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Learning Scales


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#19 njurkowski

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 12:05 PM

If you want to play like David Bromberg, learn scales."

Agree 100%.
What if you have only 30 minutes a day, if lucky?
That's the whole point of been realistic. Setting the unacheavable goal is sure way to disaster.
I don't understand how it is possible to do even one single exersise in only 2 minutes. If you play one scale, on 2 beats, on 3 beats, stacatto and legato. Varying stacatto and legato, playing softly and increasing volume, then back to softly - it's 15 minutes easy, and you're not done yet.
Just running up and down the keyboard calling the notes aloud to memorize them is not really an exersise I'm talking about. Sure you need to do that once in a while, even every time will not take much effort.
But as far as "playing like David Bromberg" is concerned it is not that kind of "playing scales".


An exercise can be as short or as long as you want. What you describe is fairly comprehensive and time-consuming, and will practice multiple facets of your playing. Great if you have time for it, but if you don't there's no need to eschew it completely. Technique building exercises are not an all or nothing thing. The reason I practice the way I do is that it gradually builds my familiarity and ease with the instrument in a fairly general way. Just because it doesn't take 15 minutes doesn't mean that it isn't building technique - it just takes longer to see results.

You're absolutely right that you can't do every single technique exercise in 15 minutes or 1 hour or even 2 hours - you can always find more fundamentals to practice. But ask any teacher - any time at all you spend practicing those fundamentals is time well spent, and will pay dividends. Why not create a warm-up routine that varies from day to day(maybe one day - scales, another - broken thirds, another - staccato practice, etc., with a rotation that you stick to), but always lasts about three minutes? It takes discipline, sure (more discipline than I have, sadly), but if I did that, I'm sure my playing would be better than it is now, and it isn't a huge time investment. Technique exercises cam be tiresome, no doubt, and if you don't like them, don't do them. But there's no point in trying to rationalize that not doing them is making you a better player. That is simply false.

#20 m3838

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 12:34 PM

But there's no point in trying to rationalize that not doing them is making you a better player. That is simply false.


Which led me to another thought: What if instead of doing excersises everyday skippingly, dedicate one sesson a week to only exersises, putting the tune playing aside.
This way you can calm down, spend your time "leasurely" on etudes, scales, stacatto...whatever. May be putting a tune aside for some timem will help to distance yourself from it, and then you'll see how it sounds sort of "anew", and your mistakes may be more obvious to fix.
As Colonell Hathy said: - "Discipline is the thing!"

#21 njurkowski

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 12:55 PM

But there's no point in trying to rationalize that not doing them is making you a better player. That is simply false.


Which led me to another thought: What if instead of doing excersises everyday skippingly, dedicate one sesson a week to only exersises, putting the tune playing aside.
This way you can calm down, spend your time "leasurely" on etudes, scales, stacatto...whatever. May be putting a tune aside for some timem will help to distance yourself from it, and then you'll see how it sounds sort of "anew", and your mistakes may be more obvious to fix.
As Colonell Hathy said: - "Discipline is the thing!"


I love that idea, but I fear I'm not nearly disciplined enough to carry it out :lol: . I remember from my days as a trombone performance major that I would often over-practice difficult passages. Putting the piece away gave it time to work it's way into my muscle memory, and when I'd pick it back up a few days later a lot of the problems would have worked themselves out, without killing myself practicing.

It should also be noted that I'm really not trying to say you're a bad player if you're not doing your scales and so forth. As was your original point, most of us aren't playing concertina to be professionals, but for fun. If you have more fun not playing scales, then by all means, don't play scales - that's the reason I do so little of it. The problem is that it's more fun for me if I'm getting better and feel like I'm making progress with the instrument, and technique exercises help with that. It's always a struggle between just wanting to play more real music and the knowledge that I'd really be getting better faster if I did more technique stuff...

#22 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 01:46 PM

Reading over the posts on "practising scales etc" vs. "practising tunes", it struck me that there are two ways of looking at "learning to play the concertina" (or any instrument, for that matter).

Some peole's definition is obviously "learning to play set arrangements of specfic tunes". these would be the ones who eschew scales.
The other definition is "putting yourself in a position to be able to play any tune that comes into your head" (or, for the non-angloists: any new score you put in front of you).

As a by-ear player, I go for the second definition. Like the singer that I am, I perceive a tune as a series of intervals, and playing scales and arpeggios helps to couple specific musical intervals with specific movments of the fingers. Also, when playing in keys outside C and G on the anglo, where the notes I'll need are scattered all over the place, with "wrong" notes strewn in among them, it's a great help to know which buttons belong to the scale of D or F or A, and which don't.
Playing harmonised scales is a good exercise for harmonising on the fly - and that's part of "knowing how to play" the concertina, in my opinion.

