DVDs

The release of the new Murphy Method HD-DVDs prompted the following conversation between Sweet Murphy and Grouchy Murphy:

Sweet Murphy to Grouchy Murphy: Aren’t you excited about the new DVDs? In HD? They look great!

Grouchy Murphy: Hell, no. Do you honestly think I can get excited about teaching all these songs again, on camera? At my age? The first time I taught ‘em my hair was still brown.

new beginning banjo 1Sweet Murphy: But your white hair looks so……so, uh…..so fetching! That’s how it looks! Fetching!

Grouchy Murphy: Bite me. One thing I was happy about was moving Foggy Mountain Breakdown to Volume 2. Why I EVER thought Foggy Mountain Breakdown was a tune for a beginner I’ll never know.

Sweet Murphy: Well, you were young at the time and all excited about this new way of teaching. And everybody wants to learn Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

Grouchy Murphy: Well, now they’ll just have to wait till they have a little more experience, won’t they? They won’t get it till Volume 2.

Sweet M: You do know that they don’t have to wait, don’t you? That they can actually learn the songs in any order they choose?

Grouchy M: DON’T SAY THAT! I HATE THAT! They are supposed to learn the songs in the order I teach them on the DVDs.

Sweet M: Calm down! You do realize that you can’t control everything. You’ve done your job. You presented the songs in the best way possible. Now, let it go.

Grouchy M: But it will be so much easier for them if they just do what I tell them.

Sweet M: Why you old softie! You do care!

Grouchy M: Of course I care. Did you ever doubt it?

Sweet M: Well, yes. It wasn’t looking real good a few sentences ago.

new beginning banjo 2Grouchy M: It just makes me mad that I’ve figured out this way for people to actually learn to play the banjo. Yet, they can’t even stick to the simple program of learning the damn songs in order. Why are you laughing?

Sweet M (still chuckling): I’m sorry but you know we were raised Baptist and the picture of Jesus chewing out his disciples for not being able to watch with him for just ONE HOUR popped into my mind. Not that I think you’re Jesus…

Grouchy M: Very funny. Like you’re some saint.

Sweet M: Well, it just doesn’t upset me when people act like people. Of course they think they know better than you. You’re just the teacher. OMG, remember that time, at banjo camp? When this guy came up to you? After the faculty concert? And said he was surprised to see that you could play so well?

Grouchy M: OMG yeah! That was weird. What did I say to him?

Sweet M: Oh, I remember. You were in your best grouchy mood. Probably hadn’t had much sleep. You said, “Now, why would you think that?” He said, “Because we only get to hear you play slow on the DVDs.”

Grouchy M: Just shoot me. Do you think he would have said that to any of the guy teachers? Tony Trischka?

Sweet M: Don’t get started on that. I might have to join you. But back to the new DVDs. We’re supposed to be celebrating their release. I know you swore you’d never re-record these, and here they are, re-recorded. By you!

Grouchy M: Ha! I guess that old saying is right. “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Her your plans.” All I know is that it just came to me one day that I should do this. If you believe in Divine Intervention or a Guiding Light or Putting Your Hand In The Hand, this was it. So I done it.

new beginning banjo 3Sweet M: Stop talking that way. It’s silly. I like the way you worked in some of the new stuff you’ve been teaching, like the Roly Polys.

Grouchy M: Yeah, that worked out well. That IS one of my best new discoveries: how to teach improvising to beginners. I’m rather proud of that.

Sweet M: As you should be. And I like the way you pointed out the tricky spots in the songs. Those places where your local students have shown a remarkable tendency to screw up.

Grouchy M: Yeah, that will probably help some of the students. The ones who don’t write the damn stuff down. That really makes me mad. They are just shooting themselves in the foot.

Sweet M: Yeah and I know you wanted to say, “They’re just pulling a Gene Wooten.” But that wouldn’t be nice and besides Gene, bless his Dobro-picking heart, is gone.

Grouchy M: Well, thanks for saying it for me. Gene’s probably Up There Somewhere laughing his ass off. All I can say is, the ones who write the stuff down cannot play. It mostly makes me sad. I’m usually their last chance, for some reason, and they blow it.

Sweet M: Softie, softie! Are you turning into me? What’s that big word? The one we’ve been trying to remember? About how everything turns into its opposite?

Grouchy M: You’ve been watching way too much American Pie! You’re starting to talk like Band Camp Girl. I can’t remember that fracking word. Let me Google it.

Sweet M: And you’ve been watching way too much Battlestar Galactica.

Grouchy M: Got it. It’s “enantiodromia.” I can’t pronounce it.

Sweet M: Me neither. But it’s a cool idea.

Grouchy M: I don’t want to turn into you!

Sweet M: And I don’t want to turn into you! Hello! We are supposed to be talking about the New High Def DVDs.

