Thursday, March 19, 2015

Good Mandolin and A Scarce o' Tatties

I found a CafePress sticker that I should have on my case or somewhere else visible: "Being a good mandolin player is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet." My goal is to practice with focus and intention at least two hours a day. That time is often early morning or later in the evening, and not necessarily all in one time-slot. I'm a long way from where I want to be, but if you talk to other musicians, you'll find that they're in a similar boat. One experienced guitarist I had the privilege to hear live said that he had been working on a piece for about 3 years, and he "almost had it." Then, he played it, and it was lovely.

I've been playing mandolin for almost a year. I started taking lessons after I'd been playing on my own for five months, and found out in the first lesson that my pick direction was wrong! When I told that to a woman who'd been playing for five years or so, she laughed and said, "I had been picking wrong for much longer than that before I found out I needed to fix it."

The following melody sample is Scottish author/musician Norman Maclean's "A Scarce o' Tatties." I've been playing for almost 12 months now, and have hopes of progressing throughout the years. (My teachers laughed when they asked me what my goals were, and I unfurled a page-long 50 year plan.) You can find the sheet music and MIDI files for all the variations at The Session. If you hunger for more Scottish traditional music, be sure to visit Nigel Gatherer's page.  With resources like these, it's hard not to get distracted by the internet!