View Full Version : An apology

May-18-2004, 8:27am
Hi everyone - I wanted to apologize for being so cranky lately. I sometimes get into periods when I just look down on myself and compare myself with others, also those who have different background (such as 30 years of playing guitar) than myself, which is not good.
I have a hard time to learn playing mandolin and playing bluegrass, probably harder than many of you because I have noone to ask to show me things, noone to play with, and I don't have bluegrass around me all the time. I'm not grown up with it. It's my main interest in life and I listen to it all the time, but that's all. In addition I have very little time to practice. Mandolin is the first instrument I've learned and I'm learning it all on my own, except for a short period when I was in Italy and took lessons.
For all the above reasons, I really shouldn't compare myself with anyone at all (and who should, really??) and especially not with folks who visit regular jams, play in bands, have teachers, have played other stringed instruments for years, are grown up with bluegrass music, etc, etc.
I visit the cyber jam every week and there I get lots of encouragement and they all tell me how much I improve from week to week. I notice that by myself too - at least when I do recordings. It doesn't take me a half day to do a decent recording anymore.

I'm going to stop listening to others (except for enjoying good music, of course!) and start being happy for my own achievements again, and most of all have fun with it, as I usually do.

So - I'm sorry if I have offended anyone by my crankiness (or whatever you call it..?!). If the tunes are too hard I'll just try to learn them by ear instead. I have most of these standard tunes on CD and if I don't, I can find them elsewhere.

I'm going to a Celtic concert on Saturday so I'd better go and buy the tickets, today is the last day.

Have a great day everyone!!


May-18-2004, 9:06am
Hey bluegrasstjej: I don't even remember that you "posted" that you are apoligizing for!??... - You sound like a sincere and very interested mando picker/learner. Please continue your journey - with at least MY blessings. Continue to ask questions. Enjoy YOUR music. Music - like politics - can be a VERY opinionated, personal and subjective topic. I suggest we all have days when someone - or something - "pulls our trigger" - Best of luck to you and keep us "posted" on your progress... Regards, Moose. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/mandosmiley.gif

Brian Ray
May-18-2004, 9:42am

I've not noticed your "crankiness" either. I have noticed that you have a desire to improve and an obvious work ethic. Add to that your courage for asking questions and posting your recordings... how could you possibly not succeed?

I don't see the problem...

Tom C
May-18-2004, 10:32am
I did not notice either. I started late at 35years old. -Now 41. I know how you feel such as when somebody who plays guitar for 30 years picks up your mando for the first time and plays it better than you do. I may leave an event where I feel like burning my mando, other times enthused about improving. I just play within my abilities. For some reason it always sounds better when somebody else is pickin,
even if that player is not as advanced. Most other mando players I play with will blow my doors off. I just go home and play a nice waltz and appreciate how good it sounds. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

"I'm going to stop listening to others (except for enjoying good music, of course!) and start being happy for my own achievements again, and most of all have fun with it, as I usually do."
-That's my thinking too.

Michael H Geimer
May-18-2004, 10:33am
I think it is a natual tendency for musicians, or any arttist for that matter, to be their own worst critic.

I think if someone were to go looking for posts of yours, they'd find nothing that mertis any apology. Intead, they'd find great comments, good questions, and genuine supprt for the Project.

Stay on The Path. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif

- Benig

May-18-2004, 11:39am
Thank you folks for your support. YES, YES, I am my worst critic (on all areas in life, not only music) and usually very hard on myself, which is something I have to stop, for my own good.

I'm glad there are others who feel the same (thanks Tom C)!!! Then at least I don't need to feel stupid...

I'm keeping up the work on this project. I have lots of new interesting recordings that I'm working on. I'm planning to make a "Greatest hits" CD for a friend, just for fun, so I'm trying to make as many good recordings as possible. I'm really enjoying it. This recording thing has opened up a new world to me, it's really nice. Now I can also share my music with others who have many times asked to hear me play (friends abroad, for example). That's great.

