Sunday, July 24, 2011

Banjo jokes of the day....

Q: What do you say to the banjo player in the three piece suit?
A: Will the defendant please rise.

Q: How many banjo players does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one, but all the others gathered around will complain that that's not the way Earl Scruggs would have done it.

How would you describe rhythm?

Here is a great site to read about rhythm and to get started on our musical road to wisdom.....can you define rhythm? Do you know what it is? How would you describe it? Write your answers down and then compare them to the ones in the article...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rhythm is fun.

Being able to count music is one of the most valuable skills you can have as a musician. Do you have trouble counting rhythms? I will begin a short group of studies on counting and making rhythms fun. Stay tuned.

Joke of the day

Why did Mozart get rid of his chickens?

They went around the yard saying "Bach,Bach,Bach".

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bluegrass music on your computer

Hey, did you know you can listen to bluegrass music on your computer? For that matter, you can listen to any kind of music...just go to this site and sign up. You can design the type of channel you want to listen to and then you can listen to music while you work...Soooooo coooooooool. Try it and see. If you are able, download it to your phone and when you aren't close to a radio, turn on your phone. When I was at my Mom's a few weeks ago, we listened to music while we played cards....way cool.

Quote of the day...

He has Van Gogh's ear for music.
Billy Wilder

The Banjo....a short history....Interesting facts..

