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Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.

Rick Fielding 01 Nov 01 - 02:28 PM
Deckman 01 Nov 01 - 02:39 PM
Giac 01 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM
catspaw49 01 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Russ 01 Nov 01 - 02:49 PM
SINSULL 01 Nov 01 - 02:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Nov 01 - 03:11 PM
Jim Dixon 01 Nov 01 - 03:26 PM
Dharmabum 01 Nov 01 - 03:38 PM
Don Firth 01 Nov 01 - 05:36 PM
rangeroger 01 Nov 01 - 07:16 PM
catspaw49 01 Nov 01 - 07:40 PM
Helen 01 Nov 01 - 08:49 PM
John Hardly 01 Nov 01 - 10:13 PM
53 01 Nov 01 - 10:38 PM
53 01 Nov 01 - 10:43 PM
Rick Fielding 02 Nov 01 - 01:33 AM
Sourdough 02 Nov 01 - 02:00 AM
BlueJay 02 Nov 01 - 02:57 AM
catspaw49 02 Nov 01 - 07:21 AM
kendall 02 Nov 01 - 09:24 AM
Whistle Stop 02 Nov 01 - 10:05 AM
53 02 Nov 01 - 11:02 AM
Steve in Idaho 02 Nov 01 - 11:07 AM
Rick Fielding 02 Nov 01 - 01:57 PM
Peter T. 02 Nov 01 - 02:23 PM
Rick Fielding 02 Nov 01 - 06:08 PM
Peter T. 02 Nov 01 - 06:24 PM
Bert 02 Nov 01 - 06:48 PM
Rick Fielding 03 Nov 01 - 11:30 AM
Peter T. 03 Nov 01 - 12:02 PM
Rick Fielding 04 Nov 01 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Tinker 04 Nov 01 - 07:27 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Nov 01 - 12:12 AM
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Subject: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:28 PM

I just went through one of the learning rituals that I've been using for many years, and I thought I might share it here for anyone who may be interested.

I should say at the get-go that my approach, and the ones that I use for some of my students WON'T neccessarily work for everyone. They're usually geared to learning or improving on the TECHNIQUES needed to play ALL songs of a certain type or in a certain key, rather than focusing on learning ONE song top to bottom. It's an approach that leads to playing by 'ear' and improvisation more than memorization, but here goes:

I wanted to learn an old Earl Scruggs tune called "Groundspeed" on the banjo. From the record it struck me that he was playing a rather difficult "backward roll". I could have gone to a tab site to find out exactly what he was doing, but that would only have allowed me to learn that one tune, and besides, it's more fun to add one more 'roll' to my arsenal.

Now to really learn a right hand technique you have to practice it several thousand times, which can be a huge drag and get very boring (not to mention driving a partner nuts) so I usually find a football, baseball or hockey game to watch while playing the notes over and over again in the background. The Yankees, Arizona game was perfect.

The particular banjo roll was M1, I2, T5, I2. I started out playing it very slowly, and a lot of concentration was needed to keep it going over and over again (no chord from the left hand...just open G tuning)

By the third inning it was really cooking and I'd long stopped even thinging about it (which is the goal). By the fifth inning I was able to change chords (not the ones from "Groundspeed", just random Cs, Ds, Fs, etc. That's when I put the banjo away.

I picked it up this morning, and the song came quite quickly 'cause my little brain had really absorbed the right hand roll. Now I can use that roll on a lot of other tunes, and I hardly even remember the "practice part".

If you wanna try this with a guitar:

Pick a game to watch, tune your guitar to D,A,D,F#,A,D (the open chord means you only have to think 'right hand') and try this roll. T6, T4, T6, I3, T4, M2. It's a great right hand technique for playing with a "bounce". The first two notes are quarter notes, and the last four are eighth notes. It should sound like Bum, Bum, bada bada. Just play it slowly and quietly until you're not even thinking about it....pretty soon the game will be your prime focus, and you'll be learning a very valuable technique without even noticing it.

When you go back to a regular tuning, sometimes the bass notes may be on the 5th string, and you may want to substitute the 1st for the ones I gave you in the excercise. Doesn't matter...your mind will have absorbed that Bum,Bum,bada,bada, no matter what notes you use.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Deckman
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:39 PM

Rick ... thanks for the tip. A hundred years ago, when I was attempting to learn banjo, I used to stuff a sock between the back brace and the head. That muffled it well. (gave a whole new meaning to "go stuff a sock in it). CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Giac
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM

Geez, Rick! I've used this for years to learn a new finger pattern, but never once did it occur to me to learn the basic pattern with open tuning.

