Question about the future of our group....

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  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I posted this in the Poll this week, and am also posting it here.

    And now, a moment about this great group. We've been going, mostly strong, long enough for this to be week #433. That's over 8 years... hard to believe. And not only that, but we have approximately 1300 OTHER tunes that have been submitted, most have at least one video, many have many videos. I've noticed for a while now, that while our poll has many views, our voters are sliding WAY down, and our submissions of videos on our Tune of the Week, has also slowed way down. Are we reaching the event horizon? Are we running out of tunes? Do any of our members have any suggestions as to keeping this group alive? I don't really think it's because a week is too short to learn and video a tune.... along with the fact that it's summer, and people are generally busier in the summer, I think it's because we have almost 2000 tunes/songs, already done in our group! Do you think that we should just quit having Official Tune of the Week, with a poll, and go for just Other Tunes, where interested members continue to learn the tune of their choice, video it, and submit it? I'm open to suggestions! I do travel quite a bit, and so there are times when I am not johnny on the spot, putting up the polls, or announcing the winner, or updating the Table of Contents, but I do my best! It's not that I'm tired of keeping this group going.... but, if we dwindle down to very little participation, I wonder if I should! Now, I also know that there are a few people still voting, and the beauty of this group, in theory, is that a person can learn the new tune, utilizing the videos I might find, and the notation I might find, and never film themselves doing it or submit it. And that's ok. It's all about learning new stuff... right? So, if THAT is still something positive, I'm OK with keeping this thing going, as long as I have tune suggestions to populate a poll! If you have any input for me, on this question, you can give me your suggestions here, or you can shoot me a private message.
  2. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Compared to the kind of traffic we used to get here in the earlier years of the group the downturn is pretty noticeable - some tunes of the week get zero submissions or only one or two. That in turn leads to not being motivated to post a video because it seems like no one else will or no one is interested in viewing the video at all. Over at the Banjo Hangout Irish 4 string sub forum they do a Tune of the Month, and it too gets low participation compared to the amount of people who are active in that sub forum. Maybe our group could move towards being a "Tune Share" type thing where folks post a tune, including links to ABC's/Tab/Notation, and provide other examples of it found on YouTube including their own? That way other members can chime in with their own versions to add to the thread too.
  3. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    It is obvious that this group has seen better days. Even though there is no shortage of cool tune tunes to learn, there does seem to be quite a lack of participation in the tune suggestions and the polls. I think it's probably time to say goodbye to the weekly polls and tunes of the week and leave the group members free to post "other" tunes when the need arises. It has been a great run and quite a body of work.
  4. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Thanks for the input. I did get a reply in the poll, saying that he was one of the people who is learning from the group, but not posting anything.

    I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that if just Jill and David would keep posting videos, we would ALL be happy, and learning, and envious!
  5. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Cheers Barbara, you're too kind! I've got a new toy now in the form of a Mid-Mo mandola that a friend gave me. Needs a new bridge (which Mike D. is sending me today!) and new strings, then I'll be doing some videos with it!
  6. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    It would be a shame to abandon the tune a week concept altogether as it provides a challenge to tackle tunes which you might not otherwise have considered or even heard of; but a new one every week is hard to keep up with and I would not be unhappy with tune a fortnight or tune a month.
  7. Gelsenbury
    I don't think the group is running out of tunes. It may be running out of regular contributors. Of the 1,385 registered members, how many still visit the Mandolin Cafe site, let alone this group? And, as you say, not everyone who visits and learns from this group also posts their own sound or video files here.

    It may be the case that the more experienced members are now beginning to tire of being the only ones to post, whereas the less gifted among us are perhaps embarrassed to show their efforts, not keeping up with the pace or quality of playing, or assuming (perhaps falsely) that the "basic repertoire" tunes at the top of the priority list will seem dull to the regular contributors. Before any decisions are made about the future of this group, I think we should have an honest conversation about why members aren't participating.

    Speaking for myself, there are some general problems with my mandolin playing and some specific ones to do with this group. The general problem is that having a baby doesn't limit practice time too much ... but having a toddler really does! I'm really struggling to find time to rehearse familiar tunes at the moment, let alone learn new ones or record something. That explains most of my personal lack of participation, but has no implications for the group.

    The specific issues to do with this group, for me, are the pace and the selection of tunes. A tune a week is not achievable for me, and even a tune a month pushes the boundaries. With no hope to contribute "on time", of course, the danger is that any contribution at all gets kicked into the very long grass. This is currently the case for me for several tunes that already have existing threads.

    As for the tune selection, I check the current poll whenever I visit the forum. But a common experience is that I know none of the tunes, have no clear favourite, and end up not voting. The list of suggestions always looks pretty full to me, so I don't settle down to make suggestions either ... which, of course, is only (in)visible as non-participation from your perspective.

    What are the implications? First, rest assured that the group is appreciated, even loved, even by those who don't post for whatever reason. Second, I promise to try to be more active. Third, perhaps a lower frequency (a tune a month, or perhaps alternating "standards" and "originals") would encourage more participation. Fourth, I think feedback is extremely important to less expert players. The prospect of some encouragement and constructive criticism is a great motivator, so perhaps this "thought-sharing" as well as the "tune-sharing" aspect of the group could be rediscovered.

