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Thread: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

  1. #26

    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Buying a wide neck mandolin to compensate for the fact that you are practicing mandolin with a uke seems like the best solution so far.

  2. #27
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I always had some silent instrument for quiet practising of tunes I normally play on OM and RTG:
    - electric tenor uke with nylon strings (now out of service)
    - electric TG (today)

    This helps for practising tunes if you can play the "real" instrument, but not for practising to play the real instrument in itself (and how could it?). I have to switch between instruments frequently not to lose the feel of either.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I just remembered something: When I first started playing mandolin I mistakenly thought that to continue to progress on both it and the tenor banjo that I would be restricted to playing 17 fret tenor banjos due to their shorter scale length perhaps making the transition between the two instruments "easier", a common sentiment that I see shared by mandolin players who pick up the tenor banjo. Fast forward a few years and after going into music shops and playing 19 fret tenor banjos without problem (because it dawned on me that just like how I shouldn't apply guitar technique to mandolin I also shouldn't apply mandolin technique to the tenor banjo) I ended up selling my 17 fret tenor and getting a 19 fret one and I wouldn't go back now. I go back and forth between my mandolin, tenor banjo and tenor guitar with ease because I play each one of them as the individual instrument it is, rather than using a blanket approach technique wise.

    As a novice on the mandolin Dan may be better served woodshedding on mandolin to get better on mandolin and once he is more accomplished on it he may then find that the uke is useful for things like learning new tunes quietly vs. trying to use the uke to hone mandolin technique.
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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I am in agreement with Jill on treating each instrument in its own right. I began away back in the late 1950s on guitar and that was my only instrument for many years though I did also go to piano lessons for about three years as a very young teen but did not enjoy the way it was taught back then or what was being taught. I wanted to play guitar instrumentals like The Shadows or The Ventures or other "guitar groups" were playing. Many years later I took up bass guitar and played in a trad jazz band where I had to play in those trad keys of Bb and Eb, so very few open string notes. This led me to develop a long and stronger reach with my fretting fingers. When I took up mandolin much later (but over thirty years ago), I did not even know how it was tuned as I had just seen an old bowl-back in a junk shop window and bought it on a whim. Someone told me how to tune it and of course I started out fingering using guitar finger-per-fret technique and getting very jammed up and cramped. Remember that back then there was no internet, YouTube, etc and virtually no books available, and certainly no teachers in my rural part of Scotland. It was a fiddle player who gave me the hint about mandolin fingering as he also played mandolin. Anyway, like Jill I treat each instrument differently and find that I can happily switch between them. I am also so glad that now there is so much help, advice and discussion going on over the internet in forums like this. I fantasise what I could be like now if only that help had been out there then!
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Quote Originally Posted by JEStanek View Post
    You gotta practice how you will play. Elsewise you're expecting muscle memory on one unique board to translate to another with twice the different strings.

    Jamie
    Really good and important point, scales and arpeggios are not exactly music, while these are important for mechanical development, remember to relax and enjoy playing the instrument, play tunes as practice!
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I’m not sure what the OP understands by the term ‘woodshedding’.
    I thought it meant something reclusive, structured and focussed?

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  9. #32
    bon vivant jaycat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    In this day and age, not many of us have an actual woodshed. Practicing in front of the ballgame on TV (with the sound off) works for me.
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    It's come up a few times, how to define "woodshedding," and I'm in the same camp as tmsweeney in Post #3 and jellwoo in Post #13. I believe the term refers to a concentrated, focussed, work-like approach to practicing, and originally included seclusion in the dynamic - perhaps even literally going to the woodshed or some similar place in order to remove oneself from distractions and also not bother anyone with the sounds being made while working through whatever one had to in order to reach a goal, usually a satisfactory level of expertise. So I think the activity described in the OP

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan in NH View Post
    ... while watching TV with my wife I’ll practice scales, open chords, double stops, fiddle tunes, and even make an attempt at chop chords. Classic woodshedding.
    is not actually classic woodshedding. Perhaps the frustration you are experiencing would be alleviated if you were to actually go off somewhere similar to what I described above - maybe just your office - and applied yourself in a dedicated fashion to practicing good and hard for an hour or so, hopefully every day if possible. I think this will be more beneficial than relying on the more social approach as you describe, though of course you can do both, if you have the time.

    But I don't think it's necessary nor even necessarily productive to get hung up on the term. What was used in the title and what is described in the body of the OP are two different things, and it's more important to address the issues in the body of the text than the title. I hope these musings help sort that out, and also help you with your endeavor.

