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Notes from the Field

Sometimes my enthusiasm for this little eight string marvel just boils over and I have to tell someone. I figure this is a safer way to do it, than to yet again bore my friends.

  1. What does one do with a mandolin?

    I mean in terms of activity - what does your mandolinning consist of?

    Let me back up.

    Lots of threads about practicing, and how much time should be spent practicing, and how to parse the practice time out effectively – exercises, working on specific difficulties, working on new tunes, maintaining old tunes, learning some music theory – all that stuff.
    And the discussions are all very good, useful and informative, and even entertaining.

    I think, ...

    Updated Jul-09-2015 at 11:41am by JeffD

  2. It happens all the time...

    You can see it in the customer’s eyes – wanting to be alone with the new acquisition. Just bought a guitar, or a mandolin, whatever. With case, spare set of strings, some picks. A strap maybe. And then it’s the yearning for alone time. To get home and spend time alone and get to know my instrument. Yearning to launch the adventure, questioning “did I do ok?” and “will I do ok?” Getting to know, getting familiar, working on looking good with, doing well with, getting on with…

    And that ...

    Updated Jun-24-2015 at 4:15pm by JeffD

  3. I am not a musician - part two

    Three or so years ago I wrote a blog about not being a musician. At the time I of course thought that I had exhausted my musings. For reference.

    Well here I am with more musings.

    I am not a natural musician. Not at all. I am living proof that the Average Joe, someone of average ability, through a whole lot of constant enthusiastic practice and above average stubbornness, can get to a level that could only be considered an accomplishment if I were eight or ten years ...
  4. The Movie Whiplash

    I just saw the movie Whiplash, and it inspired a couple of reactions I think are relevant to us in the community of mandolinners.

    The movie is about being pushed beyond your expectations into the realm of excellence, and asks the question how much pushing is useful and how much pressure is just over the top and damaging. The basic idea is that the two worst words for inspiring excellence are “good job”, as it encourages complacence, and real genius is not going to give up or be intimidated ...

    Updated Mar-03-2015 at 12:38pm by JeffD

  5. $75,000 for a hunk of wood.

    Following the recent discussion about a fretboard from Bill Monroe’s mandolin being for sale on eBay for $75,000, and all the expected jocularity about that much money for a fragment of a mandolin, etc. Most of the fun was about the out-of-proportion expectations of the seller and the absurdity of expecting someone to buy it for that price.

    Be that as it may, I would be the first to cheer if it is sold for that much or more.

    I am beyond wondering why some things are ...

    Updated Feb-26-2015 at 1:06am by JeffD

  6. Musical Heroes - a second take

    A little over five years ago I wrote a blog trying to sort out my feelings in relation to my musical heroes. And at the time of course I figured I had written about all that needed to be said on the topic.

    To prove me wrong, go here.

    In the interim I have had a thought or two more, and kind of in a different direction. Bear with me, this is something.

    I enjoy listening to Chris Thile much more when I ignore any connection between what he does on the mandolin ...
  7. Doing it Wrong

    This is the way it happens.

    Step one – a newbie asks a perfectly legitimate question on technique, or needs some received advice clarified.

    Step two – Various folks respond with helpful ideas, often quoting some of the great teachers of mandolin, present and past.

    Step three – Someone disagrees – referencing some bigger than life famous player who does it differently, as some kind of invalidation of the advice and of the teachers’ instructions.


    Updated Oct-27-2017 at 9:52am by JeffD

  8. Goals and Aspirations and Focusing my Perspiration.

    It all begins with goals. It is true what they told you, if you don’t know where you are going it doesn’t matter how you get there.

    Classical management tells us that only after establishing a goal, you figure out what you are going to do to further your progress toward your goal, and how you are going measure your progress, etc. Make the goal, make the plan, measure the results.

    It has taken me a bunch of years to figure out what the heck I am trying to do with my life ...

    Updated Dec-03-2016 at 8:36pm by JeffD

  9. Unexpectedly Prepared

    I remember discussions about Hemingway’s story “Two Big Hearted River” (one of the best short stories you are likely to read, ever, trust me). The discussions sometimes revolve around all the stuff Nick takes camping, and was he a wuss to need all that stuff just for comfort, and the response being that if you are willing to carry it in, you get to carry it in.

    I always get a special thrill when I end up using something I had questioned whether I should pack or not. I packed a length ...

    Updated Feb-18-2015 at 11:27pm by JeffD

  10. Reasons Why it is Probably Best to Date a Musician

    It is sometimes a mystery to me that anyone can get along with anyone else, considering how hard we all are to understand individually. Dating is a total mystery. Dating a non-musician is an exercise in delaying the first disappointment when she suddenly realizes the truth: you are not a normal good guy who eats and works and sleeps and takes long walks and has an interesting hobby but no other real passion in life than her.

    If you date a musician you will not have that awkward moment ...

    Updated Apr-08-2015 at 6:00pm by JeffD

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