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If You Could Choose An Instrment..


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The list I gave earlier wasn't my list I remembered it from a previous discussion.

 

I have been playing music for 31 years on a variety of instruments. I love playing and I love music, but it doesn't come naturally to me - I certainly don't think I'm a "good" musician. But that's the beauty of music, you can have fun where you are, and it is fun challenging yourself to get better. Bizarre thinks happen as well. Last monday playing for morris my fingers just wouldn't work, I couldn't remember any tunes, it was just terrible. A week previoulsy we had been out and everything just seemed to "flow"....... it felt wonderful.

 

The goatskin drum

I've a friend Ciaran Boyle who is an all Ireland and British Champion on Bodhran. He is breathtaking and I have a huge amount of respect for the hours of dedication he has put into learning. It is a shame the bodhran seems to get singled out but I suppose they are relatively cheap and people can't see the skill involved. If I'm honest I have sat next to the inconsiderate bodhran player in sessions myself on occasion.

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In other words - the only way to be a good musician, is to be a bad musician. If you're not playing, however badly, you're not getting better.

 

I think that is true for the likes of me who did not grow up in a musical family but came to it late. The counterpoint (pun accidental but noticed before posting) is that musicians of all grades get worse if they do not continue to practice. I am reminded of a quote from Violinist Yasha Heifitz (my spelling here is dubious):-

"If I do not practice for one day - I notice it; if I do not practice for 2 days, my fellow musicians notice it; if I do not practice for 3 days, my audience notices it." These may not be the precise words but they are a close approximation.

 

All good musicians started out bad.

 

There are some gifted individuals who seem to have the mark of genius from the outset.

 

- John Wild

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I certainly don't think I'm a "good" musician.

I think most of the best musicians in the world would say the same. I've a long way to go before I even consider myself competent, but already I can see that as you progress with an instrument new challenges and frustrations arise, or new areas of music are discovered, and need to be tackled to improve further. I think that if you ever start to consider yourself "really good" it's inevitable that complacency sets in. So learning an instrument is a journey with no final destination.

 

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:

Well my finger's recovered and no longer has loads of blisters, and my knees aren't getting many bruises so there's a chance I might improve without disabling myself, but it still hurts when I bang the spoons on my head :blink:

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I have been playing music for 31 years on a variety of instruments. I love playing and I love music, but it doesn't come naturally to me - I certainly don't think I'm a "good" musician.

 

Yes, me too; everything I learn to play is a hard won battle against my lack of talent/ability. I also find some styles of music utterly baffling, I love ragtime but can I play it?

 

But that's the beauty of music, you can have fun where you are, and it is fun challenging yourself to get better. Bizarre thinks happen as well. Last monday playing for morris my fingers just wouldn't work, I couldn't remember any tunes, it was just terrible. A week previoulsy we had been out and everything just seemed to "flow"....... it felt wonderful.

 

I wouldn't beat yourself up about it, things like this happen. I've done hundreds of gigs 'doing the clubs' with a pop band (stop laughing at the back there!) and sometimes the performance was very flat. The venue didn't 'feel' right, one of us was in a bad mood or preoccupied with problems at work, that kind of thing. It's surprising how one persons lack of concentration can sweep through the whole band in a matter of seconds and give everyone a real downer.

 

As you know I was at both of the Morris events, the first was a real stonker, thoroughly enjoyable. The second performance wasn't as good but you weren't on your own, the other melodeon player wasn't playing anything like as fluently and didn't seem as jolly in himself as the last time I saw him. To be fair things got better as they went along and although this performance wasn't as good as the previous one it was far from being poor. Just let it wash over you, there'll be another day. :)

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The idea of the 'gift of musical genius' is the biggest source of discouragement for beginning musicians. Musical prodigies are very rare. The lion share of the fabulous musicians out there simpley worked exceedingly hard to get there. I saw a study of violinists that demonstrated this fact clearly. Researchers grouped violinists into three catagories. Professional concert violinists at the top of their field, professional violinists at lesser levels, and high level amateurs. Then they interviewed them to find out how many hours they practiced before the age of 25. The top professionals had put in 20,000 hours by age 25, the next level put in 15,000, and the next 5,000 - 10,000. In other words there was a direct correlation btween hours of practice and skill. Surprise!!!

 

The more usual 'gift' is perserverence.

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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

 

How about guitar, mandolin, banjo...?

 

I never tried a guitar, but other than the work out keeping up, a few cords gives a good

beat to a session. Play outside the circle first!

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How about guitar, mandolin, banjo...?

 

I never tried a guitar, but other than the work out keeping up, a few cords gives a good

beat to a session. Play outside the circle first!

Learning to play the guitar well takes a long time, but as somebody only able to bash out a few chords - it didn't take me long at all :) .

