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Priscilla

Practice

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Practice is what propells us further, whatever we're trying to master in life. But often for beginners, practice becomes tedious and we get bogged down, even give up. What makes practice fun? What motivates you to practice?

 

Varying c'tina tutors (which then offer you not only different methods, but different tunes), and transcribing your favorite tunes into tablature, I have found both helpful.

I think it's like getting a child into a bathtub...very hard to overcome the initial inertia, but once the child is in the soapy warm water, it's even harder to get them out! I find the hardest part perhaps in getting myself to practice c'tina is simply to begin. To sit down and get it out, hold it...then it already starts to become fun.

I recently had the wonderful good fortune of getting to play the same tune with a more experienced musician, and it catapulted me into a new realm. It was like a lifejacket at sea, I felt I couldn't drown. He kept the melody coming, and every time I got lost, I just waited till a familiar part came around again, and jumped back in. It was like someone holding my head above water so I could breathe, while paddling bewilderly in deep water.

I would like to hear other people's tricks to motivate themselves to keep practicing.

What is frustrating to me is that it's not a clear ascent, "the more you practice, the better you get", it's more like "one step forward, two steps back", at least it feels that way. The road to improvement is littered with potholes and boulders, twists and turns, diversions, random tornados, plateaus, it's not a straight line. You have to keep telling yourself, 'this is worth it'. It is! ..but you only realize it, if you stand back.

Sometimes I will practice my favorite morris dance tune and play it perfectly once, and botch it up the next 3 times, and then play it perfectly again suddenly out of nowhere, and then stumble over sections again...

I love it, and I think I'm hooked, but I always have to take breaks from it. I wish I could practice it studiously every single night. I know that's just not me. It comes in spurts. That's probably not a great way to practice.

Tell me about how you practice, and how you keep it fun, keep the romance going, stay in love and keep growing with the concertina!

Thanks, Priscilla

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Practice is what propells us further, whatever we're trying to master in life. But often for beginners, practice becomes tedious and we get bogged down, even give up. What makes practice fun? What motivates you to practice?

 

What is frustrating to me is that it's not a clear ascent, "the more you practice, the better you get", it's more like "one step forward, two steps back", at least it feels that way. The road to improvement is littered with potholes and boulders, twists and turns, diversions, random tornados, plateaus, it's not a straight line. You have to keep telling yourself, 'this is worth it'. It is! ..but you only realize it, if you stand back.

Sometimes I will practice my favorite morris dance tune and play it perfectly once, and botch it up the next 3 times, and then play it perfectly again suddenly out of nowhere, and then stumble over sections again...

 

I posted a similar observation a while back under the title 'two steps forward one step back'...lol!

I do find it hard to see my progress on concertina especially when my development seems to be sooo much slower in comparison to the melodeon.

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Priscilla

 

I've been playing for about a year now and my practice consists of playing through the 20 or so tunes I know well enough without needing to refer to the score. I usually play each tune several times, studiously ignoring bum notes and stutters. Then I practice scales, at least the most common ones. When I get bored or frustrated I pick on a tune at random, search the internet for the score and try to play it just for the fun of it. Usually this extra tune will not form part of my small repertoire but is just a diversion from the routine. The latest diversion is 'The Trail of the Lonesome Pine' as made famous by Laurel and Hardy. It never fails to bring a smile to my face which must be a good thing.

 

Dave

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I find that the best way to practice is for 15- 20 minutes per session then break for the minimum of an hour and then the same again.

Strange thing about beginners after a week a beginner can usually play something, to a new person to the instrument hearing the beginner will remark on how well the other has progressed.

If you go into the playing of an instrument as a long term project,one that you will slowly improve on, then that is the right frame of mind. If you get frustrated after a few weeks you have the wrong attitude. If you are determined,regularly practice, just as you are Priscilla, get excited by playing alongside others,I can assure you you will get better and fall in love with the instrument.If you give up ,or lose heart because you are progressing too slowly ,you will miss out on a lot of fun in the future.

Many of us (probably most) are not naturally gifted musicians,our playing ability is just down to hard work and dedication.

You can do it!!

Al

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Good matter to discuss!

 

Many things can be said about this, I will say this one: Don't wait until you get a tune perfect to move to another tune, wait until you feel you are getting tired of the tune. You can go back to the tune after some time.

 

Maybe because of this there will be a moment that you know many tunes but you don't play any of them well. This can last for a while. But after time you will see that this will change completely, one day suddenly you start playing them well!.

