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Thread: How Good of a Player

  1. #1

    Default How Good of a Player

    Hey all, Really enjoying my time on here. Got a question, if I learned all of Monroe's songs by ear, I know......tall order. But, here me out. How good of mandolin player would i be? Like improv. etc. Coming up with my own stuff. I play in church, always would like to take the songs that i sing in church and 'monroe' them. I know it's a tall order what asked, and I know there's teachers, but I'm on a limited budget, so learning by ear is 'bout the only way for me, LOL! Hope I make sense. Which I'm just starting at learning by ear, and I'll get better at it. Just like to have something to shoot for, like what can happen, if that makes sense. Thanks!!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    It’s possible that you are putting too much emphasis on the “how many” at the risk of sacrificing the “how well”. In answer to your question, not necessarily, but if you learn just a few of them and can play them as well as he did, then yes, you’ll be a pretty good mandolin player.
    There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those that understand binary and those that don't.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by JiminRussia View Post
    It’s possible that you are putting too much emphasis on the “how many” at the risk of sacrificing the “how well”. In answer to your question, not necessarily, but if you learn just a few of them and can play them as well as he did, then yes, you’ll be a pretty good mandolin player.
    Thanks! I'll pick a player, like Monroe for example, and just immerse myself in their style. I've done the same thing with guitar. With SRV and EVH.

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    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    If you study Monroe’s playing and learn songs by ear you will have a great foundation for improvising within this framework (arpeggios with staggered 16ths and doublestops being central elements). In addition you will have universal elements that can be transfered to any other style.

    I have been on the Monroe-mission for 18 years and finally feel that i have grasped the concept. The big breakthrough came when I started learning songs by ear 4 years ago, reducing the speed to 25-50% of the original recording. In particular the tune ''Fair Play'' on the Master of Bluegrass album was an eye opener. As I was learning it, I realised how to play in closed position and how the patterns connect.

    Having this knowledge makes me able to take a break on most Bluegrass songs at jams (songs that I hear for the first time) and do a Monroe-improv over the chord progression. I’d suggest checking out Chris Henry's material for correction/confirmation of what you have learned. His study of the Monroe tunes is simply incredible.

    Will it make you a good player? In my opinion definetely yes. Unfortunately many players underrate Monroe's style, but very few of these players will be able to play his songs ''right''. That takes years of study, and particularly mastering the right hand to be able to play the stuff up to speed and powerful (Bluegrass Breakdown, Patty on the Turnpike etc).

    Although Monroe style is in my heart I don't think it fits in absolutely everything. Contemporary Bluegrass comes to mind, where emphasis on sustained single notes has become a common element in my opinion. So I'm also looking in to that style as my band plays quite a few contemporary songs. But still I see a life time worth of Monroe study and playing down the road. A player like Ronnie Mccoury is deeply rooted in the Monroe style and is going stronger than ever.

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  7. #5

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Galley nipper View Post
    If you study Monroe’s playing and learn songs by ear you will have a great foundation for improvising within this framework (arpeggios with staggered 16ths and doublestops being central elements). In addition you will have universal elements that can be transfered to any other style.

    I have been on the Monroe-mission for 18 years and finally feel that i have grasped the concept. The big breakthrough came when I started learning songs by ear 4 years ago, reducing the speed to 25-50% of the original recording. In particular the tune ''Fair Play'' on the Master of Bluegrass album was an eye opener. As I was learning it, I realised how to play in closed position and how the patterns connect.

    Having this knowledge makes me able to take a break on most Bluegrass songs at jams (songs that I hear for the first time) and do a Monroe-improv over the chord progression. I’d suggest checking out Chris Henry's material for correction/confirmation of what you have learned. His study of the Monroe tunes is simply incredible.

    Will it make you a good player? In my opinion definetely yes. Unfortunately many players underrate Monroe's style, but very few of these players will be able to play his songs ''right''. That takes years of study, and particularly mastering the right hand to be able to play the stuff up to speed and powerful (Bluegrass Breakdown, Patty on the Turnpike etc).

