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Thread: How do you progress on tenor?

  1. #1
    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default How do you progress on tenor?

    Hey all,

    I've had a tenor for a few months now. I spent some time getting acquainted with it. Now I have all main chord shapes down, can strum and pick, play various fiddles tunes, etc. But I feel like I'm somewhat stuck, and have yet to find a good method that will help me advance. There is one common book that I've seen mentioned here on the forums that I bought and, I admit, I haven't worked all the way through it yet. However it's very short. I'm looking for something a bit more... I don't know, comprehensive? Something that can truly guide me as a tenor player.

    How do you guys practice with the intention of improving on tenor?
    Any tips?
    2016 Martin TEN515 Tenor Guitar
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  2. #2
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Which book?
    Apart from the obvious fact that practice makes perfect, I would say .. find a teacher.
    I am not a good tenor guitar player myself, I have been playing the tenor guitar for around five years, there is no doubt I am getting better however it has been frustrating for me too.
    I Live on an island and there are no suitable teachers but I have a friend who is an expert tenor banjo player and he has helped me along.
    My friend came to visit me around 5 years back and I showed him a tenor guitar that I was restoring, he picked it up and just blew me away with his natural ability!
    He had never even seen a tenor guitar before that day, so I built him one and now when I visit his house we can jam away.

  3. #3
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoreThanQuinn View Post

    How do you guys practice with the intention of improving on tenor?
    Any tips?
    Are you at all interested in jazz tenor banjo?

  4. #4
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    I think that it isn't that important 'what' you practice. In my opinion it's super important 'how' you practice. Practice will make you better, it will make you better at your good habits & especially your bad habits if you're not careful! We all see & hear fine musicians that could be so much better if they had good technique. My first teacher always insisted that "perfect practice makes perfect". I work hard on technique & put it into my playing 'slowly'. There are lots of good exercises that can be found on utube & there's a section on the mandolin cafe forum that I found very helpful, somebody put up a link on it to some exercises by a fella called Chris Henry that was great!......having good ears helps too:-)

  5. #5
    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    @fox: Hal Leonard's Tenor Guitar Method.
    And you live in Guersney? Cool! I understand the difficulties of island confinement, I just moved to La Réunion (tiny french island in the indian ocean). I believe I may have the only tenor guitar on the entire island, though there are certainly many other cool instruments. This is all to say, I probably can't find a tenor teacher here unfortunately.

    @David: What do you mean? If you're talking about method-wise, then sure! In fact, I'd love to learn some jazz. I'm not interested in literally playing the banjo at all, but I'm certainly open to adapting a banjo methodbook to my own tenor guitar playing.

    @Harley: thank you for the input and advice!
    2016 Martin TEN515 Tenor Guitar
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  6. #6
    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Wow that is a special place to live, we have a sort of contact via Lord Admiral de Saumarez our 18th century naval hero who captured the French frigate La Réunion off the Cotentin Peninsula whilst at the helm of the British Frigate HMS Crescent. Saumarez was knighted by King George III. Renamed HMS Reunion, she served for three years in the Royal Navy helping to counter the threat from the new Batavian Navy.
    We have a very well known restaurant called La Reunion too....

  7. #7
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Being an Australian this island seems tiny, Some advice to both you guys,'Don't take up Hot Air Ballooning!'

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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Good pun but my island is so small, nothing is allowed to fly above 300’ due to international rules that state “nothing can fly above 300’ within 6 miles of an air port and our air port is in the centre of the island!
    Guernsey is just 9 miles long with an area of 24.3 sq miles.

  10. #9
    Harley Marty
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Quote Originally Posted by fox View Post
    Good pun but my island is so small, nothing is allowed to fly above 300’ due to international rules that state “nothing can fly above 300’ within 6 miles of an air port and our air port is in the centre of the island!
    Guernsey is just 9 miles long with an area of 24.3 sq miles.
    So there's no point in taking a parachute up with you when you go hang gliding either. 300'ceiling that sucks!

