Tag Archives: mark panfil

I just found this while I was searching around on YouTube. Mark Panfil is our is the instructor on our Beginning Dobro DVD. He posted this lesson on YouTube back in January for one of our signature Murphy Method songs: "Banjo in the Hollow." As you know it's the first tune we teach on the Beginning Banjo DVD, but it's not on the Dobro DVD. It's also on the Slow Jam DVD, so Mark has considerately made a Dobro lesson for it so that any Dobroists who have that Slow Jam disc can learn it and play along with it.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

We try to keep an eye on what’s going on internet-wise regarding the Murphy Method. At the moment there’s a lively thread over on the Banjo Hangout titled “Why are People so Hyped About The Murphy Method.” I know that some of you readers like to talk about your TMM experiences, so if you haven’t already, that’s a good place to do it.

Also, our dobro instructor Mark Panfil maintains a little blog over on his MySpace page with dobro-istic news and happenings, so check that out if you want to see what he’s up to.

You can never tell what will turn up on the internet. A couple days ago my Google Alert alerted me to a "Beginning Mandolin Video" for sale on Amazon. Two different sellers have it available, used. Also there are a "Texas Style Fiddle Backup for Guitar", and the "Beginning Fiddle Video". When people ask if we still have our old cassette series available we usually direct them to Ebay. But now I may send them to look on Amazon, too. (The videos, of course, you can still get new from us if you’re a VHS holdout.)

Mark PanfilWell, it’s getting a little cold up here in Buffalo this December but time spent with loved ones shopping and singing carols is making it “the most wonderful time of the year”.  My days are full of Christmas concerts and first grade plays at my little elementary school on the shores of Lake Erie. Most mornings, I stand at the door of my classroom with my dobro playing Christmas songs like “Joy to the World” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or whatever they request as they enter the building on their way to their classrooms. The young kids that I teach know my Dobro as “the Sponge Bob guitar” because of the smooth Hawaiian flavored sounds they recognize from the sound track of the popular cartoon.

If you’re shopping for a Dobro player on your list, maybe I can make some suggestions. Andy Hall has a new CD on Sugar Hill Records, The Sound of the Slide Guitar which has been in constant rotation for me since I bought it this year IBMA convention. [Note: it won Instrumental Album of the Year]  It is a very simply produced elegant project that really does present the Dobro in the forefront without a lot of studio bells and whistles.

The new Jerry Douglas CD, Glide is also a must have for all Dobro players. His compositions are some of the most significant modern music across all genres of instrumental composition. Listen to it at Jerry's MySpace page. [Also worthy of mention is that Earl Scruggs makes an appearance on a lovely version of his classic "Home Sweet Home."]

I happened upon a very cool CD at the local bookstore last month, Charlie Haden, Family and Friends, Ramblin’ Boy. Of course, Jerry Douglas’s playing drew me right in and I sure enjoyed the place I ended up in. Needless to say, this is one of my new favorites. Listen to a sample at Charlie Haden's website.

If you are looking for a real lasting gift for that special Dobro player, how about the stainless steel Scheerhorn Dobro slide. It is a bit more than other slides, but it lasts much longer. They sell for about $80 at Elderly Instruments.

If your favorite Dobro player is just a beginner, remember the Beginning Dobro DVD that I did for the Murphy Method gets you started on the right foot. I have made some supplemental DVD lessons that you can find at my website.

Hope your Holiday Season is full of music, love and joy.


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