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#1 Woody

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 10:01 AM

Following on from Morgana's question about motivation, I found it interesting to hear about how different players go about it and I think gained a few new ideas for myself. The responses that touched on practising also got me thinking, what does everybody do to practise and are there things that others do that might suit me?

At the moment I pretty much just work on playing tunes and wonder if there might be other things I could work on as well that could prove more productive. So some nice general questions.............

Do you have a structure to your practise? Do you do scales and other "technical" bits or just play tunes?
What have you found to be the most/least productive approaches that you've tried?
How much time do you dedicate to practising and is it all in a chunk or spread out in small amounts of time? And if you have a structure, how much time do you spend on each area?
How do you avoid practising becoming boring?



Answers in 5000 words or less please :blink:

#2 Peter Brook

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:32 AM

Well there is what i would like to do in an ideal world and then there is what I actually do (on 30 key C/G Anglo)!

But on my ideal side:

Play scales C, G, D, A, F andante (I don't normally play outside these keys) - [I also play in minor keys but don't practise them as scales]

Play scales legato, repeat staccato. Play alternating legato and staccato note (repeat reversing this pattern). Play scales first note loud, second soft etc. (then repeat other way around)

Play scales playing "in octaves" as far as instrument allows.

Play a tune very slowly putting in chords, and ornamantations such as triplets. Gradually speed up but make sure that no sections are faster or slower than others. Alternatively I might be working on learning a song.

Just "jam" with myself playing any tune that comes into my head or from a book that happens to be on the table.

In terms of time 20 minutes scales, 20 minutes single tune, 20 minutes "jam" = 60 minutes.

This might not work for you but to me it keeps it lots of fun but hopefully I am using the time constructively as well.

#3 eskin

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 11:47 AM

I pretty much only practice tunes. I use "Transcribe!" from Seventh String software to slow down and transpose tunes that I'm learning on any given day, this week its Brian McNamara's version of "The Groves". I start off by playing along with slowed down recordings, always very slowly and exactly to get the phrasing and ornamentation nailed down, then gradually build up the speed over a week or so. I don't spend much time doing scales or patterns outside of the context of unusual passages in a tune that require me to detour from the Noel Hill fingerings.

#4 Mark Evans

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Posted 27 March 2006 - 01:50 PM

How do you avoid practising becoming boring?


I've never been bored with a concertina in my hands. Scales and such are very useful. If you've never tried it, give it a shot. I've given it up becasue it reminds me of vocal pedagogy. However I do practice a wide range of tunes and accompanyment that serve the same function.

Edited by Mark Evans, 27 March 2006 - 01:57 PM.


#5 Woody

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 12:57 PM

Thanks for the replies - certainly food for thought.

For some time now I've been playing a range of tunes, but not getting that much better. I think perhaps I should concentrate more on just one or two tunes until I can really play them well. I'll be trying some scales as well, though I think that for me doing them for more than just a few minutes could become quite dull.

#6 m3838

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:48 PM

Perhabs, if you are not getting better, just concentrate on sections, that are difficult. And an advice I was given, but not listening to, is not to strive to do all the work in one session. Leave something for tomorrow. Just do a phraze or a few measures at one time, then go to another tune. Instead of one tune per session, do 6, but by bits and pieces. Also, do not try to play the whole song after you practiced part of it. Let it settle in your brain.
So it's like disassembling the music and learning unconnected pieces. Difficult to do.

My practice, when I had time, was like this:
1. Slow playing of scle in one octave, practicing the dynamics. Slow counting 1-8 per note, going from very quiett to very loud on 4, and back to quiett on 8. And it's modifications. 5 minutes gets you warm.
2. Scales in 1-2, 1-2-3, 1-2-3-4 count. Major and Minor (melodic and harmonic)
3. Legato-Stacatto.
4. Etudes
5. Pieces, usually 3-4.
An Hour is gone, before you know it.

Now I practice in my Van, any time I have a break, so etudes are gone, scales in different keys are gone, Exercizes are practically gone. So the tunes are left and I'm trying to make exercizes out of them and just play "with" the tune, trying different approaches. Just to have fun.
I think, when you have this kind of fun, your practice is more effective. Also, recording myself si a number 1 tool now. I'm yet to play with the CD, too fast for me for the most part.

#7 Samantha

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 01:51 PM

Thanks for the replies - certainly food for thought.

For some time now I've been playing a range of tunes, but not getting that much better. I think perhaps I should concentrate more on just one or two tunes until I can really play them well. I'll be trying some scales as well, though I think that for me doing them for more than just a few minutes could become quite dull.


Use playing scales to practice other things, like all legato (notes jointed to each other) or staccato (each note short with a big gap between them), make sure the rhythm is regular, try jig (pat-a-cake pat-cake) or reel (what-a-bother what-a-bother) with an emphasis on the first "pat" or "what" and a slighter emphasis on the second, or the hornpipe style "humpty dumpty" rhythm. This should make scales doubly useful.
Samantha

#8 Charlotte

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 02:24 PM

I'll be trying some scales as well, though I think that for me doing them for more than just a few minutes could become quite dull.