    And, again, let's find out more about the reasons why people are registered but not posting ...
  8. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    As one of the regulars who post in this group I too have wondered for some time about the future direction of the format. It was this very forum which launched my forays into YouTube back in 2009, and I am forever grateful for it giving me the impetus to keep playing and posting and for finding such a fine group of like-minded players (those I'd call the Regulars) with whom I have exchanged comments and even, in the case of Michael Pastucha (sadly missed for some time now around here -what are you doing, MP?) we made a collaboration video across 6000 miles of land and sea when we recorded The Furrows End. My big weakness is that I tend to be very attached to things Scottish in my playing and when I see Bluegrass offerings I will usually turn away from that week. My problem, not that of the group and I acknowledge that there are many, many more registered names in the group from outside the UK, and especially from Scotland. I'd hate to see the group fold.

    Many of the tunes have over the past several months had very few voters bothering to register votes for the weekly choice; why might this be the case? Is it simple apathy? Is it the summer season making other demends on our time? Is it an unfamilarity with the tunes on the voting list? Is it, as has been said already in this thread, the pressure of not being able to get the tune, learn it and record it within the week? Probably all of those in some measure and maybe even something else completely!

    Perhaps the way forward is to become a Tune-A-Month forum - a TAM rather than a SAW? Perhaps even drop the specified tune and simply have tunes (The Other Tunes lists) which folk want to post, with music and links, so that those of us who want to learn, or just listen to new or unfamiliar material will be able to continue enjoying the forum in our own ways.

    Whatever happens, we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Barbara who has managed this group so well for so long, and often managing to post while on the move and away from her computer. Thanks from all of us, Barbara.

    Now, what's the next new tune?
  9. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Thanks for the input. I know that life gets in the way of doing things we want to do! I truly am here for the duration, whatever that may be. What we have accomplished these last 8 years, is mind-boggling! I will make a plea, here, for some more tune suggestions for the polls. And, if you are so inclined to make some suggestions, and if you have the time, it would be great if you could just check the tune against one that has already been a tune of the week. It's ok if it's already been an "Other Tune". And, if you could include the genre of the tune. I try to populate the polls with a variety of genre, so as to interest as many people as possible.

    I am so thankful for those faithful regular members... both those that contribute videos, and those that are active with their comments, suggestions, and encouragement of others. If we can have at least a few people (even just one) who puts up a video for the tune of the week, I feel like it was a success. After all, it's about learning the tunes, and there are likely many people out there learning these tunes, that don't put up a video. And, like I said, those people who take the time to watch the video, and make some comment... those are very important, too!

    What gets me, is when we have a winner in the poll, and then there is no one who makes a video, or even comments! How about, if there is a tune that is the winner, and you like it and are attempting to learn it, but don't feel like putting up a video, if you would at least comment on it, and talk about it!

    I agree with John's assessment of when a genre wins, that isn't your thing. I am not a bluegrass player (I love to listen to it, but it's not what I play). So, when a BG tune wins... that's it for me, till the next week.

    Wait, you're probably thinking... Barbara, we hardly EVER see you submit a video anymore, and that's true. Many times, I do work on the tune of the week (if it's not BG, haha), but rarely to the point that I video it and upload it. Several years ago, I'm not sure when, whatever changes I made to my computer, the program that I would use to edit my videos stopped working. I've found a work around, and can still video, and edit it to some degree, but I usually don't make the effort. My bad!
  10. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Yes, as John says, we owe a huge thank you to Barbara for keeping this going for so long! In general many of the other social groups have little or no activity compared to the sustained activity the SAW had for so long. Like John, I have a bias regarding tunes I play and like to learn (irish trad as if you all didn't already know!). From my standpoint there are so many tunes to learn in the tradition, I limit myself to ones that really speak to me. Regarding Gelsenbury's post which mentions how feedback on playing would be appreciated when vids are posted, I think that would work if it was specifically in the group's description so that folk knew and anticipated it and welcomed it. There's a group on FB for irish tenor banjo enthusiasts and we're lucky to have many professional players who participate and give wonderful feedback regarding people's playing and technique. Stuff that not just the person who posted the video learns from, but also other members learn from. The difference is that it is one of the specific goals of that group, whereas if people weren't aware of it and got feedback they might take umbrage at it, or feel self conscious about it, thus putting them off posting again. Of course all that could be circumvented by simply adding "any and all feedback regarding my playing/technique welcome" when you put a video up for the group.
  11. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    One of the greatest things about this group is that it has always, in my experience, been a place for positive comment and encouragement. No one minds helpful comment or suggestions, and when several of us post our versions of the tune, we are giving the others, whether players or just browsers, the chance to think about how to try to make the tune your own, by embellishments, tempo, backing tracks where included in the video, etc. I have often listened to one of the tunes and thought, "I really like the way that player presented the tune, and I'd like to try that way too."
    Waiting for Bertram's words of wisdom now!
  12. JL277z

    I'm thinking this group would be more active and get more participation, if it was moved to the main forum where people could find it more easily.

