Friday, July 4, 2014

Playing Tips from the July 2014 Banjo Newsletter

The July 2014 edition of Banjo Newsletter, The 5-String Banjo Magazine, arrived in my mailbox the other day.  I am on their mailing list even though my banjo has but 4 strings!  On the one hand, all a tenor banjo really has in common with its five-string big brothers is the word "banjo", while on the other hand, reading - and learning quite a bit from - a magazine devoted to another instrument falls in line with my philosophy that instruments are merely vessels used to express the collective whole that is music.

Here are some of the most profound tips/quotes I took away from reading this issue of Banjo Newsletter:

--If you sound awful, that's a good sign that something in your playing needs work.
--If you sound good when you practice, you aren't challenging yourself to get better.
(Bennett Sullivan, in a segment called Things To Do Without Your Instrument To Become A Better Musician)

--Every note sounds good with every other note, and every note sounds good with every other chord.  
--Develop razor sharp concentration, look for other sounds, get beyond the duality of genre.  
--Get through the duality of 'am I playing old-time banjo or not?', 'am I playing Piedmont-style banjo, or Cajun fiddle or finger-picking Delta guitar?
--Learn to listen to yourself, really, really listen.
--We have an internal teacher that we can tap into and access by paying attention.  Attention on the process, the music itself.
--Great musicians are totally in the moment - really, really, really doing it.
(Danny Barnes, from the cover story interview with this 5-string guru)

--Create home-made music for entertainment.
--Listen, appreciate and deeply absorb the heart and soul of great music.
--Play what you feel.
(John Balch, from a feature titled Writing Original Clawhammer Music)

There you have it.  Goes to show that you can extrapolate quite a bit from material intended for players of a different instrument that the one(s) you play.  This makes me want to sign up for all kinds of music oriented magazines, from journals devoted to a specific folk instruments, like the Banjo Newsletter, to publications focusing on a specific genre of music, as well as ones geared toward music educators, and beyond.

Yes you can probably find a lot of this kind of instruction online, but it's still fun to open the mailbox and see a good old fashioned print 'zine in there.

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