Co-lab Woodshed session

  1. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    My picking partner and tune collaborator came ready to work today - we haven't done anything together for about a year, until we played together last Saturday. Today we went into the music room/washing machine room, LOL, broke out some work on arrangements of old tunes and ideas for some originals. Here's a little snippet of us just starting to warm up to Hangin' Dog again, and trying out some new ideas.

    These are unlisted videos at my channel, just practice stuff, unpolished and not for the general public. I'm sharing with the woodshedders - this is a peek at my real life woodshed.

    Rob and I are both blues players, but I turned back to folk like Doc Watson, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, etc. a long time ago, while Rob's more in the style of Jeff Beck and Jerry Garcia and such. He's also really big into split capo stuff. Rob is a talented and humble guy, and I'm fortunate to be able to collaborate with him on some writing. Here are just a few snippets of some original stuff he brought to the shed today:

  2. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Mark, I really enjoyed the Hangin' Dog piece. You guys who play without written music amaze me.
  3. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    You can do it, too, Sherry. This was real sloppy stuff, we were working on things and not ready to really rehearse yet.

    But about the memory thing, anyone could do it with practice. I'd suggest you take a small bit of your practice time to begin practicing it. Just take one tune that you can play well reading. Then, start learning to play it by memory one piece at a time, until over time, you'll be able to remember the whole piece. If you tell yourself that you can't, you've shut a door. Best to never say "I can't do it" also never say "this is difficult" - instead, say "This is unfamiliar" or "I haven't learned this yet; I'll work on it." If you keep the doors open in your mind, you can accomplish anything.

    There is nothing wrong with sight reading, which is what you've been learning, in fact it is a great skill to be desired and developed. But also remember this: Think of the original composer ... he or she had no written score. They started with nothing but an idea, some memory and skill, and wrote it out as they worked it out. Putting music into memory and playing from memory is a skill you can develop, just like sight reading is. Playing by ear is another skill worth developing. Composing is another. Performing is another. It's all good, and there's nothing you can't learn to do, with the exception of those things that you convince yourself are not possible, or those things you choose not to.

    Thanks for the kind words about this 'snapshot' of a woodshed session. Please forgive my pedantic tendencies; it is a lifelong defect in me to try and teach things, I only mean it in an encouraging sort of way
  4. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Mark, no apology necessary! I appreciate all your comments and that you take so much time to write them. I'm usually responding from my phone; I presume you're usually at your desktop - or at least a laptop. I'm at my office computer now.

    My teacher and I were just discussing my starting to memorize some pieces, and I see that I need to do that. Any pointers you have regarding playing by ear would be much appreciated.

    A challenge I have, as do others, is just not having enough hours in my day. I do well to practice an hour every day. I'm trying to mix up what I do, but it seems I'll never get to Brad's mandolin master class materials and the discussions in this group.

    As to saying I can't do something, I'm not a person who does that. And I'm amazed that several of the guitarists in the senior citizen jam group seem to be content with where they are. They tend to repeat tunes from week to week and just don't seem to want to progress. I hope I'm never that person. I look forward to being a leader in the group, taking my turn at breaks as I feel capable.

    Thank you for your interest in all my posts.

    I hope it's OK to keep this thread going in the Woodshed Group; otherwise, I suppose we should move to Newbies!
  5. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Sherry, I love that you are one to think positively and to keep stretching your skills.

    As far as pointers to playing by ear, I heard a pointer given that makes sense to me. You can begin by using your memory ... think of Christmas songs that you know by heart, or jingles that were hammered into your memory from television commercials, or theme songs from old TV shows. You know, simple melodies that have been burned into your consciousness. Take your mandolin with no written music, and try to find the notes to play one of those melodies. Take a little time to practice that often, and you will begin to be able to play one by ear. That is as good a way to start as any.

    When I was in band in elementary school, I started on trumpet. I learned Jingle Bells, and When The Saints Go Marching In. Having learned to read music a bit and play those tunes and learn the fingering on a trumpet, I found later that I could go to a xylophone, piano, recorder, etc. and figure out how to play those simple melodies the first time I encountered a new instrument. It's not much, but that type of thing can be encouraging.

    The old Christmas hymns are usually easily found in a single octave of a major scale. Try Joy To The World, for instance.
  6. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Mark, I tried Joy to the World as you suggested. I'm so tempted to write down the music as I go, but I presume I shouldn't do that - that it defeats the purpose. I suppose over time it gets easier to select the correct notes the first time. That's the point, right?
  7. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Yep. Like everything else, it's repetition. Over time, keep trying different ones. Memorize these little ditties as you go, rather than writing them out. If you forget, just figure it out by ear again. It's good practice.
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