    Put all the tune threads into the already-existing "Song and Tune Projects" category. That category is already described as "A place to collectively work on music/tunes, etc."

    But the way the groups are right now, hidden in sub-links with the word "Social" in it, new people probably think it's just some Facebook social nonsense and skip it entirely. I know that's what I did, for a long time - I saw the word "social", thought of Facebook, I don't do Facebook, did not click link.

    As others have already said, make it Tune-A-Month or just participants'-choice Other Tunes.

    I'd also like to see the social-group software upgraded to be on par with the main MandolinCafe forum software, instead of this clunky awkward system we have here (they must be running on different servers or something, not sure).

    There are a lot of things that we can do out on the main MandolinCafe forums, that we *can't* do here.

    For instance, features that the main forum has, that the social groups do *not* have:

    - Quotes. Currently, this social group allows only clumsy time-consuming manual copy/paste and manual formatting, like I sometimes use in my posts here. I can do the manual-workaround thing on PC, but it's too tedious to bother with when using a phone.

    - A way to 'subscribe' or get email notifications of replies to threads that you've posted in. That way if someone has a question or comment, you won't miss it. They have it on the main forums, so why can't we have it here too?

    - Lists. This post itself would be easier to read if I could use normal bulleted-list or numbered-list formatting instead of being limited to plain ol' paragraphs.

    - Attachments for sheetmusic PDF's etc. Currently, social group attachments are via an awkward other webpage post-then-copy-and-paste-to-a-different-post procedure. I don't know about everyone else, but for me I can never remember how to use it without having to reinvent the wheel each time.

    - Stickies. Posts that automatically stay at the top of the list. It's so 1990s to expect the forum admin to have to tediously 'bump' each and every important thread to keep them at the top of the list. Isn't software supposed to make people's lives easier? So, where *is* that software, why don't we have it here? It exists in the main MandolinCafe forum, but not the social groups. Hmm...

    I suppose I shouldn't complain, lest some impatient web designer tell me to go start my own forum if I don't like it so much. I don't want to start my own, I think this one is good, but the social-groups' software functionality could use some improvements.

    The short version is, it's not very often that I see tunes up for vote that I'd be interested in (or capable of) playing, especially in only a week - some of the more complicated tunes are interesting but it's difficult to come up with halfway-acceptable playing (especially multi-track where I have to learn the backing as well as the melody) when rushed for time.

    I'm not a pro, I don't hear something once and then 5 minutes later play it like a virtuoso. I do better when I take my time to first spend about a week just *listening* to the tune before even picking up an instrument.

    As to why I don't *suggest* tunes:

    (1) I didn't realize it was an option - I thought they were still working on backlogs of tune suggestions from way back, and

    (2) Most of the time I wouldn't know what to suggest anyway. Kinda hard to suggest what I don't even know exists.

    John Kelly wrote: "... One of the greatest things about this group is that it has always, in my experience, been a place for positive comment and encouragement."


    That might be one reason to keep it hidden here in sub-links in a sort of safe sheltered cove, instead of out on the main forum swimming with the sharks who aren't always as nice with their comments and criticisms.

    But if that 'safety' comes at the cost of a group that dwindles to nothing, then it'd be better to deal with it more positively in some other way.
  13. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    JL277z ~ That's a lot of input!

    As far as where this is on Mandolin Cafe, and how it is handled on the website... that's all out of my control. Eight years ago, Mandolin cafe decided to open up something they called "social groups" and invited people to start some groups. I can't remember exactly what made me start this one... probably from some discussion on a regular forum, and it just took off. The "Social Groups" function within the cafe, does operate differently than the regular forum.... but as I said, that's not in my control in any way. As I remember, the social groups was a function that was available in the php website program, that Scott Tichenor (our webmaster!) had available to him, and he decided to give it a try. I don't know how all that works, but the way the website is put together, the social groups operate differently from the regular forum.

    Tune Suggestions... now that you know you can suggest tunes to be voted upon, please do. If you read the description at the top of this group, it does say "There is a discussion called "Poll Tune Suggestions" where you can suggest tunes for me to add to the poll list." You can add your suggestions to the list itself, and I will put them in the suggestions list, or you can send me a private message. Agreed, if you don't know tunes to suggest, you can hardly suggest them... but we do have plenty of people who do know lots of tunes... I'll depend on them to keep suggesting them!

    Time: Tune of the Month, rather than tune of the week. That's always an option, but I personally don't think it's the reason that we've dwindled with participation. It isn't that you have to learn every tune, and it isn't that you have to learn it in a week. It's not like there's just a one week window to upload your contribution! Also, while we have some awesomely talented people, who multi-track, add awesome video, etc... that is just icing on the cake. Just take a look at any of Jill McAuley's videos. Just her, playing her instrument. No fancy pictures, no backing, no multi-tracking. And everyone loves it when she participates! And we have quite a number of members who contribute the same way. Most of mine are the same way. A long time ago, I submitted some with multi-tracks, but not many. I've also submitted quite a few, where I am obviously playing way slower than you would in performance... and many people have remarked how nice it was to have something slow they could learn from. I think that's another beauty of this group... the variety of videos... from almost professional videos, to rank amateur...

