Flying and Picking (3)

Red Henry

Red Henry

Okay, folks, here we are with another installment of our “Flying and Picking” series, where we relate my journey in learning one advanced skill (flying) to all our journeys in learning another (music). Today’s comment will be on PROCEDURES.

When you’re flying and landing a plane, there are things you have to do all in the right order and without getting rushed. This is true in any kind of flying, from my old jet-flying days in the Air Force, to landing a Cessna at the local airport.

For example, in landing a plane, you don’t do things just any way you feel like doing them. When you’re in the traffic pattern you reduce power, put down partial flaps and lower the landing gear, make your turns onto final approach, put down full flaps, and manage the controls and throttle so as to put yourself at just the right glideslope and airspeed. If you do those things right, you’ll find yourself set up just right over the runway for landing. Getting behind or out of rhythm is a sure way to make potentially hazardous mistakes. And as you’re going through these steps you’re also making radio calls, so that other pilots will know what you’re doing and everybody can take turns to take off and land safely. And you have to know all these procedures well enough to carry them out in a rhythm without thinking about them first, and without running out of time, so that you can get everything done and your mind can be on the moment-to-moment flying adjustments and making a good landing.

So what does all this stuff have to do with playing music and making it sound right? A lot. When you’re playing music, especially in a group, you have to have all the licks to the tune already in your head. You have to have practiced a tune over and over with the correct licks, fingering, and timing, so that you don’t have to think about every note, but can concentrate on playing smoothly and at an even tempo and sounding good. That way, when you play with others, you’ll be picking a recognizable tune at an even speed, and everybody else can keep up with you. You need to be listening to the group’s rhythm and not rushing or stumbling over any of your notes, or if you miss a few, coming back in at the right place, so that you (and the other players) don’t lose track of where you are. And when you pass the tune off to the next player, you let everyone else know what’s happening. You give a little glance or nod to the next player so they know it's their turn, or else signal the end of the tune so that everyone knows it's time to stop. That’s PROCEDURE. Everybody plays together and knows what’s going on, and the tune won’t crash, or at least, make a rough landing.

Flying and Picking– I love it.


Posted in By Red, General, jamming, Practice 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 (3)

  1. Bob Van Metre


    Good blog re “Procedures”. Prodecures (rules/guidlines) are one reason the military funtions as well as it does, everybody on the preflight list knows exactly what he/her part of the process is, and does it when their time comes inthe processs, not before, not after, only when required.

    Re previous blog and the “slightly rusty” 172P for solo flight. N51056 was manufactured in 1980 and delived to Hinson Avaition in Baltimore MD as N51056. Selling price (hold on to your hat on this) $ 38,600. Probably could buy it for twice that now? Have a good one. BV

  2. Red Henry

    Post author

    That’s great info, Bob. I’ll have to ask you where you find stuff like that!–

    More like three times the price now, especially since customers for new airplanes seem to want more fancy electronics in them. Ah, for the old days (airspeed indicator and a compass)–


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