Grouchy M: All I can say is that I’m glad it’s over. And I’m very happy they turned out so well. Some of my best work. Those are probably the last DVDs I will shoot. Turning it over to the Next Generation.

Sweet M: I did notice you said “probably.”

Grouchy M: Well, saying “never” didn’t work out too well, did it?

Sweet M: Got any parting words? You know folks don’t read long blogs like they used to.

Grouchy M: I am glad we included the vamping to all the songs. Glad Christopher was around to help us out. He definitely raised the glamor factor.

Sweet M: He’s also a rather good picker. And singer. He was playing with Peter Rowan at Merlefest this past weekend, wasn’t he?

Grouchy M: Oh, yeah. He’s walking in High Cotton.

Sweet M: What the heck does that even mean?

Grouchy M: I guess if the cotton is high, that means you’ve got a good crop. You know our Granddaddy was a cotton farmer, don’t you?

Sweet M: Yes, I know that. Focus, please. DVDs. Tell them about the counting off.

Grouchy M: Oh, alright! I counted off each song so the students can hear better what beat to come in on.

Sweet M: And THAT is a convoluted sentence.

Grouchy M: Oh, shut up! It’s hard to talk about that crap. That’s why I teach BY EAR. I counted the songs off. The End. (Stephen King ref.) It never occurred to me to count off before. It seemed too “hoity toity.” And I’m a terrible counter. Just ask Casey. Or Chris. I thought the students could hear what I was hearing in my head. My bad! All better now.

Sweet M: Thank you. And now go do something that makes you less grouchy. I don’t know what that would be.

Grouchy M: I do. I’m going back to my other writing. I’m digging into my college history and writing about that. That’s when I found bluegrass. Or, it found me.

Sweet M: You make it sound like it was a religious experience.

Grouchy M: I guess it was. It changed my life. I didn’t get the Name Change though. Guess I’m no Saul of Tarsus….

Sweet M: We are so out of here. Thanks for reading this far. And there you have it!

Grouchy M: Hey, that is MY line….

Sweet M: Go, go. We’re done. Buy the DVDs. Selah.

This post originally appeared on Banjo Hangout.

Last week, we undertook one of the biggest projects in our business lives and re-recorded our Murphy Method Beginning Banjo DVDs in high definition (HD), with amazing sound. I never thought I would be doing those again in this lifetime! This makes the third time Red and I have recorded these tunes, starting with our first cassette series in 1982.

One of the reasons I wanted to reshoot these lessons was to put the songs into the order than Casey and I now use in our teaching. Over the years, we have both learned how to teach more effectively and our current “best order” is what you see on these three DVDs.

Our “team” this time included not only Red and me but our son Christopher who played guitar, sang, and helped with the sound. The fourth member of the team was sixteen-year-old Kasey Smelser, my banjo/guitar/singing student, who also proved to have great skills with wardrobe and makeup. When I first taught these lessons I recorded them in our house in Florida wearing only two things: corduroy cut-offs and a tank top. When you first saw me, on our videos, I did buy a new turquoise shirt but other than that, nada. But now, being well into the “autumn” of my life, I realized I needed help. What goes good with grey hair? Kasey figured it out. She also did my makeup. And when her school duties called and she couldn’t be there to apply the “paint and powder,” Christopher stepped up to the plate and did my makeup! Is that teamwork or what? Bill Belichick would have been proud!

I was not familiar with the phrase “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” until Christopher used it during the shooting. One of his jobs was being on the lookout for Mistakes Mama Makes. So, in the middle of Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms, I heard, “Excuse me, Mom, I think you forgot to mention the pinch at the end of that C lick. You played it but you didn’t explain it.” After using a few choice expletives (which my mama would have whipped me for!), I took a deep breath and said, “Thank you, Chris. I’ll add a little clip talking about that pinch. Thanks for noticing.” To which he replied, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” I loved the phrase, and asked him if he had just made it up, and he said no. (I later Googled it to find out that the phrase comes from leadership expert John C. Maxwell.) So, thanks to our whole team for a great week of shooting DVDs!

So what’s different about the lessons this time? What improvements have we actually made? ...continue reading

How does it go, Chris?

How does it go, Chris?

Howdy again, Folks,

Thanks for all the great suggestions for our new mandolin DVD, taught by son Chris, with Murphy on guitar. I totally agree with the student who wrote, "I don’t envy you the task of selecting a name for this DVD." But, it's kinda fun, especially with your help.

As I mentioned, this DVD is designed to follow directly after our Beginning Mandolin DVD. So it's sort of an advanced beginner DVD. And, yes, it is jam oriented. These are songs we play every week at the Tip Jar Jam!

