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    • I upgraded my ukulele recently to a beautiful, solid wood Ohana. It has a small cosmetic flaw so I got a great deal on her.

      I’ve been teaching myself to play and sing children’s songs for my granddaughter’s. The older one will strum the other uke and sing with me, it’s so much fun.

      Children sing in a higher range which is hard for me so I practice with CD’s.
      Lost in the right direction.
    • If the weather is good, I treat myself to a Starbucks coffee and play my fiddle in the park before my violin lesson. I’ve been doing this for several years.

      I have a ring-bound index card book that I’ve been working on for 4 years. It has the first 2-3 measures of all the tunes that I’ve memorized, the key signature, etc. (If I can play the first few measures, then my muscle memory kicks in). That’s what I usually practice in the park…memorization.

      Anyway…

      I first started playing in the park as a way to get over my fear of playing in front of people. It has helped a great deal although I still use the mute and will bail if there are too many cars in the parking lot (a lot of people park and sit in their cars doing who knows what).

      Today, I was approached by someone who plays guitar who asked if they could join me next week. Geez! Who knew that one day I’d be leading a jam session!
      Lost in the right direction.
    • Traffic Jam wrote:

      If the weather is good, I treat myself to a Starbucks coffee and play my fiddle in the park before my violin lesson. I’ve been doing this for several years.
      That is so cool! I bet everyone in the park enjoys hearing a free concert.

      A few years back Kathy and I were in a campground in Maine. One evening a woman stood in a large open field at one end of the campground and played her flute for about 20 minutes.
      Everyone applauded :)
      It still brings a smile to my face.
      It was just a simple act of kindness.
    • LIhikers wrote:

      Traffic Jam wrote:

      If the weather is good, I treat myself to a Starbucks coffee and play my fiddle in the park before my violin lesson. I’ve been doing this for several years.
      That is so cool! I bet everyone in the park enjoys hearing a free concert.
      A few years back Kathy and I were in a campground in Maine. One evening a woman stood in a large open field at one end of the campground and played her flute for about 20 minutes.
      Everyone applauded :)
      It still brings a smile to my face.
      It was just a simple act of kindness.
      On a related note, I'm attending my first ever ALDHA gathering in October and and rather hoping that Hikerboy brings his guitar.
      Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.
    • My last violin lesson was today, my teacher of 5 years is moving. It’s very sad but has opened up a lot of options for me and the direction that I want to take my music. I have another teacher lined up, one who is an expert at playing in jam’s, back up, and improvising. He plays every Bluegrass instrument and teaches at camps all over the country.

      I’ve made a lot of headway in dealing with the anxiety of playing around others and have been attending several local jam’s, it’s been fun for the most part. A few times I’ve felt stupid when I called a song and screwed it up but people are nice about it. There aren’t many fiddle players and I’m the sole fiddler at one of the jams that I attend. That creates some pressure but they’re really nice people and are so happy to have me that they forgive all my mistakes. :)
      Lost in the right direction.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Traffic Jam ().

    • Update on fiddle progress…

      I sure do feel stupid when playing with my new teacher. We do everything by ear and I have a hard time understanding and following his direction. I’m sure he thinks I’m an idiot and it’s embarrassing to me that his family is around and has to suffer listening to me.

      But he teaches the things that I’m really weak at and that’s why I chose him.

      I never thought this would happen but I’m now singing in jams. I took a Wernick Jam class and the teacher talked me into singing and it was fun, not scary at all. You really don’t have to have a good voice to sing bluegrass, just sing in tune and in the right key and it’s all good.
      Lost in the right direction.
    • If he teaches lessons at home with his family around, they've already "Heard it all". Don't worry about his family, they probably are excellent at tuning out.
      If you are learning, that's what matters. He sounds like he is a gifted natural at the music. There are people like that. The really nice ones, while they probably understand their gift, it's that they don't belittle others and openly share their gifts. Our daughter is a professional artist and even in high school, her teachers were praising her because she was so willing to share "how to" with others in the class. I played in a church band and the youth minister was gifted with "if it has strings and you can pick it up, I can play it" talent and he was very humble and GOOD. Guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo.....a smile and off he'd go with it. Rock, country, bluegrass.....
      Pirating – Corporate Takeover without the paperwork
    • Yes, he’s a great musician who plays multiple instruments. He’s self taught on fiddle so isn’t technically correct sometimes but that’s ok, I’m learning what I want to learn.

