Something New Under The Sun: Murphy Method Student Changes Arrangement of John Hardy!

Murphy Henry

Okay, sure, I’ve had Murphy Method students change arrangements of songs before, but they usually do it by accident! Judy did this ON PURPOSE!

Now you have to know the MM arrangement of John Hardy for this to make any sense, but I’m sure you all do! <G> It’s in the D chord, those 12 beats of D, where you hold down just two fingers of the D chord and do what I call the “In The Mood” roll. (From the Glenn Miller song of the same name.)  Judy was having trouble holding both fingers down. In spite of her best efforts and much practice the sound was still coming out too muffled to suit her. She was feeling, well, frustrated. And maybe even angry! (Been there, done that!)

But instead of giving up on the song entirely, she decided—and I love this—to leave off one of the fingers in the chord! She chose to leave the third string open. Which, if you will pardon my doing the Janet Davis thing and venturing into theory for a moment, left her with a D chord with a G note in it. Whatever that is. (Janet would know!) It ain’t normal, as we might say around here.

And, truth be told, when she first played her new arrangement for me I thought it sounded a bit strange. In fact, I made the suggestion that if she needed to leave a string open, that she leave the fourth string open, which, to my ear, had a very nice sound, with that big, fat open D note. But that wasn’t as easy for her especially since she had practiced it the other way all week long.

So, I played her arrangement (open third), and I played my suggested arrangement (open fourth) and the more I played her arrangement--that D chord with the open G string—the more I liked it. I thought it sounded kind of jazzy. Then I had the radical thought, “Gee, it doesn’t always have to be my way.” Which was a Big Concession for me! So I gave her the official stamp of approval (tongue in cheek, folks, tongue in cheek!) and away she went with a version of John Hardy that she could play cleanly and clearly. My guess is that eventually she will work up to using both fingers in that D chord, but for now, hey, she’s got something that works! And that’s what really matters.

I guess the moral of the story is the slightly trite “where there’s a will there’s a way” but it’s really more than that. It’s about a student who was willing to think outside the box to try to come up with a way to play a song she didn’t want to give up on. And I think that is great. Judy, I salute you!

2 thoughts on “Something New Under The Sun: Murphy Method Student Changes Arrangement of John Hardy!

  1. Dave Eisenhuth

    That was interesting I tried both versions and like them both foxes the song a whole new feel. I just wish this would have been posted a few weeks back when I was tearing my tendons apart to keep the (I) and (r) fingers in the proper position. Although I will admit I used my pinky for about a week. But now all is well and the tendons betweeny fingers is healing nicely (LOL) kist kidding

    Great Job Judy and your commended on your bravery for changing Murphy’s arrangment. You are braver than I 😉

  2. Martin Bacon

    I love the idea of improvising and doing what it takes to get the job done. I also know from past experience that is is worth working on hard licks in these tunes (like “In the Mood”) because they show up a lot later on and they are licks the “big boys (and girls)” use:) Another example is skipping learning to play Cumberland Gap only to find out later how much you use that Cumberland Gap G chord.

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