What I’m Currently Practicing

Since I just blogged on pursuing the more difficult techniques when practicing, I’ll list out some of the things I’m currently practicing.

  1. Leaving Cottondale. One of my all-time favorite bluegrass songs, by Alison Brown. Tricky to learn, and it teaches very important melodic techniques, especially down the neck. Yes, you read right; down the neck. There’s still lots to explore all over the fretboard.

  2. One octave and full fretboard scales, for all the major scales.

  3. Groundspeed by Earl Scruggs. One of those songs I just never got around to learning, even though I have been meaning to forever. This is one of my favorite songs by Earl. It’s very bouncy and upbeat.

  4. Shebeg Shemore. An old Irish harp tune by Turlough O’Carolan. It’s beautiful. I’m learning a version in D tuning written by Donald J. Borchelt and I like to speed it up just a tad from the usual very slow pace. I think it just sounds better a little faster myself.

  5. A couple of single string licks. I’ll find a place to stick these in existing songs. BTW, more often than not, that is how I develop additional breaks to songs; I’ll develop a new lick I like a lot and then search among the songs I know for a suitable place to put it, rather than deliberately trying to start a new break.

  6. Tom Dooley. A very easy song; one of my students showed me the tab and I just love it for its simplicity and ease of listening. This version is great to just kick back and play when you want to relax.

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About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Systems Engineer and part-time banjo and mandolin instructor. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play Scruggs and melodic and am working on becoming more advanced with single string. I'm also working on 4-finger banjo, which is way off the beaten path. I would like to see more jazz techniques integrated into bluegrass situations; counterpoint, especially. So long-term, that's what I'm doing. I'm also very keen on astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, christian homeschooling, martial arts, organic gardening and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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