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SusanW

Getting Worse Instead Of Better...

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I spent several years trying what seemed like every possible fingering permutation on anglo concertina. you know that lots of people don't do that, right? they just play the "obvious" fingerings, or a default fingering they were taught by a "method." I thought doing the ins-and-outs worked very well for my ability to express myself, and was worth it. it can be mentally exhausting, but over time, the "grid" of alternatives gets burned in, and they are yours to command at your fingertips. of course, having said that, I am now doing the same thing on EC and CBA . . . :rolleyes:

 

i'm not sure it's always one's imagination that one is stuck, or not progressing. if you really feel this, I recommend a few Skype lessons with a teacher who can help adjust course here and there. After very careful research and shopping and screening, for teachers who excel at communicating about technique, because many do not.

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It's all good contre the Dimentia, dymencia, dymentia, demencia, demincia..... dementia.... ??

 

Playing music is great fun but learning to play is great for the brainbox... mental jogging...

 

That I play the same tunes all the time and still get them wrong and have to think to seperate several similar tunes... repeat and repeat... does this tell me something ?

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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well, to be fair and give the other side, since I am an advocate of getting familiar with all the alternatives on Anglo, there is a pretty serious school of Anglo methodology that frowns on this, at least for a long, long time. This methodology chooses FOR you, which of the three "Gs" you should always default to, unless it is literally closed off or blocked in a certain placement in the tune. I didn't do this, and I think my playing was the better for it, but I can think of more than one famous Irish pro who would preach, er, counsel, otherwise . . .

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Have any of you experienced this????: I seem to go through periods of playing/practicing where I think I am making progress, and then I can go for weeks where I think I sound worse than I did 6 months ago. Tunes that I have played for a while, and I just sound awful.

Part of it might be that I am trying to improve my fingering, so I am trying to re-learn phrases to make them more efficient overall. It sometimes gets very discouraging. Anyone have words of wisdom or advice? Thanks

Practice is not only mentally challenging; it is also physically challenging. I divided my practice time into a morning and an evening session and gave myself a light day to give myself a break.

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Have any of you experienced this????: I seem to go through periods of playing/practicing where I think I am making progress, and then I can go for weeks where I think I sound worse than I did 6 months ago.

Susan,

I think a lot of this is just in the mind. I occasionally get the opposite effect - I neglect my playing for a week or two (holidays, or visitors at home, or too many private engagements, etc.), and when I take up the instrument again, my playing seems to have improved. Familiar tunes come more easily, or sound better.

Obviously, lack of practice can't improve anything, so I reckon I'm not playing any better than before the break. It's just that I think I should have "lost my touch" completely, but only lost it partially - so I sound better than I expect!

 

When I practice regularly, I expect to get much better, but I only improve a little, so I'm disillusioned.

 

And then, of course, one has good days and bad days, so don't despair if everything seems to go awry all at once. The next "good day" might well be better than the last "good day!"

 

Cheers,

John

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there is a pretty serious school of Anglo methodology that frowns on this, at least for a long, long time. This methodology chooses FOR you, which of the three "Gs" you should always default to, unless it is literally closed off or blocked in a certain placement in the tune.

 

There may be some sense in this if you are playing large numbers of melodies in broadly the same style, one note at a time. Each tune would become a series of familiar finger patterns. You wouldn't need to reinvent the wheel every time you learned a new tune. However, the whole point of the Anglo layout is that it makes the most important chords and arpeggios easy in the home keys. Playing in the so-called "English style" (melody with accompaniment) there may be two or more ways to harmonise a note or even an entire phrase. Being able to choose between all of the options has to be better than only learning one route through the maze.

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Even if you're playing mainly in a linear, melodic, "Irish" sort of style, there's almost always more than one fingering available for a given passage. Choosing one of these as a default and sticking to it is mainly (I think) a well-reasoned pedagogical technique, a way of cleaving a path through the forest. If some students who have been taught this way infer from this approach that the style requires just these fingerings, and that it frowns on others, well...so much the worse for the future of the style.