Fwaaaap! (smacking self upside the head)

Thanks once again for making something easier.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:42 PM

I'm sorry Rick, but it just won't work for many folks here at the 'Cat. Please check the assorted "I hate sports" and "I don't watch TV" threads (actually not the titles but the subject comes up in a lot of sports threads). Do you think you could come up with a way to modify your excellent plan? You know, for those who hate sports, how many hours of a "Brady Bunch" marathon would you need? Or what book would you suggest they read while titty-booming?.........And how many chapters?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:49 PM

Great idea, but I'm with Spaw. I don't even have a TV. I guess it would help to have an instrument that you really love the sound of.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: SINSULL
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 02:56 PM

Thanks, Rick. I watch baseball games and this will give me something to do besides snacking.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 03:11 PM

Now if we rigged up our computers so that we could scroll up and down with foot controls, reading the long threads on the Mudcat would be a great alternative.

It might even help us read right through before starting posting, rather than jumping in with posts that say exactly what has already been said several times.

Videos of silent movies would be good too.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 03:26 PM

Sounds like a great technique. Now, how can I adapt it for digeridoo?


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Dharmabum
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 03:38 PM

That's exactly how I learned to frail the banjo some 18 years ago. I still watch tv with a guitar or banjo in my lap........hmmmmm.....maybe that's why my marriage didn't work out.

DB.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 05:36 PM

Great idea! If you can get a pattern, technique, or whatever down so that you can do it more-or-less without thinking about it while concentrating on something else, then you should be able to sing with it and not have to worry too much about what your hands are doing (assuming, of course, that your mouth and your hands are in agreement as to what song you're doing -- but that's another story).

Word of warning with this kind of practice, though. Way back, I'd heard fingerpicking on records and wanted to learn it, but I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. Then someone showed me how, and taught me a couple of basic patterns to practice. I practiced them so assiduously over the next week or so that I started getting cramps in my right thumb and the palm of my right hand. I didn't know it then (the term hadn't been invented yet), but I was flirting with carpal tunnel syndrome. I had to give the hand a complete rest for several days or it would start to twitch uncontrollably. Scary!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: rangeroger
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 07:16 PM

Spaw. I find that I never get a chance to read when I'm titty-booming.

rr


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 07:40 PM

Geez man, you're one of those guys? Never really got into (or between) that myself, but whatever winds your watch!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Helen
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 08:49 PM

Rick,

I do the same thing while practising chord patterns like the Alberti bass on the Celtic harp. Alberti bass, in case you don't know, is I-V-III-V note fingering, or variations of that. I don't do it when hubby is in the room, because I imagine it would be really annoying, but it's good when he is out in his cubby house (hubby-cubby?), i.e. the upstairs floor of the garage playing Need for Speed or something.

I've always been a strong believer in getting the subconscious mind to help out with learning things.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: John Hardly
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 10:13 PM

nice tip. I especially like your finer point of learning a more generalized skill that has multiple applications.

As I am getting older I find myself more tense about my learning time---that it must really count. Skills with multi uses certainly fits that bill.

My project of late has been trying to learn fiddle tunes. I've found no short cut for getting the actual tune in my head, but once there, this TV time practice could really help me get them suckers up to speed.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: 53
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 10:38 PM

i think that i'm to old and set in my style of playing to be able to play anything like rick is talking about, i wish that i would of learned more about fingerpicking when i was younger and more versatile than i am now ,but it is an excellent tip anyway. BOB


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: 53
Date: 01 Nov 01 - 10:43 PM

i am going to try what rick said and i'll practice it on my taylor, since it seems to have a better response to finger picking than my gibson, or takamine, i think that i'll grow my nails longer on my first two fingers of my right hand and see if that'll help. BOB.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 01:33 AM

Actually Bob, you ain't too old to learn this finger roll. Possibly too old to win Mr. America...Definitely too old to become an Olympic 100 yard dash medalist, and probably too old to wear a thong to the beach......but FINGERPICKING? Nah....I learn these things to pass time between now and the grave!!

No TV? (lucky sods!) This technique works just as well with a big picture book. Go to the library and get a book on Dali, or Picasso or especially Toulouse-Lautrec (sp)

Absorb for an hour. Page turning? No problem...you're not using your left hand (open tuning, remember?)

Actually you can cut the noise to an absolute minimum by simply putting a bunched up kleenex under the strings (or you can send me twenty bucks for one of the brass banjo mutes that Mudcatter Bouzouki Bob and I invented and build!!

This whole right hand "repetition" thing cannot be overemphasized. The vast majority of experienced players that I work with have one little flaw that keeps them from being happy with their playing, and that is that they're still making conscious decisions with their right hand. Gotta be sub-conscious. I see the right hand as being the "tools". Once the "tools" work well the rest (and left hand) is very easy. If the right hand is still a bit hesitant it makes EVERYTHING much harder.