    Finding the group: The poll is listed in the Song and Tunes Project, and since I put a new poll up almost every week, it's pretty much always close to the top. That poll clearly indicates where you should go, to participate in the social group, with a link every week, that takes you right to the group. It's not uncommon for the poll to have 500 views (this week's poll has 322 views, and has been up for 4 days), so people are finding the poll, and viewing it...
  14. dustyamps
    I value the library of tunes collected here over the years and the contributions from everyone and revisit tunes quite a bit. Though I rarely contribute, I'm behind the scenes listening.
  15. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    To learn a new tune within one week has always been ambitious, and I have always relied on the leniency around here to come late for official tunes and to come up with "other" tunes.

    To me, the once-a-week engine is more of a grandfather clock idly ticking away peaceful relaxation, not the tight schedule I have to measure success against; those sporting days of The Challenge when we had to drink a glass of whisky first and then record a take (expecting worse results with every new take) are long gone. I have learnt a lot of both official and other tunes here, but time is always mine, I record when I feel ready to play set lead under session conditions. Nevertheless, the grandfather clock shouldn't stop, because of the immense peace it creates. It would even work if the tunes would be automatically selected from, say, the O'Neill's Collection (would go a long way, too).

    I agree that this is kind of a sanctuary away from the Great Cafe. I wouldn't say you're swimming with sharks out there - that's reserved for even more outside worlds (the Cafe itself is a sanctuary), but it's more cosy here, like a small tent kids built in their parents' back yard.

    We don't have a lack of action. We are the action. And sometimes we pause here for a quick breather to "relax after a hard day's relaxation at the Cafe" (that's a shameless mashup of a Douglas Adams quote, but I couldn't stop).
  16. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    So, looks like we continue with SAW as it is at present, with the hard core of regular activists and the many more browsers who come along to listen, enjoy and gain from this group. As long as Barbara has the srive to keep things going there are enough of us to make the group worthwhile.
    An interesting point about the types of videos we post has been made by Barbara. I am one of those posters who enjoys making wee videos and trying to match music and visuals, and I also post clips where only the instrument is on display in front of a headless body. It is very largely the SAW group which gets me to make the effort with many of the clips I have loaded on YouTube and I had not really thought about the usefulness of this plain, single-track unaccompanied version (as Jill regularly posts) being of real use to those who may be using the group as a means of learning.
  17. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I absolutely love the videos that are productions! And I love the ones that are as simple as can be. If one has the ability, and the time, to make a video production, I say, please do! But, if all of that is way beyond your capability, or your time limits, a quick phone video is just as valuable!
  18. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Another thing that has come to me. I believe that there are many, many members who are 'lurkers' (the commonly used term, but I don't think they really ARE lurkers, haha!).... those that visit our group, read the posts and comments, learn (at at least play through) the tune, be it a Tune of the Week, or an Other Tune. And never make their presence known. Maybe, just maybe (and I am totally guilty of being very close to who I just described), if those people who are enjoying the group, took just a second to make some comments, it would encourage dialogue, which in turn, increases interest and participation. And, it would make it more visible to me, and the other members, that we DO have more than just the handful of regular video contributors.

    And, I appreciate everyone's appreciation of me... but I want to give a BIG THANK YOU, to that handful of regular video participants (and even to those of you irregular video participants!) Without someone, even just one of you, taking the time and effort to record yourself playing a tune, and getting it here in the discussion, we'd be nowhere!
  19. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    A few more thoughts..... As I was posting the winner, putting up a new poll, and working on the table of contents... it occurred to me, in reply to JL277z's post above, that yes, while it is clunky and manual, and I know that there are functions of websites that can be more programmed automatically.... and it may not be the easiest place to find, hidden in the social groups... but maybe that contributes to it's appeal, as Bertram points out. You guys know that it's not automated... that I've got to make the time to sit at my computer (or my phone, when I'm traveling), and interact with you! I am terribly guilty of not doing much more here, than keeping it running, for the past bunch of months..... When I'm doing all that traveling, when I get where I'm going, I'm usually surrounded by a pack of grandkids... which is heaven on earth... but takes up a lot of my time!