The Banjo

A Short History by Mick Moloney

The beastly banjoThe early origins of the instrument, now known as the banjo, are obscure. That its precursors came from Africa to America, probably by the West Indies, is by now well established. Yet, the multitude of African peoples, languages, and music make it very difficult to associate the banjo with any specific African protoype. From various historical references, however, it can be deduced that the banjar, or bangie, or banjer, or banza, or banjo was played in early 17th century America by Africans in slavery who constructed their instruments from gourds, wood, and tanned skins, using hemp or gut for strings. This prototype was eventually to lead to the evolution of the modern banjo in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Until 1800 the banjo remained essentially a black instrument, although at times there was considerable interaction between whites and blacks in enjoying music and dance—whites usually participating as observers. What brought the instrument to the attention of the nation, however, was a grotesque representation of black culture by white performers in minstrel shows.
The very essence of minstrelsy was black-face caricatures which became increasingly popular toward the end of the 18th century, leading to fully fledged black-face skits and songs on stage throughout white America by the middle of the 19th century. [Note 1.] It was during this time that the banjo in all probability was first introduced to Ireland, when the Virginia Minstrels toured in England, Ireland and France in 1843, 1844 and 1845. The leader of the Virginia Minstrels was Joel Walker Sweeney who was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, in 1810. Sweeney, whose antecedents came from Co. Mayo, has become one of the most controversial characters in the history of the banjo, having been credited widely with introducing the fifth string, or chanterelle, to the instrument. In fact, there are early watercolour paintings well before Sweeney's time that show the fifth string on plantation banjos. [Note 2.] So Sweeney most certainly did not invent the 5-string banjo. What he did, however, with his minstrel show was extend the popularity of the banjo to an enormous audience all over the United States and Europe.
Stephenson and DunneThis leads to the question of what kind of banjo was initially introduced to Ireland. The overwhelming likelihood is that it was the 5-string banjo of the minstrels and not the earlier three or four string variety which was common on the plantations. This is supported by a late 19th century sketch in Captain Francis O'Neill's Irish Minstrels and Musicians of piper Dick Stephenson and banjoist John Dunne, where the fifth string and peg on Dunne's banjo is clearly visible. By this time the banjo had undergone several transformations of a technological nature...
The minstrel banjo also lacked frets and as a result, playing above the fifth string peg posed a lot of severe intonation problems. It wasn't until 1878 that frets were added to the commercially produced banjo, a development credited to Henry Dobson of New York State. It took three decades of animated controversy for the idea to catch on. So the earliest Irish banjos were also, it appears, definitely fretless. Up to the turn of the 19th century, banjos were plucked and strummed by the fingers. So the evidence, though it is circumstantial, would indicate that originally the banjo was used in Ireland for rudimentary accompaniment of songs and tunes, with perhaps some of the simpler melodies being plucked out by the fingers.
Banjo gentThis all changed dramatically at the turn of the century when steel strings were invented. Influenced by the use of the plectrum in mandolin playing, banjo players started to experiment with different plectral playing styles. The idea of tuning the banjo in fifths, just like the mandolin, caught on around this time as well. Many players started to remove the short drone fifth string from the banjo and before long banjo makers started manufacturing four string banjos, originally called plectrum banjos, which were full sized, 22 fret banjos just like the 5-string banjo, but lacking the fifth string. Then around 1915, the tango, or tenor banjo, was invented, coinciding with the popularity in America of this new dance form imported from Latin America, which was sweeping the nation at the time. The tenor banjo had 17 or 19 frets, a shorter neck tuned in fifths, just like the mandolin or fiddle, though not necessarily at the same pitch, and was played with a plectrum. The plectrum and tenor banjos became the preferred form of the instrument in Vaudeville, Music Hall, in Dixieland Jazz, Ragtime [Note 3.] and Swing [Note 4]. In fact, the 5-string banjo languished for years, except in Appalachia, until it was restored to popularity through Bluegrass and the revival of Old-Time traditional music [Note 5].
Paramount headstockUndoubtedly, the first Irish banjo player to record commercially was Mike Flanagan, born in County Waterford in 1898, who emigrated to the United States at the age of 10. Like many of the Irish banjo players in this century, he started on the mandolin and learned on his own simply because there was nobody to learn banjo from. Mike, who at the time of writing [1986] is very much alive in Albany, New York, recorded prodigiously with his brother, Joe, accompanied during the early years by another brother, Louis, who passed away at a young age. Other banjo players to record in the 1920s were Michael Gaffney from New York and the late Neil Nolan from Maine, who played with Dan Sullivan's Shamrock Band in Boston. There was great life and exuberance in those early recordings, in part because the music was designed for lively dancing, but also because the banjo was at that time traditionally tuned higher than nowadays—still in fifths, but with the top string pitched at B or sometimes even at C. There are a few players in America who still favour the old tuning, most notably Jimmy Kelly in Boston. Most of the younger players, however, favour the GDAE tuning, which is by now "standard" for Irish music on the tenor banjo.
It's not hard to pinpoint when this "standardization" occurred. Before 1960, a number of styles and instruments co-existed in the modest fraternity of banjo players in Ireland. Some players favoured the 5-string banjo, some the banjo-mandolin, while others favoured varieties of the 4-string instrument. Some players used a pick, while others used a thimble.
Bacon and Day banjoIn the early 1960s, the meteoric rise to commercial success of The Dubliners in the Irish and English folk revival was to have a profound effect on the fortunes of the banjo in Irish music. Bearded, affable Barney McKenna, ace tenor banjoist in the group, became a household name among traditional music fans. [Note 6.] Barney's skill and wide visibility helped bring scores of new devotees to the instrument, almost all tuning their banjos as Barney did—GDAE, an octave below the fiddle.
Now in the mid-1980s, there are literally hundreds of accomplished Irish banjo players in Ireland, England and America. The instrument has most certainly come of age, after years of occupying a marginal position in the traditional music.
Introduction to
Gerry O'Connor and David McNevin
50 Solos for Irish Tenor Banjo
Walton's, Dublin 1986

Thursday, July 7, 2011

He's Back...

After 3 1/2 years and many trials and tribulations, White Dawg is back and as powerful as ever. Check him out...wish I could say "taught him everything he knows", but he's done this all on his own with just a little help with the I IV and V chords...Love you Billy

Monday, July 4, 2011

Check out this You Tube Video...

WOW what a singer and she is soooooo young. Check this out:

Quote of the day..

Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!
J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, 1997 British fantasy author

Beginning Banjo theory......

Here is some interesting information about banjo theory....Ok, you guitar players can use it to, so read it and give it a try. Pretty interesting stuff.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quote of the day..


        Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence." ~Robert Fripp

Listen to music everyday.....

