Working through the Wiedt book and looking at videos that have been posted by members here has given me a push to try a few other pieces and I've got three in the works:

  • Kaloola--memorized but still working on playing it cleanly and consistently
  • Sunflower Dance--memorized, but I believe I need to tweak some of the right-hand choices to make it flow better and feel more comfortable
  • Pink Lemonade--still reading it but there's something about the first part that makes me want to play it over and over

I'm finding classic banjo a lot more difficult than clawhammer banjo--maybe because the simple clawhammer pieces are easier than the easiest of classic banjo pieces? For me, just making it through a classic banjo piece one time without major mistakes is quite the challenge but maybe someday I will be able to maintain the focus?

In the meantime, here's a turn-the-camera-on-and-see-what-happens version of Kaloola. (Yes, I like to practice sitting cross-legged in bed.)

I'd welcome suggestions for things to work on and if anyone knows of a recording, please let me know where to find it. Thanks!

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Comment by Trapdoor2 on July 29, 2018 at 23:35

You've almost got Kaloola down...except the rhythm of the two-octave 'chord' run in measures 11 and 12. You're playing them with a dotted feel instead of straight. What you're doing sounds really good...but it isn't the way it is written.

Count "1 and 2 and" (for 2/4 time). In m11, you have octave "A" 1/8 notes: count "1". The next pair of "A" notes are a 1/4 note, which get "and 2". The next 1/8 note pair get the final "and". The next measure they all are 1/8 notes so each gets either a down (number) or an up (and) beat...with the final rest taking the last "and".

Kaloola is a really fun piece to play and I like to emphasize that second "A" pair (louder) "bum-BUM-bum-bum-bum-bum-rest" You can also look at your rhythm by making that 1/4 note into two 1/8 notes so that every note is of equal value: bum-(bum-bum)-bum-bum-bum-bum-rest. Do that a couple of times and then treat the second false note as a rest: bum-(bum-rest)-bum-bum-bum-bum.

Comment by Cyndy Richardson on July 29, 2018 at 23:41

Thank you for pointing out the timing issue! I suspect that will take care of the long pause after the last note which didn't seem quite right but needed to be there to make my version work. :)

Comment by Cyndy Richardson on July 29, 2018 at 23:43

Quick question -- the E in the first measure of the second part. Which finger do you use for that? I've experimented with bringing my first finger down but right now I'm rocking the second finger over. Suggestions?

Comment by Cyndy Richardson on July 29, 2018 at 23:47

Oh, and any suggestions for how to get rid of the sliding noise on the octave notes?

Comment by Jody Stecher on July 30, 2018 at 0:03

Hi Cynthia, it's ME again. Well no wonder you're having a hard time. Two changes will make it a lot easier..

1) slow down. You are starting out at the outer limits of where Kaloola will sound good. Not over the limit but at it. Try a more moderate pace.  Before the middle of the tune you do slow down to an appropriate pace but playing at 2 speeds in one phrase is as peculiar sounding in classic banjo as it is in clawhammer.

2) Refrain from consecutive strokes with the same finger (or thumb )  for any note shorter than a quarter note. You are trying to play moderately difficult music using extremely difficult technique. Instead, use alternate fingering.

Comment by Cyndy Richardson on July 30, 2018 at 0:13

Two very helpful reminders. Thank you! I'm aware of the need to chose the fingering carefully on the right hand -- I'm guessing it's just as important as thinking about old-time bowing -- and I suspect slowing things down will help me catch the places where I'm sloppy on that. And, I suspect catching those places will help the awkward spots feel comfortable.

Back to the porch--both literally and figuratively speaking.

Comment by Trapdoor2 on July 30, 2018 at 1:10

Regarding that E in the first measure of the B part: Looking at my Tab, I went to the 2nd string, 5th fret for that E (keeping my index finger there) then open for the tied D notes and then back to 2nd on the 5th fret and then 1string, 4th fret, 5th string open. I try to use open notes to give me some space to move around. Also, economy of motion, those last three are basically 4P, so I can reach that A on the 7th with my pinky before attacking that 412 chord again...

I'm quite sure that fingering isn't exactly in the Classic tradition (my original training was Bluegrass and I studied melodic style a lot, so my fingers kind of revert back to "home" for sequences like that last three notes in the measure).

Comment by Trapdoor2 on July 30, 2018 at 1:21

Argh, no editing "comments" threads like "discussion" threads...

"Sliding noises" can be managed by just slightly taking some time off the note and using it to lift almost completely off the strings (so the string isn't touching the fret) before fretting the next pair. This action will actually damp the previous note slightly giving you slightly less of a 'legato' feel, kind of like a long staccato (I don't know if that makes sense...). Experiment! Sometimes it sounds really good with the slides (even though they may not be marked). 

Comment by Cyndy Richardson on July 30, 2018 at 1:32

I wish I could edit comments and not clutter the main page with mine, but alas.

That E is a pesky thing! I don't know if I can make what you describe work but it broadens my thinking and that's a really good thing. Needing the chord in the second measure rather than just the melody note seems limiting. I can get a lot of the notes after the E very nicely up the neck but then I either have to get back down or create the chord up higher ... 

Comment by Jody Stecher on July 30, 2018 at 2:09

Re the E:  I am looking at the score in library of this site and with banjo in hand am trying some strategies. Two approaches work equally well for me.

The measure begins with a D7 chord.  A on the 3 string gotten with the 2nd finger. C on the 2nd string gotten with the index. And Sharp on the 1st string gotten with the pinky. That leaves the ring finger with no job to do. Wait! Here's a job. Someone needs to play E. This is a job for the Ring finger. Easy peasy. But.... if your banjo is long scale, say 27 or 28 inches, that stretch to the 4th fret to get F sharp is a bit hard to do.  Is there another way to get the same chord?  There is, and after that chord Marc's E on the second string is the obvious place to go.  A on the bass string at fret 7 with ring finger. C on 3rd string at fret 5 with index. F sharp on 2nd string with pinky.  Now drop your index to the second string to get E. D is open. Now play E again but this time you have moved your middle finger to the E position (string 2, fret 5) and the index is on fret 4 of string 1 to get f sharp. G is gotten with the open 5ths string. The right hand goes  IMT (.  .. +).  A is on fret 7 of the first string gotten with the pinky of the left hand. I would  also use this fingering for EF#G following the first way I described to finger the first measure.  If anyone says "that's not classic style" point to Joe Morley who used this kind of strategy from time to time. 

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