Practice Session 146, Evening of Tuesday, January 3, 2017

This is the second of my ‘new and improved’ practice sessions, and what you see here is what I’m envisioning for future sessions: a short description of what I’m trying to do in the session, followed by the video of the session.

I picked the number 146 at random as a starting place for the practices–the next one will be 147, then 148, and so on.

Note that the banjo I use for inside practice is doubly muted. I have the inside of the pot filled with foam rubber, and then I use a Gold Tone bridge mute, which you can probably catch a glimpse of.

Tonight’s session is broken into three segments: A, B, and C. I’ve created a placard to identify the date, the session, and to make it easy for me to identify the segment by simply moving the arrow. In the video for tonight, you can’t quite see when the arrow goes to the ‘C,’ so the position of the placard is an adjustment for the next inside session.

Generally, I had imagined Segment A to be 15 minutes of roll practice, Segment B to be 15 minutes of playing of known tunes, and Segment C to be 15 minutes of work on new tunes. That’s what I’ve stuck to for this session.

Segment A: I started with what I describe as the 32151231-52151251 roll, and I do that at three different speeds which amount to slow, medium and fast; the speeds are 140 bpm, 160 bpm, then 180 bpm. I spend about 90ish seconds at each speed, and then proceed to the next roll. The second one I worked on was the Foggy Mountain Breakdown roll, slightly modified from 21215215 over and over to 21215215-31315315. That’s more interesting to me, and it’s really the same thing, except that the index comes to the third string instead of the second the second time around, and I need index finger work anyway. That’s executed at the three different speeds, then I move on to a square roll, alternating third string and fourth string same as the FMB roll (32514251). The square is done at the three speeds, and that fills up approximately 15 minutes. I move the arrow on the placard and proceed to Segment B.

Segment B: I started with Murphy Henry’s easy version of ‘John Hardy,’ which I enjoy and which I generally can play somewhat well most of the time, anyway. I play that at two speeds, slow and fast (140 and 180), then move on to Murphy’s ‘Rollin’ in my Sweet Baby’s Arms,’ again at two speeds, and then Murphy’s ‘Old Joe Clark,’ which, of the three tunes, is the one I can play the least well. I finish up Segment B with some work on Casey Henry’s version of the Grandpa Jones tune ‘Eight More Miles to Louisville’ and that fills up the 15 minutes allotted. I move the arrow on the placard and proceed to Segment C.

Segment C: I spent all the time here on Murphy’s high break to Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and I’d say I’m about one-third of the way there on this phrase.

So, that’s the idea with my new and improved practice. Forty-five minutes this way twice a day, and I expect to see some progress in three months or so. Below is the video, and watch this space for developments!


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