Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Happy New Year!

Mandolin Players are a taciturn lot.

So what is everyone working on? I’ve just restarted after nursing an injury and I’ve gone back to the beginning.

I first discovered Ben on youtube, doing ‘I’ll Fly Away’ on mando. I signed up specifically to learn that tune. But like a kid picking up shiny objects, I dropped it and ran around to a bunch of other things. I just started working on it again.

I am also working out ‘Ashokan Farewell’, entirely by ear, and trying to apply some of Ben’s lessons with double stops and tremolo to spruce it up.

And last, I’ve been working the FFcP fingerings in all 4 positions, for the major and major pentatonic scales. Trying to work some simple breaks into a few John Hiatt tunes we do in our band with those pentatonics. I need to add minor scales to the mix one of these months too, but this is plenty for the amount of time I have for playing.

I’ll always need some tab to fall back on, but my number one goal for the year is to use it sparingly instead of as the primary way I learn new tunes.

Ashokan Farewell is a song that works great on mando, I suspect that’s largely because it was written for fiddle. I like noodling around on that one as well.

Glad to hear you are recovering!

Happy new year. I have been working on Ben’s Shady Grove and Wildwood Flower lessons.

Thanks Mike, the Physical Therapy really helped. I’m still only about 95%, there’s a dull ache that just won’t go away, but it’s not preventing me from playing. I have been listening to Jay Ungar on Youtube and trying to find the notes on the mandolin, and have the first part done, but bits of the second section still elude me.

Rick, those tunes are on my list too. I’ve been playing both on guitar for years. I need to add more vocal numbers because I’m getting ready to search for a new BG jam to join. I had been doing one near where I work before my elbow flared up, but it was getting stale and there were just too many players playing way too loudly.

I’m also debating whether to attend a Mandolin Camp this spring:


I actually attended it 3 years ago, with just 6 months of mandolin under my belt. It’s too much, too fast, and an awful lot of money for just 2.5 days, but the lineup is pretty astounding, as it was 3 years ago.

If you are having fun learning it by listening to Jay, ignore the following.

Here’s a tab for AF. I did not write it out.

Thanks Mike, but I’m forcing myself not to cheat, to get it all by listening only. I picked that particular tune because it had a very distinctive melody line that would be an easier one to start ear training with (plus it’s a tune I’ll actually want to play regularly in the future).

okay I might be cheating a little bit, if using the Amazing Slower Downer is considered cheating. I’m also trying to pin down John Hiatt’s ‘Gone’ and had most of it in 15 minutes, but the short break is just going way too fast for me to pickup without help.

Mid-year update.

I’ve been attending a weekly bluegrass jam and some of my technique has really picked up. I can hit 250 bpm on a few tunes. Actually nearly all of them, but with some I lose tone as the speed goes up. In particular, songs with lots of scale runs like Blackberry Blossom and Billy in the Lowground. Currently trying to focus on the left hand and placement of the fingers, which should help to that end.

And then it’s on to double stop tremelo, which I currently stink at. It’s a journey, but I really want to be able to hit some Festivals as soon as next Summer and be able to participate. I’m about 4 years into the mandolin and it’s time.

Good deal Jim, that sounds great! You have come far in a short amount of time.

So… can you play Ashokan Farewell at 250 bpm? Just kidding :laughing:

I learned it all the way through, but then I stopped playing it regularly so I’ve forgotten it again. I hate when that happens, but there are too many tunes and not enough hours in the day.