I am still firmly ensconced at Kaufman Kamp for the rest of this week. At this camp I always learn at least as much as the students who attend. So far I've picked up a couple good pieces of advice that I'll pass along.
I can't remember who said this first one: "Don't measure your progress (on banjo, mandolin, guitar, or whatever) in increments shorter than a year." Learning an instrument is a life-long project. You'll have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, and sometimes you'll feel like you're actually regressing. But compare where you are now to where you were a year ago and you will see how far you've come. Of course, it's hard to remember how you sounded a year ago, so taping yourself (and then putting that recording away and not listening to it for twelve months) is a great way to compare.
This second item comes from Stacy Phillips, who taught fiddle this year. He said, when you practice your hardest material, your best is getting better; when you practice your easy material, your worst is getting better. Often students fall into just practicing their newest, or hardest, songs, or just the difficult passages, which can be a bit of a drudgery. Remember to play your fun/easy tunes as well. It keeps it enjoyable for you and improves your lousy level (the level at which you play when you are totally and completely out of practice).
I'm playing on the concert this evening (Wednesday), so if any of you blog readers are in the Maryville, TN area, come on out! I'll have the marvelous Kathy Chiavola on guitar, Andy Owens on mando, and Bob Rostollan on bass.