Thursday, November 10, 2011

You're not listening.

You may think I'm being harsh; maybe I am, but I don't think you're listening. From the endless array of questions ranging from everything from picks, to how to strike a string with a finger (or a thumb), it's occurred to me that you might not be listening to what you're doing.

Let me ask some questions. Since it's music, of all the things that should be at the top of your list of priorities, shouldn't sound be part of it? How can you affect sound if you're not listening? What difference does it make how much you know about theory, or strings, or set-up, or whatever, if you're not listening to what you're playing? Why are you collecting tab after tab of tunes that are way too advanced for you? Even when you're playing through your tab collection you're still stumbling over simple concepts and even missing entire sections of the tune; yet, if you were listening shouldn't you be able to notice?

There's a very active thread on the Banjo Hangout where several members have labored long and hard to explain bounce and swing. It's been described every which way. Yet, with all the words nothing explains it better than just listening to it.

"Fine!" You say, "I'm not listening - whatever. You do things you're way, I'll do things my way."

I've encountered that attitude lately. I still contend - regardless of your particular learning style - that learning music is going to require you to listen.

I see/hear this with my students too. They get involved with the patterns and forget that they're supposed to be making music. Now, don't get me wrong, you need to focus on the mechanics, but the mechanics is not the music.

So please, just for me, take some time this week and just start listening to banjo playing. Not just that, start listening to what you are playing. Does it sound like you want? No? Make some changes, and keep listening.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

I dunno, maybe you could practice?

Read the following article. Just do it.

In case it looks daunting, and uninteresting consider the following quotes.

"...what could be easier than improving at something you suck at? The bar is so low."

"Frankly, you should revel in the things you suck at. What a fantastic opportunity to grow with hardly any effort!"

How can this relate to the banjo for you? Do you suck at single-string? Maybe you suck at back-up. Whatever the issue, what's the hold up?