Here are the suggestions we've received so far:

Chris Henry Teaches Mandolin To Inspire You

Chris Henry Manipulates the Mandolin

Chris Henry Teaches Mandolin Mania – Learning to Jam on the Mandolin

Beginning Mandolin: Taking you to the jam

Our New Mandolin DVD.

The songs we all Love

Making Friends with Your Mandolin.

Chris Henry Teaches How To Play Like A Man…More On The Little Fiddle With Frets [Note: This is a friendly jibe from a friend who is constantly ragging me about my feminist stuff...I've already busted him on it!]

Man Handlin’ Mandolin

Chris Henry Teaches Mandolin for Misfits ! (Me being one, of course).

Chris Henry teaches: Next Level Bluegrass Mandolin.

Chris Henry's Beginning Mandolin Jammin' DVD

Chris Henry Goes Hardcore

Chris Henry Teaches Hardcore Bluegrass

Chris Teaches Hard Core Mandolin

Mandeasy

Even More Mandolin Fun with Chris Henry

Chris Henry teaches “Middlan” Mandolin…the next logical step for beginners.

Chris Henry teaches No Tab Mandolin for the Masses.

Chris Henry Teaches “Breaking Good”

” NOT” Beginning Mandolin with Chris Henry

Mandolin Jam with Chris Henry.

Chris Henry Teaches You How to Take a Break, too

Hardcore Mandolin for the Begintermediate [I LOVE the word "begintermediate!]

Bluegrass Mandolin Jam Breaks like the Pros

Break out your Mandolin for Bluegrass Jamming

Break like a Pro at your next Jam

Take the next break like a Pro

Chris Henry Teaches Easy Jamming Favorites

Chris Henry Mandolin – More To Know, Way To Go

Chris Henry Teaches Easy Mandolin Jamming Favorites

And from an email I sent out to some Tip Jar Jammers:

  • More Mandolin Melodies
  • Mountain Mandolin Melodies
  • Mountain Mandolin Basics
  • Main Mandolin Melodies
  • Smooth Sailing into Mandolin Jams
  • Essential but Easy Tunes on Mandolin
  • Simple and Lonesome Songs on Mandolin
  • Your Favorite Tunes on the Mandolin
  • How to Begin . . . . .. . To Play the Mandolin
  • The Way of the Mandolin
  • Mandolin Power

So let us know which one or two you like by writing in the comments box. And if you have other suggestions, bring 'em on! If we select the title you came up with, you get this mandolin DVD FREE!

Happy naming! May the odds be ever in your favor! <Grin>

 

Chris and Murphy Henry

Chris and Murphy filming our new mandolin DVD.

Howdy, Folks!

Long time, no blog! Been busy.

Been shooting a new mandolin DVD. We finished up the actual recording this past weekend! YEA! Done! In the can. Now, Red's real work beings: editing it and pulling all the pieces together to make it look like we did everything in one take with no mistakes! Then it will be my job to upset that apple cart and find the best bloopers!

About the DVD:

Our excellent son Christopher drove over from Nashville to do the teaching. If you do Facebook, you may know about Chris Henry & the Hardcore Grass. (If you don't, now's the time!) Chris is a world-class mandolin player, singer, and songwriter (if I do say so myself!). He is also well-versed in the Murphy Method way of teaching, having grown up surrounded by the sounds of "Now, the first thing you have to do is tune the banjo." He already has one Murphy Method DVD under his belt, the amazing Monroe Style Mandolin and he has helped out on many others.

On this beginning-level DVD, Christopher teaches tried and true arrangements that I worked out on my mandolin students. (Thank you, Kristina!) Leading my Tip Jar Jam has really helped me understand what beginning mandolin students need to know in order to jam. We've tried to provide that on this DVD. (It will also be available as a download.) It is designed to follow right after our Beginning Mandolin DVD. So we need a catchy title!

Chris teaches mandolin breaks to eight songs:

Blue Ridge Cabin Home
I'll Fly Away
Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Lonesome Road Blues
Do Lord
Bury Me Beneath the Willow
Foggy Mountain Top
Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms

(Not sure all will end up on the DVD. Some may end up on the internet. We will see!)

We don't want to simply call this Beginning Mandolin Volume 2. Boring! What we want to call it is "Chris Henry Teaches....." Something!

So we're fishing around for ideas. Hope you can help us out! Naturally, the one (or ones) that help us arrive at a title will get a free mandolin DVD! Respond to this blog, or send an email to the Murphy Method (info@murphymethod.com). And thank you all for playing!

PS: And for those of you on the Left Coast/Best Coast/West Coast:

Chris Henry & the Hardcore Grass will be playing at the California Bluegrass Association Father's Day Festival June 18-21 and teaching Intermediate Mandolin at their camp June 14-17.

Chris Henry--video wrapped!