      Today’s lesson was better because I communicated my occasional confusion about his instructions.

      Fiddle (maybe all string instruments?) is hard because there’s so much going on. He’ll say, “play this melody using long bows while I play guitar then add some G and D chord double stops wherever you think they belong,” and my brain will be so focused on staying in tempo, watching his hands for chord changes, and figuring out the melody (we don’t use sheet music), that I’ll be shuffling or something with the bow and forget where to put my fingers for double stops. But he is good natured and I’m becoming more comfortable with his teaching style.
      Lost in the right direction.
    • odd man out wrote:

      as a cello player, I've always thought string instruments were unique in that your left and right hands are doing very different motions. Plus, assuming you play "right handed", the fine motor skills are needed in your left hand.
      LOL. Child's play! (JK). Watch a drummer on a kit. (For a Right handed drummer, switch all for a lefty) Left foot is keeping 4/4 time (or not) on a high-hat. Possibly also double kick-drumming on a double pedal. Right foot is playing the Bass/kick, which the bass guitar player is very interested in. His left and right hands are then playing different drums and cymbals...all while keeping time and doing fills at appropriate places.....now lets add in a wood block or something......
      Pirating – Corporate Takeover without the paperwork
    • rhjanes wrote:

      odd man out wrote:

      as a cello player, I've always thought string instruments were unique in that your left and right hands are doing very different motions. Plus, assuming you play "right handed", the fine motor skills are needed in your left hand.
      LOL. Child's play! (JK). Watch a drummer on a kit. (For a Right handed drummer, switch all for a lefty) Left foot is keeping 4/4 time (or not) on a high-hat. Possibly also double kick-drumming on a double pedal. Right foot is playing the Bass/kick, which the bass guitar player is very interested in. His left and right hands are then playing different drums and cymbals...all while keeping time and doing fills at appropriate places.....now lets add in a wood block or something......
      And now we know why Don Henley and Phil Collins were held back as lead singers in the Eagles and Genesis even though we all now know they clearly were the best in their respective groups. :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      rhjanes wrote:

      odd man out wrote:

      as a cello player, I've always thought string instruments were unique in that your left and right hands are doing very different motions. Plus, assuming you play "right handed", the fine motor skills are needed in your left hand.
      LOL. Child's play! (JK). Watch a drummer on a kit. (For a Right handed drummer, switch all for a lefty) Left foot is keeping 4/4 time (or not) on a high-hat. Possibly also double kick-drumming on a double pedal. Right foot is playing the Bass/kick, which the bass guitar player is very interested in. His left and right hands are then playing different drums and cymbals...all while keeping time and doing fills at appropriate places.....now lets add in a wood block or something......
      And now we know why Don Henley and Phil Collins were held back as lead singers in the Eagles and Genesis even though we all now know they clearly were the best in their respective groups. :)
      And Levon Helm.......
      Pirating – Corporate Takeover without the paperwork
    • rhjanes wrote:

      odd man out wrote:

      as a cello player, I've always thought string instruments were unique in that your left and right hands are doing very different motions. Plus, assuming you play "right handed", the fine motor skills are needed in your left hand.
      LOL. Child's play! (JK). Watch a drummer on a kit. (For a Right handed drummer, switch all for a lefty) Left foot is keeping 4/4 time (or not) on a high-hat. Possibly also double kick-drumming on a double pedal. Right foot is playing the Bass/kick, which the bass guitar player is very interested in. His left and right hands are then playing different drums and cymbals...all while keeping time and doing fills at appropriate places.....now lets add in a wood block or something......
      I’ve always been fascinated by that…what must be going on in their brain?

      There’s a documentary about neural pathways and a child drummer was used to show how the pathways fire when he’s playing and how he will develop more and more as he continues to drum. It’s amazing.

      last week I suggested to my teacher that we do a month of percussion stuff as a way to get better at rhythm and I’ve been playing around with the spoons. It’s amazing how our ancestors used whatever they had available to create music. Joe Craven is an excellent example of this, he plays a mayonnaise jar on one of his recordings. (Highly recommend his music if you like folk/old time/world. And he’s also an awesome fiddle player)
      Lost in the right direction.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Traffic Jam ().

