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Dobro Lessons: Kickoffs and Endings

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Let's jump into a little discussion about
kickoffs and endings.
There's a variety of ways you can kickoff
a song and
I've got some here but I'll just give you
a few examples.
Be in the key of G for now.
And basically, when you kickoff a song,
this is something that's happening before
the start of the song, before the melody.
It's sort of like a signal to everybody
else to say hey, the song is starting.
And, there's a couple ways you can do it.
Probably the most common way is with
something like this.
That's how I'd kick off a fireball male or
some sort of traditional Bluegrass tune.
Now, another way you can do it is with
something that is called potatoes.
[LAUGH] So that's aff, you'll, you'll
what I mean when I, when I do it, but it's
It's just a little vamp on the, on the one
chord before you start.
Right before
you start a melody.
So, a lot of times a fiddle will do that.
But if you're kicking off a song, you can
do it to.
Say, I'll give you some potatoes here.
So, potatoes is, that's just a common word
for what that is.
I don't know where they came up with it,
but that's what it is.
So, but when you're counting off a song,
you wanna get the tempo in
your head first, it's best to sort of tap
your foot or
at least just get the tempo in your head
before you rip right into a kickoff.
So, I showed you this one
Another might be this here, this is a
little more unique.
That actually could be a kickoff or an
But if I was gonna kickoff a song with
that, and say the tempo was right here.
[SOUND] I'd start counting it in my head
One, two.
A one, two, three.
So you wanna get the tempo in your head,
then a lot of these kickoffs are just
gonna be two bars long.
So a lot of times you'll count all the way
almost up to three.
So you say one, two, one, two, three.
That's a common length for a kickoff.
Another way to kickoff a song might be
something like this.
A one, two, three.
And how you kick a song off, a lot of it
is based on what the first melody note is.
So if the first melody note is a D as in
say, the song Gold Rush.
I'm gonna do a series of notes that lead
up to that first melody note.
If the first note of the melody is,
a G, I might do this one,
As in if it was in fireball male.
A song might start on a B note, right
So then you might do something like this.
Basically, you just want a series of notes
that's gonna lead you to the first
melody note.
Another common way you could kick off a
song would be with some double stops,
like this on the 12th fret.
That's a pretty common line.
And then one of the most classic
is the banjo kick of this,
So mainly what you wanna do is just get
the tempo in your head.
And if you're not sure what the tempo
should be,
ask the people you're playing with.
If, if there's a singer and it's a vocal
song say hey,
tap your foot say hey is this bout the
right tempo.
And say yeah sure that sounds good so
One, two, three
And then you're off.
So, that's just a few ideas and kickoffs.
But they can be anything.
Mainly, you just want to, you don't want
it to be too long.
A couple of beats is probably gonna be
And I encourage you to make up some of
your own kickoffs.
We can also talk about endings here for a
Now if you're playing a song and you're
leading it, and
you wanna end the song, there's a few ways
that you can do it, so
people are gonna know that it's the end of
the song.
One of the most common ways to end a song,
this is sort of a fiddle ending that I've
adapted to the Dobro, is this right here.
I think you'll recognize it.
One more time.
Now, if you play that loud and clear, most
people who are familiar with Bluegrass
music are gonna know this is the end of
the song.
Now, there's a couple other ways you could
end it.
You could do more like a banjo ending like
That's something more like, as I said, a
banjo might do.
And, mainly when you're ending a song you
want people to know it's the end, you, so
you need to make it distinctive.
And so one way to do that is you can play
it, that part of the song,
the very ending, louder than everything
else you've been playing.
It's a little bit of a, it's not the most
subtle thing to do but
it's a way that if you're in a jam session
or something,
everybody's gonna know it's the end of the
So say you're finishing out the melody,
at the very end, you look up and do
People are gonna know it's the end of the
One last way you could probably end a song
is with something really standard,
like a G run.
So, you can do a lick and then end with a
big chord,
up here.
So that's just a few different examples of
ways to kickoff and end a song.
I've got them written down, so you can
look at those, but
mainly, it's the inflection you use, maybe
a little bit of extra volume for
the endings, and the timing.
And you just wanna get those right, and
you can make up your own and see how you
do with that.