Sunday, January 14, 2007

I Should Be A Pro

I should be a pro musician, but I'm not!

Of course, I'm saying this based on the amount of instructional material I've purchased over the last two years. I have several instructional banjo DVD's, a few banjo books, a couple play along jamming CD's, tablature files by the dozens and I even have software that can slow down or speed up music without changing the pitch.

My most recent acquisition of instructional material includes two more DVD titles which I just received tonight; Vocal Harmony Workshop taught by the Nashville Bluegrass Band and Understanding The Formula of Music Makes it so Easy! by Dan Huckabee. Thanks Hunny! And of course, I have a large CD collection of Bluegrass music which I listen to every single day! All the pros say in order to get the music to your finger tips, you have to get it into your head first. I agree. Hunny, I need another CD.

I don't buy all of this learning material thinking that I'm going to find that one ticket that will turn me into a great banjo player overnight. We already know that's not going to happen, don't we? I buy it because I find it both interesting and useful to study the methods and ideas of as many others as possible. Equally important and interesting is seeing how the views of others differ on the same topic - even among the pros. Truly, there is something to be learned from everyone. I can even say that about the instructors on the DVD's that aren't necessarily at the top of my favourites list.

I think I've got just about all the learning materials one could ever need or ask for. It's time to develop the physical abilities to be able to put all of the information I have acquired into practice. Just how I'm going to do that, I haven't figured out yet. On his long play instructional album that accompanied his book titled Earl Scruggs and The 5-String Banjo, Earl said "you may experience some cramping in the fingers and wrist, but this is only natural and will be overcome by practice. Don't expect too much of yourself at first." I have one question. When Earl, when? I've been working at this for nearly 3 years and I can't hardly make a D-chord, and my wrist hurts every time I try. Are you sure you know what you're talking about?

Well, there you have it. Based on the amount of instructional material I own, I should be a pro - but I'm not!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Getting Anxious

I just got off the telephone with Sam Calveard from the Huber Banjos and Accessories company. We had a good chat about all things banjo; tone rings, bridges, string brands, setup and all that kind of stuff. We even talked about the weather.

You may recall from an earlier post, that I ordered a Huber Lexington model banjo on July 5, 2006. The Lexington sure has a nice "crack" to it, but I had second thoughts about an all maple banjo when I thought about the kinds of tunes I would likely be playing. After a couple months of self torment I modified my order to a Jim Mills signature series mahogany model.

I'm told my new Mills model banjo will be going into the finishing department any day now. That means at best, I'm still looking at mid to late February to take delivery on this banjo. I'm not so excited that I'm losing sleep (at least not because of the banjo), but I am getting pretty anxious to try this new banjo. I sure hope it's everything I'm expecting, and more.

I think I should consider taking the new banjo to the Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder concert (in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada - May 19, 2007) and ask Jimmy to play a tune (or two or three or four) on it. What do you think? I've heard from several people that Jim Mills is one of the friendliest, most down to earth guys you'd ever want to meet. I guess that must be why everyone calls him "smilin' Jim."

If you haven't guessed already, I'm a huge fan of Jim Mills. Although there are many great Bluegrass banjo players out there, I'd have to say Jim Mills has influenced me the most in my quest to conquer the 5-string banjo. I don't know if I'll ever reach my goal, but I'll keep trying - at least for a while longer.

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