    In my case, when I was gifted a mandolin way back when, I would take it into the field across the street, way away from everybody and everything except a tree I could sit by and lean against, and that solitude helped me work through what started as bashing away at it and making all kinds of noise until I sorted out a great many things, enough so that what I was doing could be honestly called music. I'll bet you're already way beyond that point in your development; I'm just saying this because I somehow knew I needed to put a lot of work in before I could get what I wanted out of it, and going off by myself was how it had to be done. And furthermore I was so shy and unconfident that it took a long time before I was willing to play within earshot of anyone. I've gotten over it since then.
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  12. #34
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    For me, practice has to be out of ear shot, and with no distractions, on one particular instrument as if it is the only instrument I play. Mentally in that wood shed outside where Dad and i had our Come to Jesus meetings. A half an hour put in this for me more productive than hours and hours any other way.
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I would go nuts, trying to watch teevee with someone noodling on ANY instrument in the same room, especially if it was repetitive "practicing", as opposed to something half-way musical... Productive practice only comes with undistracted focus, even if only 15 or 20 minutes a day, it must be in or behind your "woodshed" (seclusion). 15 minutes spent thus gets far better results than an evening of television viewing
    too many strings

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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Good advice above. I’ve been playing through Butch Baldasarri’s Evergreen since the day after Thanksgiving. There are a couple of tunes that really fit well on OM, so for a few days I’d been playing all the tunes on nothing but OM. Then Monday I was missing my mando, on which I was previously very proficient with this set of tunes, and it was a hot mess for a couple minutes, lol. My left hand kept stretching way too far…wrong notes, buzzing, the works. Then I settled back in and all was well, but it drove home the point to practice what you want to learn, not on a substitute, because the muscle memory won’t efficiently translate between instruments.

    Nothing against ukes, as I own 2 of them (a tenor in low G and a travel soprano tuned traditionally). But I don’t use them to practice mando. If I practice while my wife is watching TV I’ll play quietly. If I really want to be quiet I’ll grab a Golden Gate or similar shaped pick, cuz I can’t get volume on rounded picks without really wailing, lol.

    Good luck with your mando shopping this weekend!
    Chuck

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    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    It's better to woodshed with the instruments you actually plan to play. Why not just keep the mando on the couch?
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I can’t play mandolin in front of the TV.
    I start improvising the theme tunes, changing tragic minors to care-free relative majors, generally messing up the whole feeling of the film.

    A brisk, happy and optimistic Irish Washerwoman. Played with lots of lift…
    During a tense, nail-biting horror scene?
    People don’t like that.

  18. #39
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    A brisk, happy and optimistic Irish Washerwoman. Played with lots of lift…
    During a tense, nail-biting horror scene?
    we rise with our challenges. That is exactly what comes in handy during a pub session, when you are leading a set and watch the pint you ordered go to someone else.
    the world is better off without bad ideas, good ideas are better off without the world

  19. #40
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    I’m not sure what the OP understands by the term ‘woodshedding’.
    I thought it meant something reclusive, structured and focussed?
    Yup. See post #3.

    More broadly, though, I also just think of woodshedding as solo jamming free-form, not a regimented practice.
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Thanks Charlie yes there are a lot of diverse definitions of woodshedding, even the solo part and what that means.
    I agree theres a large solo component but I think theres also an important part for sharing of each persons progress, helping and learning from each other.
    This means that even though its solo, many mandolinists can do it together.

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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    ‘However entrancing it is to wander unchecked through a garden of bright images, are we not enticing your mind from another subject of almost equal importance?’

    -Ernest Bramah, Kai Lung's Golden Hours


    Back to the woodshed, Mandolinist! Scales and arpeggios ARE important.

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Quote Originally Posted by Jill McAuley View Post
    I mistakenly thought that to continue to progress on both it and the tenor banjo that I would be restricted to playing 17 fret tenor banjos due to their shorter scale length perhaps making the transition between the two instruments "easier"
    Good point.

    I made that mistake too.

    Also , although I have big hands, my hand/finger ratio is not good.

    I have relatively short fingers and have always been somewhat clumsy, and stretches take considerable mental effort *every single time*, no matter how much I practice, or my little finger doesn't go where I think it's going. I have to kind of go into manual over-ride and watch my finger onto the fret.

    So I got a shorter scale tenor, which I thought would help, and have played it for many years and have played it in bands, but less and less often now, so I think I'll sell it and pick up my cheap old long-scale one again.