 

But about those frustrating times when you seem to be going backwards: one wants learning an instrument (or most anything else) to be a straightforward accumulation of new knowledge and skills, but in my own experience I've always found it to involve a lot of bewildering switchbacks. There's an enormous amount of revising--and even forgetting--involved in learning. You're constantly breaking down last week's secure, comfortable sense of mastery by saying, "Yes, but what if..." You work hard to achieve Control, only to find that you have to relinquish it almost immediately. At times it seems that you're doing a lot more relinquishing than achieving.

 

With its confusing alternative fingerings and its completely different scales for each key, the (Anglo) concertina is an unusually good model for the process. When I started, I wanted to play in Irish sessions: I worked hard (not to say obsessively), and within a year or so I had a formidable repertoire of session tunes. I doubt I play any of them in the same way now. That early "mastery" was pretty illusory, and involved massive doses of wishful thinking; there was a lot of unlearning to be done. Good thing I didn't know that at the time! With any luck at all, I'll feel the same way in ten years about the way I play now.

 

It can seem like a thankless process, but every day you play you really do get it better than you did the day before. The crucial thing is just to keep playing.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

Edited by Bob Michel

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Hi again,

I was out of town for 3 days, so didn't get to play at all during that time. Today, I only had 45 minutes or so, but I was so happy to be playing again, that I wasn't worrying about fingering or technicalities. I worked on a few tunes and just had fun!

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Whenever I feel like I've flattened, lost control or frustrated at stupid mistakes I run through the scales and a few exercises using a metronome. Increasing the speed when I'm able to do it perfectly 4-5 times in a row. Gradually pushing the speed as much as I can. That 'rushed & uncertain feeling' is diminished when I go back to regular playing and any feelings of improvement help keep me motivated during those low periods.

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Whenever I feel like I've flattened, lost control or frustrated at stupid mistakes I run through the scales and a few exercises using a metronome. Increasing the speed when I'm able to do it perfectly 4-5 times in a row. Gradually pushing the speed as much as I can. That 'rushed & uncertain feeling' is diminished when I go back to regular playing and any feelings of improvement help keep me motivated during those low periods.

 

Linrose, that sounds interesting. I'll have a go at that. start very slow and work up. Thank you.

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Susan, something struck me in one of your earlier comments. "I just want to sound like Dympna O'Sullivan, or Mary MacNamara, or Edel Fox, or Claire Keville, or Kate McNamara.......etc."

I think a better way of putting it, that is attainable,sound like yourself. You can be influenced, and learn from these players. You can learn from recordings of players no longer with us. But it is your individual touch on the music you play that comes through. On a side note, if you had their instruments in your hands, and yours in theirs, you would still not get the same sound on a tune.

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Susan, something struck me in one of your earlier comments. "I just want to sound like Dympna O'Sullivan, or Mary MacNamara, or Edel Fox, or Claire Keville, or Kate McNamara.......etc."

I think a better way of putting it, that is attainable,sound like yourself. You can be influenced, and learn from these players. You can learn from recordings of players no longer with us. But it is your individual touch on the music you play that comes through. On a side note, if you had their instruments in your hands, and yours in theirs, you would still not get the same sound on a tune.

Thanks, Lawrence......my comment was somewhat "tongue-in-cheek", as I know I will never sound like any of them. But I do love all of their sounds/styles, and I listen to them a lot. Maybe "brain osmosis" will take place :rolleyes:

Susan

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The Irish style (especially the more complex versions of it such as Edel Fox's playing) can be pretty hard to master on your own. If you don't already have a teacher, you might consider http://www.oaim.ie/lessons-a-courses/concertina .

 

Susan, something struck me in one of your earlier comments. "I just want to sound like Dympna O'Sullivan, or Mary MacNamara, or Edel Fox, or Claire Keville, or Kate McNamara.......etc."

I think a better way of putting it, that is attainable,sound like yourself. You can be influenced, and learn from these players. You can learn from recordings of players no longer with us. But it is your individual touch on the music you play that comes through. On a side note, if you had their instruments in your hands, and yours in theirs, you would still not get the same sound on a tune.

