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What the . . . ?

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It seems like my ability to play mandolin diminishes with each passing year. Physical ability, that is. I can still remember where to put my fingers, but my ability to hit those notes with my right hand eludes me. It's almost like I'm playing with somebody else's hand.

I have bought and tried so many different picks, hoping that at some point I'll find the one that solves this problem. I've watched youtube videos of all the great players, looking for the technique that would fix my problem. All to no avail.

In fact, when the banjo player in our band quit a couple of years ago, I was relieved. I quickly filled the banjo spot in the band with me. See, I can't seem to get my right hand to work on the mandolin, but I can still tear it up on the ol' five string. The problem is, I still love to play the mandolin, and I'm not thrilled with the prospect of displaying my deteriorating ability to people who have known me and know how I used to play.

So you can imagine my uneasiness when I agreed to play mandolin at an annual Christmas party. I practiced hard for two weeks on nothing but mandolin, using every pick in my vast collection, trying every technique I had experimented with. Nothing seemed to be working.

Well the night of the party came, our band arrived at the venue, and we all unsheathed the instruments. I chose my very first (and favorite) tortise shell -- I know, not exactly politically correct -- but it was a comfortable old friend.

We ran through several tunes -- mostly vocals, but fast or slow my playing was fluid and amazing. I'm not trying to toot my horn here, but I didn't seem to have any problems at all getting through the tunes. It was truely like using someone else's hands.

I don't know if there is a lesson to be learned here, but I have found that I tend to worry about things I can't do anything about. I have also found that somehow, when it counts, I seem to have the ability stored away somewhere to get the job done.

I think this is the reason I don't don't hit range balls before I go to the first tee at the golf course. I have had too many instances where the range balls were going in every direction, and as a result, I didn't have any idea where to aim on the first tee. Better to just step up and see what happens.

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Updated Dec-29-2012 at 11:30pm by fredfrank



  1. dawgmike94's Avatar
    I can identify some with you here: I think it may have something to do with adrenaline...maybe.
  2. fredfrank's Avatar
    Mostly, I think my problem is advancing age and a family tendency for arthritits. If I can avoid the high-speed tunes, I'll continue to play as long as I can play in time, and produce a good tone. After that -- well, we'll see. =^)
    Updated Dec-31-2012 at 5:56pm by fredfrank