I come to you yet again from the campus of Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee, where I'm teaching at Kaufman Kamp. It's my eighth year here (I think...it's a little hard to keep track...) and this year I got a promotion from banjo/mandolin/fiddle/guitar 101 instructor and slow jam leader to regular banjo instructor. For the first time this year I get to see all levels of banjo students and it is great!
Yesterday I saw the beginners and the advanced class. (I so want to call them the "advanceds." I don't think that's really a word but it should be.) I taught the beginners the high break to "Boil Them Cabbage Down" and then we vamped to it. I taught the advanced class a slightly obscure Earl Scruggs tune called "Silver Eagle" (he recorded it with the Scruggs Revue) and we vamped to that, and then talked about some little backup licks they can throw into their vamping to spice it up a little. Unfortunately "Silver Eagle" is not on any of the Murphy Method DVDs, so no potential sales there, darn it, but they all seemed to like the tune.
Today I see two intermediate classes and, as usual, although I see them in a mere 75 minutes I have not yet decided what we're going to do. I typically make that decision once I see who is in the class and what they already know. I have some possibilities in mind, though, that include a high break to "Blue Ridge Cabin Home", "Salty Dog," maybe some simple backup licks. You'll notice that all those choices ARE on the DVDs. I think people like to be able to take home with them the things that they've learned at camp. And I like them to buy DVDs, so that's a win-win right there.
It was three years ago, from this very dorm building, that I wrote our very first blog posts. In the three years since we've written about everything from banjo lessons and jamming to gigs and touring to mandolin bridge making and flying airplanes. You'll do doubt have noticed that we've lost a little steam in the last few months. We've gone from posting to every single day (how did we DO that??) to three days a week, to once a week if we're lucky. One reason for this is that we've already written a LOT about the topics relevant to teaching and learning bluegrass by ear, so we don't want to repeat ourselves. Another reason is that summertime is just SO busy it's hard to make the time to sit down and write. And as I pointed out to one of our students, no one pays us to blog, so everything we do that someone is giving us money to do (like record lessons and send out orders and play gigs and write magazine columns) gets done before blogging. But we certainly have no plans to discontinue blogging, so we'll keep on posting sporadically with news and tales from our playing and teaching experiences and we hope that you'll keep on reading!