Picking with Others is the Easiest Practice

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, we've discussed practice several times on this blog lately. Some of my own entries have had to do with how to keep up with your practice when you don't have much spare time available. But there are other aspects of practice to talk about, including "What's the easiest way to practice?" and "What kind of practice is best?"

In my own case, I discovered in 1967 (about a week after I started playing) that for me, picking with others was the easiest and best way to practice. It's that way for others, too. When you are playing with other people, (1) you don't have to provide all the musical energy-- energy circulates around the group (even if it's only two or three people) and comes back to help you; (2) practice time passes so much more quickly that three or four hours playing music with others make seem shorter than one hour at home; and (3) it's a lot more fun. And you sure learn a lot, painlessly. This is why Murphy says over and over at the end of our videos, "Find some people to pick with!"

Now, I know that in some parts of the country (and the world) there are few other players of bluegrass, country, folk, gospel, or other similar material whom you can get with. For example, I spent a year at an Air Force base in Del Rio, Texas, and didn't find any other musicians that year. Nowadays, of course, things are a lot better: we have our Murphy Method Slow Jam and Picking Up the Pace DVDs, and you can have a jam session any time right in your house!

So as I said, when you're picking with others, you not only have a better time than in solo practice, but you learn faster. You also begin improvising, and backing up other players, in a live setting where people are having a good time. Playing in almost any kind of group is not only the easiest kind of practice-- but the best.