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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    I have been prescribing to the following tip I read over at the Banjo Hangout:

    http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/229289

    " minstrelmike - Posted - 03/11/2012:&nbsp; 11:09:54<br>

    No books. But I would say just do the chords to _familiar_ songs first.

    The key is to take small steps.

    Play the chords to at least 20 different songs. (I prefer 100)

    If you have already played some other instrument, then do the chords to _every_ single song you ever learned on that first instrument. (This requirement usually demonstrate to many folks that they don't actually know songs, they just know fingerings.)

    Once you have chord changes to songs you yourself could actually recognize if they were played well, try playing the songs well. Use different chord voicings (placements) and see if you can get the melody to express itself on the 1st string. This is easier than it sounds at first.

    Note that if I show you the exact fingerings for any song, all you've got is the song, not the knowledge of how to find and finger the next songs. that's why you start with simple, familiar songs. Children's songs. Campfire tunes. Pop songs you yourself actually listened to in high school. If you didn't listen to dixieland or bluegrass while growing up and cannot _already_ hum the songs, then don't start with those genres even if that's where you want to end up.

    Start with familiar tunes. Start with simple 3-chord ones.

    In a basic 1-4-5 tune, the collection of chords forms the major scale so every note of the major scale can be played on the 1st string while chording one of the 3 important chords. Worry about being able to play the entire collection of chords in a song first, then try finding the melody. Don't start with melody then try to add chords. That's the back half of the program.

    and once you can play a few tunes around the campfire good enough, the next step is to work your way thru a fakebook of jazz tunes, playing the chords first then figuring out the melody. "


    Best of luck.
    Last edited by Huck; Sep-28-2019 at 5:56am.

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    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    @fox, I had no idea about the relationship. Very cool! You learn something new every day, as they say.

    @Huck That sounds great. Thank you very much for the advice. And how has it been working out for you so far? Do you feel yourself progressing?
    2016 Martin TEN515 Tenor Guitar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoreThanQuinn View Post
    @Huck ...Do you feel yourself progressing?
    Absolutely, that is why I thought to add it to your thread.

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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    As someone who wishes he had discovered a learning resource sooner, I'll put in a recommendation for two books which took me much further than I had gotten in my own.

    The Mel Bay Complete Tenor Banjo Method, and the Mel Bay Tenor Banjo Melody Chord Playing System will slowly, steadily and progressively teach you to read standard notion, play chords, play chord-melody, and (when applied) to play out of standard fakebooks.

    Going further, you'll find it much easier to watch videos of people playing tenor guitar, tenor banjo and/or mandola and to be able to learn the pieces they're playing.

    It took me a while to realize that these books were applicable to all CGDA instruments, not just tenor banjo.

    I did them some years ago, doing one new page every two days, and reviewing the last 20 pages every day as I advanced. If I was less than perfect when doing playing the new page, I's give it until I could play perfectly. At less than 220 pages of actual written music, it was still two years of great lessons for an extremely low bargain price.

    Whatever you choose to do, good luck!

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  18. #14
    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    @Explorer, thank you very much for this suggestion. I think it's a great idea! I checked out some of the sample pages of the books, and I think they'd be super helpful.

    Do you mind if I ask you..
    I don't really need to start from square one. I can read music, I know the basic chord shapes and some basic music theory. Which book did you get the most out of? It sounds like the complete method book might be best since I'm looking for something in depth, but I just want to make sure there'll be stuff for someone who's not a total beginner.
    2016 Martin TEN515 Tenor Guitar
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  19. #15

    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    They're progressive, and "Melody Chord System" builds on "Complete Method." I also knew music, and had been playing in CGDA tuning for more than a decade before. I got the books. I treated the sections I thought I knew as as review, just because it never hurts to work on one's sight-readingchops. Additionally, I combined the teacher/student duets into solo pieces, which working my double stops across both adjacent courses and more separated courses with appropriate damping.

    My thought is that any page which seems to have limited application can be the launching pad for so much more. "Gee, these quarter-note exercises are boring! Wait a second... I can play 32nd-note tremolos, and only accent every eight stroke! Or work this as cross-picking tremolo, with a low drone!"

