Wednesday, April 6, 2011

winner of the first banjo equinox challenge!

Congrats to Julie! She was the lucky random winner from the videos submitted for the first recital. For all her hard work she gets a copy of the book Banjo Camp! mailed to her (email me Julie so I can send it to you), and hopefully she'll keep on keeping on as we all head into our next song. I think she's a brand new frailer? Even so, how beautiful to see that hand flurry into a blur! Congrats to all who entered and are taking on making your own music for the first time with clawhammer banjo. Now, start practicing Sugar Hill! Our next challenge will be next weekend and the winner out of the videos will get a skein of Cold Antler Farm's yarn!

Here's a question for all of you out there taking part in the lessons: how do you learn a song? Do you go through the whole thing slowly until you can do it? Do you start with one note at a time and add new notes on piecemeal? Or do you do what I do and listen to a song twenty times and then try to learn it in small sections before moving on? Teach us your methods!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats Julie!!!


April 6, 2011 at 8:17 PM  
Blogger 17th stitch said...

I'm not doing the banjo challenge with you, but I'll chime in anyway (having learned to play four instruments in my life)... I like to learn the last bars of the song first. That way I always know the ending is going to be great! Then I slowly work my way toward the beginning of the piece. It also helps to break it into little chunks and work on them out of order, and put more time into the harder bits (but everybody knew that already!)

April 6, 2011 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger Tami said...

Congrats Julie!

When learning a new song, piano or banjo, I start at the beginning and work through it. Slowly and then build speed as I memorize the song.

April 6, 2011 at 9:39 PM  
Blogger mommypie said...

Yay, Julie! As for learning a new song, I've been trying to pick the melody first, a lot!, to get some muscle memory in that left hand before putting it all together. (I should practice frailing more with the right hand, too. This does get easier, right??)

April 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

Way to go Julie!

April 7, 2011 at 7:30 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

In trying to learn Sugar Hill I've figured out that I approach learning a song the same way I learn a different language. I listen to the melody and "read" along with the tablature. Then I try it out. Back and forth, listen to how to work that pull-off, try it. Repetition repetition. I'll work through the song, then work on only one part that it really giving me a hard time, then find another hard part. But listening to it on the Erbsen cd, and then trying it out myself, willing memory and flexibility into my fingers, I work my way through it. It's like a treasure hunt, seeing how all the little pieces come together into a whole. Just like language.

April 7, 2011 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I mess around with the melody a bit, get frustrated, listen to it a few times, practice some more all the way through, then focus on the tricky parts.

April 8, 2011 at 12:06 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

and congrats Julie!

April 8, 2011 at 12:07 AM  
Blogger delayne said...

Way to go, Julie! Big congratulations! :D

April 8, 2011 at 12:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I learn the song in sections. When I get one down, I go to the next one. My daughter, who is learning to play fiddle by ear, learns songs that way in her class. I figured if it can work for 10 kids, it can work for me!

April 8, 2011 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

sometimes when I look on youtube for an example they are being so fabulously fancy that I can't figure it out. Although I have no idea how to judge technique this one gave me a good sense of a simple version...

April 8, 2011 at 12:18 PM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

I'm a piano teacher and have a tip for figuring out trouble spots. You can usually break down the problem into the movement between two notes which are easy enough to play on their own and slowly, but where getting from one to the other is somewhat harrowing. What you do there is play each note, one at a time, and gradually decrease the amount of time it takes to get from one to the other. You can even just sort of "hover" over the first note and then quickly zip your hand over to play the next note. Eventually the movement will become TOO fast which means you should be able to play that part at the right speed! Then, start adding a few more notes before and after that part, and then the whole area there will just become second nature.
The trick here is to focus very specifically on the spot between two notes, which is hard to do if you think "Oh, I can't get this whole section!" when the problem is usually much smaller than you think. I find that my piano students are reluctant to focus on such small spots because it's easier in a way to just try and play a whole section over and over again, but it'll be hard to fix errors if you don't hone in on them.
Good luck! This all seems like such good fun. I'm teaching myself classical guitar right now, and one day I'd really like to learn the banjo as well!

April 8, 2011 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Geode said...

Congrats, Julie!

What I do is just learn each part separately, working very very slowly. Once I have things memorized enough to play it at a decent pace without straining, then I try to figure out where I can add some frills and fanciness. I have to try out different things until I find something that I think sounds good, and then practice that a million times so I cam remember what I did.

April 9, 2011 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Odd Ducks Farm said...

Congratulations, Julie and nice job with Old Molly Hare.

In answer to Jenna's question, I tend to learn a new song by recognizing patterns in the music and learning those patterns. Eventually I'm able to put things together as a series of patterns. For Old Moly Hare I concentrated less on the specific notes and more on the movements my fingers had to make.

For Sugar Hill, I go a step further and also break the song down into two parts. There are two distinct parts of this song, each repeated once. By concentrating on one at a time, I seem to learn more quickly.

April 12, 2011 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Yay for Julie!

In learning how to learn the banjo, I seem to start at the beginning and methodically work my through just the melody notes at first until I have a grasp of the fingering, then I add in the licks. Then I play it over and over and over whenever I can until I can play it without it sounding too choppy and hopefully gain a little speed in the process...

April 17, 2011 at 8:40 PM  

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