    Another thing.... and I truly appreciate those of you who take a moment to make a comment on other's discussions.... I believe that if we just get a little more active, if not in posting videos, then at least, in making your presence known... we might just give this group a little pep!
  20. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    That's a good point you make, B. A group can only be as good as its members. You might be the team captain, to use a sporting analogy, but the team has to perform together to have any success.
  21. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Thanks to Barbara and all the contributors to this group. You all really helped me at a time when I was returning to the mandolin after nearly 20 years off music. I've been exposed to so many different types of music and some really great tunes. The days when the submissions were coming thick and fast on a daily basis seem to be over alas and I'm part of that drop off over the last few years. Why? Well there is competition from Facebook and Jill has already mentioned the tenor banjo group we are both members of. It's for the reasons Jill mentioned about have more specifically focussed groups but also Facebook is an easier medium to interact with. I'm middle aged and was dragged into Facebook, kicking and screaming, only because it was the only way of I could keep in touch with what was going on in our local Irish music scene. I get feeds from Facebook on my phone, and I can record a video on my phone and have it uploaded to a group in minutes. It's daft things like the "like" button on Facebook which allows the lurkers to interact and give some direction to the group about what folks want. I know this may seem like a poor excuse but I think it does explain some of the traffic away from web forums in general.
    More specifically about the weekly tunes here I think to engage a whole new "generation" you would need to wipe the slate clean and start again with the bluegrass and Irish trad classics that people want to learn. To be honest the weekly poll has become a bit esoteric - some great tunes but folks starting on the journey of wanting to engage in a weekly group, learning tunes are going to want to do "whiskey before" and the "kesh jig". I'm sure those of us that already know these tunes would dust them down and contribute and you'd get a whole new generation of folks learning these tunes. At the moment it seems neither the old hands or the next generation want to learn the tunes on offer.
    So I'm sorry I haven't been able to keep up my contributions here, and I feel guilty after all the encouragement I've had from the group, but make Cooley's reel next week's tune and I'll contribute
  22. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I have thought about just starting back at Week #1.... and redoing the tunes again! Always an option!
  23. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Ha! Let's do a Deja-vue social group Or Gopher's Week...
  24. Kay Kirkpatrick
    Kay Kirkpatrick
    Barbara has encouraged us to start commenting on the submissions or just the tunes themselves, so I will do that. This group should continue; I can't be the only one it has motivated to play/learn more tunes. I am grateful for that motivation alone. And unlike the 'greater cafe' I have found the commenters in SAW to always be patient, forgiving and encouraging.
  25. luurtie
    I don't think it is strange that there are less people attracted to this group. The most popular mandolintunes were about the first 200 tunes. I guess bluegrass is a popular genre for the mandolin and we're not doing a lot of bluegrasstunes anymore. If starting all over again is the right way I don't know, there are enough tunes left and maybe we have to motivate new mandolinplayers to post in the older weeks. There is only one problem and it is said before, finding tunes en searching in this forum is too difficult. The engine might be too old and needs an upgrade.
  26. bbcee
    maybe we have to motivate new mandolinplayers to post in the older weeks.

    Luurtie, We're doing exactly that over in another sheltered cove, the Newbies Social Group. We do them as Song of the Month (being newbies and all, we've got a longer learning curve!
  27. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    luurtie.... I know nothing about how this website works (search engine, etc)... I just manage this little group! But, as far as searching for tunes in this forum... here's the best way I know... (and if anyone knows any other way, please chime in!)

    In the top right corner of every page in the cafe, is a link to "ADVANCED SEARCH" There are two basic search options, Single Content Type, and Multiple Content Type. You can search from either of these. I didn't even ever realize there were two ways... mine just opens up to "Multiple" and I would choose "Group Messages" (since we are a group, and I want to search this group), and type in the name of the tune.

    Another way, would be to go to the table of contents discussions (Official Tune of the Week and Other Tunes), and then just use your computers search function, and it should find the tune, if it's there!

    I'm not sure how to encourage people to post in the older weeks. I'm not sure if anyone ever reads the description of the group, at the top of the page (I would hope that especially NEW people, just getting here, would take a moment to read it....)

    Welcome! Every week we'll have an official Tune of the Week. This will be a great way to learn new tunes, show off skills, and see others at work. All skill levels & genre are welcome!

    We also accept submissions of tunes other than the Song of the Week. If you've got a favorite tune, please submit it, with the name of the tune as the subject of a new discussion.

    Start by finding & reading the post "New to Our Social Group? ~ Read Me First!"

    We have three 'TABLE of CONTENTS' discussions with links to the discussions. I try to keep these discussions on the first page of discussions. There is a discussion called "Poll Tune Suggestions" where you can suggest tunes for me to add to the poll list.

    Search through the different tunes already posted, and please submit your videos & mp3's on any tunes posted, whether it's a song of the week, or one of the other tunes!

    You can find the weekly poll in the regular forum part of the Cafe, under "Song and Tune Projects"
  28. luurtie
    Hello Barbara I think you always did a wonderful job with this group, and hope it doesn't stop existing. I agree that everything does work on this forum, but maybe it should be a bit more intuitive. I'm not a software guru, but maybe an expert could take a look at it. Anyway , it's fine by me. I just wish it would become a bit more popular.

    bbcee, thanks for your comment, it's nice forum but another one. Do the experienced players frustrate the beginners? Why aren't they in this group, maybe the should be here too.

    Thank you Barbara and bbcee
  29. JL277z
    luurtie wrote: "... Do the experienced players frustrate the beginners? Why aren't they in this group, maybe the should be here too."

    I've wondered about that too.

    I have to admit that I have three conflicting feelings when I hear someone who plays better than me, which is often:

    1. "Wow, that's awesome, I gotta learn to play that." (picks up instrument and sets about trying to learn it)

    2. "Hmmph, I'll never be that good, they've already played it perfectly, what could I possibly contribute that would be worthwhile."

