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Notes from the Field

Sometimes my enthusiasm for this little eight string marvel just boils over and I have to tell someone. I figure this is a safer way to do it, than to yet again bore my friends.

  1. Electric Mandolin - A Different Culture

    Wow. My explorations of the electric mandolin have led me to some surprising conclusions (well surprising to me anyway). It’s not what I thought.

    I got a four string electric, and an amp, and have gotten past messing with the ookie noises I can make with the settings on my modeling amp and figured out how to get from how I sound to how I want to sound. For the most part. I have lots to learn, but I am on my way.

    I can play loud angry fiddle tunes. I have figured out a

    Updated May-05-2020 at 8:31pm by JeffD

  2. Change is Good

    My 40 year old jam just moved to a 185 year old tavern. I played old time tunes and music from 70 years ago and even earlier, on a 93 year old mandolin, with friends I have been jamming with for over 30 years.

    The newest thing was the bourbon, and it was rather old as well.
  3. What does one do with a mandolin?

    I mean in terms of activity - what does your mandolinning consist of?

    Let me back up.

    Lots of threads about practicing, and how much time should be spent practicing, and how to parse the practice time out effectively – exercises, working on specific difficulties, working on new tunes, maintaining old tunes, learning some music theory – all that stuff.
    And the discussions are all very good, useful and informative, and even entertaining.

    I think, ...

    Updated Jul-09-2015 at 11:41am by JeffD

  4. It happens all the time...

    You can see it in the customer’s eyes – wanting to be alone with the new acquisition. Just bought a guitar, or a mandolin, whatever. With case, spare set of strings, some picks. A strap maybe. And then it’s the yearning for alone time. To get home and spend time alone and get to know my instrument. Yearning to launch the adventure, questioning “did I do ok?” and “will I do ok?” Getting to know, getting familiar, working on looking good with, doing well with, getting on with…

    And that ...

    Updated Jun-24-2015 at 4:15pm by JeffD

  5. I am not a musician - part two

    Three or so years ago I wrote a blog about not being a musician. At the time I of course thought that I had exhausted my musings. For reference.

    Well here I am with more musings.

    I am not a natural musician. Not at all. I am living proof that the Average Joe, someone of average ability, through a whole lot of constant enthusiastic practice and above average stubbornness, can get to a level that could only be considered an accomplishment if I were eight or ten years ...
  6. The Movie Whiplash

    I just saw the movie Whiplash, and it inspired a couple of reactions I think are relevant to us in the community of mandolinners.

    The movie is about being pushed beyond your expectations into the realm of excellence, and asks the question how much pushing is useful and how much pressure is just over the top and damaging. The basic idea is that the two worst words for inspiring excellence are “good job”, as it encourages complacence, and real genius is not going to give up or be intimidated ...

    Updated Mar-03-2015 at 12:38pm by JeffD

  7. $75,000 for a hunk of wood.

    Following the recent discussion about a fretboard from Bill Monroe’s mandolin being for sale on eBay for $75,000, and all the expected jocularity about that much money for a fragment of a mandolin, etc. Most of the fun was about the out-of-proportion expectations of the seller and the absurdity of expecting someone to buy it for that price.

    Be that as it may, I would be the first to cheer if it is sold for that much or more.

    I am beyond wondering why some things are ...

    Updated Feb-26-2015 at 1:06am by JeffD

  8. Musical Heroes - a second take

    A little over five years ago I wrote a blog trying to sort out my feelings in relation to my musical heroes. And at the time of course I figured I had written about all that needed to be said on the topic.

    To prove me wrong, go here.

    In the interim I have had a thought or two more, and kind of in a different direction. Bear with me, this is something.

    I enjoy listening to Chris Thile much more when I ignore any connection between what he does on the mandolin ...
  9. Doing it Wrong

    This is the way it happens.

    Step one – a newbie asks a perfectly legitimate question on technique, or needs some received advice clarified.

    Step two – Various folks respond with helpful ideas, often quoting some of the great teachers of mandolin, present and past.

    Step three – Someone disagrees – referencing some bigger than life famous player who does it differently, as some kind of invalidation of the advice and of the teachers’ instructions.


    Updated Sep-13-2022 at 1:58pm by JeffD

  10. Goals and Aspirations and Focusing my Perspiration.

    It all begins with goals. It is true what they told you, if you don’t know where you are going it doesn’t matter how you get there.

    Classical management tells us that only after establishing a goal, you figure out what you are going to do to further your progress toward your goal, and how you are going measure your progress, etc. Make the goal, make the plan, work the plan, measure the results.

    It has taken me a bunch of years to figure out what the heck I am trying to ...

    Updated Jan-21-2022 at 10:42am by JeffD

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