Mark Panfil on Practice

Mark PanfilToday, for the first time, we offer a post from one of our Murphy Method instructors, Mark Panfil. He teaches our Dobro DVD. Mark is a great teacher of all things music and we'll be hearing more from him in the future. He'll be at the upcoming IBMA convention starting on Thursday and you can probably catch him at the Murphy Method booth.

Hello to the happy, hungry readers that may be looking for some ways to cope with practice. I’d love to offer some tips that I’ve collected over the last forty years of banjo, dobro, piano and harmonica playing.

Find the learning style that makes you most comfortable. You can’t put in hours if you’re not comfortable.

When I was young, I played harmonica every time I walked somewhere. To school, back home, around the neighborhood. I never tired of it. As I got older, I began to practice piano. I had to sit and stare at paper. Soon my neck hurt, my back too. 45 minutes really hurt. As time went on, I played gigs. Two or three even four hours never hurt and I figured out it was because I played without paper and moved often.

For years, I walked around my house practicing dobro. I still find it to be one of the most relaxing ways to spend and evening. One thing even makes it better. I wear ear phones with a CD on to play along with. Get used to one CD at a time. I wore out each of the Bluegrass Album Band CD’s. I changed from one to the next every couple years.

If you’re watching a DVD, Memorize the parts of the songs so you can walk away from the TV. Use one of these neat MP3 players that has a voice recorder. Place it near the TV when the song is being demonstrated then listen on headphones as you stand or walk.

You know, your TV can be your best practice friend even when it’s not on a Murphy lesson. If you are watching a show, you can practice a dobro or banjo pattern. Play it on your leg with your finger picks on or better yet, on the dobro or the banjo with a cloth under the strings. As the show becomes slow in parts, you will practice the picking pattern. As commercials come up, again you can practice. You will need to play these patterns without thinking about them eventually anyways. Research shows, short practice times that occur often are more effective than long periods where fatigue sets in.

Add a comment about a learning style that works for you.

Thanks, Mark

One thought on “Mark Panfil on Practice

  1. jesanddeb

    Mark … What I do is practice during TV shows when commercials come on. I mute the commercial. Did you know they play a dozen commercials at a time? This gives a person about seven minutes to practice every 20 minutes. LOL I am starting Murphys “Amazing Grace” for banjo next week. I figure this will take about 3 months of TV shows … Thanks for the great tips, Jesse In Illinois

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