Bluegrass Corner

Getting Involved in Local Bluegrass

Even a genius like Einstein had to practice!

Getting Involved in Local Bluegrass. The Covid shutdown is starting to lift for live music. Limited-attendance events are now allowed, and more restrictions are scheduled to lift in mid-June, absent some type of setback. The Summergrass Festival is on track for August 20-22 this year, and planning is beginning to restart local bluegrass events. Let’s take a look at what we might expect.

The San Diego Bluegrass Society, a local non-profit, is planning to start its 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month open jam sessions in June. Planning is underway and arrangements need to be made for new venues as the old Fuddruckers in Grossmont Center (2nd Tuesday) and Boll Weevil in Kearney Mesa (4th Tuesday featured band night) venues are no longer available.

SDBS is looking for a restaurant or other venue that offers decent food at a fair price, has plenty of free parking, a place for indoor performance, and ideally an outside patio for jamming. Suggestions are welcome. Please send them to info@sandiegobluegrass.org.

We expect that the North County Bluegrass and Folk Club’s first Tuesday of the month music nights in Escondido will also be restarting soon, as will the Thursday Night Pickers Jam in Encinitas every Thursday evening. Sunday jam sessions at Duck Foot Brewery are in the works, as are other local sessions. Likewise, local commercial venues should be reopening in the not too distant future. All this is good! But, be patient and be safe. The best way to stay up to date on all this is to join the SDBS and NCBFC. You can do so at their websites: sandiegobluegrass.org and northcountybluegrass.org.

Playing and Practicing at Home. Until covid restrictions are totally lifted many of us are constrained to playing and practicing at home. Here are some tips on how to make good use of home practice time.

  • Have a Plan. Decide what you want to accomplish in each session. Maybe it’s to work on rhythm or to perfect a particular lead; perhaps spend time with your metronome or something else. Keep it manageable in a 30-60 minute session.
  • No distractions. Turn off the TV, find a quiet room, and really focus. Thirty minutes of focused practice is much better than hours of noodling.
  • Warm up. Spend some time up front to warm up.
  • Perfect Practice. Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect—it makes permanent. If you practice mistakes, you reinforce them. Make sure your practice is perfect—play things only as fast as you can do them correctly!
  • Try breaking your practice into sections. I usually start with some drills—scales, arpeggios, etc. You should work on the item you identified in your plan: rhythm, leads, etc. Then finish with some free playing using what you practiced.

Research shows that it is the combination of talent and good practice that leads to greatness. The discard pile of wannabes is littered with the naturally talented who never practiced. Take any of your favorite bluegrass performers and I guarantee you they have spent many hours in productive, focused practice. It may all look so easy in a stage performance, but trust me, there is practice behind it all.

 

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