I still haven't learned Cattle in the cane though!! I think it's hard to grip, somehow. I think I'll try listening to Sam Bush's version slowly and see if I can learn it by ear. Sometimes that's easier. I'm very used to playing from sheet music but when it's too long and complicated, I just get stuck.

Well, I have to go. Things to do, as always.

Tom C
May-18-2004, 1:03pm
What kind of music do you play or listen to on the other side of the ocean?

May-18-2004, 3:51pm
Hej Bluegrasstjej!

I think I know a bit about how you feel, being a mandolin picker in a country where fellow pickers and jams are hard to find. I live in your neighbourhood, across Øresund in Denmark, and I too have a hard time to find people that really are in for bluegrass. I know about the situation, believe me. Here in Scandinavia we don´t just join whatever jam we like - we´d join ANY! - that is, if there were any to find!
Keep up the spirit and the picking, although it´s sometimes hard to sit alone with your mandolin, just wanting a friend with a guitar for back-up. I know how it feels!
I spend a good deal of time solo-picking on my old lefty Kalamazoo; I´m not exactly Sam Bush either,(!) but remember that music is for ANYONE, no matter where we are and what level we operate in. It´s the joy of music that counts and bring us together.
I´m a new member of this group; I only found the "Mandolin Project" some days ago, and I think it´s a GREAT idea (cheers Craig!), and have now joined the group. I am impressed by both the skills and not least the enthusiasme shown in this forum, and I´m looking forward to be part of the "brotherhood".

Hej tjej, hold på med mandolinen!


May-18-2004, 4:15pm
What kind of music do you play or listen to on the other side of the ocean?
Do you mean what people in general play or listen to?

Most people who play guitar for example, play rock music or jazz. Some play some kind of "singer-songwriter" or rather old Swedish songs. A very small group are in for Irish ballads or bluegrass. Fiddlers usually play Swedish dance tunes (which I will eventually show off on the mandolin on the MP). Then, it's very common that people play the piano or wind instruments, more than stringed instruments.

There is a jam in Göteborg, not too far away from me. I haven't been there for a long time. Since I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, who plays the mandolin in a bluegrass band, I haven't really felt for being there. Also, those pickers are so good that I really don't feel that I fit in. I don't want to stand chopping all the time, which is what I do only if the jam is too advanced. This year at the festival in Gränna, if I get to go to the jams, which I want to, I will probably play some lead if I can find the Danes and Dutch because they are very much on my level or just above my level.
It's almost impossible to find beginners who want to learn bluegrass here. I don't know how they start, really. I think that often people here start playing an instrument, and play something else. Then later when they are already good musicians they start playing bluegrass. Of course there must be beginners too but I don't see much of them. I met a girl last year at a festival who plays the guitar and really wanted to play bluegrass. She's from my area and we want to plan for a future girl band. But now she studies on the other coast, in Uppsala, and will do that for another 3 years or so. I hope for the future.

Sjusk, now I'm getting really interested! Have you ever visited our festivals? In Gränna there are some Danes who have visited the festival for several years and they always get an own tent just for jamming. They usually jam with some Dutch guys, and a few from Göteborg that I know a little bit. When I come to think about it, there actually are some beginners, just that I don't meet them outside the advanced jams, more than at Gränna.

Well, I guess there's hope.

May-18-2004, 4:36pm
Hi tjej,

no I haven´t been to Gränna, and I am not one of the Danes picking with those Dutch fellers; but I wish I was!
They have so much good bluegrass going on down in Central Europe! Last year I heard "Ngget" play here in Denmark, a Chezckish-Austrian band, and they were great! The mandolin player just knocked me off my chair. At the same event there was a Swedish band, but sorry to say I have forgot their names.

Where exactly is Gränna, is it around Gøteborg?