    Although Monroe style is in my heart I don't think it fits in absolutely everything. Contemporary Bluegrass comes to mind, where emphasis on sustained single notes has become a common element in my opinion. So I'm also looking in to that style as my band plays quite a few contemporary songs. But still I see a life time worth of Monroe study and playing down the road. A player like Ronnie Mccoury is deeply rooted in the Monroe style and is going stronger than ever.
    Thank you for such an informative answer!! Much appreciated.

  8. #6
    Registered User Marcus CA's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by MonroeFan View Post
    Thanks! I'll pick a player, like Monroe for example, and just immerse myself in their style. I've done the same thing with guitar. With SRV and EVH.
    If you’re playing SRV and EVH, then in the mando world, I think you’ll have more fun with CT, JR, or SH.

    Since you’re on a limited budget, you can learn like the teenagers do: playing along with You Tube videos at 1/2 or 3/4-speed. For additional guidance, you can get the video lesson that Thile did on Homespun twenty years ago. (Ronnie McCoury also did a video lesson for them, and I agree with Galley nipper that he is a tremendous mando player who has a modern approach to playing Monroe style.)

    For a deeper and more expensive dive, you can look into Sierra Hull’s ArtistWorks course. AW always offers discounts, so it would probably cost you $20 a month if you sign up for a year. The shorter terms are obviously cheaper in total, but they’re more expensive per month. Mike Marshall also has a great course on AW, but it won’t give you the single-artist immersion that you’re looking for.

    John Reischman offers a Melodic Mandolin course on Peghead Nation, in which he teaches many of his original tunes.

    Enjoy the journey!
    still trying to turn dreams into memories

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  10. #7

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcus CA View Post
    If you’re playing SRV and EVH, then in the mando world, I think you’ll have more fun with CT, JR, or SH.

    Since you’re on a limited budget, you can learn like the teenagers do: playing along with You Tube videos at 1/2 or 3/4-speed. For additional guidance, you can get the video lesson that Thile did on Homespun twenty years ago. (Ronnie McCoury also did a video lesson for them, and I agree with Galley nipper that he is a tremendous mando player who has a modern approach to playing Monroe style.)

    For a deeper and more expensive dive, you can look into Sierra Hull’s ArtistWorks course. AW always offers discounts, so it would probably cost you $20 a month if you sign up for a year. The shorter terms are obviously cheaper in total, but they’re more expensive per month. Mike Marshall also has a great course on AW, but it won’t give you the single-artist immersion that you’re looking for.

    John Reischman offers a Melodic Mandolin course on Peghead Nation, in which he teaches many of his original tunes.

    Enjoy the journey!
    Didn't say I could play SRV and EVH good, LOL! As far as YouTube, that's exactly what I'm doing, LOL!

  11. #8

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    A couple of additional thoughts/suggestions:

    1) In addition to YouTube, the recent Mandolins an Beer podcast with Jake Howard provides some good info on other technology that may help;

    2) Chris Henry does an excellent job of breaking down Monroe tunes and you can buy a video of him working through single song (personally, I have bought many more, and would again) for a nominal amount (~$20?). It may help you pick up some other tricks for breaking the tunes down by ear (as it has, for me); and lastly

    3) Mike Compton’s Peghead Nation course will give you access to an extensive library of Monroe tunes for a very economical price (~$10/month), in my view.


    Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly support the idea of ear training and putting in the work yourself.

    NFI on my part for any of the above.

    Have fun, and good luck!

    *Edit
    I see Chris Henry was suggested in a prior post, but I will leave in for emphasis :-)

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  13. #9

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    I've been working on Evening Prayer Blues. Am I in the ballpark?

    https://youtube.com/shorts/9bZkyHbFizI?feature=share

  14. #10

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    This is what many great players have done. Andy Statman comes to mind. In his early days he transcribed every Monroe LP that existed before going on to create his own unique style.

    As with anything it will be what you make of it… how much time and commitment you spend. It may be helpful to get an opinion on some technique basics such as alternating pick strokes and positioning, although it sounds like you already have some music background and may have a strong foundation there.

    The Henry material focused on exactly what you are setting out to do, learn Monroe’s breaks by ear. If you can’t afford it he does have some free preview videos online that show him playing the breaks at varying speeds. If your ear is good and/or you are patient enough this may be enough info to get you on your way and a great starting point. You can also slow these videos down further on YouTube. You can also see the fingerings in these videos and some videos of Monroe so you can start to hear and see the language.