    • Traffic Jam wrote:

      rhjanes wrote:

      odd man out wrote:

      as a cello player, I've always thought string instruments were unique in that your left and right hands are doing very different motions. Plus, assuming you play "right handed", the fine motor skills are needed in your left hand.
      LOL. Child's play! (JK). Watch a drummer on a kit. (For a Right handed drummer, switch all for a lefty) Left foot is keeping 4/4 time (or not) on a high-hat. Possibly also double kick-drumming on a double pedal. Right foot is playing the Bass/kick, which the bass guitar player is very interested in. His left and right hands are then playing different drums and cymbals...all while keeping time and doing fills at appropriate places.....now lets add in a wood block or something......
      I’ve always been fascinated by that…what must be going on in their brain?
      There’s a documentary about neural pathways and a child drummer was used to show how the pathways fire when he’s playing and how he will develop more and more as he continues to drum. It’s amazing.

      last week I suggested to my teacher that we do a month of percussion stuff as a way to get better at rhythm and I’ve been playing around with the spoons. It’s amazing how our ancestors used whatever they had available to create music. Joe Craven is an excellent example of this, he plays a mayonnaise jar on one of his recordings. (Highly recommend his music if you like folk/old time/world. And he’s also an awesome fiddle player)
      "Please, Please God, let me nail this triplet fill" Once I get going on triplet's, it's no problem.....but I always dread going in and out of a triplet feel.
      I think it helped me as a drummer/percussionist to be pretty ambidextrous. Most of the stuff I played, the High-Hat and Bass was a fairly constant rhythm on a song. But you have to develop "separation" for you limbs. I consider myself a "Decent hack". I've had a few singers and other musicians over the years try and sit down and play. And give up quick. I usually get an inner chuckle with the "know-it-all" who thinks they want me to "play it THIS way" and sit down....Doink...boom, tap tap tappy..."Well you know, something like that". (Chuckle)
      But think about people like Sir Paul, Prince, Roy Clark, Dave Grohl, who play about anything they want to.....and it sounds fantastic.
      Pirating – Corporate Takeover without the paperwork
    • I wonder if there’s such a thing as a learning coach or advisor? Someone who helps others to organize and establish a plan because I’m feeling overwhelmed, unfocused, and unorganized with my new teacher.

      He has so much information, tries to teach me so many things, that I don’t know where to start or what to practice. During my lesson, he changes direction quickly and my brain will be trying to figure out the previous task so I can’t focus on the current one and then feel like an idiot. Ugh.

      Originally, my focus was to work on ear training, picking out melodies, playing back-up in jams, and to start singing. I’ve neglected my fiddle tunes and speed because there’s only so much time (I’m also taking an online scales class).

      Last night, he talked me into going to a local pub to play with a group and it was terrible. You’ll be fine he said. Well, they played very fast fiddle tunes and I could only play the melody for maybe 5 songs and that was barely keeping up. It was embarrassing.

      Oh well, I know tomorrow will be better.
      Lost in the right direction.
    • Y’all are both right. But I was feeling sorry for myself (over it), needed to vent and wasn’t fair. He really is teaching me what I want to learn. While he does move fast, most of the difficulty is that my brain has to totally shift gears from the previous 6 years (next month). The last 6 years have been about playing tunes with an occasional technical lesson thrown in. I should not have stayed with my previous teacher for so long. She became a good friend and my loyalty is often too strong. I’m just now learning how to listen, how to make chords (requiring some basic music theory that I’m now learning) and how to play spontaneously. It’s a different ballgame.

      I did try to give him feedback that wasn’t followed through so will bring it up again. One exercise we did for several weeks that was super helpful and fun was to take a simple tune and play the heck out of it. We transposed to different keys, added fills and double stops, changed the rhythm, etc. I’m going to ask to do that again.