    The difference for me, switching from mandolin, was the long-scale was like running up stairs two at a time, an effort but the intervals came naturally, whereas the short scale is like strangely-spaced stairs in-between where I kept tripping. Also the strings were either too slack or too heavy for my liking, in order to get the correct/desired GDAE pitches.

    Remember that back then there was no internet, YouTube, etc
    Really? How on earth did we manage?

    I’m not sure what the OP understands by the term ‘woodshedding’.
    I thought it meant something reclusive, structured and focussed?
    Similarly for me, or with a band, like Led Zeppelin, renting a cottage in the country to write and rehearse their next album/tour etc.

    TV/film depictions of musicians practising usually show them playing some etude or piece perfectly, which seems nice to anyone contemplating living with a musician, but the reality of repetitive and irritating hours of unmelodic plinking can be a strain on relationships.

    Even in my old house with its soundproof granite exterior and thick lath-and-plaster interior walls, family in other rooms used to shout at me to stop.
    Bren

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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    My observation, and not from reading two pages of responses, is this. Knowing how to do something is not the same as actually doing it. There are myriad of differences between a mandolin and an ukulele. Play your mandolin. It will enjoy your company. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Registered User Ky Slim's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Playing music is good for musicianship. Playing the uke may not result in direct 1:1 improvement for mandolin but it can't be all bad. Concepts might take hold. The ear may improve. I don't think that what Dan NH (OP) is doing is making him a worse musician at all. In fact, I'd argue it is helping him even if it's passive and not what most would consider "woodshedding".

    Also, all this talk about what "woodshedding" is and isn't has made me wonder: Are the Word Police now a new division of the Bluegrass Police??

  27. #47
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Quote Originally Posted by Ky Slim View Post
    Playing music is good for musicianship. Playing the uke may not result in direct 1:1 improvement for mandolin but it can't be all bad. Concepts might take hold. The ear may improve. I don't think that what Dan NH (OP) is doing is making him a worse musician at all. In fact, I'd argue it is helping him even if it's passive and not what most would consider "woodshedding".

    Also, all this talk about what "woodshedding" is and isn't has made me wonder: Are the Word Police now a new division of the Bluegrass Police??
    Not all the commenters on this thread play bluegrass so who are these "bluegrass police" you speak of? Also, how does conversation about what wood shedding means equate "word policing"? People are just sharing what their interpretation of the term is, what's the problem with that?
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    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I'll go just a little bit further and assert that in any discussion, even more so among as diverse a group as our mmbership, it's very helpful to be clear on terms. Inasmuch as the OP used "woodshedding" in the title, and then described his activity, which is not what most people would consider the term means, this thread began with something a good bit less than clarity. Charlie's flip-flop in post #40 hammers this home. In it, he begins with agreeing with Simon that it means "something reclusive, structured and focussed." Then he avers that he thinks of it as "solo jamming free-form, not a regimented practice." These are widely divergent interpretations, with no discernible basis for the latter, that I know of. So even though this aspect of our discussion has been gone over a bit more than needed, failing to come to an agreement on what a central term means is contrary to the effort to arrive at the truth of the matter.

    This troubled me so much that I searched online dictionaries to determine what was what with this word, and discovered two things. The first is that they uniformly (eight of eight) define it as "practice," with some delving deeper, emphasizing the aspects I've mentioned, as have others, about it being focussed - with no secondary meaning. The other thing I learned is it seems to be an Americanism, perhaps originating as a jazz term, and a few British-based compendiums did not include the verb form at all.

    My favorite definition is this, credited to Random House:

    to practice a musical instrument assiduously and with a specific goal in mind. eg: He's woodshedding for next week's show.

    I wish we could all agree this is what the term means, and instead focus on helping Dan with his problem. Several members have proposed some very good suggestions, so perhaps we've already done our due diligence in finding a solution for our friend. One hopes!
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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    I can heartily agree with that dictionary definition.

    Finally, a way to make a positive comment on the issue, lol. Thus far I’ve restrained myself and refrained from pointing out my concerns with the OP definition. It’s just an Internet forum after all.
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  33. #50
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    Default Re: Im afraid woodshedding has made me worse

    Unfortunately, the term may have some negative connotations for those of us who, as wayward youths, were "taken to the woodshed."
    "The paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations, and often lose themselves in error and darkness!"
    --Leslie Daniel, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die."

    Some tunes: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa1...SV2qtug/videos

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