    This is a challenging but very rewarding process and anyone that takes the time to do it right will grow very strong as a bluegrass mandolin player.

    One other thing to keep in mind is flavoring this correctly… depending on the song choice and style you are playing in church you will want to play the right version of Monroe style. Blistering downstrokes close to the bridge are only one of his approaches. He has a large catalogue of his take on gospel tunes so that would certainly be a place to poke around. Best of luck and let us know how it goes!

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  16. #11

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Levine View Post
    This is what many great players have done. Andy Statman comes to mind. In his early days he transcribed every Monroe LP that existed before going on to create his own unique style.

    As with anything it will be what you make of it… how much time and commitment you spend. It may be helpful to get an opinion on some technique basics such as alternating pick strokes and positioning, although it sounds like you already have some music background and may have a strong foundation there.

    The Henry material focused on exactly what you are setting out to do, learn Monroe’s breaks by ear. If you can’t afford it he does have some free preview videos online that show him playing the breaks at varying speeds. If your ear is good and/or you are patient enough this may be enough info to get you on your way and a great starting point. You can also slow these videos down further on YouTube. You can also see the fingerings in these videos and some videos of Monroe so you can start to hear and see the language.

    This is a challenging but very rewarding process and anyone that takes the time to do it right will grow very strong as a bluegrass mandolin player.

    One other thing to keep in mind is flavoring this correctly… depending on the song choice and style you are playing in church you will want to play the right version of Monroe style. Blistering downstrokes close to the bridge are only one of his approaches. He has a large catalogue of his take on gospel tunes so that would certainly be a place to poke around. Best of luck and let us know how it goes!
    Thank you!!

  17. #12

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    You are on the right track and finding some good notes but still a ways away. To bring it all together here’s Chris’s video for the song. See if you can fill in some of the blanks and then play along at whatever speed you can. Note you can slow down videos on YouTube. https://youtu.be/TitV8FGiANI

  18. #13

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Thanks for the answers everybody, it's really helped me. So, basically it's gonn a be lifetime thing. If I figured out a few songs by ear, i'd be pretty good. But, it's not gonna be a sprint, but a marathon.

  19. #14
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    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    I think it was Monroe himself that said to develop your own style , you should learn EVERYTHING that anyone else does snd then DO NONR OF IT!! I love Monroe mandolin, have played mandolin for almost 60 years, but I don’t try to copy anyone. I knew a mandolin picker that had Monroe down to the point that if he played a song that Monroe had never played he would have played it like MONROE WOULD HAVE. What is the point, there has already been a Monroe and it would be a loss if everyone played his style, there would be no Duffy, no Lawson, no McReynolds, ect

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  21. #15

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Just keep learning tunes/songs by ear and it will begin to come faster. The first few will be hard and don’t hesitate to refer to other recordings, YT lessons, paper, etc to help you progress. Even if you only get a few measures at first that’s more than you had before right…

    While I think it’s excellent practice to transcribe your favorite player’s solos note for note don’t get too wrapped up in getting how it’s played exactly like them, develop your own style and have fun. Maybe start with something you already know and try to pick it out.

    Last, listen, listen, and listen some more to what you want to learn. Once you can internalize it - hum it - you’re well on your way to playing it.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  22. #16

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    Thank you all for the wonderful advice. This is just gonna a long journey I guess, LOL!

  23. #17

    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    To really get Monroe's style you have to spend the first seventeen years of your life working mules on a Kentucky hill farm, spend half your time hanging out at your uncle the fiddle players shack and travel around with him and an old black guitar and fiddle genius who was never recorded then take up performing with your brother kicking around the country during the Depression. After you and your brother split ways you start up your own band and spend the next ten years searching for a sound then spend the rest of your life traveling in a bus which for good reason was named the Bluegrass Breakdown as you continue tinkering with your sound and try to perfect it. Sounds like an amazing journey. Have fun.

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  25. #18
    Registered User kymandolin29's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Good of a Player

    your left hand is what you know.........YOUR RIGHT HAND IS WHO YOU ARE..........

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