Thirty-Day Challenge: The ‘Before’ Clip

The Tony Trischka School of Banjo (now Artistworks) is hosting a 30-day challenge, the idea being you film yourself playing something you’re not well familiar with but want to learn, then practice for 30 days, and then film yourself playing it after all that practice. It’s sort of a before-and-after deal demonstrating the power of practice.

The tune I’m interested in is ‘The Sailor’s Hornpipe’–you almost certainly know this tune, especially if you grew up in the 60s and 70s (as I did) and watched a lot of Popeye the Sailor cartoons. It’s not the ‘I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,…’ song, but it was used in the cartoon somewhere, at least that’s my memory.

Below is the ‘before’ snapshot of me stumbling through this tune after only a couple of hours of look at the tab and figuring out the pieces that go together to make the tune.

But first–I’m using the banjo I use when I play inside, which is muted–I have the pot filled with foam rubber, and usually I use a bridge mute too, but I took the bridge mute off to make this recording. When I film the ‘after’ performance in 30 days, I’ll use the banjo I use when I’m outside, and it’s not muted at all.

Second, the level at which I can play this tune in the clip is awful, but that’s by design. I haven’t taken hardly any trouble at all to play it (or to film it, for that matter) with any quality or skill. I’m not intentionally low-balling it–this is what I can do with the tune right now.

Watch this space for daily practices on this tune, and then for the ‘after’ performance, scheduled for Monday, February 6, 2017.

Here’s a clip of the late great Dave Hum playing this tune–at a level far, far beyond me, of course–on the streets of Bournemouth (I think) in the UK. Here you hear the correct tempo, ornamentation, and, well, everything else.



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