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Thread: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

  1. #1
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    Default Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Man I am frustrated right now. I have only owned my mando for a few weeks and have been working on the various scales in an attempt to work on my right hand rhythm and fretting notes with my left. I figured this would be a good way to work on those techniques, I am not trying to tear it up right now just trying to get clean notes and timing down.

    However I feel like I am hitting a mini wall. How did you guys who are no longer noobs get through this part of the learning cycle? I am sure the answer is more practice. In my mind I can see myself beyond this point and playing some things I know I have no shot at right now, but it feels like its so out of reach right now.

    Just had to vent a bit...

  2. #2

    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Well, discipline and practicing scales is all well and good. But if it doesn't get you jazzed, switch gears and learn some tunes. Hack through them by ear or watch some of the good youtube note-by-note tutorials. You'll pick it up quickly if it's a song you can get excited about.
    If it's not fun and you're no longer motivated, then you won't learn. Once you have a few tunes under your belt and are having fun, you will run into other problems -- right/left hand synchronization, position changes, tonal clarity, etc. Then you can go back to the scales with a reason for focusing on specific details.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Vent on brother and knock off the scales. Music isn't machinery, it's art. We need the machinery to make the art, but the machine is not the art. The first plateau hits when the mechanics of playing take over for the music. Welcome to the high flat part of the world. Play something you know, and play it well. Make it music. Get jazzed again.
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    I recommend keeping three things in mind:

    * Forget about labels like beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Instead concentrate on the musical path, not the destination. This is the single best piece of musical advice I have ever gotten (Thank you Jim Richter).

    * Play with others as much as you can. However you can make this happen, do it. There really is no substitute for this.

    * Don't sweat it, and have fun...It's the journey, not the destination.
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    I'll second (or third or whatever) the notion to play some tunes/songs and give the scales a bit of a rest. something simple, like christmas carols or nursery rhymes, slowly, until you can cleanly fret them. You're not in a race. With luck, you'll be playing for the rest of your life.
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    The first year of any instrument is the hardest, you just gotta put your head down and keep working. Good, patient work will pay off. Also, get lessons with a good in-person teacher, or a good internet teacher if that's not possible. It's better to spend a little more money and not waste a lot of time on bad habits and blind alleys.

    (When I finish building my time machine, this is the advice I'm going to give Me-Five-Years-Ago, right after I've gone back and killed Hitler.)

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Learn to play something you like. Any tune you can hum you can play. Keep up the scale practice too but give yourself a break and have some fun playing.
    Jim Richmond

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    A good basic book that has some easy little bits of music you can play right away is Suzuki for Violin #1. It starts with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the songs gradually (very gradually) get harder. It may seem inane, but it'll give you some easy songs that are arranged in a way that will advance your ability and be rewarding in the near term.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Hello Ed and all others

    Thanks you for saying that. As one tends to use that label: "newbie" "Beginner" we get hung up on the perfect sound, am I doing this and that right. eg. my rhythm and chords are not shoddy and I could certainly jam with someone. However, playing lead picking, and perhaps even some work on the left hand is needed. In this we become frustrated as we think: "I want to be like him or her, sound like that, when will I.." Though correct technique and the sweetest sound is all to strive for, I think this is good advice: one can certainly get there without the sweat. Or in the case of ladies perspiration? <big smile>

    Many thanks for the encouragement

    Playing:
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    Crafter M70E acoustic mandolin
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Scales train our fingers to know where to fret each note. Chords train our fingers to fret a pattern of notes. Melody (for beginners, easy tunes) will be found in those chords. If the chord is G, good chance your melody note is: G - B or D. When the chord changes to D7 your note will be D - F#- C or D. This holds pretty much true on the first tune I learned "Red River Valley." So, a simple answer to your question is all of the above are good, just don't get too hung up on any one thing. Make it fun and enjoy.
    Lee

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Lackey View Post
    However I feel like I am hitting a mini wall. How did you guys who are no longer noobs get through this part of the learning cycle?
    Play regularly with others. Attend a local jam on a regular basis. Just listen if you don't want to play. But go, and meet folks, and play if you can.

    I am sure the answer is more practice. ...
    Regular playing with other people will add gasoline to the fire of your motivation to practice.
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Alan - I taught myself to play Bluegrass banjo by playing tunes & songs that i heard on recordings.I learned to play be ear,because back in 1963 that's all there was. I did exactly the same when i began playing mandolin 7 years ago.I learned to pick out tunes & got to know where to find the 'sounds' i needed to play them.I came to learn a few scales well after i could play half decently,as additional tools in my personal bag of tricks. Personally,i don't think that learning scales is an 'absolute essential' in playing any instrument,but they are useful. My advice would be to leave the scales to one side for the moment,& as Jim Richmond says,learn tunes that you like & have fun doing it,you can always come back to scales later,
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    A few things:
    You have only been at it for a few weeks, if you just got the thing in tune you are doing well, and it will never seem harder than it does now.
    Scales, while useful and indispensable, are not really music, and will not feed your deep desire to really play. Try reconfiguring any scales you know into scale patterns, which are like walking up or down the stairs in patterns, three up, one back, etc., instead of just one after the other.
    These are much more musical to the ear, more fun to play and more useful for improvising (later!)
    Also experiment with leaving out the 4th and 7th tones of the scales, which will mean you are playing pentatonic (five note) scales which are a kind of magic bullet for a beginner to "never play a bad note."
    Stop, take a break, and begin to really listen. Take every note, one at a time, listen to it and then the one that comes next to it. Do this whether you are practicing something you already know, or something you are trying to learn by ear. That is all that there will ever be, one note, and the one that follows it. Good luck.
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Skip the scales for now. Well, maybe designate a "small" portion of your practice time to something like first position ffcp. Just hit you tube with your G, C, D, Em, Bm chords and you'll find an unlimited amount of songs to strum along to, and it's fun!

