This post comes from a Murphy Method student in Arizona, Dave Eisenhuth.
I am sure your have a library full of e-mails from frustrated students at different levels of instruction, however I wanted to share this with you. As my instructor you may appreciate it. I do not know if it was divine intervention, the Murphy Mojo or something else, but I thought I would share.
Last week, I waited with baited breath as the next journey in the Murphy Method was about to begin. I had burned through Beginning Banjo Vol. 1 so I went ahead and ordered Vol 2, Misfits, and Vamping dvd's and the Christmas DVD from Casey. They arrived and I jumped right in. After following your banjo track I decided that Sunday was to be dedicated to Misfits and Vamping. I awoke early on Sunday morning and after mass, I came home, greeted the morning, and jumped right in. After my usual warm up exercises going through all the songs from Vol. 1 I hit the Misfits and had a very good session of learning. Feeling confident (where the fun began) I tore open the Vamping DVD and began, what would become a very frustrating day and evening.
After about 4 hrs and a break for lunch, I began to realize that #1 my fingers were not cooperating with my brain and not only was I having trouble with the chords, but also listening and hearing the chord changes. That brings us to around 7:00 pm Sunday night and a constant spiral into bad playing. Now I could not even play anything without major mistakes. I should have packed the banjo away and left it for another day, however being a stubborn mule of a man I pressed on. The constant thought in my head was, I am a college graduate with an advance degree, I am an insurance and financial business owner by trade, this can not be that difficult. Well the Banjo Gods did not agree and the systematic failure in my playing continued. Around 8:30pm I had finally had enough and after many expletives and adjectives I half jokingly told my wife I was going to take the truck out for a drive and return the Banjo to the Gods since apparently a Yankee born and raised in Tucson, AZ is not meant to play the banjo.
I packed the banjo in the truck with the full intention to either bury it in the desert or to see how well a banjo could fly as it was tossed out of a truck at 70 miles an hour.
We live north of Tucson near the base of the Catalina Mountains and I decided to head off and clear my head and say goodbye to my banjo with a quick and painless assassination of my newly found foe. It was a full moon and the saguaros and mountains were literally stunning. My wife had recently purchased me XM satellite radio and I just happened to come across a station called Bluegrass Junction. I figured I could not play, but at least I could enjoy the music as I drifted along the highway.
What happened next, I still cannot wrap my head around, and since I am not a drinker, nor a partaker of the herbal cigarettes (at least since college), but over the next 1/2 hour I began to hear all the licks in the songs that were being played and the vamping and the chord changes. Thinking that I had or was about to lose my mind I pulled over at a small turn out and realized I had been driving for about an hour and was well on my way into the mountains. As I sat there for the next 25 minutes, it was if the songs themselves were trying to teach me something and the clarity of the licks, chord changes and vamping were amazing.
Then the epiphany happened. In 40 degree weather under a full moon I broke out a camp chair and camp light I had in the truck and took out my banjo and tried to follow along. Amazingly I was able to vamp and my fingers were working making the chords, I could make the chord changes with the song and at least could recognize some of the licks begin played on the radio, although I could not play the lead, I could at least hear the chord changes and vamp along somewhat with a limp.
At this point, I again was happy and my banjo was safe from destruction. I was so happy sitting there under the stars playing with the radio blasting, I guess I did not realize that standing behind me was and Arizona Highway Patrolman. After a near heart attack he simply stated that he had been driving southbound and noticed someone at a turn out with a camp light playing a banjo. An oddity in Arizona to say the least. I explained the entire day that lead up to this and we both had a good laugh and as it turns out he was a bluegrass fan and had dabbled in the guitar. I told him of your teaching method and he said he would check it out.
I guess the moral to all this is in my mind is, Don't over practice to the point of exhaustion, Never give up, and most importantly your teaching method, although not always apparent immediately is actually re-programming you brain and ear to hear things the average player may not.
In the week since my ability has increased substantially from that night and my only complaint now is that when I listen to the songs it is hard to enjoy them because I am listening for chord changes, vamping and licks. Instead of just enjoying the song. For now I will take that trade off.
As to your method, based on that experience, is truly groundbreaking, or I am losing my mind LOL. Either way I want to Thank You, Casey, Red and the rest of the Murphy Method Misfits and Monkeys for your teachings and instructions and looking forward in continuing my Banjo journey with you lessons and camps
Happy Thanksgiving to you all
A Very Happy and Devoted Student of the Murphy Method!