May-18-2004, 4:50pm
Gränna is in Småland, close to Jönköping, if you know where that is. They have a great festival there on the 3rd Saturday of August every year. The jams start Friday night, the gigs are on Saturday and the jams continue on Saturday night. They're simply the best at the campsite.
There's also a good festival in Floda close to Göteborg, which is easy to access from Denmark (just take the ferry and bring the car or take the train to Floda). It's on July 8-10.

May-18-2004, 5:08pm
Of course I know where Jönköping is, and it would be great fun to go next time. I have family in Askim in Norway, and sometimes I go through Sweden to visit them.
Sounds like a great festival, something we really need in Denmark. Sorry to say it, but bluegrass is somewhat invisible over here!
At least, I can understand you have some sort of network - so please go and use it! I also understand you have an exame or something coming up, it might take your time, but with your interest in out music you will have lot of joy coming from it.
Let´s pick up Scandinavia!!

May-18-2004, 5:24pm
I was wondering what your problem was! Just kidding!

I think your recordings sound great! I am in the same boat. Just trying to play and have fun! It can be discouraging, but when you get positive feedback, it's priceless!

Just remember that it's all about you & how you are improving.

Your participation in the project was one of the reasons that I decided to join in! I am not kidding.

Best of luck & keep on learning!


May-18-2004, 6:19pm
Hey tjej,
What a cool recording of Oh Susanna! What kind of whistle are you using? It kind of sounded like a recorder to me. I was thinking of doing the same sort of thing with a tin whistle and mando. Great job, and don't get discouraged, I really like your recordings!

May-18-2004, 11:00pm
Keep up the spirit Susanne....you're doing great! And I hope you get to start your girl band sooner than you think http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/smile.gif


May-19-2004, 1:27am
Well, my network is quite far away at the moment!! But things might improve this summer and after, since I'll start living again and have time for fun things. I'll start with the festivals and then I'll see what happens. Life is exciting. Especially if I stop looking down on myself and my picking.

Thanks a lot everyone for your feedback, encouragement, and support!
I'm using a Generation F whistle for Oh Susanna. I do have a D whistle (Feadog) too but I lent it to a friend, and actually I think the F whistle is easier to play (it's smaller). I don't play much whistle, I just learned the basics.

Come to Gränna, Sjusk!! Would be great to meet you there!

jim simpson
May-19-2004, 9:42pm
I am sorry you don't have all the opportunities many of us have. I host a twice a month jam that has a group of the greatest pickers attending. I also play out with a group of the best pickers I have ever had the pleasure to play with. I too find myself to be my worst critic. I have been playing mandolin for about 10 to 12 years. Before that I just dabbled with it as guitar was my main interest. The passion I feel for the mandolin has not wained at all and I find myself wanting to get better faster! When I get a compliment on my playing, I feel suspicious that it's not genuine as I'm thinking that what I did was just fair. I think we just need to relax and accept that we can only be as good as time will permit. I know it's unrealistic to compare myself with a professional musician as I can devote such little time compared to them. Now if I were able to give up my day job and practice and play as frequently as a professional musician then I could probably expect my skill at playing to accelerate. I hope you can hook up with other players to share your joy and talent!

May-19-2004, 11:11pm
Bluegrasstjej, I don't usually even visit this section on the Cafe board but I thought I would share my thoughts and I haven't even read the posts that you think you are cranky in. #I too didn't grow up in bluegrass even though I have grown up in North Carolina, which is covered in bluegrass(not the cow food!) and I used to hate even hearing it when my uncle occasionally played it on the radio. #I also remember those frustrating jams when I wanted to play so much better. #They are disheartening at first but I would thrive on them because I was determined to get better. #Sounds like you have that musician's disease called perfectionism! #It is not a bad thing because you are constantly striving to learn more and play it flawlessly. #I think all creative and artistic people are this way, at least the ones I have met in my life. #The sad reality is that your playing is never, ever going to please you one hundred percent and I am sure that even Thile plays a few breaks that he thinks suck but the crowd loves. #If I ever stop learning or having fun on mando, then I would quit playing it at all. #That's part of the whole process and I still learn quite a bit after playing for almost thirteen years now. #We can never learn all there is to know on mando and you would think that we could because there are only so many notes but there are infinite ways of putting them together and everyone's emotion and thinking is different. #Just keep picking, smiling, and enjoy this part of mando. #I sometimes miss those eight hour days closed off in my room discovering the joys of the fretboard. #They were fun times. #Frustrating? #Yes! #Would I do it again? #Of course!