    I started playing last January after playing rhythm guitar for only a few short years. When I first bought the mandolin I told myself I'll get a couple of months of practice in before introducing it to a jam I attend every Sunday. Well darn the luck if after two weeks of strumming and playing simple melodies on this little sucker I caught the bug and just "had" to take it with me. Best thing I ever did.

    Playing with other people as regularly as possible is hands-down the best time/reward ratio when it comes to practice. You'll get to really know the instrument and how it blends with a half dozen (!) acoustic guitars and a banjo. Granted, I'm not taking many lead breaks and when I do it's improvization 100% baby. When I find a sour note I know not to play that note the next time, which I think is a subconsious way to learn scales.

    If I had to start all over, I would do the exact thing (well, and actually devote that "small" portion of practice to ffcp, which I definitely don't do enough.)

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Hi All mandoliners -
    Thanks for excellent advice. I cannot wait for my first jam session on 16 March. It's going to be best of the best -

    Playing:
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Many thanks Lee

    Will always keep that in mind. Though I find scales one of those things that could potentially be boring, but could be interesting depending on how one practices these.

    Am sure it all contributes to how those fingers move over the frets.

    Playing:
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    Registered User Josh Kaplan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    For me, finding scales was the key to getting to know the mandolin. I had not played a stringed instrument before and had no idea how it worked. But when I found a scale and noticed a pattern and then found another scale and noticed another pattern, that was fun. But it had nothing to do with technique at that point and it certainly was not all I did. The mandolin is such a symmetrical instrument, it lends itself to playing by ear and fooling around. And part of the pleasure is just drawing out the sound from this small instrument. The sounds are there, but there's a knack for finding them. So just play around, making different kinds of sounds and rhythms, chords and melodies, strumming and picking. Heck, sing along with it, too. All the advice you've been given is good, especially about playing with others, and should reassure you. Remind yourself to enjoy the pleasure of making music; it can't all be about the applause and the money!

    -Josh
    Last edited by Josh Kaplan; Feb-03-2013 at 10:32am.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Hi Josh

    Many thanks.

    I have to say I played scales today, but learnt some fantastic cross picking and other right hand technique. I am now applying the playing of scales to cross picking and even some tremolos - granted all needs work, but the right hand feels less wobbly now. So that is one down. I am becoming more confident about my mandolin and playing on 16 March

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    I want to thank everyone for the words of encouragement. I thinkI have been so focused on just learning the mechanics of playing that I was getting to uptight. So, decided to start learning Whiskey Before Breakfast. Have the first part down in slow tempo but still trying to learn the second part. That was pretty fun today.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Kaplan View Post
    For me, finding scales was the key to getting to know the mandolin. I had not played a stringed instrument before and had no idea how it worked. But when I found a scale and noticed a pattern and then found another scale and noticed another pattern, that was fun.
    Exactly on the mark. I would not want anyone to miss this by not giving scales enough time.

    The mandolin is such a symmetrical instrument, it lends itself to playing by ear and fooling around. And part of the pleasure is just drawing out the sound from this small instrument.
    It really is. And I keep discovering symmetries the more I play. I have been doing this thing I heard about where I take a made up phrase on two strings, just something I noodled out, and I then repeat it a fourth up, and a fourth up from that, and a fourth up from that. All kinds of ahaaa moments.
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    I want to pass on to you the best advice I ever heard about "practicing." And it's from the finest violinist in modern history, Itzhak Perlman. Someone asked him how he could stand to practice so many hours, hour after hour. He said:

    I never practice. All I do is play. I hate to practice. I love to play.

    That's the secret.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Wayne Shorter said that he and Miles never talked together about music

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by belbein View Post
    I want to pass on to you the best advice I ever heard about "practicing." And it's from the finest violinist in modern history, Itzhak Perlman. Someone asked him how he could stand to practice so many hours, hour after hour. He said:

    I never practice. All I do is play. I hate to practice. I love to play.

    That's the secret.
    I don't believe him. Not a bit.


    Unless he is being funny, and really means that to him practice is fun, just like playing.


    But even so, when I can play as well as Perlman, I will stop practicing. Until then, scales, arpeggios, exercises, coffee, repeat.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I don't believe him. Not a bit.
    I totally agree. Pants on fire.

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    Default Re: Getting past the frustrations as a mondo newbie.

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    I totally agree. Pants on fire.
    He must be a Greek instrument.

    (hopefully someone gets the pun...)
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