      Time to practice. :)
      Lost in the right direction.
    • Time for some recreational spreadsheeting (Yes, I know it's weird. Deal with it)

      I've read a number of times that it takes seven riffle shuffles to randomize a deck of cards (a riffle shuffle is the common method of cutting the deck into two halves and then interlacing the two halves so the bottom card of one half interlaces with the bottom two cards on the other half, etc up to the top cards of each cut). Th2 statistics for the seven shuffle randomization has been calculated using math that is way beyond me:

      ams.org/publicoutreach/feature-column/fcarc-shuffle

      But it turns out that this is for an imperfect shuffle. It stands to reason that if you shuffle perfectly so that every card alternates from the two top and bottom cuts, then the order of the cards would not be random but completely predictable. I also read that if you do a perfect riffle eight times, you will regenerate the initial card order and some magicians have been able to develop this skill.

      I found that remarkable, so I decided to test it out with a spreadsheet. I made a column of numbers from 1 to 52. I then wrote a formula in the second column that would calculate where each the the numbers in the first column would end up after a perfect riffle. They you just copy that same formula into every cell across the spreadsheet and look for a column where the original 1-52 sequence repeats. Indeed, after 8 shuffles, the original sequence reappeared!

      Then I wondered what would happen if you did this with a half a deck. So I repeated the spreadsheet for 26 cards. Interestingly, it took 20 shuffles to regenerate the original order with half a deck. Perhaps I will some day repeat this deck of many sizes to see if there is a pattern.

      Then it occurred to me that there are two types of perfect riffles. I had done the calculations to the shuffle started with the bottom card from the bottom half and ended with the top card from the top half. This way the bottom card is always on the bottom and the top card is always on the top but the middle cards all get shuffled. So I wondered what would happen if you did it the other way where you start with the bottom card of the top half. I call this bottom card second since the bottom card of the previous deck will be second from the bottom on the shuffled deck. I rewrote the formula for a bottom card second suffle (the formulas are not complicated). That spreadsheet shows that it took 52 shuffles to regenerate the deck (quite a difference)

      Finally I though, if it took 52 shuffles to regenerate a 52 card deck with a bottom card second riffle, maybe it would take 26 shuffles to regenerate a 26 card deck. Interestingly, the answer is no. That deck only took 18 shuffles to regenerate. I'm sure there must be a pattern there but a lot more spreadsheeting will be necessary to figure it out.

      Bottom card first formula: =IF(A3<=N/2,A3*2-1,(A3-N/2)*2) where A3 is the cell to the left of the formula and N is the number of cards in the deck.
      Bottom card second formula: =IF(A3<=N/2,A3*2,(A3-N/2)*2-1)

      You can download the spreadsheet here. Scroll across to see each trial.

      dropbox.com/s/i13nx549avh980b/shuffle.xlsx?dl=0
    • For all you guitar enthusiasts: Last night I went to a great program at the Ford Presidential museum to go with their special exhibit on the history of the guitar. Chris Martin (6th generation CEO of C.F. Martin & Co. Guitar) talked about the 190 year history of Martin Guitars while Craig Thatcher (really good guitarist) played samples of various signature guitars, such as the Joan Bayez, John Lenon, Gordon Lighfoot, Steve Miller, etc... models. He played a song by each artist the guitar is named for. I learned the difference between an 00, an 000, and a Dreadnought.

      They also had a couple of museum pieces - Martin #2,000,000 and #2,500,001. The latter has a shiny blue top studded with hundreds of diamonds arranged as the stars were on the night the Martin Company was founded in 1833.

      After the program, you could hang around to talk to the presenters and get a close look at the guitars. The guitar wrangler said they made two copies of the #2.5 million special edition. #2,500,000 will stay in the Martin museum but #2,000,001 is for sale, but you'll need at least $2,000,0001 to afford it.





    • Sometimes you just have to laugh.

      I’ve dropped out of the knitting completion, just couldn’t make myself continue and end up with a pair of socks the size of a canoe. Plus it’s time to return to my other hobbies.
      Images
      • 1CC8195B-12CB-4DE9-B20C-5A21EAD55646.jpeg

        283.97 kB, 800×600, viewed 33 times
      Lost in the right direction.
    • jimmyjam wrote:

      instagram.com/_thornpipe_?igshid=NTc4MTIwNjQ2YQ==

      Anybody follow Andy Thorn aka thornpipe? He is an amazing banjo player. Makes me want to learn.
      I don’t follow him but have seen his video with the fox.