    I'm going to recommend one more book for you, if you're interested... "The Advancing Guitarist" by Mick Goodrick. Although "Guitar" is in the title, it fan be used by players of any instrument with a fingerboard. There's also a book by Hal Crook titled "How to Improvise," which I similarly recommend.

    ----

    Oh! One more thing... Practice with a metronome. Play at the fastest speed where you have absolutely no mistakes. Repeatedly playing a mistake will lead to you practicing and mastering a mistake. It's better to master a perfect playthrough, even if it's slower. Then, advance the metronome a marking or two, playing through until you make a mistake, then pull back again and memorialize the piece at that slower speed. You can always loosen up, but i've never had a student who spontaneously went from sloppy timing to clean timing.

    However you choose to approach it, whatever your chosen destination, and wherever you decide to concentrate your efforts, good luck!

  20. #16
    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    I just wanted to revisit this thread to say thanks to everyone that contributed.

    @Explorer, I got the complete method today. Already I feel like it has given me some direction. I have to admit that I've been lazy about learning to sight read on tenor guitar. I grew up playing violin, and honestly I didn't feel like tackling the change in finger needed to accommodate the fact that the tenor is playing an octave lower than what's on the staff. I'm happy to say, however, that I put in an hour today and that I'm glad I did. It felt good and I can tell progress is on its way!

    To everyone else, I have taken your advice to heart. I appreciate it all.
    2016 Martin TEN515 Tenor Guitar
    2018 Poe Scout #76

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    Registered User fox's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    By the way, what tenor guitar are you using?

  23. #18
    Registered User MoreThanQuinn's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    I'm playing the reissue of the Martin 5-15T that Martin did for Elderly a few years ago.

    If you want to see pics or a video, I posted them here when I first got it:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...My-first-tenor!
    Though, I have to say, when I took that video the day I received the guitar, I had not at all yet figured out the gentiller touch necessary when strumming a tenor (as opposed to how much you can dig into a full body 6 string). The video sounds harsh to me now, but at least it'll show you what I'm working with. I really love the guitar! And thankfully, I feel like I've slowly learned to make it sound much better than I did then.
    2016 Martin TEN515 Tenor Guitar
    2018 Poe Scout #76

  24. #19

    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    MT Quinn, one of the greatest feedback methods I've used with my students is recording them, and/or having them record themselves. The goal isn't to produce a perfect recording or play-through, but instead for them to be able to hear themselves from a month or more ago, and to hear that they're making progress. There are lots of potential discouragements, and recordings give objective feedback that the learner is actually moving forward.

    I also would only put in about 15-20 minutes a session on specifically practicing the book stuff when I work through a method. It doesn't take that long to cover the material, so that way I stay fresh.

    Cheers!

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    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    If you know some basic theory and aren't afraid of some jazz, I have some chord grips you can transpose from here: 5-string Mandolin Chord Sets.

    .

    It's written for 5-string CGDAE, but if you ignore the E string, all the patterns in these pages work for CGDA.
    Ted Eschliman
    Tenor Guitar Enthusiast

    Author, Getting Into Jazz Mandolin

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    Default Re: How do you progress on tenor?

    I think the first step was determining what my goals were. I am not going to play with an ensemble. I am going to sing and accompany myself with chords, possibly adding chord melody. Once I find a song that I want to play, I determine what I want the sound to be like. Some songs are perfect for ukulele or banjo while others need guitar.
    Some people may want to play lead guitar, some may want to play jazz. Your mileage may vary and objects in mirror are smaller than they appear.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I think the first step was determining what my goals were. I am not going to play with an ensemble. I am going to sing and accompany myself with chords, possibly adding chord melody. Once I find a song that I want to play, I determine what I want the sound to be like. Some songs are perfect for ukulele or banjo while others need guitar.
    Some people may want to play lead guitar, some may want to play jazz. Your mileage may vary and objects in mirror are smaller than they appear.

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