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Stumbling Toward Competence

Random thoughts of a hobby player with delusions of melody.

  1. First jam in Calgary tonight in a long while

    we'll see how many songs I'm going to have to learn in the next month or two
  2. How I built my beginner's home recording studio

    Documented in this thread on the Cafe. I asked lots of questions, folks with a lot of knowledge replied, I did some research and asked more as I learned more, and here we are. I am bookmarking this partially for myself, but also in the hopes it can help others first approaching the really complicated, and somewhat confusing, world of home recording.
  3. Learning to read standard notation

    Not difficult.

    I learned to do it as a child, and now I am being pushed by Mike Marshall to do it again. How I have gone about it.

    1. Drill on the flash cards on
    2. Did the first couple of exercises in Marylinn Mair's book.
    3. Picked a simple tune from the Fiddler's Fakebook.

    Point 1: teaches you the notes on the staff (if you don't already know them from Every Good Boys Deserve Fudge type mnemonics) and more importantly where they lay on the fretboard. ...
  4. Created a spreadsheet

    ...of songs I know or once could play before one of my recent hiatuses from playing. Count is up to 41! So why do I have such a hard time remembering a tune at a jam?
  5. Another jam, 2013 it is finally happening!

    And with it another lesson. The version of Bill Cheetam I learned (from lessons of all things) has the B part in the wrong key! Its more of a harmony line. I played it through once, thinking "that sounds off, maybe its my timing" and the second time I was like "oh dear". So I turned to the jam leader Ran Bush and asked him if I were in the wrong key. He chuckled and said "yeah, you have a jazzy thing going there" D'oh! But the Tuesday jams at the 5th String in Berkeley ...
  6. Build repertoire, you say?

    So my biggest deficit is in numbers of tunes. Well, today's lunchtime walk to the 5th String Music store has helped fix that. I just got a copy of Dix Bruce's Parking Lot Pickers Songbook, with over 200 tunes. Its commonly used at the slow jams here in Berkeley so it will be especially helpful when I'm out here for work. Should keep me busy for a while.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Whoa, I see the version on Amazon has 225 songs! Apparently there is a new edition ...
  7. Out again

    At the slow jam at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Two lessons learned. One, smaller circles mean one calls more tunes, and apparently all I know are fiddle tunes in A. Second, I can mess up but find the tune again and carry on. Its ok. It doesn't bring the jam to a halt.

    Also just got my first video feedback from Mike Marshall. All those years doing technical exercises have paid off. Now its time to learn. More. Tunes!
  8. Tim O'Brien Early Morning Rain

    His cover of Gordon Lightfoot's classic, from Fiddler's Green. One of the best versions not by Gordon himself in my opinion.
  9. New instructional focus

    Just joined Mike Marshall's School of Mandolin after the Mandolin Mashup (see below). Mike is simply the coolest cat ever and I am looking forward to seeing where some more direction (and responsibility to others than just myself) can lead!
  10. First Time Together! New CD by Taylor, Vignola, and Grisman

    One of the most tasteful recordings in my collection, judged after a single listen through. Outstanding! I really cannot pile on enough supurlatives. Its silky smooth, sonically complex, yet light and playful. OK OK that sounds like a review of a nice red wine but seriously, you go download this now and thank me later.
    Click image for larger version. 

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