The excitement of the GPDA list of tunes may quickly turn to an overwhelming source of frustration for new members. As long-term GPDA members, trust that most of us have been there. Like many other goals, learning the music is best approached in a consistent, systematic way that doesn't lead to burnout. Here are some suggestions from long-time club members to help you on your way...
Getting the rhythm
Music readers and former high school band members have a bit of a head start in issues of rhythm, but many of us struggle with this concept to some degree. If you struggle with this concept you should probably use a metronome while practicing at home to avoid getting the incorrect pattern in your head. If you don't know whether or not this is a challenge for you, use a metronome when practicing. While some musicians appear to have a natural ability for rhythm, others only play without a metronome when they are performing. Many tuners have built-in metronomes, but one with sound is the best. There are many free or low cost ones for computers, tablets and smartphones. Some models used by club members are the Pro Metronome for iPad, the Korg TM-40 digital tuner/metronome for standard time signature and the Matrix MR-600 Quartz
Tuesday Night Jam at Woodlawn United Methodist Church 7-9
This long standing jam is held nearly every Tuesday night in the choir room. It is held nearly every week, with the exception of the week of the Walnut Valley Festival, Fourth of July, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The tempo is adjusted according to the level of people who show up. Only tunes from the GPDA repertoire are played. We usually have someone playing rhythm guitar. Although the "regulars" enjoy the routine of playing together, one of the main reasons we make the drive is to be there for new members.
Instrument-specific learning opportunities
In addition to club-sponsored workshops at GPDA meetings, the Winter Retreat and the Warm-Up Picnic, there is a special opportunity for mountain dulcimer players. There is a free weekly mountain dulcimer workshop on Monday afternoons in Newton, KS. The group learns basic music theory, understanding how to read tablature, skills of jamming as a group, doing harmony, and enjoys playing many types of music including songs from the club playlist.
The group meets on Monday at 1:30 -2:30 pm at First Christian Church located at 102 East 1st St. in Newton, Kansas.
Listening to tunes on Youtube can provide you with what a tune should ultimately sound like, but a little caution is in order. Folk music was originally passed down from one musician to another by individuals playing together and GPDA is no exception. Music today has been notated for today's learners but there are countless versions out there. Therefore, traditional music can sound different in various regions of the country and so learning it from YOUTUBE alone might be frustrating. The key the tune is played in can be different and so can the chord choices. The best way to learn the music is by playing it with the people in the club.
Youtube videos of Derby jam (posted in 2012, recorded maybe 10 years earlier)
Sugar Hill/Angeline the Baker
Mo Jo/June Apple
There is no substitute for consistent practice!