Here's a little "flat-pick excercise" that can really help you nail your "country" playing. If you want to learn some speedy runs like Doc Watson or Norman Blake play, this is a great one. (hard though)

Once again, tune to an open D. Pick your Baseball or football game (anything with music or dialogue is too distracting and this won't work)

Pick the sixth string (down)

pick the fifth string (down)

pick the fourth string four times (down-up, down-up)

The rhythm is two quarter notes and four eighth notes, so (like the fingerpicking pattern) it's BUM, BUM, BADABADA.

You gotta do this several hundred times, first really slowly and gradually as you get more into the game it'll get faster.

As you get a bit more comfortable, move to the 5th, 4th and 3rd. Then the 4th 3rd and 2nd, and finally the 3rd, 2nd and 1st. This is important, 'cause the muscle memory for flatpicking is quite different between bass and treble strings.

Once again, you should be able to accomplish weeks of normal practice in a couple of hours. When you're ready to tackle a real tune (in regular tuning) your wrist will already know the "down" and "upstroke" drill.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Sourdough
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 02:00 AM

I jut learned that I am getting a bsanjo for my birthday and Rick, your sugestion is going to be very helpful in learning frailing. I can see that I might be able to learn frailing in a much shorter time than I had assumed I would need if I do it in your concentrated way.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: BlueJay
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 02:57 AM

Thanks, Rick. I'll try those guitar licks. You're right, repitiion is the key. You don't even have to have an instrument in hand. I used to practice fingerpicking patterns against the side of my leg, or on a desktop in school. Granted, that's not as effective as with real strings, but it did help ingrain the patterns. BlueJay


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 07:21 AM

Hey Rick....All jokes aside.....This is a really good idea of course and Dough and 53 and some others have mentioned specifics.........Can I make a suggestion?

How about giving a "Rick Fielding Tab with Titty-Booms" for a few of your "essential tools." (RH technique).....I don't know what they'd be, but you know what I mean? Give Bob(53) maybe a "Basic John Hurt" or whatever.....Do you know what I mean? "Rick's Essential Right Hand Tools"........A basic or two, an intermediate, an advanced......a couple of banjo things..........Maybe you start another thread with that name?

Aw nuts, I'm rambling here, but you get the idea maybe?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: kendall
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 09:24 AM

You practice Rick? So, that's how you get to be so good! I may have to try that...


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 10:05 AM

I'm with BlueJay on this -- it's a good technique with an instrument in hand, but can also be done without an instrument. I used to do this a thousand years ago when I was first learning fingerpicking patterns; also when I was a young flamenco student, my teacher told me to practice my rasgueado (the rhythmic finger roll/strum that flamenco guitarists do) on table tops, my pants leg, and any other surface until it was smooth, even and effortless. Did the same thing in my classical guitar studies when learning the tremelo technique (as heard in Recuerdos de la Alhambra by Albeniz; a standard of the classical guitar repertoire). You can do it while watching TV, reading a book, driving to the office, whatever -- basically any time that you could drum your fingers on something, you can practice a pattern just as well.

The other great thing about developing this muscle memory is that you can then move away from strict patterns, and incorporate melody and harmony lines. Once your hand is accustomed to the pattern, you can start to explore adding in other lines, grace notes, etc., while still keeping the fluid rhythm happening, and being able to revert back to the basic pattern at any time. After a while it's like walking -- once you're comfortable on your feet (post-toddler age), you can step around obstacles, change direction, etc., but still keep that steady left-right motion going, and you don't even fall down! It's a great way to branch out from being strictly an accompanist to being a soloist a la Kottke, Atkins, Travis, etc.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: 53
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 11:02 AM

THANKS RICK, i'll try and do what you suggested and i appreciate you posting those runs, i'll bookmark this post in our personal pages for further study. BOB


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 11:07 AM

I've found that when I'm in the Paltalk rooms waiting for my turn I practice my technique. Often using whoever is playing as a backup. It has done a couple of things for me - I can better ignore my mistakes, I can do well when others aren't, and I can ignore the whole thing and simply practice my cross picking or other little runs.

Rick you are correct, at least for me, that the right hand is the key. It's where I make most of my mistakes. And I've sat for a while and simply did the technique out of an open tuning position - swapping strings just to get my right hand functional.

One of these days I am going to be able to play "Under the Double Eagle" the way I want to! Just gotta practice *G*

Steve


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 01:57 PM

Geez, thanks for the feedback friends. As you no doubt know by now, I can get a little over-focused on instrument "mechanics", so I thought I might give a bit of the background on "why".

For years I played strictly by ear and instinct, and was lucky enough to get good results. When I decided to travel less (co-inciding with meeting Heather) and supplement my income with teaching, I found I started looking at my own (and others') playing in a different way. I had so many bad habits that I should have written a book called "DON'T Do THIS"!