    3. "That's beautiful, but I don't need to learn to play it for myself, I'd rather just listen to them play it."

    When someone else's excellent version *does* inspire me to try to learn a tune, it might be that I have an idea for a different combination of instruments, or a different key etc, just to see how it turns out. Often as not, I'm unable to come up with a version of my own that I like, so that tune gets shuffled off to the back-burner (or off the stove completely - I'm pretty handy at hitting the computer-keyboard key that flings my files into the digital Recycle Bin).

    I'd say that of the tunes I've attempt to learn the last few years, there's probably only 1 out of every couple dozen tunes where I'm able to actually do anything with the tune, to where I can stand to listen to it that is (I'm much more critical of my own playing that I am of anyone else's playing). Anyway even the tunes that don't turn out so good are (usually) still fun to try, one probably learns something from each endeavor even if the tune doesn't turn into a 'keeper'. I sort of have to be really into a tune, have a 'feel' for the rhythm etc, otherwise when I play it it's just an exercise and won't sound very good.

    One thing I like about this Song A Week group, is that it *is* about learning. As a result, people don't get called out or hollered at for posting a work-in-progress or something that isn't Nashville-slick studio quality or whatever. That makes it much more conducive to being able to relax enough to actually learn stuff.
  30. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I can completely understand about the many reasons that people don't submit a video. And, really, it's not only about how many people get to the point that they make a video. As long as at least one or two people do, and others make their presence known by making comments, I'm good! So, if you aren't going to make a video, but you are following the discussion, or giving the tune a try, or even just enjoying the videos that others post.. please take a moment to make a comment, and let us know you are out there utilizing this great resource!
  31. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Let the voters decide if they'd like to revisit a tune... maybe once a month just have a 'Retro Week" where only old tunes already covered are choices in the poll. Or just stick in a tune already covered, along with two new ones in the SAW poll every week. If there is interest in revisiting a tune it would come out in the voting. Any thoughts?
  32. Brian560
    I am new to the group. I like the idea of a tune-a-week because it is a challenge, and I like the voting because it helps give some involvement and familiarity. For new comers the problem is that the only way to find out what the group is abut is by scrolling through the posts. It takes a while to get used to the format:there is no introduction that explains what the group is about.
  33. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    "More specifically about the weekly tunes here I think to engage a whole new "generation" you would need to wipe the slate clean and start again with the bluegrass and Irish trad classics that people want to learn. To be honest the weekly poll has become a bit esoteric - some great tunes but folks starting on the journey of wanting to engage in a weekly group, learning tunes are going to want to do "whiskey before" and the "kesh jig". I'm sure those of us that already know these tunes would dust them down and contribute and you'd get a whole new generation of folks learning these tunes. At the moment it seems neither the old hands or the next generation want to learn the tunes on offer."

    I copied this for pasting as I read, then saw that bbcee had already beat me to my comment; he's always on the ball

    Yes, the Newbies Group began doing this, just following your Tune of the Week list, but for us it is a "Newbies Tune of the Month". While there may be different skill levels in the Newbies Group, we have in common that we consider ourselves new to mandolin, from "just got my Rogue yesterday" to "been learning a couple years now". A mandolin newb can be a long-time musician who just falls in love with a "new and different" instrument, or she can be someone who is picking up their very first instrument late in life.

    This all may sound like too much discussion of another group, but I just wanted to thank Barbara and everyone else who participates here for going before us so that we have a list to follow and discussion to read & submissions to view from this group.

    As to this group, I found it and Barbara's other group through her signature in the poll thread in the main forum back when I got involved at the Cafe. I joined the group a while back, but never posted here. I give myself a lot of musical homework, which is a great joy, but for me it seemed that active participation in this group would require a lot more homework - reading up to get to know the group, keeping up with new song each week, making suggestions, voting, etc. - and then there's the thing about being a mandolin beginner and very hesitant to post a video here. It seemed to me that a newbies group would be better for a newbie, and it has been a great blessing to be involved there.

    This thread is a blessing in itself, because it is like checking one's temperature. It makes me want to spend more time in this group, and perhaps try my hand at some of the tunes here after a couple years of learning. Is it kosher to add videos to tunes from 8 years ago?
  34. JL277z
    Mark Gunter wrote: "... Is it kosher to add videos to tunes from 8 years ago? ..."

    I think that would be a *good* thing, because it keeps the threads relevant and useful.

    That's just my opinion though, not sure what the official stance is.

    Oh, and by the way, Welcome! Hope to see more of your, and other Newbies members, posts here.
  35. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Is it kosher to add videos to tunes from 8 years ago?