We're really talking about two different things: learning to play the concertina vs. learning to play tunes on the concertina. Whichever we do, we should do it to the best of our ability. The complete concertinist probably does both.

Cheers,
John

#23 JimLucas

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 03:16 PM

What is more beneficial to learning tunes on the the concertina:

  • Practicing scales?
  • Spending the same amount of time debating the benefits of practicing scales?
B)



#24 m3838

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 04:13 PM

We're really talking about two different things: learning to play the concertina vs. learning to play tunes on the concertina.

Looks like it.
The two ways definitely collide, and not in the future, but every day, it's just a matter of us noticing it.
I guess the main issue is not to create a situation from one Russian joke about mental institution, where chief doctor decided to teach patients to dive first, and fill pool with water later.

#25 Angie Burn

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 05:01 PM

Oh dear....all this talk about staccato and legatto and I have no idea what that means! I looked it up on Wikipedia and it said Quote "Legato, like staccato, is a kind of articulation. There is an intermediate articulation called either mezzo staccato or non - legato.

Well that's cleared it up for me then :o

#26 David Barnert

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Posted 06 May 2008 - 05:18 PM

Oh dear....all this talk about staccato and legatto and I have no idea what that means! I looked it up on Wikipedia and it said Quote "Legato, like staccato, is a kind of articulation. There is an intermediate articulation called either mezzo staccato or non - legato.

Well that's cleared it up for me then :o

Staccato and legato are two ways to play a series of consecutive notes. Staccato (Italian: detached) means you play them clipped, each individually, with space between them. Legato (Italian: tied) means you play them flowing, each note following the previous without space between them. A violinist would (ordinarily) play stacatto notes with seperate short bow strokes and play legato notes on one continuous bow stroke. On the concertina, the difference is usually made by finger control rather than bellows work.

#27 Angie Burn

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 03:43 PM

Oh dear....all this talk about staccato and legatto and I have no idea what that means! I looked it up on Wikipedia and it said Quote "Legato, like staccato, is a kind of articulation. There is an intermediate articulation called either mezzo staccato or non - legato.

Well that's cleared it up for me then :o

Staccato and legato are two ways to play a series of consecutive notes. Staccato (Italian: detached) means you play them clipped, each individually, with space between them. Legato (Italian: tied) means you play them flowing, each note following the previous without space between them. A violinist would (ordinarily) play stacatto notes with seperate short bow strokes and play legato notes on one continuous bow stroke. On the concertina, the difference is usually made by finger control rather than bellows work.


Thanks David......I think it will be a while before I get the hang of all this, but it's great fun trying!

#28 m3838

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 05:07 PM

Thanks David......I think it will be a while before I get the hang of all this, but it's great fun trying!


Oh no! You have to start now. It's not that complex, only smooth playing, when you release one button while depressing another (legato), or depressing buttons very quickly and releasing them (stacatto).
It's better to try your tunes both ways, then vary them. Otherwise your music will be a mush, uninteresting to listen to. And even if you are a raw beginner, nobody said your playing should be un-interesting from the day 1.
The alternative, unfortuantely, is learning to play un-interestingly, and keep it up to the day you depart this world.

#29 wntrmute

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 08:32 PM

I don't think a bellows reversal is really legato at all; it is a distinct kind of articulation, though, being neither staccato or legato. On an anglo this means you need to know your alternate buttons, so you can choose to play legato or with bellows-reversals to match the phrasing of the music.
An English/Duet you just want to be able to tie your reversals in with the phrasing, you don't have to sweat alternate buttons so much. Or so I would think -- I'd defer to those who actually play those instruments, since I don't.

#30 Dirge

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 08:48 PM

No, you're quite right; you change direction only with the phrasing (unless things are getting desperate!)

#31 Dana Johnson

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 07:05 PM

The other thing, is I'm not saying Noel Hill or anyone else with a solid technique would benefit from doing scales over and over. For a beginner whose greatest musical accomplishment is Mary Had a Little Lamb, though, doing scales is not at all a waste of time or effort.

