Busy Day Ended with Crappy Practice

I don’t like not having time to do what I want to do during the day–and seeing as how I’m now retired from two careers, I don’t see how that’s possible that I don’t, but today I was too busy to do what I wanted to do.

I ended the day with a 47-minute practice, plunking around with ‘Fireball Mail’ and a couple of other things. I don’t like doing it inside because I have to use the muted banjo when I’m inside, and Banjo the Dog doesn’t enjoy it as much. That’s Tia the Dog on my lap, I’m dogsitting her until tomorrow.

Tomorrow’s another day, I guess. In the meantime, here’s the 47 minutes.

Anatomy of Learning a Banjo Tune

It’s certain that everyone’s process of learning a new tune on the banjo is different, and it’s also true that mine’s probably not as efficient as it could be.

Having said that, however, I took a look–and I mean an initial look–at Murphy Henry’s version of ‘Fireball Mail’ as presented in her Beginning Banjo 2 video, and in only a matter of an hour or so, I feel like I’ll be able to play this impressive-sounding bit without too much trouble.

It’s also true that how impressive a tune sounds when you first hear it played on the banjo isn’t as impressive when you work on it and get it to playable condition–at least not to you, the player. To listeners, it’s still impressive, though.

The first step is to get the tune into a form that I can work with. For me, that’s FTab–here’s the first half or so of ‘Fireball Mail’ in FTab, transcribed from Murphy Henry’s Beginning Banjo 2 DVD:


This won’t make much sense, but you can find out how to read it by clicking the ‘FTab’ tab above.

The next step is to start practicing the phrases that make up the song. Below is 47 minutes of me doing exactly that.

The last step is to continue practicing to get the tune in the fingers. You’ll see in the next few days that I’ll start metronoming it too.

That’s all there is to it! Stay tuned for developments.

Second and Shorter OPS Session on Thursday, January 26, 2017

I headed up to Alabaster today to pick up Tia the Dog, whom I’m dogsitting for through the weekend, and I was a little early, so I stopped by Veterans’ Park to practice a little sans Banjo the Dog. I left him at home because it’s too much to deal with to manage two dogs in the truck with me while I’m driving. Anyway, I plunked around a little bit and got a couple of nods, waves, and honks. It was cold and my left hand got somewhat stiff, but it was still worth doing.

Right when I was finishing up, a young man rode his motorcycle up to ask if I accepted tips–that was very kind of him. I wasn’t busking, though, so no tip 🙂

Oh, crap–I just this moment noticed that I failed to put the date up on the date placard! Dang it. When I don’t have the dog with me, it throws me off 😩

Here’s the 34-minute session.