Red HenrySometimes you can find philosophy in playing music. And who could talk about that better than Bill Monroe himself, the master of pithy words and music too?

Here's the story: One day at a bluegrass festival back in the 1970s, people were listening to a modern hot-shot mandolin player on stage. He played up the neck and down the neck and all over the neck, making lots and lots and lots of fantastic notes. People were impressed. So someone thought he'd rattle Bill's chain a little and said to him: "Bill, that young guy makes lots of notes. Why can't you make all those notes when you play? Don't you know that many notes?"

Bill didn't hesitate. He looked the man in the eye and said, "If I was to write you a letter, I would mean every word I wrote."

That's all Bill said. That was all he needed to say. He didn't need to play lots of notes, only the ones that meant something. He meant every word, and he meant every note!

Next time you’re taking a break (or playing backup) and want to throw in a hot lick, think about it. Don’t play it if you don’t mean every note.

Posted in By Red, General and tagged , , on by .

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.