I discovered that my weakest area was the thing I was proudest of having developed, and that was a right hand that could adapt instantly to any situation. Problem was, I was often caught in the middle of a fast passage using the wrong finger for a note and had to "slide" out of a mistake. Got good at that, BUT it's much better to really nail the basics first, if you wanna play any kind of song comfortably. Problem was I hated to practice, so the "watch TV and practice at the same time" thing was based on my natural laziness.....to my surprise I found it really worked, and very quickly too.

Learning your left hand, and how to "glide" to chords rather than coming in vertically CAN'T effectively be learned while concentrating on Doug Flutie or Wayne Gretsky. For the left hand you gotta have all your senses focused, but if you've nailed the muscle memory for the right hand it's much easier.

Here's one more "TV" excercise:

Guitar tuned to D again.

Pick the 6th string with your thumb.

Pick the sixth again with your index finger.

Move to the fifth and do the same thing (thumb then index)

Keep going up tp the 1st string. Then go the other way (first to sixth)

This is a way of playing fast (flatpick type) runs with the thumb and index.

When you go back to a regular tuning and start learning tunes, they'll be much easier 'cause the right hand muscle memory is well in place.

This style was used to great effect by Rev. Gary Davis on Guitar and Don Reno on banjo.

Rick (and yes, it IS raining here, so I can't go out and rake leaves!)


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 02:23 PM

Hey Rick, maybe for a different thread, but do you have a good method for learning bass runs in standard tuning? Oh, o.k., and in open tunings. (And you know why I ask!!!!)

yours, mehit


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 06:08 PM

Hi Peter. Maybe I'd better mention this once again.....This thread has NUTHIN' to do with playing in open tuning. It's about learning right hand technique in order to in REGULAR tuning. The open D tuning mentioned is merely to free one up from having to think of two things at once.

Yep, to learn bass runs effectively, rather than in a really time consuming and seemingly never-ending process, nail that right hand. The above flatpick excercise should help. Maybe I'll start a thread with some specific bass runs in a couple of days.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Peter T.
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 06:24 PM

rats, thought I might sneak one in under the radar. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Bert
Date: 02 Nov 01 - 06:48 PM

Well thank you VERY much. I've managed all these years without practicing and now you've gone and made it look easy. Now I've just gotta TRY this, 'cos I've no excuses left.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 11:30 AM

Bert..Do Not attempt these things at home! T'will destroy your naive charm, and songwriting innocence!! Love your CD by the way.

Holy Cow!! I've had several PMs and e-mails asking if I could suggest a SIMPLER thing to practice while watching the big game. I hear yah. The excercises I've given can lead to pretty complex playing, but are really helpful in simpler accompaniements as well.....it's that "muscle memory" thing.

Here's a great one for learning a "Burl Ives" kind of accompaniement pattern though.

Once again...Open D tuning. NOT (repeat Not) for PLAYING in open D, it's just a tool to learn RIGHT HAND PATTERNS, without having to worry about left hand chords.

Thumb picks 6th

Index, middle and ring pick 3rd, 2nd, 1st, together.

Thumb picks 4th.

index picks 3rd

middle picks 2nd

ring picks 1st

It's sort of two quarter notes followed by four eighths

Rhythm is Boom Chuck, badabada.

Enjoy the game....be Burl by the second quarter!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Peter T.
Date: 03 Nov 01 - 12:02 PM

Burlesque, I think.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 12:57 PM

Ten points Peter!

Got an e-mail from a complete stranger who saw this thread on Mudcat (We really DON'T know all the folks who lurk here!) telling me about a little invention he came up with.

Three flat sticks, One the length and width of a small guitar fingerboard, one, a mandolin, and one a five string banjo. He's affixed the appropriate number of strings to each (I don't think they're tuned or anything...just screwed in)

Uses them on plane trips or in front of the tube, to practice on. I asked about "frets" and he says he just draws them on with black felt pen. Good invention.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: GUEST,Tinker
Date: 04 Nov 01 - 07:27 PM

Thanks Rick, I've been harvesting Fielding's picking tips out of assorted threads. YOu do know you are probably approaching a short book??? This one takes all the excuses out. It also works during mindless kiddie shows that you really must monitor once in a while.....

Tinker


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Subject: RE: Practice tip, odd but verrry effective.
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Nov 01 - 12:12 AM

Thanks Tinker. Actually I've been writing a book for about thirty years now, but it's reaching double epic length! It's fun to recall stories and come up with music tips, but editing, interesting a publisher, and dealing with the 'biz' part of it, are real work, and that's where I usually lose interest. God Bless Mudcat...keeps it fun!

Rick


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