Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Banjo versus TV: Week 10

Banjo 82 hrs, TV 56 hours
A weekly check-in on the Banjo versus TV project — J.R.'s resolution to spend more time in 2008 on his banjo than on TV.

I told Mike how much fun I had jamming at Shorty's. He suggested that I Internet up a list of common jam session songs and practice them.

My fellow Player's Union member biggamefish must have had the same idea; he asked people for their advice on jam songs to study.

Mike gave me some advice on that popping thing. He suggests that I start with my left-hand fingers resting on the strings and that I press down as I pluck; basically the reverse of the sequence I learned at Shorty's.

This was the week I finally got my TablEdit plan together. I completed SteveMcBill's TablEdit tutorial (which is excellent) and I got my MIDI keyboard set up. Now that these are in place, here's my practice regimen:

  • Pick a song in one of my practice books.
  • Create a TablEdit tablature file for the song.
    Books/Hal Leonard Banjo Method Book 1/Page 36 Boil Them Cabbage Down.tef v1.3
  • Change the MIDI options so it will play back all of the parts except the part I'm practicing.
  • Change the relative speed options so it will start slow and gradually get faster as it repeats.
  • Play my banjo as I listen to the MIDI sequence of the other parts.
  • Repeat that last step over and over.

Also in the last week:

  • I ordered up a Fielding-Cutler Banjo Mute. I'd read some positive reviews.
  • I ordered up a Banjo Board. I saw it on the "Travel Instrument Guide" at and it looks like a good way to get in some right-hand practice.

    (Mike warns me that it would be insane to try to do what the creator suggests: play this while driving.)
  • Guess I was in a spendin' mood. Through Flatts & Sharpe I purchased a Souldier banjo strap. I knew from the banjo workshop at Shorty's that I didn't want my metal clip, gouge-up-the-banjo style of strap any more. The Souldier strap wraps entirely under the banjo. It has plastic quick-release connectors. It's pretty. And it's made of recycled, non-animal materials. I love it.

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