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If You Could Choose An Instrment..


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Evening all!

 

out of curiosity, where do instruments stand in as far as difficulty to learn? If I were to take an interest in playing Irish tonight, where does each instrument (pipes, concertina, whistle, flute, button accordian, fiddle etc) stand as far as a learner starting off?

 

Alan

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You try the clarsach if you need a challenge. :ph34r:

this same question was on mudcat a few years ago. the answer was easiest to hardest something like this

 

bodhran

autoharp

hammered dulcimer

whistle

melodeon

concertina

fiddle

pipes

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I don't think you can just list them in order. The shape of the learning curve is different for each type. For exmple, from my own experience, I would say that with a fiddle it is very hard to start with while you learn to control the bow, and the left hand learns to stop the strings in tune. Then after a couple of years it seems to get a bit easier as you add more tunes to the repertoire. The note layout is so logical.

 

Melodeon (and possibly anglo concertina) is the other way round, its relatively easy to learn to play a few simple tunes, but later it is still quite hard work to really exploit the possibilities for getting the most out of a limited and less logical note layout.

 

And then if you learn more than one instrument, the second (and subsequent) instruments are easier than if you had tackled them first.

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All you seem to need for instant success is a bodhran

Would "success" include popularity? I've never yet met an instant bodhran player that I wouldn't have thought vengeful thoughts about (such as, say, imagining a close encounter between his instrument and a large road roller).

 

Chris

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All you seem to need for instant success is a bodran

 

I should let this pass, but I just can't. :)

 

The conviction that the bodhran is easy to play is, in my humble (but I believe accurate) opinon precisely why so many people play it poorly, which in turn is precisely why it is so hated at sessions.

 

To play the bodhran well, one must practice, which most players seem loathe to do. (After all, you only need to bang away at it, don't you?) Actually, I think most us who play other instruments would not be able to dedicate ourselves to the mind numbing, repetitive, excessively detailed drilling that good percussionsists deal in every time they practice. It takes a very special person to be a good drummer. I've known a few at sessions, and they are a godsend.

 

And yes, I've seen a lot of people try to make the bodhran their entry into ITM. 'Taint easy, friends; 'taint easy at all.

 

As an afterthought, did you ever notice how many ITM recordings these days feature Colm Murphy on bodhran? If it were easy, anyone could do it, and Colm would be home watching the TV instead of recording. As it is, he elevates the playing of everyone he plays with. And many thanks, Colm.

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Alan, I'm sorry. I answered a perfectly reasonable question with a silly snipe and have killed your chances of generating a sensible discussion by starting yet another bodhran thumping session.

 

I humbly apologise. Why don't you post it again and start from scratch? I promise to keep out of it.

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The conviction that the bodhran is easy to play is, in my humble (but I believe accurate) opinon precisely why so many people play it poorly, which in turn is precisely why it is so hated at sessions.

Ain't that the truth. It's very easy to play badly.

 

My wife's been learning for 2 years and making good progress, but if you actually want to play in time, with sensitivity & variation, and not bore everybody else to death it takes a lot of work. If you've ever encountered a really good player you'll understand the true capacities of the instrument - check out Colm Murphy or Cormac Byrne as a couple of good ones.

 

As I'm learning them at the moment I'd have to say that the spoons are pretty straight-forward, but while they're pretty easy to get something decent out of, you're still looking at a long commitment if you want to become a good player - though with spoons that's as much about learning elements of showmanship. Bones or the washboard should be other relatively simple starters - or perhaps shaky eggs?

 

Or, you could try what I've seen people try at some ITM sessions in the UK - drink loads of Guinness, forget that you can't sing, believe that everybody thinks you're the funniest person in the world, and keep asking for Danny Boy & The Fields of Athenry. That always goes down well ;)

 

 

Alan, I'm sorry. I answered a perfectly reasonable question with a silly snipe and have killed your chances of generating a sensible discussion by starting yet another bodhran thumping session.

Tut! Tut! :P

Edited by Woody
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The fact is that there's no such thing as an easy instrument to learn. Some give quicker results than others, but they all require hard work and dedication to play well.

 

Instruments like the bodhran and melodeon get a bad name simply because far too many people are not prepared to make the extra effort - they've learned the basics and think that's all it takes.

 

Concertinas are a little more difficult to get to grips with, if only because the number of buttons can be off-putting at first. Also the relatively high cost of a half-decent instrument puts off the dabblers. Most of the people I see playing the concertina are always striving to do better.

 

The trouble is that too many people pick up an "easy" instrument, learn enough to play a tune or bash out a few chords, and never go any further. Even with apparently simple instruments such as the whistle or bodhran, to develop tone and musicianship takes practice, hard work and self-analysis.

 

I've been playing guitar for 40 years, concertina for 35 years, melodeon for around 25 years. I believe I can say that I'm pretty good on all of them. But I'm still learning.

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As I'm learning them at the moment I'd have to say that the spoons are pretty straight-forward

But watch out for those nasty injuries W! :rolleyes:

 

 

And the porridge stains down the shirt front just isn't a good look. B)

 

But you can always hide them by wearing a piano accordion. :rolleyes:

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Hello

 

I'm becoming persuaded through the last few years of trying to learn to make music, that the real challenge and magic is trying to turn the noise into music. The words musical and musicality have taken on deeper meaning. To make "The Music" is to speak in the language and have a fluency that enables you to speak and communicate while being aware of all the subtleties and nuances, and to play with them, keeping yourself amused.

 

Hopefully some of that fluency can be learned over time. But it makes me appreciate that to make MUSIC with any instrument is equally "hard".

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