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I agree Alan, I work on the same principle but intesperse it with playing along with compilation tapes or CDs I know well. that only came when I had enough technical ability and found records that I could keep up with . Friends made me some slowed down tapes early on.

I call that PAT (play along to), PADI(play along ad infinitum)or PADN (play along ad nauseam)

Edited by michael sam wild

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Fernando has a good point, learn a tune by heart, play it for a while, then leave it for a week or two. It'll resurface slightly more "settled" in your head and hands (my experience).

My typical,daily practice session opens with "this week's tune" (or tunes, last week was Black Pat's and The Fermanagh Lark in the Morning (The Lark in the Bog)), either of tape, sheetmusic or memory. Then I noodle a bit, maybe playing tunes learned a couple of weeks ago, or something I heard on an album, or anything really. I think "structured noodling" is a good thing, as long as it doesn't go out of hand:-) Then I finish my practice session with replaying this weeks tune or tunes, preferrably slowly and steadily without much ornamentation.

 

Playing with others is my motivation for practicing like this. I try to get to at least one session per week, and this is a great source for new tunes to learn.

 

If you want to monitor your own progress, try to make a recording of yourself playing something you are pretty comfortable with every Monday. Listen to the recordings three weeks later, and you'll probably hear your progress right there:-)

 

Good luck!

Edited by Snorre

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Recording yourself will be a great help.

 

If there is a nice tune and I want to play it I guess that there are several steps on this road to imperfection. This may take several practice moments. First figure out how the tune goes. Then practice until all notes come out in the right order. Next stage is to play in the right pace. If it's a speedy tune - start practising it slowly and step by step - next practice - try to speed it up. Next step is to add (or leave out) ornamentations. Then you can technically play the tune. Ready? I'ld say no. Time to make a recording and listen. You may hear things you won't if you just practice without audio feed back. This audio feed back helps me a lot to try to get rid of bad key pressing habits.

 

So far for technical issues. Once you technically can play the tune there is another part of practising that makes more fun. That is how to play the tune. In fact that is where the music starts. Also here it helps a lot when you make recordings.

 

By the way - never practice too much

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If possible I try to play almost every day. This is not pure practice of new tunes but also playing "old" tunes for fun. Often enough its just to enjoy the old ones and I also love the challenge of a new tune - BUT - it's very hard work for me. It takes me a long time to play it properly. Just as Priscilla pointed out - yesterday I played the tune so fine and today - a mess. Happens it also to you that the fingers forgot parts or tunes which you did not play for a longer time? Was the A on the push or pull or the G in the middle row? Sometimes I wonder, whether this is an Anglo-problem (beside mine). On other instrument (whistle or mandolin) I lost speed or did not play "clean". But playing Anglo seems to me to be more difficult and progress slower. Would you share this valuation? Enough moaning - I love this instruemnt!

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You have to practice every day, and for a specified period. Establish a routine, otherwise it slips, and then one day you stop playing for good. You need to train friends and relations to the idea that it will be done and they'll just have to accept that you are NOT prepared to miss it 'Just this once'.

 

If you set yourself too much you'll give up so the daily dose has to be reasonable. At first, when it was relentlessly frustrating, I would do half an hour, no more. Once you can play a little you can push the time out because it's less gruelling and starts to be fun. These days I do an hour and a half and quite regularly play on for some time after. (But there are still occasional days when I watch the clock) The better I get, the more I notice a day's missed practice.

 

I think time on the instrument is what counts most, much more than what you play, so if I'm really not in the mood I'll play lightweight stuff, old pieces, or work through music looking for new pieces to try; it all counts under my regime. Alternatively if I have a new piece that is really 'on the brain' I may play that virtually exclusively for a whole session, breaking to play others only when I start to seem stale, just for a quick rest. So no obligation to work through the play list every day, for me. I NEVER do scales, they are dull. I warm up as I play my serious stuff. If I need a part of a scale for a piece, well I learn it en passant. I strongly believe they are a negative and tiresome way to spend instrument time in a situation where enthusiasm is a huge benefit.

 

That's my system. Now wait for the masochists whose lives are incomplete without scales to tell you how wrong it is!

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Sometimes I will practice my favorite morris dance tune and play it perfectly once, and botch it up the next 3 times, and then play it perfectly again suddenly out of nowhere, and then stumble over sections again.

practise the difficult sections on their own, over and over.

there is an art to practising.

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