      Go for it! Learning to play an instrument is fun (and sometimes you want to tear out your hair, but it’s mostly fun.) I’m playing with several different groups in the area and it’s a great way to socialize with people my age.
      Lost in the right direction.
    • I don't know Andy Thorn. We've been listening to a CD by Molly Tuttle while driving to NC. Excellent Bluegrass album. We're spending the night at a B&B in Athens WV, not far from Bland VA. Tomorrow we are stopping at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the BRP near Galax VA. They have a jam session at noon, plus some trails to walk. I don't have an instrument to join in with so we'll just listen.
    • odd man out wrote:

      I don't know Andy Thorn. We've been listening to a CD by Molly Tuttle while driving to NC. Excellent Bluegrass album. We're spending the night at a B&B in Athens WV, not far from Bland VA. Tomorrow we are stopping at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the BRP near Galax VA. They have a jam session at noon, plus some trails to walk. I don't have an instrument to join in with so we'll just listen.
      Molly Tuttle is awesome. I follow her fiddle player Bronwyn Keith-Hynes. It’s been neat to watch her progress as a performer. Bronwyn was my teacher one year at Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp.

      I’ve been to the jam near Galax, it’s fun! When I was there, it wasn’t a really a jam but some musicians playing for an audience. You’ll be close to the New River that y’all discussed in another thread.

      Have fun!
      Lost in the right direction.
    • odd man out wrote:

      We got to the Blue Ridge Music Center for the noon jam session. A few songs in they asked if there was a bass player in the audience. I stepped up. It went well. It's fun playing songs you don't know by just listening to them once.

      On the way to Raleigh we stopped at Pilot Mountain to see the overlooks.
      How fun! I’m glad you got to play. The beauty of bluegrass is its simplicity. One can play even if they don’t know the tune.

      When I was there during quarantine, it was a band playing in a big room in front of an audience.
      Lost in the right direction.
    • This was in the covered area open to the putside. We kep getting "attacked" by the barn swallows. This was not a band. There were a couple of locals (banjo and ukulele) who lead the show. There was a mandolin and autoharp players who were visiting friends. All amatures just playing for fun. The ukulele player was impressed with my playing which speaks to their "casual" standards.
    • I spent a week at Bluegrass camp and it was amazing! I was reunited with previous friends, made a ton of new friends, and had a blast playing music. There were moments of affirmation that made me realize that, as painful as it’s been, I have made progress since starting with a new teacher.
      Lost in the right direction.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Traffic Jam ().

    • New

      Over two years ago I attempted my first ever wine making project. I have fermented other things, beer, kombucha, sauerkraut and so on. But wine has always intimidated me. I suppose it is because I have never tasted a homemade wine I thought was any good. Here is the story...



      I decided to try to make a 'Rose hip Wine' because I knew I could never hope to produce a grape wine as good as a fine vineyard. I collected my rose hips at a local beach in Nahant, MA.


      First thing to do is de-stem and wash the thorny, pricky rose hips. ouch!


      I just wanted to make a small batch (I was not optimistic I would be successful). I started the fermentation in an open one-gallon bucket.


      I sterilized, crushed the rose hips by hand, added sugar and yeast and a few other things and let my little yeast friends do all the real work.




      Over the next several days the rose hips broke down and the fermentation began.


      After a full week I strained the mush through cheesecloth and put the liquid in a 1-gallon carboy with an airlock. It was such a pretty color!

      I strained the results and returned to the carboy a few more times. After 82 days the liquid was clear and all fermentation had ceased. I bottled and corked 4 bottles of rose hip wine. A little taste at this point had me thinking I had created 'rocket fuel.' It burned!



      The hardest part was waiting over two years for the wine to age, but nw I could finally test the results...

      The wine poured a beautiful golden amber color. It had mellowed with time. My rose hip wine is delicious! A grape wine snob might not appreciate it, but this turned into something special in its own right. It had notes kind of like a Sherry, it was dry and incredibly floral. I am declaring my first wine was a complete success. Now I need to make some more. The hard part will be waiting another two years.

      Cheers!
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier