I was already 33 before I got any real start on that first Casio keyboard in '87, and a few piano lessons shortly after that got me crudely plunking some tunes on the keys. Seemed like I coulda learned much quicker younger somehow, but by then there were other distractions and time was short.
I'd had a banjo in college, influenced by the bluegrass I heard coming out of the southern Indiana hills around me, and it was the time of "cowboy " rock- the Eagles, Michael Murphy, Pure Prairie League, Kansas, Bill Wilson in Indiana. Loved John Denver and saw him in concert. I was clueless on the banjo, and never really got over the early learning "hump", with no instruction. Sure coulda used the internet THEN!
I got a steel string guitar by the end of the 80's, but having broken some fingers bike racing, it seemed like I'd never really be able to play it. But with the piano giving me better understanding, I was trying, and not getting far. I went to a classical guitar figuring I'd have more space between the strings, and times got hard trying to hang onto anything. Lived in the back of a Toyota pick-up for awhile.
I finally had a small apartment in Hollywood over a parking lot, and rented a piano, and my big break on guitar came in the mid-90's at LA City College, where I could take a semester of Saturday Classical guitar classes for 30 dollars, and I did that a couple of years. I found I took to reading classical guitar music better than piano, so I was on my way. Not the best form, but I was getting some pieces going, and found I like the practicing even.
By then I'd also gotten another banjo, and then even a mandolin. But it was confusing me- I was more focused on learning notes, and wasn't improvising enough. Now there were different strings to tune differently, and I still had not then gotten all that many guitar chords down. But I was getting some solid piano and classical guitar practice, fingerstyle. Banjo crept along, mandolin got nowhere- my fingers were still a liability on guitar, but disaster on mandolin. That's why I never tried fiddle for so long I think. Figured it was too small for my stone hands.
Got into harmonicas, cause I could play them and get them for $10 on Hollywood Boulevard. Got a flute, and started blowing along with recordings mostly. Later I found a Yamaha plastic fife was a lot easier. A couple of years ago I got into some Celtic guitar tunings, and when I tuned the mandolin to a chord, it really gave me some push again there. Can really play along to bluegrass and celtic when it's all tuned to G's and D's. I love the sound of the unisons, but they seem rather muted in bluegrass styles. The banjo started to come along with the hammers and pull offs I was learning in Celtic guitar.
When I got my first fiddle a couple of months ago, I was expecting mandolin- i.e. much too small and more liability with a couple of permanently stiff fingers.. But I find it easier, being more main melody centered. The other instruments, which used to be a confusing morass of different strings, now makes the violin easier to handle. And the fiddle seems to be helping my other playing. It's giving me a real boost of enthusiasm, even if it's cut down some of my other practice time, especially being summer and I have a million things I want to do around the house I moved into last year.
The old Ghost of "Spread too thin" has gone away.
Remember hearing this back in college in the 70's
Bill Wilson sings "Indianasong"
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Playing Since: 2013
Experience Level: Intermediate
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flutes, fifes and horns
the Lovin Spoonful
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Last Visit 12/24/2023
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