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Thread: Practice regimen for a new player

  1. #1
    Registered User Charles Kelley's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Gainesville, GA

    Default Practice regimen for a new player

    Despite the age of my account, I am a pretty new to the mandolin and my previous music experience has been voice and high school band (which is a LONG time ago now). I have signed up with and am using Peghead Nation and I have started taking private lessons (second one is this afternoon).

    I am looking for some advice on a good practice regimen that is more than just noodling around on the instrument. So far, my practice sessions, which tend to be about 30 to 45 minutes at a go (all my fingers can take) look something like this:

    Picking exercises--down stroke/up stroke across the various strings. Something like G D G D G D G D G A G A G A G A G E G E G E G E, then back up, then D G D G D G D G D A D A D A D A D E D E D E D E, then back up, progressing across all the strings a few times.

    Scales. Running scales in G, D, A, E, and C a bunch of times. One or two octaves, depending. I'm not getting out of first position much.

    Tunes. Working on a new fiddle/other tune (Nine Pound Hammer at the moment) and running back through the others I know (a whopping 3 at this point).

    I am looking for what more I can add. I am especially interested in the silver bullet that will turn my sausage shaped fingers into needles that touch only the string I intend to fret and doesn't mute the adjacent strings. Is there a pill for that?

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.


  2. #2
    Hands of Pot Metal
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Forest Grove, Oregon

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    Congratulations on having some structure in practice. I wouldn’t change much yet but would add that focusing on technique, like keeping your fingers on the fretboard until you need to move them is helpful in developing dexterity. Have your bent fingers come down like hammers. Slow, clean notes should be the focus. The magic pill is learning scales in ffcp, four fingers, closed position (

    But the right hand is where it’s at. Others will discuss that.

    Have a great time.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    Add some notation reading and ear training, not much a few minutes if each a few days a week is good.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

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  6. #4

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    Practice the tunes you want to play with that effortlessness as slowly and deliberately as necessary. Get feedback from an expert.

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  8. #5
    Dave Sheets
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Buffalo NY Area

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    Play along with some videos of fiddle tunes on youtube occasionally, which is good practice and fun. There is a slow down option on the settings on youtube (a little gear icon on the lower right of the video), so you can slow it down to 50% or 75% of the speed. There are also some good slow speed fiddle instruction videos on youtube, you can play along with these.
    Flatiron A
    Way too many other instruments

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  10. #6

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    That's a lot more practicing than I have ever done! And that includes all instruments I have ever played going back to childhood.

  11. #7
    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
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    Jul 2018
    New Hampshire USA
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    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    About sausages and needles...

    A few years ago I had a great conversation with an Oud playing friend of mine about sound.

    I described something I did with djembes that he applied to the Oud. Place just one finger on the "fretboard", play note, and really listen to the sound. Try moving the finger very slightly and see the difference! Not something I would spend a lot of time on unless you have already defeated a lot of other issues.

    Lately it really helped me work out how to roll back my sausages so that I was not muting over the fret. Still working on that while actually playing, but the micro-breakdown I described really helped find the issue. Also, do it for each finger, my pinkie need vastly different help than my pointer. :-)

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  13. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Gainesville, FL

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    The other silver bullet is practice; nothing beats it. And, play/learn stuff you like.

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  15. #9

    Default Re: Practice regimen for a new player

    I found this series of articles helpful in organizing my practice:

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