New Mandolin Day (NMD)

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  1. HonketyHank
    Jake, your video was pretty darn good, especially for a first go.

    1. & 2. See my Private Message (PM) - not really criticism, just some observations and advice.

    3. Mandolin sounds good and appears to be nicely set up.

    4. I am really impressed with the sound and picture quality of the smartphone video.

    I think you are ready to jump in with both feet. I look forward to hearing more.
  2. jwsimpson
    Sue, thanks for the words of encouragement! I took about one year of piano in middle school and one year trombone in middle school band. Most of my musical experience is singing in a men's barbershop chorus here in town. All that to say, I'm very new to stringed instruments in general.

    Hank, thank you very much for the pointers. I'll try doing some more metronome and pick direction work in my practice sessions.
  3. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Jake, only 6 weeks??? You put me to shame! I don't know that my Angeline recording sounds any better after 6 years.

    My primary teacher is a professional violinist. If she saw your video, she would stress the importance of holding your fingers down when you play. As an example, let's say you're playing B on the A string and your next note is C. Hold your first finger down with pressure on B as you play C. I presume you read music. I'd be glad to send you Angeline marked up as my teacher would do if you'll PM me your email address.

    Your playing is excellent for only 6 weeks in! Now you need to focus on developing good habits.
  4. bbcee
    Hi Jake, really impressed you jumped right in and knocked out a video. Well done!
    I have a feeling my critiques will overlap what Henry already PM'd to you, so I'll keep it short:

    * Alternate your pick strokes. This becomes crucial as you advance. I do an exercise I learned in an online class as my eternal warmup when I pick up the mando, at increasing tempos, and I'm happy to send it to you. There are lots out there ("Mandolin for Dummies", Mike Marshall's Fingerbusters, et al), this happens to be the one I always come back to.

    * Practice with a metronome of some sort - click, backing track, whatever works. It's awful at first, but doesn't take years to get it, promise, and it won't "suck the feeling out of your playing". Along with the one Sue recommended, there's others, as well as iReal Pro, Tunefox, Strum Machine, etc. which let you play to a "band".

    It's great you're taking advantage of this group, it's a real wealth of experience and humor. Play on!
  5. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    Ditto concerning a metronome. The only time I don't use a metronome is when I'm able to use Strum Machine. It isn't free, but there's a trial period. If you want to know the cost, I can check later today. I also have iReal Pro, but it isn't as user friendly.
  6. jwsimpson
    Sherry and bbcee: Thanks again for the encouragement and critique! I sent you each a PM with my email address.

    I'm still finding my way when it comes to what kind of music to play. I really enjoy both Bluegrass and Irish, and understand that they are quite different. I'll probably keep straddling the fence for a while!
  7. Sherry Cadenhead
    Sherry Cadenhead
    I paid $49 for Strum Machine. That's probably an annual cost. Well worth it. Luke (the developer?) encourages questions and is quick to answer.

    Question for the group: several suggestions have been made to Jake. Do you think he should take one at a time? I'm thinking start with pick direction - or using the metronome. I was so intent on watching his left hand that I didn't notice the right. Jake, eventually, you'll need to think of all this at once, which can be difficult, but if you stick with it, will become habit. My teacher still has to remind me to keep pressure on my fingers that are behind the note I'm playing.
  8. NDO
    Wow Jake! That’s a fantastic start, keep up the great progress.
  9. jwsimpson
    Thanks, NDO!

    Sherry, good point about a logical progression on developing these skills. I love studying habit formation (if you haven't read Atomic Habits by James Clear, I highly recommend it) so this will be a good test. I think maybe asking the question in reverse would be helpful. What habits would be the hardest to relearn/rewire if I start off poorly? Pick discipline? Finger placement & economy of motion? Tempo maintenance?
  10. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    You might be interested in Brad Laird's Grasstalk radio podcasts. #5 "Can You Teach an Old Dog New Tricks" is relevant here, but all of them are great. I'm working my way through them, but also skipping around.

    He talks about the number of repetitions it takes to make and break a habit. Pretty interesting.

    To Sherry's question, I think working on pick direction and metronome can go hand in hand. And I think that the goal is to not have to think of all this at once. Muscle memory. I find lately that as I get cranking, I'm not thinking as much, and when I start thinking, I mess up.

    Right now, I am worrying that my left hand position isn't quite right, because it feels sort of cramped when playing on the E string, and I think that's slowing me down. I'm gonna be making an Artistworks submission soon to ask Mike M. about it.
  11. NDO
    I really admire everyone’s discipline and initiative!
    Unfortunately (for my long term prognosis) that ain’t me…
    My approach so far (which has likely ingrained some really bad habits) has been to watch an occasional video, read a lot of posts, and mostly just play and learn a bunch of fun songs. And play them every day. And try to learn a new song every week.
    Every few weeks one of the new songs will have a technique or a chord or a rhythm that requires me to stretch a little or try something new. A few times I’ve looked at songs that seemed daunting to learn, then came back to try them again a few months later and found them super easy because of other songs I’d learned in the meantime. (For example the first time I tried “Whiskey Lullaby” (Keith Whitley or Brad Paisley) both the strum and the Bm chord were too much for my two months experience, but six months later it was really very simple.

    A stretch example is this months Song of the Month. I’ve sat down twice to listen to it and try to start learning it and can tell it’s going to take a more focused approach than just sit-down-and-play-it. Due to work and a couple of band gigs I doubt I’ll get it done by the end of the month, but I’m determined to give it a try. It frustrates me that I could sit with a harmonica in 30 seconds and play a solo with it, but with the mandolin it’s going to take me weeks to learn. But it’s totally worth it
  12. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Great work for six weeks in, and that mandolin has some tone going for it!

    One thing I noticed was that it looks like you are often hitting one string on a downstroke and the other on the up. Make sure you're moving the pick through both strings. (How else will the fact that they are out of tune with each other drive you nuts?)
  13. jwsimpson
    Louise, guilty as charged! That's something I'm working on as part of the pick control exercise that bbcee just sent me! Thanks for the feedback.
  14. HonketyHank
    I got the L&H back from the luthier a few weeks ago. He was really backed up and it seemed to take him forever. But now it has new frets and is so much easier to play. Luthier made a new nut with decent slots. I changed the tailpiece to one that would accept that cloud tp cover and I put Thomastik strings on it. The result can be heard (and seen) in the Mouth of the Tobique video I made for August 2021 Tune of the Month.

    One problem the luthier had was the pickguard. He was afraid to take it off for the refret job for fear that it might break so he did the refret work without removing it.

    I really like the mandolin. Plays nice and easy, sounds round and firm and fully packed.
  15. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Did you put tiny frets on it, or go with something a little more modern? I tried to look at the tailpiece in the video, but it was pretty well hidden under your forearm. I wish my luthier was as speedy as yours—I think he and I have entered into some sort of unwritten joint-custody agreement with my Reno. I'm afraid if I left my L&H with him it would live there for years!

    I'm glad you got it back, and it's sounding great. They're truly special.

    If anyone else has an itch to drive one, someone has a very clean looking Style C on Reverb at the moment.
  16. HonketyHank
    Modern frets. And the tp is a cloud tp very similar to the tp's L&H used after they quit using that big lyre cover. So it is almost period-correct.
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