 

Alternatively if you want an instrument to strum chords & with a similar tone to a guitar (it sounds like a cross between a classical guitar & a lute) - try a Baritone Ukelele. It's got four strings tuned as the top four of a guitar (DGBE) & most chords only require 2 fingers. Compared to the Concertina it also has a cost advantage in that a not too bad one can be bought for about £40 and a decent one for about £100

Edited by Woody
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That sounds fun. Is there room on the frets for broad fingers?

 

(I can't fit my fingers into guitar keyboards. I like to believe it's years of pounding keyboards of all types and not just fat.)

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Yeah, a bari uke's fretboard is reasonably broad - certainly nowhere near as restrictive as a soprano uke.

 

I tune mine to either an open G chord of D-G-B-D or a C-chord of C-G-C-E, although it spends by far the majority of its time tuned in G.

 

The ones Hobgoblin do for about 40 quid are perfectly playable instruments - and have pretty good intonation.

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Once you can play one instrument you have an advantage with starting another and I think that applies to just about any instrument.

After I had been playing the anglo for about a year I suddenly found that my whistle playing had improved dramatically without me making any effort to practice it.

A year later I started on bodhran and found that I could get something reasonable out of it within two days.

Last week I was lent a hurdy gurdy and I got a tune out of that in about 20 minutes, however, I think that the actions that you have to do with the right hand to control the wheel are unlike anything else I've come across so that will be the big problem there.

 

The point is that there are all sorts of subconcious things going on that link your musical learning between instruments so really when you are learning your first instrument you are setting up a great store of understanding and insight ready for your second, third etc.

 

Robin Madge

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The point is that there are all sorts of subconcious things going on that link your musical learning between instruments so really when you are learning your first instrument you are setting up a great store of understanding and insight ready for your second, third etc.

 

Robin Madge

 

I think that's very true. Learning subsequent instruments becomes more about the "wiring" than anything else after a while.

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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

 

How about guitar, mandolin, banjo...?

 

I never tried a guitar, but other than the work out keeping up, a few cords gives a good

beat to a session. Play outside the circle first!

 

A banjo or mandolin, can be quite nice. Since they are generally tuned the same as the fiddle, I imagine much about what was said about the layout of the fiddle applies to them as well.

 

Regarding the guitar, well that is a special pet-peeve of mine. A good guitar can add a good beat to the session, but just like the bodhran, too many think if they can strum a few chords they are instant musicians. We have some show up at our sessions who are absolutely awful. Nothing is worse when two guitar players are playing at the same time, and they are playing different chords and with different rhytms. All I can hope is that I am not sitting near either of them.... What is worse, some of them never improve.

 

--

Bill

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Just let it wash over you, there'll be another day. :)

 

Many thanks for the support and kind words Tallship. I am really grateful that people on this site are so supportive and generous with their knowledge :D.

 

Let's hope Keith and I are on fire tomorrow at 5:32 am :o

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Thanks to all for the responses. I was really wondering about the button accordian; I had worked out for myself that the fiddle and the pipes were major undertakings, perhaps each in slightly different ways. But button accordians: I started completely new to Irish concertina but have found myself suddenly ahead of the accordian players at my session who seemed such accomplished players just two years ago. And a concertina player/friend I know from the East Durham festival (you know who you are, I won't name you) told me he tried button accordian but gave it up - if I remember correctly, I quote: 'too much right hand'.

Comments welcomed my dear friends.

 

Alan Caffrey.

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I think the button accordion is, as Theo said earlier, deceptively easy at first, but surprisingly hard to get very good at. I started a thread about the relative ease of tinas and button boxes a while back, because it seemed to me that a friend who took up the tina at the same time I took up the box was having an easier time of it, and I wanted some reassurance that it wasn't a reflection of our relative talent <_<

 

If you're looking for an easy instrument for Irish music tin whistle has to be it. Trouble is it's really not great for playing with others because it's an octave too high, and the top of the range is disporportionately loud while the bottom is disproportionately soft. But as a solo instrument, and for playing by the side of a lake on a summer evening, it's sublime, and easy.

 

There's another problem with bodhrans. Yes people put no work into them and bore the hell out of others, or worse. But many of those that do put lots of work in then insist on displaying their virtuosity all the time - putting far too much in and becoming a distraction that way - annoying the hell out of me for one! Give me the choice between a virtuoso bodhran player and a decent one and I'll take the decent one thank you. (If I absolutely have to take one or the other!)

 

Steve

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... a concertina player/friend I know from the East Durham festival ... told me he tried button accordian but gave it up - if I remember correctly, I quote: 'too much right hand'.

As opposed to too much left hand, playing Irish-style on the Anglo? whistle.gif

 

At the end of the day, the only one that's truly ambidextrous is the English concertina ... thumb.gif

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