I set myself some goals when playing scales. For the time being it's just to play them clearly, accurately and at the same time trying to increase speed. Once I've achieved that (in 10 years or so :lol: ), I'll try to add some rhythm, ornaments etc. In that way I will prevent myself from turning off my brain while practising scales. From my vast experience :rolleyes: - I took up the concertina and music in general last christmas - it's frightfully easy to fall into the habit of playing scales mindlessly and sloppily simply because one ought to (i.e. play the scales, not turn the brain off, even though that can be nice once in a while). By setting myself some goals I even happen to find that practising scales can become, well, not exactly thrilling, but at least less boring.

P.S. Can I use the word "sloppily"? I think so, but I couldn't find it in my danish-english dictionary

#9 JimLucas

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:11 PM

P.S. Can I use the word "sloppily"? I think so, but I couldn't find it in my danish-english dictionary

Sure.

English is well known as "a language in which any noun can be verbed." B)
Same goes for adverbing an adjective. :D

#10 Lester Bailey

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 04:54 PM

English is well known as "a language in which any noun can be verbed." B)

I think you will find that is American not English :P

#11 Charlotte

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:01 PM

English is well known as "a language in which any noun can be verbed." B)
Same goes for adverbing an adjective. :D


Thanks. This forum is a goldmine when it comes to knowledge/advice as to the world of the concertina. And I get the chance of practising/improving my english!

#12 m3838

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Posted 29 March 2006 - 05:09 PM

it's frightfully easy to fall into the habit of playing scales mindlessly and sloppily I even happen to find that practising scales can become, well, not exactly thrilling, but at least less boring.

If you first learn the scales, and THEN add rhythm to them, ti's like learning to dive first, then then add water to the pull.
I'd do it all from the onset.
And btw, playing sclaes mindlessly is good too, you train your fingers to know where to go. It 'should'
be mindless, just like walking.
Now if playing scales is boring, you're not doing it right, and it is better not do it at all. Add rhythm to them, add embellishments, 4 notes slow - 4 notes fast, etc. Your mind will be bubbling from the challenge! You'll work like a mule! 10 minutes of such work - and you want to relax. Relax!
If only I had time!

#13 PeterT

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 03:22 AM

... playing scales mindlessly is good too, you train your fingers to know where to go. It 'should'
be mindless, just like walking.

I generally agree. It needs to become automated, to enable you to concentrate on the important thing, which is learning tunes (or reading music).

A friend came to Sidmouth festival one year, with just about all the known fingering patterns for every key on a C/G Anglo. It was an amazing piece of work, and I don't know how long it took him. It must have been a useful exercise, however I'm sure that practical needs dictated that he finally used similar fingering patterns to myself.

I have to confess that having learnt to play in the standard keys, I only practice scales for "new" keys, or alternative fingerings when I find that the tried and tested fingering is not working for a new tune.

Regards,
Peter.

#14 Dirge

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 04:24 AM

I make myself do half an hour every day. Making yourself sit down is sometimes difficult but it rarely continues to feel like drudgery (especially once you've passed the point where you struggle to get a tune). In the beginning when it felt like hard work it was an iron rule; now I allow myself to 'carry over' occasionally. If I'm really not in the mood I do half an hour of mucking arround. But it's still practice, isn't it? I don't do scales etc but go straight into the pieces I'm learning unless my fingers are cold/stiff in which case I limber up on reels and hornpipes that I knew before. I learn perhaps 3 pieces at a time, working at each one until I get bored. I try and learn 'stretching pieces' rather than stuff that's in my normal abilities and finally I cuddle the 'box if I'm watching the telly and my wife is out. It's surprising how often low grade practice becomes more alluring than TV and it all helps to grind the keyboard layout home. (Maccan duet this is)

#15 Nanette Hooker

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 06:28 AM

I am not very methodical with my practise sessions, it varies according to how I feel.

Sometimes I just do exercises. I try to do single note scales, double note scales (3rds, 6ths, Octaves) and chromatic scales. I also have a perverse liking for "Regondi's Golden Exercise".

Recently, I have spent my practice time trying to work out a tune using a slow-down program and then write out the music (using Noteworthy Composer). This can be very time-comsuming, but I am getting better and quicker.

Sometimes I do tunes I know I can play reasonably competently. This makes me feel good.

#16 Woody

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 10:58 AM

I cuddle the 'box if I'm watching the telly and my wife is out.


Does she know? Does she understand?

#17 Dirge

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Posted 30 March 2006 - 01:48 PM

No she doesn't know so she doesn't NEED to understand

#18 Woody

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Posted 01 April 2006 - 11:27 AM

No she doesn't know so she doesn't NEED to understand


:lol:



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