The very famous Suzuki violin teaching method requires that the student listens to a tape containing the pieces he/she learns everyday to “develop musical ability”. Guess what? It works. As you listen more you will unconsciously adapt more to music in general and, on the conscious level, discover tricks and techniques in music writing that you didn’t know about. Nobody can create music De Novo, it has got to have some roots!!
So, listen while you practice to be perfect.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quote of the day...

" If only the whole world could feel the power of harmony."
Wolfgang Mozart

Why study Music Theory?????

Why study music theory?

Contrary to what some people may say learning music theory does not reduce your ability to enjoy music. In fact you may enjoy music even more after you learn some theory because the more you know about how music works the more you will be able to do as a musician.
There are many reasons to study music theory but the top reasons are:
  1. You will be a better performer. - If you don't know much music theory and you are playing some music and you encounter a passage that has the notes C, E, and G, you would have to mentally process those three notes separately, and this will slow down your ability to perform. If a musician who knows music theory plays the same passage they would instantly recognize that the notes C, E, and G make up a C Major chord and they would play those notes more easily because it took less mental effort to understand the music. Music theory makes learning, practicing and performing much easier.
  2. You will have more options as a musician. - All musical activities will be much easier. Performing, composing, improvising, arranging, teaching music, or getting a music degree will be much easier if you know music theory.

How to study music theory

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quote of the day.....

"Compare music to drinks. Some like a strong brandy. Some is like fine wine. The music you are playing sounds like diet coke."

I'm back.......

Sorry to be away for awhile...out of town with no Internet..but I'm back and ready to get to pickin' if you know what I my new blog for info on clefs

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bluegrass festivals..

Hey...check out this site to locate festivals or to find out where your favorite group is playing...

Quote of the day...

"Playing scales is like a boxer skipping rope or punching a bag. It's not the thing itself, but the preparatory to the activity." Barney Kessel Jazz Guitar

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quote of the day....

Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.
- Ludwig Van Beethoven

Do you want to progress further in your music??

Check out these fantastic practice tips to help you achieve good results:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Quote of the day

Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul..     Plato

Tips for the New student practice....

Featured on the Fine Living Network
by Larry Newman, Director of Children's Music Workshop
The excitement of a new adventure is enough to provide an ample supply of positive motivation for the first several weeks of the instrumental music experience. Once the initial enthusiasm wears off, it is important to immediately develop wholesome practice habits which will guarantee a successful and personally gratifying process for your child. Your support and guidance will be the key factors in establishing the practice schedule insuring the attainment of musical goals.

For our first year elementary players, we like to see three days per week of home music practice - even if just a few minutes. The first year is "exploratory" and our goal is to instill a love for music. We encourage students to play at home for their parents. Practice is encouraged but not heavily stressed.

The most effective home rehearsal program for the second year elementary players is based on a fifteen minute session four to five times per week dedicated to quality practice. It is suggested that you and your young musician mutually agree on a practice time, and a special area of your home designated for their area of musical study. A final one or two minute recital is always effective in building performance responsibilities.

Every instrumentalist enjoys the opportunity to display their talents. You might even ask for a paragraph of what new progress was made during the practice. A special calendar can also serve as a reminder as well as a reward poster for the commitment needed to accomplish the assigned material. Remember, positive reinforcement is the most effective communication you can share in this important quest.

As students mature, it is vital to develop a discipline which makes home music practice a natural part of the day. Although many new concepts are taught during instrumental music rehearsals, the limited time does not afford the personal attention which is vital in developing the technical facility required for the upcoming years of musical exploration. The cooperative efforts of the instrumental music director, the student musicians and the willing parent/s constitute the proven recipe for success.
Let your kids explore music.
The first year a child plays an instrument is an exploratory year. The goal of the music educator is not to quickly turn a child into a virtuoso, but to help instill a love of music.
Try group lessons.
We find that most kids do better in group lessons because they like the social interaction.
Show up for lessons.
Parents should try to attend a child's first few music lessons. Knowing what's going on in the class will allow you to better help your young music student at home.
Help kids learn the basics.
Learning the fundamentals is very important. Violin students, for example, will need to learn to hold the bow correctly and develop proper posture.
Stay connected.
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to stay in touch with your child's instructor. You may find that email is the easiest way to do this.
Keep the instrument handy.
Children can get really attached to their instrument. It's important for parents to leave the instrument out, rather than storing it away, so that the child can always have access to it.
Don't make practice a chore.
In the first year of study, don't force practice. Instead offer encouragement and show that you're interested in how your son or daughter is doing. When you're folding laundry or doing paperwork, for example, have your child perform a mini concert of songs he or she is learning.

