Clark JM Jazz Mandolin
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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."

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January 8, 2009 | January Fitness

It's as predictable as the yearly Spring Thaw, only about 3 months earlier. The increased lines at the machines at the gym for the newly "committed," the barrage of diet plan commercials, those seeking restoration and restitution after a month-long holiday hiatus from healthy eating and exercise, it's all a part of the ritual cleansing associated with well-intentioned New Year's resolutions.

Our playing can be like this. Don Stiernberg tells us he's going to dig into his 5-string for 2009, others have sworn allegiance to a regimen of FFcP, some register the intent to learn a new Choro every week. It's always good to set new goals; even when we fail to complete them, at least some degree of forward motion is healthy. The key to endurance and perserverance of course is to be realistic, and create lifestyle patterns and acquire the proper tools to get the job done.

Long term.

Realistic? Is your newfound goal something you can strategically map out over time? It's one thing to commit to strengthening your pinky, and another to commit to 10 minutes of FFcP five days a week for the next two months. One is merely a wish, the other a plan. The first is a dream, the second actually creates change.

Do you have a designated playing area where you can spend time free of potential distractions or disruption? This geography may be a luxury for some, but you have to admit if you're in someone else's way, you've got a chronic barrier. How about time of day or week? Are you a morning person or evening; you'll want to practice when mind and body are in peak efficiency.

Tools? Hopefully, you've uncovered the vast resources here on the JazzMando site, but consider a hale and hearty balance of literature and exercises, songs and chopbusters. You do well to work patterns that are incorporated in the songs you play, work the key of F# when the song is in F#, work up-the-neck drills when you want to improvise up the fretboard. Application makes things stick in your brain.

A quick plug for our book, of course (you'd expect nothing less...) . Getting Into Jazz Mandolin has many tools, but there is a big picture strategy to the whole thing. Sure you can dabble with the drills, but if you can commit to the structure of the book, you'll learn finger positions and patterns that enable your ears and intellect to uncover a lot more higher level thinking and playing. It's not just a nifty chest of tools, it's an entire workshop.

Another good resource if you haven't purchased it already is Craig Schmoller's "Mando ModeExplorer" Windows-based software program. We've written a review on it here, and all his supplementary materials are pure gold.

Check out Free ModeExplorer Expedition Outfitters. Great stuff!

Buy the software: Mando ModeExplorer

Posted by Ted at January 8, 2009 11:02 AM

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