They Ought to Have a Name For It – Whack-a-Mole

Another practice / performance anomaly. This is the thing that happens when you identify a rough spot in one of your breaks. You start practicing it and isolate the offending habit to clear it up. All goes well, and you can play it cleanly again. Then, you start putting it back in the full-length break, only to have it consistently show up again! You isolate it again – does fine and disappears like it’s supposed to. Put it back in – it pops up again! Where’s my hammer – grrr!

I’ve had this curious effect pop up many times in my practice. The only thing I’ve seen that gets rid of it is to slow it down more as you isolate it, and to expect to deal with it for at least a month as you consistently develop / redevelop that particular technique.

In programming, we have a term for that redevelopment process; it’s called refactoring, and it involves the idea of adjusting not only the specific code to be modified, but also whatever other code or systems that may need it in the process. Hopefully, everything is loosely coupled anyway, so not much else needs tweaking. But oftentimes, that is not the reality of legacy code.

So – banjos, mandolins, or computer code; this anomaly can be a difficult one to get rid of. Time and patience will get it, though. Keep after it!

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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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