    If this group is a cruise ship, I've always rowed along in a boat, sometimes crossing the wake of official tunes years later. There is no problem with that. You don't have to keep up with a schedule - where would the fun be in that?
  36. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    This group was my greatest learning tool for years. Practicing totally unknown tunes until I was able to post an acceptable recording has been invaluable for my development.
    This all happened in solitary confinement in my study at a time when I had never played with other people.
    Now that I am going to (mostly) Bluegrass jams in Northern Virginia almost every week I am just too busy learning to improvise, playing faster ...
    Yes, for quite a while I have wished that this group was more like "a new tune every other week" so I would be able to post more frequently again. Many times I have pulled up the notation and played through new tunes on the weekends. As my ambition has grown, however, I have often discarded recordings that I just thought were not good enough.
    In the past few years I have learned and played tunes for our jams that are also on our list of contents. I am determined to record some of them soon, even if they were on here years ago.
    A side effect of our recordings is of course that one can become a YouTube celebrity
    I was at a mandolin camp two years ago. I was walking along the campus when somebody called out: You are Manfred, I know you from the Mandolin Cafe.
    Come what may, I am very happy to have been part of this group, where I have - virtually - met so many fine musicians and friendly people.
  37. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Not only is it kosher, it is encouraged. If you're new to the group please refer to this introduction.

    New to our Social Group? ~ Read Me First!!

    It's always somewhere on the first page!
  38. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Thanks again for your input! Realizing that there is a wide range of genre out there, I've tried to populate the polls with a variety of genre to choose from.

    In reply to Brian560, if you notice at the top of the main page for this group, there is a basic introduction and explanation as to how this group operates. In it, as Michael just pointed out, I do mention that there is a LONG discussion that was started in the beginning (so some of the info is dated), as to how best to participate in the group... New to our Social Group? ~ Read Me First!

    If you just cruise through the most recent discussions, you will see that our members revisit old tunes quite frequently, and also revisit 'other tunes' that have been submitted over the years. That is one of the reasons that I strive to keep the Table of Contents updated (oops better go update them), and near the top of the discussions, and to have them be clickable links. This isn't a contest to see if you can learn a tune in a week, well enough that you can submit a video. As I said before, we have discussions for thousands of 'other' tunes, and are on week 437 for 'official tunes. Join the group, search through the table of contents and find some tunes you'd like to learn. It doesn't matter if it's this week, or from 5 years ago! Comment on it, learn it, submit a video... if you comment or submit a video, it moves it back up to the current discussions. If you are new to this group, I urge you to look through the tunes we've already covered. Like I said, if you comment at all on any discussion, it moves it back up to the top... so if you find something you'd like to learn, make a comment (such as "I want to learn this tune.... is there anyone else out there that wants to revisit it?"), and it will come back up to the top, and others will notice it.

    My main point is that I want to know that people are still out there utilizing this group. It's a great group of people, and a huge amount of tunes that we have covered, a great learning tool for those just starting out, or wanting to expand their repertoire.
  39. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Encouraging to see just how commited Barbara is to this group, especially as she has a lot of other commitments and travel time. I'd like to think it is now more solidly safe than before all the recent discussion was started, and it is good to see so many folk responding, not only the core of regulars but also those who have admitted to being interested though they may not have posted their own videos. Perhaps some of you will have been encouraged enough to take part and submit your efforts - I know I have gone from having no YouTube presence a few years ago to having now got 105 videos posted there, very largely as a result of the SAW group. I feel I have not only contributed, but have learned a great deal from the other posters, and maybe someone has got something from my postings too.
  40. Tosh Marshall
    Tosh Marshall
    Many congratulations Barbara on 8 years of keeping this group going, it is a rich and valuable resource and one I am guilty of not contributing too for a while, mainly due to pressures of work. I for one gained a lot by learning tunes and posting and I feel it is a must to keep going. This is the place to go when you are starting and no matter what your level, it is the place to get over the phobia of posting a vid and feeling you have accomplished a feat, no matter what your standard is. It is an education in itself to be a member here. I feel ashamed to have neglected this great resource and will try my best to start posting again, rusty as I am.........As John has pointed out, it is a great community of people who you can collaborate with and share ideas and more importantly, learn from. I will work on the Bransle and do a vid......the least I can do.......
  41. Al Trujillo
    Al Trujillo
    I've been playing for a little over two years and though I've never contributed to it, I do visit because it is an incredibly rich resource.

    I was a member of MC for over a year before I 'stumbled' on this site so, obviously, it is well hidden and not very easy to find. Anything the group can do to increase its presence on MC would probably be a big help. How about a banner someplace on the front page?

    I've found Scott to be approachable about improving his website and I see he hasn't commented on this thread, which started over a month ago. Might give him a try??