Don't expect flawless play from your young musician. The clearest indication that child is successful in music education is that he or she will show love and enthusiasm for the music.

Instrumental music means more to your child than just playing an instrument. It offers an opportunity to experience a whole new level of communication. This artistic language will be with them for a lifetime. These formative years of music education can open up a world of aesthetic possibilities which will bring new meaning to the growth and development of your child. Let us join hands in establishing a solid foundation of growth by creating a disciplined practice schedule at the onset of their instrumental music career.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Quote of the day...

The joy of music should never be interrupted by a commercial. 
~Leonard Bernstein

Just Starting Out With Music????

Just Starting Out With Music?

April 20th, 2011 by JuiceHarpJester

So, you just found out your child may be a future “bluegrasser”  because she has an interest in music but does not know what instrument to play or how to play it. This is common amongst youngsters that have a desire to play music and many parents are not sure what they can do to feed that inspiration to become actuality. Especially if they cannot play music themselves.
Well, here are some ideas that may help:
  • Discuss the importance of the dedication needed to become a musician with your child in terms she can understand and agree to.
  • Start your child out with something simple to play, a recorder (straight flute) is the normal first instrument for teaching music.
  • Find a reasonable music instructor to teach him.  You might be thinking “I have never heard anyone play a flute in bluegrass before, why should I bother having my child learn it?” Well the next idea will help explain.
  • Music theory pertains to all music. An inexpensive instrument can prove vital the sincerity your child may or may not have to learn it and potentially save you the cost of a more expensive instrument that just sits around and collects dust.
  • Once your child has a grasp on music theory, ask her some questions about what she likes about music and what instrument interests her the most. The information, from music class, will prove beneficial with her choice of instrument.
  • Do not buy a cheap instrument. By cheap, I mean low quality. It will be difficult to play, sound bad when played properly and your child may loose interest. Shop around to find a quality instrument at a reasonable price. Your music instructor may be of some help.
  • Make sure the instrument is the right size for your child and encourage him to practice daily.

Different guitar tuning...

Standard tuning on the guitar is: EADGBE
  • Suggestions: this tuning is standard for your guitar to sound like a guitar.
Tuning your guitar to: CGCGCE
  • Suggestions: this tuning is useful if you want your guitar to sound like a mandolin.
Have fun experimenting with different tuning arrangements on your guitar.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bill Monroe's Beanblossom Bluegrass Festival

Hey, if you are in in Indiana this weekend, try this festival out...It has a great cast of players and then you can come here andlet us know what you thought about it. 
Beanblossom Indiana..

6/11 thru 6/18
Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival.

The Mecca of bluegrass music and home of the oldest, continuous running bluegrass festival in the world! The late great Bill Monroe founded this festival in 1966 as a way to bring his buddies together to play that high lonesome sound he pioneered. The oldest bluegrass festival in the world keeps his memory bright through eight days of the very best bluegrass and country music have to offer. Always boasting the top talents in this genre, the event attracks pickers and grinners (as well as plain old bluegrass lovers) from around the country. While the hillbilly music tradition goes back hundreds of years, it was Monroe, a high-mountain tenor and mandolin player extraordinaire, who made bluegrass into a unique musical form. Its this music that is celebrated all week through the intricate, quick-tempo instrumental and vocal harmonies of small groups of virtuoso musicians.
Since bluegrass is an art form that attracks participants as well as listeners, you just might find as much entertainment in the campground as up on stage. Also featured at the fest are workshops and competitions. Festival organizers invite their guests to visit Uncle Pens Cabin, the spot where Monroe spent his early years. And a Walkway of Stars paves the entry to a museum with Hollywood-style bronze stars for the bluegrass greats. Stop by to learn about the story of bluegrass beginnings and to enjoy the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, which includes innovators like Lester Flatt and Earl Scrugs.

