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Theres only so much time!

Monday, April 20, 2009

There’s only so much time!

It is pretty common to get stuck on a plateau of sorts when learning to play music. You know, that period of time where is seems that even the new tunes you are learning seem stale and pretty much the same as some of the ones you already know? This can be a little disheartening but there are some things you can do to move ahead, move up and, well … keep moving. Here are some things that will serve you well throughout your musical lifetime, not just when you start feeling musically stale
Play in time:  There are now drum tracks and metronomes and click tracks on keyboards, recording equipment or available free for the downloading through the internet. My friend Megan Lynch recently said that everyone has a natural, internal metronome that occasionally needs synchronizing. We each have a beat within us that is our own, but adjusting it to beat more accurately with a digital one by playing along with a drum machine (my favorite) really helps improve timing and tone. Slowing down a piece to a crawl that you think you know well and playing along with forced, perfectly timed note spacing may do worlds of good for your timing.
Record Yourself: Frequently make attempts to record yourself while you are playing, especially with other people and it can be quite reveling. When you are caught up in the moment of performing, jamming or just having a bit of musical fun, it is impossible for most to know if they are speeding up or if they sound great. You will be surprised at how much this little tip can help you know what to focus on when it comes to improving your playing.
Play with Others: If you don’t play music with other people you will never learn to play music… period! Music is like learning to speak a foreign language and even though using a DVD and a book you can teach you how to order a burger and a drink (play licks and tunes), you will never learn to have a conversation (jam or perform) without getting out and interacting with people who speak that language.
Play with people who are better than you: No matter what it does to your ego, this is the best advice you can get. The push you receive by hanging out with, closely listening to, observing, and playing with musicians who are better than you is something that will always be of enormous value. After you become good at playing a musical instrument, it is easy to find people with which to play, and it is tempting to become somewhat complacent and allow yourself to be the big fish in a small pond, but if you always make an attempt to find and play with musicians who are better than you, no matter what level you are on, you will be a better musician for having do so.
Keep Moving: If you are always developing and adding to what you already know as well as adding to your repertoire, you are doing yourself a big musical favor.
There’s only so much time: With a limited amount of time to work with in our busy lives, and knowing that if you have read this far I know that music is important to you, I want to stress the importance of quality, not quantity. Knowing 100 complex tunes or licks without having perfected them isn’t worth 5 done well. Be nice to people, but remember that if given the choice of staying within your comfort level (your small, cozy personal box) and getting outside that box to experience something a little more difficult or challenging to you musically, choosing the more difficult will do you the greater good every time.
Richie Dotson

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Playing Since: 1976
Experience Level: Purty Good

[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: Engineering Tech., Luthier and Teacher

Gender: Male
Age: 56

My Instruments:
Banjo, Mandolin Guitar and Bass ... Sorry, but if you need a fiddle player real bad, I'm a real bad fiddle player.

Favorite Bands/Musicians:
I like a lot of them.... Flatt and Scruggs The Osborne Brothers New Grass Revival The Bluegrass Album Band Nashville Bluegrass Band Bill Evans Bill Keith Ron Block Bobby Thompson Mike Snider doug dillard Ronnie Barnes (my local hero) The Stanley Brothers Doyal Lawson and Quicksilver with Terry Baucom or Scott Vestal or Jim Mills ...well, I guess Mr Lawson hasn't had a bad banjo player, now has he? Anyone else who didn't stop at only 4 chords and one first generation band style.

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Profile Info:
Visible to: Public
Created 4/20/2009
Last Visit 3/30/2012

I was born on March 4, 1967 in Detroit, Michigan and soon after returned with my parents to their home in Phelps, Kentucky, a small coal mining community tucked away deep in the Appalachian Mountains in Pike County. I began playing the banjo at about the age of 9 when my grandfather, Charles Everett Dotson, purchased an inexpensive banjo from Sears in Williamson, West Virginia and taught me to play my first tune in a minstrel style. That tune, John Henry, changed my idea of recreation forever. Most of my free weekends during my teens, and most free weekdays during summer breaks from Phelps High School were spent in the home of my nearby neighbor, Carl Dotson, for whom my first book will be dedicated, and his wife, Gertrude, immersing myself in the music I had fallen so deeply in love with. The invaluable lessons learned during these influential years spent jamming and playing along with old-time, Gospel and Bluegrass songs with Carl and Gertrude and my childhood musical friend, James (Jimbo) Compton on guitar set the stage for me. Other local musicians like Dean Jackson of Hurley, Virginia, a superb guitar player and singer in the area, kept my attention and allowed me exposure to some of the best pickin’ available in the tri-state area. I began playing with a local Bluegrass Gospel band, Larry Fuller (1948-2007) and the Born Again at the age of fifteen where he spent about 3 years recording and playing on a regional level in churches, radio and television shows and the occasional Bluegrass festival until my enlistment into the United States Navy in 1985. After my 4-year obligation expired I eventually settled down in the Tidewater area of Virginia and now am moving on to Chesterfield, Virginia where I teach banjo, guitar and mandolin as well as build and repair banjos and other stringed, acoustic instruments in my home workshop. I own and personally maintain a luthier’s how-to webpage aimed mostly at the banjo that can be viewed at: My loving wife Jeanne and I have four children and one grandchild. Our home is full of love, music and occasionally chaos and drama. I hope you will say hello if you see me out.

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