Don first wrote us in September of 2009, asking for information on getting a jam group going in his area. He told us:
I am 63. I've set around and accompanied myself on the guitar for years, just strumming and singing, giving little attention to timing or meter. About twice a year, I venture into some jam sessions. I do pretty good on songs I have down well like “Faded Love” or “Red River Valley”, but will tend to break time on other songs.
After playing and singing with your book and CD for the past three weeks, I am not only learning to keep the beat using > alternating bass notes [illustrated in the book]. I have also picked up on the Picking Patterns and can pick, bow and > play “Shady Grove,” “Handsome Molly” and “My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains” in both G and D keys. AND on four > instruments: guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and now tenor banjo!
Again, thank you. After I go through the songs here, I am confident I can go back and play correctly (in time) those songs > that I thought I knew!
So, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks after all!
p.s. I discovered that when I put the capo in the 7th fret of the tenor banjo I have the same pattern as my fiddle! Glory, it's a fretted, picking fiddle!
I think part of the reason I (Luke) like this story so much is because of my dad's story. For decades, Carl's rhythm skills were, shall we say, meager at best. It was only after diving into this playing-by-ear approach (see About the Project) that his rhythm solidified. It would seem that Don is having a similar, positive experience through learning to play by ear with our method. And he's only shifted away from TAB a few months ago!
And that jam group he initially wrote us about? Today, after sending out our latest newsletter, I got a brief reply from Don:
Our jams are growing! Every Thursday night from 6pm to 8pm (or later), here in the Amazing Grace Chapel at 216 S. Main St in Sapulpa, OK, 2 blocks south of Historic Route 66. —Don
There you have it, friends. If you find yourself south of Tulsa on a Thursday night, you know where to go! :-)
Have a musical success story to share? Write us!