffled by the idea that an alternate project could be seen as some sort of competition.

This project seems to be working well for the 20 some people who are participating and that is great. But for the rest, I don't see what harm trying a different approach could cause.

May-21-2004, 6:22pm
I agree....the "one size fits all" approach doesn't quite cut it in this instance, so something that's a little more accessible for the "masses" seems to be perfectly reasonable, IMO. And I agree with Jaded, where's the harm? I don't see how it would take anything away from this group, since those folks aren't participating anyway, right?

Personally, I plan to keep participating in this group -- I've been playing a little over a year, and can hack my way through these tunes fairly okay, as long as I slow them waaaaaay down. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif But I know that when I first started to play, there's no WAY I could have tackled most of these tunes -- at least not the Co-Mando versions. So, it's a very nice offer you've made bluegrasstjej -- and I'm sure there will be many who appreciate your effort.


May-23-2004, 5:59am
I agree that a lot of the TAB files available are somewhat advanced when learning an unfamiliar tune. Although tab-edit is sort of awkward to create files from scratch, it is pretty simple to edit existing tunes. Maybe some of the more seasoned players could take an exisiting TEF file and edit it to a more approachable version for beginners to learn from. just an idea

May-26-2004, 3:37am
I think that's a great idea and I see you have already done something. Great stuff, very nice version, I think this one should work well for the beginners.

May-26-2004, 7:20pm
thank you everyone for all the thoughts, suggestions and input to this. it's good to see that so many care about this project and where it's going.

it is clear that there are at least a good few that find it "intimidating" (i know there's a better word) to post due to some of the other more sophisticated recordings. it has been suggested that we limit the recordings to just one-track; no frills; no back-up; no drum-machines; no nothin' but pure mandolin. what do you all think about that? would that ease some of the discrepancy between beginners and the more advanced recordings?

also, i whole-heartedly agree that there are easier versions of the songs available to learn. but, i simply haven't the time to search them out. so, i've continued to make available just the stuff easiest to find (i.e. TEF files from co-mando.com). it would be better if everyone could pitch in to find various versions of the songs (TEF files, sheet music, MP3s and MIDIs). how does this sound? each month the poll goes up you can send me your versions of whichever songs are on the poll and i can make them available via links on the poll.

bluegrasstjej, it would be a shame to split up this group. hopefully, it won't come to that, but if it does, so be it. i'm trying to accomodate everyone the best i can.

despite all this, i hope most of you are still enjoying this project as much as i am! keep the recordings coming and happy pickin'!!



May-27-2004, 2:31am
I'm not sure about having one-track recordings only. Back-up is also something we mandolin pickers need to learn and improve on. I would agree though that there should not be any guitar back-up or flashy stuff like that. But before saying that, maybe I should ask if the project is for other instruments? There is something about it on the main page and I know fiddlers have been invited. If so, we can't limit it to be only mandolins.

The thing that makes me want to post my stuff is that there are not only great players who post their recordigns but all levels, and this can be done if we have resources for all levels. I know it's hard to find beginner stuff on the internet, but Mandoanon had a great idea and we have a good start here with the easy versions of Fisher's hornpipe.

It would be good if we could have only one project. I really like the folks here and the experienced players have lots of good advice to give to the less experienced players.

May-27-2004, 7:54am
If putting guitar, bass, bagpipes, etc... on your recording gets you motivated, then I say go for it. I personally like the simple aproach but if I were to get the inkling, I'd throw something else on there. I'm a sucker for a mando guitar duet...

I would also leave the group open to other instruments. If you want to learn the tune, then you're in... I'd like to see some guitar backup tracks; get a fiddler's take on a tune, etc...

I like the idea of the "group challange"... For example, if someone is posting only to Musings, I think the group should challange them to learn that month's tune or post a backup track or something... Done in a friendly mannor with a notion to help and support the group, I think it could be a good thing.

May-28-2004, 11:35am
Hey everybody - shut up and play yer mandolin!

May-28-2004, 1:57pm
I haven't contributed any MP3s because I don't have a way of recording so maybe I don't have a right to an opinion, but I don't see any reason to limit the songs to simple melody with no backup.

For a simple song like Sally Goodin you can have a backup track as simple as just an A chord through the whole song. That would be the most basic accompanyment for a beginner to play. The melody will still work and since it is a 'traditional', public domain song the chords have probably changed many times through the years, depending on who was playing it and what region of the country they are in.

On the other hand I like playing simple 'swing' chords over Sally Goddin that follow a walking base line. Do you think beginners are only interested in hearing and learning one way of approaching a song? Could be, I don't know but IMHO part of learning to play involves emersing yourself in every aspect of the music. Even a beginner will get bored after a while just playing an A chord over Sally Goodin. When this happens they can start playing a more complex set of chords like the changes in most of the MP3s. When they get bored with those changes they should know that they can approach the song in other ways to add more harmonic interest.

This is just another opinion.

May-28-2004, 4:28pm
Even a beginner will get bored after a while just playing an A chord over Sally Goodin. When this happens they can start playing a more complex set of chords like the changes in most of the MP3s. When they get bored with those changes they should know that they can approach the song in other ways to add more harmonic interest.

This is just another opinion.
Well, this is what happens when you learn and improve - you want to try new things.

May-28-2004, 4:29pm
Hey everybody - shut up and play yer mandolin!
I like that comment!!!! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wink.gif