Well, here I am...starting at #1 and working my way thru. So far, so good! I was able to play numbers 1-5 last night without breaking anything (except minor ego losses).

Sure, lots of stumbling around, mistakes, rhythm errors, etc. I'm trying desperately not to do much "pencil marking" on the pages. There are a few finger-twisters such as the Dmaj in m14 (Exercise #4) where one holds a D on the 4th (second fret) whilst making an A on the third (second fret), a D on the second (third fret) and an F# on the first (4th fret). My fingers don't like that position much at all. ;-)

I think I shall keep working on these exercises in weekly 'blocks'. That is, I intend to work on #1-5 this week and then move to #6-? for next week. I figure if I can devote an hour of concentration to this task at least 5 days a week, I should make decent progress.

Let's see...there are 87 exercises. If I do just three per week, I should be through "excelling" around December. ;-)

I wonder, should I post videos of each exercise as I go? Would that be of any use to anyone?

Views: 48

Comment by Jody Stecher on May 28, 2009 at 17:34
My copy of How To Excel came pre-pencil marked! Grimshaw's other book The Banjo and How To Play It also has some valuable exercises and advice. My copy came unmarked with pencil but instead was Pre Rolled Up Into a Giant Sausage shape. I found it stuffed in a side compartment of an old English banjo case where it had been sleeping for a half century. The red-orange color of the cover encouraged the Musical Sausage idea. I flattened it out by giving it a month's residence lying flat under 50 pounds of books (a pound per year spent as a cylinder). It's a good book which explains things well and lays the foundation for How To Excel On The Banjo.
Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 28, 2009 at 18:04
Yes, I downloaded a copy of "How To Play It" as well. I made the mistake of believing the "Plectrum Style" on the cover (the example I downloaded is on Hal Allert's "Classicbanjo.com" site). Since you mentioned it, I finally opened it up and gave it a look...sheesh, it's fingerstyle!

I'll print it out tonight.
Comment by Jody Stecher on May 28, 2009 at 19:28
I think that may have been a later cover. My version has a five string banjo pictured on the cover. A different one than on the How To Excel cover. That one had a scalloped bezel (tension hoop) and a Clifford Essex/Weaveresque shield on the peghead. This one is a top tension model. The plectrum instruction is the last quarter of the book. The two books in the versions I have were both published by Clifford Essex and have a similar look. And they're BIG with nice big print.
Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 28, 2009 at 21:10
Yes, Rob, your mp3s/videos are my inspiration...I really dislike exercising for exercise sake. The Grimshaw pieces you posted are actually tuneful...which is much more attractive to me. I've tried a number of times to 'buckle down' and learn to read from notation but the grim (pun intended) reality is that practicing arpeggios and rolls and chord inversions is BORING.

Much nicer to have something tuneful to mess about with.

Yes, I always seem to get bogged down after a while, find something more interesting to do, go have a life, etc. Still, I'm going to give it a try. The new PC has built in video and should also allow me to connect my regular video recorder directly...perhaps my production quality will go up (can't go down, they're already bottom end)!
Comment by Adam on May 28, 2009 at 22:39
I think the videos are a good idea ... The more examples out there for folks (i.e., me!) the better ... I too have been playing around with HOW TO EXCEL (jumping around in the book but I think working from the beginning is the best idea) and so maybe I'll get the courage to upload a vid myself. His exercises are great - in fact, when I've been playing one of Grimshaw's exercises my partner has often commented that she really likes "that song" I'm playing ... Sometimes I don't have the heart to tell her it's "just" an exercise and tell her, "Oh, that's Grimshaw's Roustabout Reel! I'm glad you like it!" .... Anyway, her comment is a testament to Grimshaw, if not to my playing ... :)
Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 13, 2009 at 15:44
I have to admit that I've been sidetracked again and again lately. Um, I have lots of excuses but most are lame (hanging head in shame). I have been *playing* some Grimshaw (see "A Mexican Ride")...but not reading it properly (as I converted it into TAB).

Thanks for the reminder! (as he slinks off to go locate that which has not been seen for months...)
Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 13, 2009 at 18:24
Sorry...right! Around here, it is called "Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving..." I'd have a nip of single-malt in your honor this evening (as I grind away on all those little black dots) but all I have is Laphroig and I'm tired of picking the peat out from between my teeth. ;-)

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