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And then there were two…

November 2, 2013

I have decided to focus my time and attention towards the banjo and cello and leave the accordion out of the limelight for now. Why? Well, I have several reasons. There are only so many hours in the day, and I am trying to become really good at both the banjo and the cello. With only two instruments, I can spend more time on each. Two is technically one too many according to conventional wisdom, but I just can’t play one instrument four hours a day without getting bored. Furthermore, I just like the sound on the cello and banjo a little better. I am trying to get to the point where I can accompany the violin (my mother and daughter) and guitar (my father-in-law and son). Those are both stringed instruments. The stringed instruments of the banjo and cello just sound a little better accompanying them, in my humble opinion. There is also quite a bit of music written for either classical or folk music that can fit some combination of those four instruments.

I am putting in a lot of effort learning these two instruments. I am hoping someday to be good enough to take the Starbucks test: Can I just go down to Starbucks, buy a cup of coffee, whip out my instrument, and, without consulting sheet music, play a string of beautiful pieces, from memory and flawlessly? Someday, I will. I am hoping for that level of proficiency in 90 days. So by February 2, 2014, I hope to be able to do that.

I am enjoying the improvisational nature of the banjo. The culture of the banjo is that the sheet music merely represents the starting point to the piece: the artist is expected to give his own interpretation to the piece, like in jazz. The banjo also requires learning at least three major playing styles and several different tunings. That’s like having to learn French, Italian and Spanish all at once. A different tuning means totally different chord fingerings.

Furthermore, I am getting into some tough stuff on the cello already: I am learning Beethoven’s Minuet in G, which requires rapid transitions between all four positions on the cello. So I need the time for both the banjo and cello to become good at my chosen instruments, without a third one to distract me.

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From → My music

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