View Full Version : Need some inspiration/direction

Feb-18-2004, 10:11am
I've been playing guitar for a few years now - still not very good, but having fun. Picked up a mandolin just over a year ago and love to play it, but I've hit kind of a plateau.

I can make lots of notes come out, but I struggle making music, if that makes sense. My picking and fingering is pretty smooth at least in first position, and as fast as I care to be, but I'm struggling with the transition to playing along with others or just making a song instead of a melody line.

Time and location limit my ability to play with others much; would you all recommend something like Jay Buckey's "playalong" DVD's or some other way to improve?

Bear in mind, this isn't life or death to me, it's for fun and relaxation. I play in church sometimes but never plan to perform; I just want to keep growing.

By the way, I play an MK Legacy deluxe w/ EXP17's.

Mike Falkner.

John Flynn
Feb-18-2004, 10:43am
Since you play for enjoyment, one basic is to not allow yourself to get upset or discouraged about the plateau. I am not suggesting that you are, I am just saying that it can happen and it is counterproductive. I have been in multi-year plateaus! They happen!

For me, breaking out of plateaus often involves changing something significant about my playing. For me, if I don't have an instructor, I get one. If I have one, I switch to another one. If I am not playing with other people, I find a way to get with some people. There is always a way! Also, if I have been playing the same kind of music for a while, I try a different kind. It is amazing how much you can "bring back" to your favorite kind of music when you learn another genre.

Feb-18-2004, 12:39pm
I've been playing stringed instruments since age 14 and I'm now 50. I've been hitting plateaus all my life. They are a fact of learning and you recognize that and discover what it takes to move through the plateau.

For me it seems that having a playing companion always helped. You learn from each other and depending on where you are you may help move each other through plateaus that happen out of sync.

Bobby Brite
Feb-18-2004, 1:58pm
Ive been playing for a while and when I hit the "plateaus" I find it helpful just listen for a while. And not just listen but to hear and meditate over what is being done by the artists. Listening to the older greats and the newer groups have helped.

Hope this helps a little, Bobby

Feb-18-2004, 4:30pm
I've been playing guitar since college, and just picked up mandolin... I have limited ability on both. When I hit a plateau, I buy a new instrument.

It may not be the most prudent way of doing things, but I blame growing up in the 80's.

There is no gratification like instant gratification,


Feb-18-2004, 4:57pm
LMAO! I did buy a fiddle, but the sounds I was able to produce were.......disappointing, to say the least.

Feb-18-2004, 5:21pm
I would suggest downloading and using the comando's Tabledit program. It is free, and even you don't care to learn new songs, you can turn the lead intsrument off, repeat the midi of the songs you know, and you are talking hours of fun- by yourself. You can speed the songs (2000 or so) up, slow them down. It's a great tool for getting timing down and playing along with others, when you are just sitting in front of your computer.

Feb-18-2004, 7:07pm
For something that will really give you a jump start try Dix Bruce (Mel Bay) "Great Mandolin Pickin Tunes" this little book comes with a cd. Each tune is played slow then up to speed with a rhythm guitar in the background. It's only $5.95 and the cd quality is excellent! Has over 20 standard tunes. You can see it here.


Feb-18-2004, 8:01pm
I'm still somewhat of a newish player, but I broke through my last plateau by dedicating myself to no longer allowing myself to rest my palm on the corner of the bridge. Along with that came using a (much) heavier pick and thus, a better sound (in my opinion). It also made me sort of re-learn all the songs I already knew. It was sort of frustrating, and I think I'm still in the process of doing all of the above, but I'm seeing (or hearing) results. I also agree with trying to mix up the styles you are playing. I've recently been trying to pick up more Dawg and Klezmer tunes.