Over 50 bands during the 8day span. Check website for updated information. Dr. Ralph Stanley & Clinch Mountain Boys, The Grascals, JD Crowe & New South, Goldwing Express, Lonesome River Band, Jr Sisk & Ramblers Choice, Little Roy & Lizzy Show, Sierra Hull, Larry Sparks & Lonesome Ramblers, Carolina Road, Larry Gillis Band, James King Band, Ronnie Reno & Reno Tradition, Audie Blaylock & Redline, and many, many, many more great bluegrass bands.

Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground

I-65 to exit# 68 Columbus, IN. Go west on SR 46, 15 miles to Nashville, IN. Turn right on SR 135- Bill Monroe Memorial Highway and go 5 miles to Bean Blossom. The park is located on the right a 1/2 block passed SR 45 junction.

10am-11pm EST




Quote of the day...

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me-like food or water.
Ray Charles

Are you prepared mentally for performance?

Check out this article "Master your adrenalin".by Elizabeth Robinson..a great read for all that perform or speak in public.

Master Your Adrenalin…
Are your students prepared mentally for their performance?
To be anxious is to be human. Recently I watched Michael Parkinson interview Matthew Perry and Hugh Jackman – both accomplished, successful Hollywood stars. They both confessed that they feel nervous before a show.
Many music teachers are required to perform. It may be a solo, as part of an ensemble, or accompanying a soloist. The likelihood is that those who choose to go on with music professionally don’t experience crippling levels of ‘performance anxiety.’ Music teachers are self-selecting. Those who do suffer from excessive stage-fright drop out of music. If you like, we are the ones who have survived the traumas of performance.
Whatever your own experience, the students we teach experience performance anxiety in a range of intensities. Some of our students will drop out of music altogether, rather than face up to regular concerts. Even if children perform regularly from an early age, they experience increased nerves through the teenage years. From adulthood on, fears reach an all-time high. Adult students will often be terrified at the prospect of performing. As teachers, are we ensuring that our students are adequately prepared mentally as well as technically and musically?
The good news is that for most people, these fears can be overcome. Most music teachers feel ill-equipped to help their students overcome performance anxiety. Help is available. Music teachers should be aware of the resources available and direct their students toward that help where necessary. There may even be teachers that could benefit from this training too.
Years ago I attended a lecture on performance anxiety. I was in the middle of a series of accreditation performances, and I was severely inhibited by my nerves. I had the classic dry mouth, total distraction, sweaty palms, loss of memory, loss of concentration, loss of fine motor control, inability to sleep or focus. In short, I was a wreck. I viewed my assessors as a pride of hungry lions, waiting to devour. I exaggerated the results of possible failure and replayed over and over in my head, images and words of doom. The lecturer told us that it is possible to learn to control nerves – to arrive at a point where we are free to perform to the best of our ability. In my ignorance, arrogance and mainly fear, I did not believe her.
Later I got so desperate about my lack of control, that I examined the facts. There is overwhelming evidence testifying to thousands who have learned to control anxiety. I set about my own research and after months of practise and training, proved to myself that control is possible. Control of this kind is not learned overnight, but like anything, comes with practise.
Our aim is not to banish nerves completely. In fact, research supports the notion that some anxiety is helpful to an artist. There is an optimum level of anxiety which enhances our performance. If we can control the amount of adrenalin pumping
Copyright  2003 Elizabeth H Robinson 1

Monday, June 6, 2011

Using a metronome

One of the best tools for learning bluegrass rolls is using the metronome. Set it at 45 beats per minute and practice until you can get it at that speed and gradually increase to 50 and so on. You learn to stay in time and you have a sense you are playing with someone else. Give this a try and let me know how it works for you. If you have other positive practice hints, post them here and we can all learn music online.....

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Hey check out the article on 50 quick music practice tips and let me know what you think:

A banjo.....

Thought for the day: John Hartford once mused..." A banjo will get you through times of no money, but money won't get you through a time with no banjo."

If you have any banjo quotes or info on jams, camps or festivals, send them to me here and I will post them for all to see. Let's all stay connected and informed....