Flying and Picking (1)

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, I've been real busy for the last two months, and there's a reason: Murphy is sending me through flight school at the local airport, and I'm working toward a pilot's license! Now, I was a pilot in the Air Force back in the early 1970s, but then I didn't fly a plane even once for 35 years. That means I'm a 61-year-old beginner, and I'm finding out that people in their 60's don't learn as fast as people in their 20's. Sound familiar?

Ever since I was young, I've thought that there were parallels between learning to play music and learning to fly. Now I'm finding out that the age issue is one of them. You learn more slowly as you get older. So how do you cope with that, and learn in spite of your age? There are ways. This is one of them:

FOLLOW THE TEACHER's INSTRUCTIONS AND LEARN WHAT TO DO, AND DO IT RIGHT. You'll never accomplish much unless you organize yourself and do everything correctly and in the right order.

In flying, this means going by your checklists and prescribed procedures, doing one thing after another in the logical sequence, in every task. Otherwise your work will be incomplete and you won't ever get very far-- possibly finding out too late, in the air, that you didn't do some important bit of preparation. Trying to hurry gets you nowhere.

In music, this means to learn your chords, rolls, and licks right, and in a tune play them carefully, in the right order and at a REGULAR SPEED, no matter how slowly at first, so that the tune comes out sounding good. If you hurry your learning and try to play as fast as Earl right away, you music will be badly disorganized. You'll never be able to play along with other people, and when you try to take a break with people who play a steady rhythm, you'll crash!

In both kinds of learning, you have to concentrate on doing the right things, and in the right order. And, as Murphy has said before, you have to think about it all the time.


Posted in By Red, Learning By Ear and tagged on by .

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.

2 thoughts on “Flying and Picking (1)

  1. dkurry

    I enjoyed your post. I am a flight instructor (in addition to my regular job) and also a banjo player. I am a student when I watch your tapes and can relate to your post.

    I have a similar experience to yours only reverse as I am student learning to play banjo. However, I like to think learning never stops as sometimes teaching a subject results in more mastery of the topic then being the traditional student. We’re all students šŸ™‚

    Keep up the teaching and great media.


  2. Hi Red

    I flew airplanes as a bush pilot for years in the arctic, and I can assure you their is never a time were a “speedy” movement, is involved. However, the correct responce is always nessesary.
    The most important thing I ever learned about flying an airplane, was that there are three things that kill pilots. They are, 1) weather, 2) weather and 3) weather.
    To do a perfect landing ever time, remeber that “pitch or attitude, is controled with the yoke, (nose up, or nose down), and rate of decent is controled with the trottle”. ie) Less rate of desent, add more power.
    Now, I lived through all that, an at 50, I’m picking up a banjo, for the first time.

    Cheers and Best Wishes;


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