Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby RandeDager » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:11 pm

Bruce, even though those weren't my parents, I was very emotionally touched knowing the significance to you of those recordings. When I hear stories of people on this board who had parents or relatives who were musicians and mentors I often wonder how I was able to continue developing my skills as a guitarist and performing? I grew up in a non-musical household and knew of nobody personally who played instrumental guitar. In fact, just to be immersed in a non-musical household would have been a "neutral" experience but in my case it was actually negative because my parents always felt that my practicing was a waste of my time and was only getting in the way of being "productive" in life. So I had to practice privately in my bedroom and leave it often enough to go back to the living room so that they felt that I was being "part of the family". It wasn't until I left home that I began to perform more often. I remember people walking up to my mom and complementing her for “raising such a talented son” and watching her act embarrassed that this was what they were noticing rather than a more "noble" quality. In spite of all of this I eventually found myself actually being asked by people such as Tommy Jones and Todd Hallawell how to play certain licks and working with Mickey Rooney’s wife, Jan, for a couple of years, where I met David Elliott. Probably the epitome of excitement for this boy from a non-musical household was to be able to sit and play for Chet and attempt to demonstrate for him what I had learned from listening to his recording of “When You Wish Upon a Star” and to have him tell me that he knew how hard it was and how he would have to work on it all over again to relearn it.

I just finished doing a Gospel/Country/Christmas program up North in Petoskey on Saturday night and
to this day I still have to try and ignore the vision of my ashamed mother sitting out in the audience embarrassed that everyone had to see how her son had been wasting his time. Needless to say, when I visit her these days, I leave my guitar home………lol.

I said all of this for two reasons: Those of you who have musical families or someone close to you who can mentor you are in a situation that you should consider very valuable. And to those who feel an urge, like I did, to express yourself musically but have no contact with musicians, you can still go a long way, especially with the materials available these days. For me it was 33&1/3 rpm records slowed down to 16&2/3 and then trying to convert back up an octave…….lol.

Sorry for going on so long, Bruce. I just really envy your background. Thanks for sharing!

Rande
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby keener » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:18 pm

Rande,

I don't know how you managed to grow up being musical in an anti-musical environment. If not for my Dad, I would never have even had an interest in guitar. You are to be commended for your persistence and for knowing what you wanted and doing it despite the pressure to not do it.

When I first read this, I thought there might be an implication that I had it easy because of Dad, and I resented that and thought that other pickers who had musical families might have resented such an implication it too. On second reading, I don't think that implication is there. But, just to make my past as clear as I can, I'll say a few more words about it.

Dad did not teach me to play. He did not know how to teach anymore than I do. If my grandson came to me and said teach me how to play, I would say watch me or my videos and try to do what I do. That's all I know about teaching, and that's all Dad knew about it. So, I watched him. Like a hawk. Then I would go off into the bedroom for hours at a time trying to imitate what I saw. I did that for months and months. Then, one night magic happened: whereas before the bass was never in sync and always something I had to work on consciously, it was there. I could play fingerstyle! I went in the living room and showed Dad and he was as surprised as I was. (The first tune I learned was Windy and Warm.)

Then I started playing along with him. And I learned more quickly by doing that. Then, I started playing Chet's albums over and over, and for the tunes I wanted to learn I would play them over and over and over, stopping and restarting a track at selected points to try to figure out what Chet was doing. In time, I was showing Dad some licks because I had the time to learn them and he didn't.

The most important thing that Dad taught me was that "I could do it" (he gave me the verbal assurance that I could and the encouragement). And he taught me to be me. After I got to where I could a lot of Chet's tunes, I would play one for him and sometimes he would say, "that's good, Chet," meaning "you are copying Chet too much ... you need to be you." It took a long time for that to settle in, because I had no creativity at that point. I could copy, but I wasn't innovative. There was no "me" to share. I might as well have been a tape recorder at that point.

There were times when I felt that Mom and Dad both wished I would spend less time on the guitar and more time trying to find a steady girlfriend or a sport that interested me or Something Besides Hours and Hours on the Guitar. But, they always encouraged me and my brother to make our own choices and gave us encouragement (as long as we didn't do anything stupid).

