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Leftwich Lessons: Second Quarter

It's been six months since I started working with Brad Leftwich's Homespun two-disc DVD series Learn to Play Old-Time Fiddle. This is my second quarterly report on my progress.

You already heard from me earlier this month when I switched over to Lesson 2. There hasn't been much progress in the intervening two weeks since then. I've been listening hard to a couple different versions of "Citico" to get the rhythm of the tune better fixed in my head.

I'm starting to hear how my slow playing will eventually become the up-to-speed version I'm listening to from Lowe Stokes, Leftwich and Marcus Martin. However, the Martin version is reportedly in AEAC#, aka "Calico" tuning, not GDAD as the Stokes and Leftwich are.

My biggest problem so far with this second disc is getting the feel of the syncopation on "Tommy's Lick." I'm hoping that it will click the more I play the tune and get closer to the sound, but it may require slowing down and getting the rhythm right by either synchronizing my bowing and foot tapping, which I don't do well, or (GASP!) busting out the metronome.

Last week, I plugged "Citico" into my trial version of the Amazing Slow Downer and tried to bow along. It's the first phrase of each part that I've having a hard time matching. Somehow or other, I'll get it close to my idea of right.

The next tune is "Breaking Up Christmas," a tune I've long loved to play on banjo. Of the tunes from Lesson 1, I still have some kinks to work out with a few of the tunes, especially "Sugar Hill." I don't know why it gives me the fits, but it does.

What tunes are you working on? Any bowing advice?

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