Common Excuses Why We Can't Learn
My fingers are too fat! There is no smaller neck then the
fiddle and the mandolin. The next time that you get a chance to see
a very good musician of one of these instruments, look at their
fingers. Some of the fattest fingered people that I know play the
fiddle and the mandolin; and to beat all, when they play a lot, their fingertips flatten out and
I am all thumbs! This is no problem! Number your other
thumbs as fingers and proceed as if everything was normal.
I don't have but one arm! Once a blind man "Don
Whaley" was asked to play a special song for the church on his guitar. He laid the guitar across his lap,
backwards. He played the neck like a piano keyboard and picked the
strings with his left hand. He was playing it well, then just stopped
picking with his left hand. The playing did not stop because he
started hitting the strings hard with his right hand. His left hand
slowly went down into his pocket, moving around for a while and slowly
came back out. When his hand came out, he had a pick in it and he
began using it as if nothing ever happened. The man never missed a
lick. When he finished, people were laughing. Don
said, "I didn't mean to show off, I just didn't see any reason to stop
to get a pick".
I am not coordinated! I don't think any of us are born
walking. It takes approximately a year to learn even, when we practice
everyday. When learning an instrument, the eyes tell the fingers
where to go through the brain. If the eyes have never seen it, then
it is hard for them to explain what they see. Now the brain has to
tell the story second-hand to the finger and they've never heard it
either. Now the fingers give it a try and become confused; they send
an e-mail back to the brain to relay what was felt. Again, with
second hand information, the brain tells the eyes what happened with the information.
As with all conversations, things get left out or things get added.
In time, with practice, the eyes, brain, and fingers end up all on the
same page of the choir book and things start to happen that sound pretty
good. This is the process of becoming coordinated; it's
a learned process.
You have to be born with the gift. I don't know if I was born
with it or if it was given to me, but I do know that I had to add about
twenty-five years to it to help it along.
A friend of mine was a very good guitarist and had his right hand
crushed. He could no longer fingerpick. He changed his style
to the straight pick and is now better than ever.
I don't have any arms! So you can't sing or pat your
foot? Get real! If there is a will, there is a way. If
you just don't want to, that is ok too. Just say, "I just don't
think I want to".
here to tune with me.
Try this exercise.
Playing the banjo We use three fingers as a standard. What if
your middle finger is broken? This is when we do what we can with
what we have and explore areas that we have never thought about. In
the process, we will find things that can be used when all of the fingers
are working. Let's work with the thumb and pointer and let the
middle take a vacation. Let's create a two finger
||The "T" is for the thumb and "P" is for
the pointer finger. The numbers are the order in which the strings
are picked. Do this until you are somewhat smooth and start moving
the pattern to another set of strings. For example, fret the fourth
string on the fifth fret and do your roll on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th
There is no law that says that you must not change this
roll sequence. In fact, when a note falls on a place that happens to
be a beat, you will want to stop the roll and start over. This does
not change the amount of notes played but instead rearranges them.
Listen back to last month's lesson example.
This type of roll would primarily be used on the lower sounding
strings. Listen to my example of the two finger roll as I combined
several arrangements. This was all done with just the thumb and