The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #40703   Message #584105
Posted By: Rick Fielding
01-Nov-01 - 02:28 PM
Thread Name: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
Subject: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
I just went through one of the learning rituals that I've been using for many years, and I thought I might share it here for anyone who may be interested.

I should say at the get-go that my approach, and the ones that I use for some of my students WON'T neccessarily work for everyone. They're usually geared to learning or improving on the TECHNIQUES needed to play ALL songs of a certain type or in a certain key, rather than focusing on learning ONE song top to bottom. It's an approach that leads to playing by 'ear' and improvisation more than memorization, but here goes:

I wanted to learn an old Earl Scruggs tune called "Groundspeed" on the banjo. From the record it struck me that he was playing a rather difficult "backward roll". I could have gone to a tab site to find out exactly what he was doing, but that would only have allowed me to learn that one tune, and besides, it's more fun to add one more 'roll' to my arsenal.

Now to really learn a right hand technique you have to practice it several thousand times, which can be a huge drag and get very boring (not to mention driving a partner nuts) so I usually find a football, baseball or hockey game to watch while playing the notes over and over again in the background. The Yankees, Arizona game was perfect.

The particular banjo roll was M1, I2, T5, I2. I started out playing it very slowly, and a lot of concentration was needed to keep it going over and over again (no chord from the left hand...just open G tuning)

By the third inning it was really cooking and I'd long stopped even thinging about it (which is the goal). By the fifth inning I was able to change chords (not the ones from "Groundspeed", just random Cs, Ds, Fs, etc. That's when I put the banjo away.

I picked it up this morning, and the song came quite quickly 'cause my little brain had really absorbed the right hand roll. Now I can use that roll on a lot of other tunes, and I hardly even remember the "practice part".

If you wanna try this with a guitar:

Pick a game to watch, tune your guitar to D,A,D,F#,A,D (the open chord means you only have to think 'right hand') and try this roll. T6, T4, T6, I3, T4, M2. It's a great right hand technique for playing with a "bounce". The first two notes are quarter notes, and the last four are eighth notes. It should sound like Bum, Bum, bada bada. Just play it slowly and quietly until you're not even thinking about it....pretty soon the game will be your prime focus, and you'll be learning a very valuable technique without even noticing it.

When you go back to a regular tuning, sometimes the bass notes may be on the 5th string, and you may want to substitute the 1st for the ones I gave you in the excercise. Doesn't matter...your mind will have absorbed that Bum,Bum,bada,bada, no matter what notes you use.