First thing Noel taught us was a few scales and then tunes to go with them. The scales helped us get over the hurdle of remembering the bellows direction and helped to familiarize our fingers with the Keys we were playing. Treat your scales like tunes and do them a couple times before playing other tunes or tunes in the key you are learning. Soon you'll be speedy at them and will find it much easier to learn the new tunes since you won't have to be searching so much for the notes. YOu don't have to put hours into it, just a little bit each time until you are relatively comfortable in the key. Then things take care of themselves.
Dana

#32 m3838

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Posted 12 May 2008 - 03:15 AM

Don't know what would it take to play 30 button C/G concertina in D, but English don't need the scale to just remember the notes.
I found that learning pieces gets me there quick enough and scales stay just scales, not bringing me any closer to anything.
I'm finding it is more challenging to practice legato-stacatto and forte-piano with the piece I learn. EC is so easy to read, it releases me from the necessity of doing many exersizes. And I believe that after a while playing by ear will become just as easy as with learning various scales. I spent 5 years practicing scales on B system, my daughter spend some 4 years with the piano - I just don't see the benefit as great as the time spent. A little here, a little there - sure. But I'm talking about the classic approach, created for upper class with leisure time abundant, that is probably incorrect in the world of vast number of middle class amateurs.
BTW, that Noel Hill thing, you say he "taught you a few scales and then the tunes that go with those". But that's exactly my position, to learn only what is immediately necessary for your repertore. Just don't get put off by the word "scale". There is a world of difference between practicing "a few, and then put them to work" and practicing scales as a thing in itself.

#33 Angie Burn

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 02:33 PM

Thanks David......I think it will be a while before I get the hang of all this, but it's great fun trying!


Oh no! You have to start now. It's not that complex, only smooth playing, when you release one button while depressing another (legato), or depressing buttons very quickly and releasing them (stacatto).
It's better to try your tunes both ways, then vary them. Otherwise your music will be a mush, uninteresting to listen to. And even if you are a raw beginner, nobody said your playing should be un-interesting from the day 1.
The alternative, unfortuantely, is learning to play un-interestingly, and keep it up to the day you depart this world.


Oh dear! An uninteresting mush? I'd better get cracking with this staccato and legatto business now!

Cheers M38 and thanks for the advice
Angie

#34 m3838

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 03:59 PM

Oh dear! An uninteresting mush? I'd better get cracking with this staccato and legatto business now!

Cheers M38 and thanks for the advice
Angie


Hmm.
maryhadalittlelamblittlelamblittlelamb - thats just reading the dots or picking buttons.
Then we go into:
mary had a little lamb little lamb little lamb
Then:
Mary had a little lamb
little lamb
little lamb
Then:
Mary had a little Lamb
little Lamb
Little Lamb
Then:
mary
had a little lamb
little lamb
little lamb

After you are done with this, you'll be sweating, but not profusely.
But after on top of this you'll work in stacatto and legato, you'll be sweating profusely, I guarantee. Personal experience.
Some people are naturally born with the feel - talent.
Not me.

#35 JimLucas

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Posted 13 May 2008 - 05:13 PM

Hmm.
maryhadalittlelamblittlelamblittlelamb - thats just reading the dots or picking buttons.
Then we go into:
mary had a little lamb little lamb little lamb
Then:
Mary had a little lamb
little lamb
little lamb

Except that it was actually, "Barbara had a little kid."

Barbara is a friend's goat, who gave birth yesterday.
She (Barbara, the goat) had difficulty, so my friend and I had to assist.

Mother and kid are now doing fine. :)



#36 Bruce McCaskey

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Posted 16 May 2008 - 05:44 PM

As Dana noted, Noel Hill starts people out playing scales. I think everyone has at least been exposed to the D and G scales after they've been to his class series a time or two. I think I recall that he did D and G scales in the first series I attended and added the A scale in the second. Of some note perhaps, I've heard Noel say that in his opinion everyone should practice scales, and that he himself should do it more than he typically makes time for.

As to my own practice, I usually do scales just before I stop playing and I consider it to be something of a mental stretching exercise. I started with the D, G and A scales with Noel, and eventually added E on my own. In the last few years I've expanded on that and now end my practices with at least two scale runs in the keys (in order) of G, A, B, C, D, E and F. I usually do three octaves in G, two in A, B, C and D, and just one in E and F. I do still make mistakes; I'd call them miss-fingerings or drops in that I run the scale but either miss a note or don't hear all the notes evenly. My criteria is to play up and down each scale “correctly” twice in a row before I move on to the next. Some days, especially if I'm tired, that doesn't go nearly as easily as I think it should.

I make no claims regarding the quality of my playing, but will comment that since I started doing scales on a regular basis it seems to me that I find it much easier to play tunes in keys other than the one I first learned them in. It also seems easier to learn new tunes in various keys since I'm more familiar with where to find the proper notes in those keys.



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