Thanks, Lawrence......my comment was somewhat "tongue-in-cheek", as I know I will never sound like any of them. But I do love all of their sounds/styles, and I listen to them a lot. Maybe "brain osmosis" will take place :rolleyes:

Susan

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The Irish style (especially the more complex versions of it such as Edel Fox's playing) can be pretty hard to master on your own. If you don't already have a teacher, you might consider http://www.oaim.ie/lessons-a-courses/concertina .

 

Susan, something struck me in one of your earlier comments. "I just want to sound like Dympna O'Sullivan, or Mary MacNamara, or Edel Fox, or Claire Keville, or Kate McNamara.......etc."

I think a better way of putting it, that is attainable,sound like yourself. You can be influenced, and learn from these players. You can learn from recordings of players no longer with us. But it is your individual touch on the music you play that comes through. On a side note, if you had their instruments in your hands, and yours in theirs, you would still not get the same sound on a tune.

Thanks, Lawrence......my comment was somewhat "tongue-in-cheek", as I know I will never sound like any of them. But I do love all of their sounds/styles, and I listen to them a lot. Maybe "brain osmosis" will take place :rolleyes:

Susan

 

I think I just might do that, Daniel. It would be a good "winter" project for me.

Thanks!

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well, to be fair and give the other side, since I am an advocate of getting familiar with all the alternatives on Anglo, there is a pretty serious school of Anglo methodology that frowns on this, at least for a long, long time. This methodology chooses FOR you, which of the three "Gs" you should always default to, unless it is literally closed off or blocked in a certain placement in the tune. I didn't do this, and I think my playing was the better for it, but I can think of more than one famous Irish pro who would preach, er, counsel, otherwise . . .

Pretty much what I'm doing. I don't see the point in not using the duplicated notes, now come to my mind the high A & B in the C row - extensive use of the right hand little finger - or the D on the press in the G row (2nd button)... After all, you pay for all the keys! :)

 

And I think I guess who's the pro you talk about... Perhaps the one with the 'secret method'? :P

Edited by Fergus1970

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Hey Susan,

It is interesting to hear your back and forth on the many ways you practice (concentrating one day, just running tunes another day etc.). I think that is very much in line with the way adult learners work. We approach things more holistically, probably because we are more cognizant of our end goals, which can be both frustrating and inspiring. Plus we take in the information differently than children. I recently heard a podcast about deep proficient learning that included 4 elements: interest, aptitude, deliberate practice and hope. I especially love the hope one, which is what drives us on a variety of levels - eh?

 

I have been playing for about 5 years and I have definitely seen plateaus in my abilities, often feeling like I am slipping backward because I have picked up the speed without increasing the level of pulse in my playing. Re-fingering can be a real issue since the patterns get so ingrained and I have only been able to do that successfully recently. I take lessons from Flo Fahey and she suggests that you not spend too much time re-fingering early tunes, but move on to new tunes with better fingering. As you learn to put in octaves and leave space, or to play the same notes on different finger sequences, those patterns will naturally filter back into your beginner tunes. I have found that to be the case, and also now that it is coming more naturally, I can re-finger and actually remember the new fingering. So, my advice would be to move forward (which is very motivating) and only re-finger when it really bugs you.

 

Have fun! Claire

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I take lessons from Flo Fahey and she suggests that you not spend too much time re-fingering early tunes, but move on to new tunes with better fingering. As you learn to put in octaves and leave space, or to play the same notes on different finger sequences, those patterns will naturally filter back into your beginner tunes. I have found that to be the case, and also now that it is coming more naturally, I can re-finger and actually remember the new fingering. So, my advice would be to move forward (which is very motivating) and only re-finger when it really bugs you.

 

Have fun! Claire

Good points! I went to a workshop with Flo, she's very inspiring. I am finding that doing new tunes with better fingering, rather than re-doing everything, DOES help. Thank you for your comment.

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