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I recently purchased FE #1 and am very pleased with Dan's approach to building fundamental skills in rhythm.   I found FGM's website when the first issue was published and still have them all.  However, while my granddaughter was taking piano lessons, so was I and along with my interest in fiddle and banjo, all that put a hitch in my guitar git-a-long.  The FE exercises have gotten me back on track.

A comment on learning scales:  As an older guy, I'm often awake at odd hours of the night.  If I stir too much, I wake one wife, one dog and two cats.  Sooo...I run the scales in my head from the key of C thru C#(Db), focusing on clarifying the chord tones( 135, 13b5, etc.  I find when I'm working  the scales they seem to flow much easier for me.

Lastly, I was also frustrated by Kaufman's "beginning" speed.  I've worked my way through volumes 1 and 2 of his picking series for some years now and still have troubles getting a clean break through bpm at 130.  I do find them good for working out chord changes and bass runs tho'.

Best to all, Ken

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Replies to This Discussion

Welcome Ken! I like that late-night scale exercise of yours. I've done something similar to practice my pitch identification skills. I run the scale in my head (or listen to a song and fixate on a particular note) and then I try to find it on the guitar.

As for the Kaufman material, I first started with his "Parking Lot" material but soon tired of hearing myself play solos out of context. He's a wonderful teacher I must admit. But that's where I feel the FE program shines - it helps shore up the player's skills in all areas, not just lead playing.
Good morning, Bluesy1 Thanks for your note. My musical "ear" is not very solid as yet, but I'm working on chord changes, intervals, etc. I have improved on my ability to pick out a melody tho'. One tip I got at a banjo camp was that many songs are written on a pentatonic scale, omitting the 3rd and 7th. Having only five tones to seek in a given song has given me a leg up on finding melody notes.

One benefit I did get from Kaufman's work was greater skill in changing chords more quickly.

I'm not too good yet at hearing a scale, but do note where the chord tones 135 are when running mental scales.

One other note on mental work. One of the Vietnam P O Ws played his favorite golf course over and over in his head to keep his sanity. When he was repatriated and strong enough to play again, he'd taken five strokes off his game!
Thanks again for the welcome. Best, Ken
Ken, I'm guessing you meant to say that the pentatonic scale omits the 4th scale tone, not the third. The third is part of the major chord and is very important in many flatpicking tunes.

I've found that when a melody has a 4th, the 4th usually occurs when the chord is the IV. And when the melody goes to the 7th tone, the chord is on the V. If you think about it, it makes sense, the 4th tone is found in the IV-chord, and the 7th tone is found in the V-chord.

As for training your ear on chord changes, Pete Wernick recommends playing along with recordings of two-chord songs. That way, you don't have to worry which chord to change to, just listen for an upcoming change. See www.drbanjo.com for a list of two-chord songs. Once you get good at that, playing along with three-chord songs will be easier and you can concentrate not on when to change, but where to go.
Hi Jim and thanks for the correction on the pentatonic scale. You said it right. I must have been too worn out from scales when I wrote that. Thanks for reading so closely. best, Ken


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