Chris Henry--video wrapped!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Murphy blogs every month over on Banjo Hangout and we will be cross-posting these blogs so they'll be all here in one place. This was originally published September 25th, 2014.

I've been trying to figure out how to teach banjo students to improvise for almost 40 years. And it's only in the last year that I've finally figured out a teachable technique that worksAs always, I used my own students for guinea pigs and now every week in our Tip Jar Jams I get to see them playing breaks to songs they've never even heard before. It's pretty fantastic! (I swear this sounds like one of those unbelievable, too-good-to-be-true TV ads! I feel like I should be saying, "And wait! If you order now, we will send you two of everything. All you have to do is pay additional shipping and handling!") But I digress....

Pause For Shout Outs: Before I go further let me give some shout outs to my guinea pigs: Kathy G, who challenged me to come up with something simple for her to play on the singing songs that she loved; to Julie for showing me that this technique would also work for  instrumentals; to Tim for naming this technique the "roly polys," and to Kathy H, Kasey, Ben, Pam, Dan, Betty, Gregg, and Drew who almost never pass up a break to a song anymore! Why should they when they can make something up on the spot? ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Again, a quick blog about our recording today. I got through all of the upgrades to the Roly Polys! Hooray! Red may have a time with the editing, but the footage is there. For upgrades (meaning harder licks) I included the Tag Lick, the Foggy Mountain Breakdown Lick, the D lick first taught in Do Lord, the Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms lick, the 8th-note walk-down C lick (which does NOT have a good name!), a hammer-on to the fourth string for the C Roly Poly, the D lick from Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and finally, that cool Ralph Stanley lick that I first teach in When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder. WHEW!

So these are all substitute licks for the basic Roly Poly Breaks which I recorded yesterday. I can only HOPE that the students (this means you!) will not move too fast through the DVD or skip around too much.

When we got done about noon, I didn't even have time to MAKE a sandwich to take with me to my teaching place. So, alas, I had to stop by McDonald's which was on the way. Here is a picture of my lunch:

Lunch

Lunch

I don't know why I'm suddenly compelled to tell you what I have been eating! Maybe because recording takes so much focused energy that I stay hungry all the time!

We still need Casey to add the guitar parts and I am getting Red to play the mandolin on Daybreak in Dixie so you banjo folks can hear what the song sounds like. Much better than me HUMMING through the chords! But we are closing in on being done! Except for that all-important cover shot!

Stay tuned. And thanks for all the positive comments about looking forward to this DVD.

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

I'd hoped to have more energy to blog in detail about our first day of recording the new DVD, Kick Start Your Jamming! (And a tip of the big ol' Stetson hat to Texas Tim for helping with that title.) This DVD will teach you everything you need to know about the Roly Polys!

We recorded nine songs, from Blue Ridge Cabin Home to Somebody Robbed the Glendale Train, and will be adding the upgrades tomorrow. Then Casey will join me later in the week to add the rhythm guitar. I am extremely pleased with how the DVD is turning out. Can't wait for you to see it!

Post-DVD meal: Eggs and grits

Post-DVD meal: Eggs and grits

Here's a picture of our post-DVD meal: eggs and grits. Cheese grits! I cooked the eggs, and Red made the grits. This has always pretty much been our go-to supper especially when we were playing bluegrass full time and coming back home from a festival or being out on the road. (Okay, sometimes we did resort to that quick Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! Yummy!)

So, I'm not sure how well you can see the things spread out on our eating table (my Mama made the tablecloth) but Red's plate has the most grits on it! Mine are in a bowl. We are also having green beans (compliments of J.P., my fiddle student, who had already strung and snapped them!), cantaloupe, and toast made in the oven and topped with Casey's homemade apple jelly!

But now, it's time to crash and do some serious vegging in front of the TV. I hope there's a pre-season football game on!

We'll be recording some Roly Poly upgrades tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Red Henry

That's right, folks! By customer demand, our Bill-Monroe Style Mandolin DVD is now available by download, the high-tech modern way to do things.

Click here to go straight to it in our digital catalog.

Bill Monroe-Style Mandolin: Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass, is also the father of the Monroe-style of mandolin playing. Our son Chris Henry—who has been called a “fire-eating Monroe acolyte”—grew up on the sounds of Bill Monroe, not only from records but from the sounds of his own father’s playing. (With some David McLaughlin thrown in for good measure.) In other words, Chris knows the Monroe style. Having grown up in a Murphy Method home, he also knows how to teach it, note by note.

Here we present four Bill Monroe tunes along with a bluesy Monroe-style break to “Man of Constant Sorrow.” If you’re ready for some hard-core bluegrass mandolin playing, you’ve come to the right place! No Tab. 83 minutes.

Big Mon, Bluegrass Breakdown, Raw Hide, Wheel Hoss, Man of Constant Sorrow.

 

More details and a sample are here on our site!