At least that's my memory of a half century ago. Maybe my brother can make any corrections needed or errors of omission.

I'll bet my story is close to the stories of countless pickers who had musical parents. I don't think any of us got to be pickers without putting in a lot of time and effort. As Malcomb Gladwell said in his book Outliers, if you want to be top-notch at anything, you've got to put in your 10,000 hours.

Anyway, I am the one who has rambled on too much. You are right that my past is enviable in many ways, from having such a fine family and being surrounded by talent, to being able to play as much as I wanted without any negativity thrown at me.

Take care Rande
Bruce
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby RandeDager » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:01 pm

Bruce, I'm glad that you understood what I was saying. I would never mean to imply that people from musical families never have to work at building their skill. There is always the issue of potential and talent. Many from musical families don't have that, just as some from non-musical families can be gifted. We all have to work at it.

My point was that the element of support can have a huge impact either for or against. I'm someone who likes to please. I felt quite lonely and like I was going against the wishes of my family. I should never have had to feel as guilty as I did but I didn't want to upset the very people who had sacrificed so much for me.

I just envy those who are surrounded by support and praise during their development process. It can really help.

I'm sure you had to put in lots of practice time just like everyone else but my guess is that you felt a lot better about it while you were doing it than I did.

Thanks for making that point.

Rand
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby keener » Tue Dec 07, 2010 4:05 pm

Rande,

Your points make me wonder about how many gifted children are held back by parents who think their gift is a waste of time. Probably a lot more than we dare think about, especially these days.

You are also right that those of us from musical families are blessed with the support and mentoring that we had available to us. There's just no way I would have ever become a decent picker without being able to set and watch my Dad for so many hours or to be able to ask him a question about what he was doing. There's no way I would have developed a love of guitar if it hadn't started out as something to please him.

Anyway, thanks for the conversation.

All my best
Bruce
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby Olivier » Tue Dec 07, 2010 5:32 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Bruce !
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby Billy Anderson » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:33 am

OK., Bruce. The adoption offer is still on the table. Just tell me how much you want. By the way, you were lucky to have a father who played CA style thus allowing you to steal those geat licks. Mine played harmonica and mouth harp so I really had a hard time fingerpicking until I discovered you had to use a guitar. :oops: KOPAP. Billy
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby RandeDager » Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:41 am

Bruce, of course many are or were in my situation in fields other than music. I have a friend who has become a government commissioned painter and has done things for NASA, hospitals, banks, in government buildings in D.C.,
etc. His home life and growing up as an artist was similar to mine with music. It would be one thing if I had become
famous or making a living with it, but regardless of my level of expertise, it is assumed that I must have wasted my time. Fortunately for my artist friend, his folks see things differently these days. He gets in the 10's of thousands for his paintings.

Rande
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby keener » Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:23 pm

Oliver and Billy, thank you very much my friends.

Rande, interesting situation with your friend. Glad he overcame.

For all, I should give virtually all credit for my learning the guitar to my Dad: without his talent, mentoring, encouragement, patience I never would have dared pick up a guitar. But, I also want to recognize my Mom. She of course encouraged me, too. But here patience was saintly: in the Summer, while Dad was working all day, I would pick all day. Literally. And many times I played a lick I was learning over and over and over and over. Mom never said anything negative about it, although I don't see how she tolerated it.

Anyway, I hope everyone has enjoyed my Mom and Dad's singing and Dad's playing (and even my picking). Brings back a ton of memories for me.

Thanks again to everyone for the nice comments.

Bruce
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby Vidar Lund » Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:33 am

Bruce, thanks for posting those beautiful old recordings. I recently bought a double CD with the Louvin Brothers, and after playing it I find your Yandell-style picking very convincing. Had I heard that recording on the radio I´d been certain it was Paul playing.
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Re: Mom and Dad Singing, Me Picking [Updated]

Postby keener » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:27 pm

Thank you very much, Vidar!

In those days I had only four guitar heroes: my Dad, Chet, Jerry, and Paul. I tried to learn everything I could from listening to them (and watching Dad). I've added heroes over the years, of course, but my top four are still Dad, Chet, Jerry, and Paul.

Take care
Bruce
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