May-20-2004, 9:35am
Very interesting thoughts Jeremy...yeah, might be true that all creative folks are perfectionists and that also the best (who we think are the best) think some breaks suck. Sometimes I don't hear how good I am because I think I should sound differently. Of course, striving to learn and improve always makes us develop!! So in a way perfectionism is good for us.
I'm feeling much better and more relaxed about it now, especially since I can see my free time coming back to me (graduation draws near). I'm also learning the fiddle and I love it even if it sounds awful, so I should also enjoy the mando that sounds nice when I play.
I do miss people to play with, I think that's what has started this stress because the jams available are so advanced and I don't feel comfortable. I'm sure they wouldn't mind having me join, but I prefer jamming with people closer to my own level, to have the courage to join in. I'm sure though that as soon as I relax and just enjoy my own playing without thinking it should sound like this or that, I will also have the courage to play with these advanced pickers, who really aren't as advanced as I think. There are many pickers at this jam who play quite simply, the thing is that they have the courage to play anyway, which I don't!!

I think there's hope for me!! I'm enjoying it now again even if I don't sound like Skaggs. Now that's progress.

I'm very pleased for this discussion, since it turns out that even the pickers who are very good in my ears, also have their hard times and struggles with the mandolin!

May-20-2004, 10:25am
Let me add one last thing. I would highly recommend jamming with more advanced players than yourself because they will very much bring your level up. If I always jammed with people that are as good as me, then I would stay at my level and not be nearly as creative as I would if the players are better than me. Listen to great players and see how they attack any song and it should give you different ideas. Congratulations on your graduation!

Tom C
May-20-2004, 10:29am
Another thing I find is that when I hear somebody play a really cool tune where I say "I'm going to learn that one". After I learn it, it never seems as complicated or difficult as when I first heard it. -Like the beginning of 'Walls of Time'

May-20-2004, 10:58am
That is true, Tom!!!! And your comment is true too, Jeremy. I just don't want to play with too advanced players, then I get too shy because I don't feel I have anything to add. But if the pickers are a little better, that's great. Then it's just a nice challenge. Depending on their attitude, of course. I've never seen any bluegrassers who aren't welcoming and encouraging, though.

May-20-2004, 3:45pm
You always have something to add, it's called your personal voice which speaks through your instrument. I have learned things from many of my students over the years and that just proves that everyone can learn something from someone else. Just play and be happy, not intimidated!

May-21-2004, 4:07am
You are probably right. I guess it's just about my own self confidence - as always.

May-21-2004, 6:19am

You're too hard on yourself. There is nothing wrong with your performances and the fact that you went to the trouble of recording and posting your songs is quit an accomplishment in itself. There will always be pickers who are better than you (us) but there are even more people who will never know the joy of expressing themselves through music.

Try to just enjoy the journey of learning something new every week.

Just MHO.

May-21-2004, 7:01am
There will always be pickers who are better than you (us) but there are even more people who will never know the joy of expressing themselves through music.
True indeed!!!

May-21-2004, 7:59am

By the way, I just finished my Bachelors degree 4 months ago and found it real difficult to keep a good attitude through the last couple of classes. When you are done you probably won't have a lot of spare time (who does?) but there will be a lot less presure.

Good luck.

May-21-2004, 12:20pm
Oh gosh, I will have lots of spare time! Sure I'll work a lot, but when I get home, I can do whatever I want and won't have to study. Now that's a great difference!