Sunday, June 22, 2008

My second 6 months on the banjo

It's J.R.'s one year banjoversary and he's writing a series of posts on where he's been and where he's going, banjo-wise.

Yes, after those first six months I just wasn't making the progress that I wanted to. I'd performed on stage and had a good time doing so, but I wasn't satisfied with my musical performance. I'd spent half a year on my banjo and had gone to lessons every week (mostly), but I could just barely manage a Seeger-style sing-along. (And I'd have needed the printed music and a lot of practice before I could play the song.)

Coincidentally – or perhaps because the universe just wanted me to learn to play the banjo better – this period of realization came upon me at the end of the year, just in time for a new year's resolution:

My new year's resolution for 2008 is to spend at least as much time playing my banjo as I spend watching TV.

I set down some ground rules and started the year-long Banjo versus TV project. And let me tell you, the last six months have been much, much more fun.

Month 7:
  • The redhead says my Scruggs-style playing is sounding "almost like music"
  • I try to teach myself Foggy Mountain Breakdown when I'm really not ready for it. Mike sets me back on the path of good practice technique.
  • I purchase what will become the best gadget in my toolkit: an Olympus WS-311M digital voice recorder. In the coming weeks I'll use it to record banjo classes, my lessons with Mike and my own progress.

Month 8:

Month 9:

Month 10:

Month 11:

Month 12:

As you can see from this chart of my banjo hours over the year...

...I logged a lot more banjo time in the second six months than I did in the first. The Banjo versus TV project has been a success!

"So, J.R.," I hear you say, because I can hear things over the Internet. "That's what the last year has been like. But what's next?"

I'm so glad you asked. Stay tuned for the where-do-I-go-from-here portion of my first banjoversary celebration.

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