    On a personal note, I would hate to see this group fade into nothingness.
  42. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Again, thanks for all the input. I don't think this group is going to fade into nothingness anytime soon. I can't tell how many people view this group, but based on the amount of views the polls get, I have to believe that there are many more people who utilize this group, than actively participate, and I'm good with that!
  43. lmartnla
    This is my favorite spot on the net and I visit it almost daily. The fine musicians with outgoing personalities that have posted here for years and contributed tunes so new to me are like old friends of great value. Posting a video is for me quite intimidating however. This is not a criticism, but a confession of my shame. My sloppy playing and unfamiliarity of technology have kept me from posting as I was once characterized as the most introverted person at least one guru had ever met. Please do not shut it down. I know I am not alone in begging this. This site is a treasure.
  44. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    I'm an irregular lurker (and I'm awfully tempted to get a t-shirt that says so). But this forum means a lot to me; I've learned many tunes, and put many more away in a "to be learned someday" binder. I've contributed a few videos, and I've always found it to be a warm and encouraging environment. I'm going to try to get more involved, even if it's only to post appreciative comments to other people's contributions. And thanks to everyone for keeping it going!
  45. Nick Gellie
    Nick Gellie
    Barbara, I would suggest adding a new tune once every 2-4 weeks. For some of us we are learning other tunes which are our favourites. These could be added to the list of suggestions for polling. We could then support you more.
  46. Anglocelt
    Hi Barbara, I have just discovered the SAW group and I have been a Café member for 10 years! More like a shirker than a lurker. Will I contribute? Well there are 1300 tunes already in the archive (is it an archive - can I search it?) and that list will keep me plenty busy for a long time before I think of contributing. As a 'mature' member I find I spend most time relearning tunes I thought I knew and could play years ago. I do like learning new tunes but the relearning process takes up more and more of my practice time as I reload the memory bank for impending sessions. I sometimes think I should give up on learning new ones to free up head space but I am a sucker for new tunes so I will now look out for the SAW postings although I can't promise to upload my own material any time soon. Keep up the good work!
  47. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Welcome to the group, Anglocelt! Please read the discussion "New to Our Social Group? ~ Read Me First!!", as it will give you a lot of information as to how best utilize and participate in the group.

    There are three Table of Contents discussions, and they contain clickable links to the discussions. Any time you find a tune/discussion, and you make a comment on it, it brings it back up to the top of the discussion list. You can contribute to any tune discussion, at any time! You can comment on it, or submit your video.
  48. fatt-dad
    SAW is a wonderful place! You all have listed great tunes and the performances are great!

    My interactions; however are never on time. . . Maybe a few weeks (months) after all the excitement, I'll get something up there. It's fun, but often by then the contribution is unlikely to get comment. I'm okay with that, but timeliness seems important to the regulars, who by then are on to the next tune.

    I've had lots of fun over the years as a minor contributor.

    I'm amazed on a weekly basis all the hard work by Barbara! Very well done!

  49. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Anglocelt: "I sometimes think I should give up on learning new ones to free up head space but I am a sucker for new tunes "

    I know this approach, and it is like a new year's resolution to give up smoking, a little folded paper boat in a storm. It's far too late to give up now.
  50. JL277z
    Jill McAuley wrote: "Compared to the kind of traffic we used to get here in the earlier years of the group the downturn is pretty noticeable - ... no one is interested in viewing the video at all."


    In fact, I have achieved a new World's Record Low number of views, on a Christmas tune yet... Song-a-Week 451 - Angels We Have Heard On High:

    5 views in almost 7 days now. (Stats show 7 views, but 2 of those were me checking to see if the video uploaded ok, after logging out & clearing cache/cookies/history.)

    Ok yeah I know my music is sucky sometimes, and I use instruments that others might sneer at (it's what I can afford), but 5 views in a week is definitely a new low. I thought that particular video was ok, for a "just learning it" piece anyway.

    Just not enough traffic here at Song-a-Week.

    Looks like for those of us who do not fluff up our view count (whether intentionally or not) via Facebook etc (I don't do Facebook and I have no intention of ever doing so - my friends are in real life and most of them don't use internet at all, yeah there are still people like that lol), and who don't already have thousands of YouTube subscribers [footnote below], just aren't going to get a lot of views on these kinds of tunes.

    Although around 20-50 views would be more normal in earlier recent times, but this new low of 5 is [insert choice of unprintable words] ridiculous.

    Of course, views are not everything. If even one person derives some benefit from a video (even if I'm unaware), then it was worth making the video. But nevertheless having low view counts is not exactly inspiring to make more videos.

    Seems like overall interest in Song-a-Week went up temporarily after Barbara did some main-forum promotion a few months ago (thanks Barbara!), people dropped in to take a look but apparently they didn't stick around very long.

    (And yet still there are longtime posters in the main forums who have no clue that SAW exists. Maybe they don't read much or aren't inquisitive enough to poke around in the site's menus?)

    For those who do discover Song-a-Week, I still think the lower-quality software (compared to the better software in the main forums) is an impediment to having people stick around at Song-a-Week. They're trying to learn a new tune, then they find they also have to learn a clunky new system of posting files too (to post PDF's, pictures etc). But I suppose nothing can be done about that, "it is what it is." Shame to see a forum dwindle though.

    I do have 45 YouTube subscribers at the time of this writing, but when I'm uploading a Song-a-Week video, I usually untick the "Notify Subscribers" checkbox because that's generally not what my subscribers signed up to see and I don't want to spam them with stuff that doesn't meet their expectations. Near as I can tell, my subscribers are more interested in completed tunes that sound halfway decent, not work-in-progress stuff. I suppose I could fluff up my view count by notifying subscribers of every little thing I post, although that might irritate them enough to unsubscribe too (haven't had that happen yet).
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