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Learning To Play With Others


Spinningwoman
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My recent afternoon with the WCCP made it very clear that trying to play in a group is very different to playing alone. That's fine - I am a beginner (English) of about 2 months so I'm pretty impressed with myself still for being able to squeeze anything that sounds like music out of my instrument, however slowly and filled with mistakes. I've read a few back threads where even people who were a lot better players than me had problems playing with a group.

 

I does make me think, though, that I need to practice differently, and not get into the habit of correcting mistakes as I play. Two of the tutor books I have been using - Pauline Snoo's and the Mally/Alex Wade one - have CDs of the exercises, and the Alex Wade ones are at a nice slow speed. Up until now, I had just been using them to listen to the tune, but now I am spending part of my practice time attempting to play along with them.

 

Trouble is, I find it incredibly stressful! Whereas I can play through a tune on my own and really enjoy it despite having made and corrected several mistakes along the way, I can hardly get a note right playing along. My heart rate goes up and I freeze. I find it hard to make myself persist. It's weird. Hopefully I will get used to it. Any ideas?

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Just keep doing it! It does get easier. Playing along with recordings is good, but a forgiving, beginner friendly session, or a couple of musical friends to jam with is even better. When I practice by myself I focus on getting things note perfect, and will repeat tricky bits over and over once I have corrected myself. When I'm in a session or playing for my dancers I just let the mistakes roll off, and concentrate on the rythm and flow.

Edited by Bill N
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Any ideas?

 

  • Slow down the recording, drastically, in the initial stages of playing along. (And choose something fairly "easy" for starters.) Half speed is likely still too fast. Once you discover 1) that you're getting most of it "right" and 2) that when you miss some notes or make some other mistake you're able to rejoin the recording without having to stop and start over, then increase the speed by a small increment. Repeat, repeatedly, until you're up to speed.
  • Playing along with a recording is still quite different from playing along with others. Can you find one or more friends (the patient sort, from what you say, but not necessarily concertina players) who will help you by playing with you. They could play with you at a slower speed at first, maybe even variable while you're still getting used to it. They could stop, start, and even backtrack with you if necessary, but at other times press on to get you to learn to "recover".
  • If you don't have someone nearby who can help you in the above manner, might you have someone you could "session" with via Skype?
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My guitar teacher recommended consciously shifting between two approaches to practicing:

- "stop" -- where you stop and address mistakes as you find them, and

- "go" -- where no matter what you just keep playing through the piece.

In "go" practice you have to imagine that the music is just going on with or without you; you have to just play through your mistakes, if you really mess up and loose track of things, you have to join back it at the next point where you have your bearings, even if that means waiting for one or more bars. Doing (more of) the latter might help.

 

For me, trying to play along with anything more than a metronome is too distracting when trying to get a tune under my fingers, so I usually do this kind of practice without a backing track. I believe that this has advantages since when I flub, I have to keep the tune going in my head so that I can resume playing at the appropriate point. I think that this helps me internalize the music better.

Edited by DaveM
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Any ideas?

 

  • Slow down the recording, drastically,

 

This is very good advice. You want it slow enough that you have time to get your finger ready for each note so you can play in time.

 

For the ultimate in slow practice here is a technique given to me b a fiddle teacher and called 'stop motion playing'. This works best for a tune you know well enough to hum without reference to notation. Play each note in turn but between notes pause briefly while you position your finger for the next note. This is very good for working out fingering.

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  • 8 months later...

You can download some free software called Audacity. It runs on Windows or Macs. Load your backing track and go to the Effect Menu. Choose "Change Tempo" and you are able to slow down the track without changing the pitch of the music. I find that very useful when playing new songs against a backing track (on my Soprano Sax - not my Concertina, I must add).

 

You can get it from:

 

http://audacity.sourceforge.net

David

Lachenal 20 Key Anglo Serial No. 74298

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I play with my wife, on pun, who is also somewhat of a beginner.

She is kind and sympathetic, musically at least, so having tunes

together is lots of fun.

Maybe it helps that she plays a mandolin.

Perhaps you could find an individual who you get on with

for one on one sessions?

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I play with my wife, on pun, who is also somewhat of a beginner.

She is kind and sympathetic, musically at least, so having tunes

together is lots of fun.

Maybe it helps that she plays a mandolin.

Perhaps you could find an individual who you get on with

for one on one sessions?

 

Maki that was almost in verse!

 

I play with my wife - no pun.

Having tunes together is such fun.

While she plucks I squeeze

The notes pour out with ease

So find someone to play one on one.

 

I started with line 3 the other way round but it got me into trouble! <_< No offence intended.

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I play with my wife - no pun.

Having tunes together is such fun.

While she plucks I squeeze

The notes pour out with ease

So find someone to play one on one.

 

I started with line 3 the other way round but it got me into trouble! <_< No offence intended.

 

Lovely!

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My recent afternoon with the WCCP made it very clear that trying to play in a group is very different to playing alone.

 

Oh it certainly is, but you should look upon it simply as that, different. It's just another experience that is (properly) odd at first but oh so easy to become captivated by. Your first time out playing with WCCP was probably proper daunting, with Claire Wren at the helm everything must have scared the living daylights out of you but I bet you came away with a bit of a buzz you can't properly explain? A certain something that makes you want to go back there again and not feel quite so intimidated this time? G'wan, it's now several months down the line and you know you want to! ;)

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