Less Is More

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I think the fundamental problem is this. The more confident I get with my playing, the more I want show off. I have this narcissistic need to make some kind of grand personal statement when I’m playing. The result generally winds up sounding like crap! Recently I was practicing for a gig with a really talented singer songwriter. Her music is intelligent, powerful and well crafted. When I got home and listened to a recording of our session, I was horrified. I wasn’t playing to her singing at all. I was stomping all over the music. Instead of listening, I was trying to prove that I could play the fiddle. I spent the next two days carefully studying her CDs. I made notes on where to play and more importantly, where not to play. I stuck close to the melody and tried to focused on supporting the singer and song. In great big block letters at the top of the page I wrote “DON’T OVER PLAY”! The result worked. The gig went well. I could tell she was more relaxed, I allowed her talent to really shine and she made us both look good!

“Don’t Over Play”: I think I might just tattoo that to the back of my right hand so every time I bring my bow arm up it’s right in my face.

Strum Machine will make you better faster.

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This is a mind blowingly cool tool for helping you learn how to jam. It’s a play along web based app that has hundreds of different backing tracks for bluegrass and oldtime tunes. Not only can you adjust the time and key, you can also arrange chords in any order you want to produce whatever track you want to play with.

Strum Machine helps you…

  • Develop good timing and rhythm sense
  • Get comfortable playing with another “musician”
  • Practice your tunes and melodies
  • Develop leads and improvisation
  • Have fun “jamming” with guitar backup

For the $5.00 a month subscription price it is well worth it.

Check out Strum Machine here

Strum Machine was created by Luke Abbot who is the force behind Toneway, a really detailed and methodical approach to teaching people how to play old-time and bluegrass music. If you live in or near Santa Cruz you should check this out. They offer all kinds of great lessons and jamming opportunities and the Toneway songbook is one of the most comprehensive collection of old-time and folk tunes you will find.

Check out Toneway here