View Full Version : Change of Plans

Down Up Dick
06-19-2015, 11:06 AM
I have declared a hiatus in my Clawhammer studies, and I'm going back to basics, Clawhammer is difficult for those who KNOW tabs, but it's a grind for those of us who aren't comfortable with them.

I guess I should have worked more on tabs when I started this path, but I have a problem with sticking to stuff. I guess that's why I play so many instruments. I suppose I'm a pretty scattered person.

Now I'm gonna concentrate on playing tunes with tabs and also fingerpicking. I'm still mostly using "open tuning" though.

Learning new stuff is difficult for us oldies, so I guess I'll have to go slower and stick with stuff 'til I've got it.

I'm writing this hoping that it might help some other troubled oldie. :old:

06-19-2015, 11:51 AM
Are you trying to learn clawhammer strictly from tabs on paper? Or have you tried watching a you tube video on it? Aaron Keim has one, and there are probably more....

Down Up Dick
06-19-2015, 12:31 PM
Are you trying to learn clawhammer strictly from tabs on paper? Or have you tried watching a you tube video on it? Aaron Keim has one, and there are probably more....

Hi, Nickie, yeah, I've watched it on YouTube, but they go so fast and easy that watching them brings me down. I have Aaron's book, and it's a pretty good one, but it's all tabs. And I can play the tunes, but not with any kind of speed. In fact, I don't do much of anything with any kind of speed.

I played a lot of folk tunes today and sang my old heart out. I had a very nice time. Wednesday, I worked on Clawhammer and, when I was through, I felt low and like I'd never get it. So, I thought I'd post and maybe some old guy like me would get something out of it.

Today was a good music day, so my new plan worked at least for one day. :old:

06-19-2015, 01:08 PM
Yay! if you had fun, it was a success. I may never master clawhammer either, but that won't stop me from trying. Slow slow slow at first is the way to learn. Just hang in there, take breaks and come back to it later. No beating yourself over the head with the clawhammer!

06-19-2015, 02:00 PM
Hey Dick- Just chiming in here. It took me three months of 1-2 hours per day to feel like I really was getting somewhere on clawhammer when I first got a banjo. For most of that time I felt upset and rather useless, but occasionally had flashes of fun and progress. What you are going through is quite common for adult learners. After all, you are pretty good at everything else in life, why are you so sucky at this? Well, its cause everything else you do in life (work, sports, family, gardening, reading, giving speeches, cooking, clipping your toenails) you have done many times over many years! Just hang in there, be patient and play slow. There is no rush to master this. Work on the hard stuff but keep playing the fun stuff too. Don't compare yourself to others. Play a little but every day. Practicing is not fun, but it's fun to be good!


Down Up Dick
06-19-2015, 03:54 PM
Well, thanks for the encouraging words. I can play it slowly, but the tabs slow me down even further. I can read treble clef and bass clef and even a little tenor clef (trombone), but the tabs on four different lines give me the yips. I just needed a break from the stress.

I needed to get back to memorizing lyrics (ha!) anyway. Also not my forte . . . :old:

06-19-2015, 04:09 PM
Well this place is just the coolest. You comment about clawhammer and Aaron Keim and Aaron Keim comments back about learning clawhammer. It is always illuminating on just how much work goes into learning something new, even for a skilled player.

Hey Dick glad you are back to having fun and making happy music. Learning is hard so always best to mix in some feel good stuff.

06-19-2015, 05:46 PM
I just looked up that technique. That does look challenging but fun if you can get it down reasonably.

06-19-2015, 10:06 PM
I'd wanted to play clawhammer for a lo-o-o-ng time. Bought a banjo, learnt the chords, bought a book, bought another book, watched the videos, listened to the music, could strum along, but clawhammer ... just wouldn't click :mad:

Then, after many months ... possibly years ... I found Patrick Costello's videos on YouTube and, for whatever reason, it actually clicked :music:

Slowly at first, then a bit faster, bum-diddi bum-diddi ... yay!! gottit!!

Now to learn some tunes.

As so often in my posts, there's an ultimate moral ... in this case, learning the basic bum-diddi strum and using that instead of a "normal" strumming pattern in many songs was my route to eternal enlightenment ;)

Once the right hand was bum-diddi'ing automatically, the left hand could concentrate on picking out the melody.

From thereon ... inexorable down-hill struggle. Things went from bad to worse. Discovered one could clawhammer on a ukulele, bought a ukulele, then another, then a banjo-ukulele, and another ukulele, discovered 5th's tuning, bought a mandolin, then a mandola ... it just doesn't stop!!

... and all this 'cos I wanted to play clawhammer on a banjo!!

06-20-2015, 02:10 AM
I also experienced some problems with claw hammer. I do study privately and having an experienced teacher there helps. I have worked on the Aaron Keim pieces. I started making real progress when I used a metronome. I started playing seriously at 57 after a lifetime playing trumpet. Coming from such a different instrument has really been my problem. I don't think like a string player, I still think like a trumpeter. First thing I do when I see any piece of music is to mentally play it on trumpet. I may never totally think like a string musician but I have no plans to really perform on uke.

Down Up Dick
06-20-2015, 03:54 AM
Wow! Peanuts56, I couldn't agree with you more. It's like I wrote your post myself. I too am an old brass man, and I guess I think like a brass man. But I'm also a woodwind guy. The music for these types of instruments is like reading lines in a book, and not spread over four lines and sometimes duplicated. Also, there's no time signature or key signature. If ukeists don't already know the tune, they're sorta lost when they start the piece. Ukeists might be better off learning by ear.

Ahh, but my embouchure is gettin' pretty weak, and I can't play wind instruments as long or as well as I'd like anymore. My range is limited, and my instruments sometimes make strange sounds. And now, my hands are beginning to cramp up a lot too--Arthritis I guess. Old age sorta creeps up on one . . .

Well, enough whining . . . I played music (some of it pretty good) for a long, happy time. Onward and upward! :old:

Down Up Dick
06-23-2015, 02:57 PM
Well, this old dog learned somethin' new. If one has a boomy string (as I have a boomy low G on my DGBE banjolele), it will sound okay if picked or clawhammered. It only seems to sound boomy when playing chords. So pick it or claw it, and you'll be all right . . . I think.

This learned little bit of info saved me from tearing my hair out or changing strings. Live and learn! :old:

I guess I high-jacked this thread a bit. Sorry 'bout that.

06-23-2015, 03:13 PM
Well this place is just the coolest. You comment about clawhammer and Aaron Keim and Aaron Keim comments back about learning clawhammer.

Well said, DUD, I was just thinking that myself while reading this thread.

06-24-2015, 10:43 AM
Clawhammer is one of those things I want to play so badly it hurts... But I can't, not just because of the style, but I prefer low G and clawhammer just doesn't mix well with that to my ears. One day something will give and the floodgates will open. Then we'll all go, "Gee, what was the big deal?" Until then, and it could be lifetimes away or just days!, we have fun with what brings us joy.