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Problems With Playing Quicker Notes - Newbie Question


WendyG
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I have a Rochelle and couldn't get on with the tutor that came with it, so I have recently purchased "The Anglo Concertina Demystified" by Bertram Levy. I prefer how he teaches - and can play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on both the left and right sides at the same time, and "Three Blind Mice". I am now trying "Constant Billy" an English Morris Tune, but am having great difficulty getting the right rhythm. Luckily the tutor comes with CDs so I know what it should sound like, but try as I might I just can't seem to grasp it.

 

Any tips and advice would be most welcome.

 

Wendy

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I have a Rochelle and couldn't get on with the tutor that came with it, so I have recently purchased "The Anglo Concertina Demystified" by Bertram Levy. I prefer how he teaches - and can play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on both the left and right sides at the same time, and "Three Blind Mice". I am now trying "Constant Billy" an English Morris Tune, but am having great difficulty getting the right rhythm. Luckily the tutor comes with CDs so I know what it should sound like, but try as I might I just can't seem to grasp it.

 

Any tips and advice would be most welcome.

 

Wendy

Wendy do not run before you can walk,If I have problems with a fast tune ,I start again very slowly and then gradually increase in speed.If I start to lose it I go back to the slower speed and start again.Very gradually the speed improves to how you want it,then go faster than how you want it.This gives you the confidence to play it in public.

Al

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I am now trying "Constant Billy" an English Morris Tune, but am having great difficulty getting the right rhythm. Luckily the tutor comes with CDs so I know what it should sound like, but try as I might I just can't seem to grasp it.

Hi Wendy,

 

Amazing coincidence. My pupil is working on this tune, from Bertram's book. I recorded videos of my playing (slightly simplified version), this afternoon, and am currently uploading to YouTube for private viewing!

 

[it's in C on a C/G Anglo, for anyone who does not know Bertram's book.]

 

I think the major problem with this tune, for a new player, is that part of the melody slips off the right hand onto the left, leaving you with melody plus accompaniment on the same hand. I use a simplified accompaniment which works well.

 

Would it help, or potentially confuse, if I set these videos to "public" view once they are uploaded? I filmed firstly right hand in close-up, secondly left hand. They are close to normal playing speed, and I've just read Alan Day's comment (sensible!).

 

Regards,

Peter.

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Wendy,

 

Another thing you might consider is using your computer to slow the tune down to a tempo you can play along with.

 

There are several possibilities. If you have a PC, then more recent versions of Windows media player will permit you to slow tunes down - you need to rip them on to your computer, but then it works well and this is what I use.

 

If you have a Mac or Linux you will have to look elsewhere. You could try Audacity - this is really an audio editing program, but there is an option in the menu to playback slowed down.

 

Both the above options are available for free download, but many people swear by a program called "The amazing slowdowner" (if I have it right) You have to pay for this one, but I don't think it is too expensive.

 

All of these will slow the tune down without changing the pitch. This means you can hear the tune at a tempo you can follow while at the same time the key and the rhythm remain correct so you can play along with the recording. As you get used to the tune, you can then gradually speed up.

 

Geoff

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Thanks for all of your replies. Geoff, the CD that comes with the book does play it a bit slower, but not slow enough, I have a mac so will have to investigate your suggestion.. I think that probably the best thing to do, at the moment is to be patient and just learn small sections as Dick Miles suggested, until I know it the whole tune off by heart and then concentrate on getting a bit faster.

 

Wendy

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Thanks for all of your replies. Geoff, the CD that comes with the book does play it a bit slower, but not slow enough, I have a mac so will have to investigate your suggestion.. I think that probably the best thing to do, at the moment is to be patient and just learn small sections as Dick Miles suggested, until I know it the whole tune off by heart and then concentrate on getting a bit faster.

 

Wendy

Hi sounds like your at a similar stage to me. :) *waves*

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Try:

 

Dum dee dum-dee-dee

 

if that makes any sense! It's in 6/8 (jig) time.

 

Or, if you prefer, "Humpity Dumpity". :)

 

Wendy, there are some great simple Morris tunes to learn and you can download the ABC notation for them here:

 

http://www.themorrisring.org/more/Tunes/index.html

 

When you save an ABC file and click on it, your Mac will use Quicktime to open and play it - this utility allows you to play the file at half-speed, which is really useful for learning.

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I recall a time when my playing came on leaps and bounds when I learnt how to tap my foot to help keep time. The large majority of folk or trad musicians do this sometimes very obviously, sometimes just a little shake of a foot, toe, elbow, head.. whatever. It can be a little tricky at first to synchronise into your playing - start by listening to a tune several times, no playing - just tap your foot where it feels natural, this will be or should be on the main beat, on the 1 of each 123 in jig time if you like. Then pick up your instrument and play the tune, keeping the notes in line with your foot tap. This will steady things and is a very useful skill to develop. It's probably best not to start doing this on a tune where you know you have signif. rhythm problems as it's hard to shake off a bad habit. Try on it on tunes you feel you have well or ones you are learning and have fewer preconceived ideas about.

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I am now trying "Constant Billy" an English Morris Tune, but am having great difficulty getting the right rhythm.

Any tips and advice would be most welcome.

 

Wendy

 

Hi Wendy, I had the same problem with "Constant Billy" as written in the Levy tutor. It took me about 3-4 months of nearly daily practice to where I could play it at about 3/4 tempo with relatively few mistakes. And now, if I don't play it for several months, it takes a good amount of practice for me to get it back into shape. Frankly, I think its a tough arrangement for a beginner as the melody and accompaniement slide between right and left hand. But, it does feel good and sounds good when you can accomplish it, which you eventually will.

 

Some new tunes seem to just jump into my fingers and head and I have them down after a couple of hours of practice. Other tunes, like "Constant Billy" as arranged by Levy, just don't want to surrender without a fight.

 

Hang in there, you'll get it. Be patient with yourself and your progress.

Edited by CaryK
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When you save an ABC file and click on it, your Mac will use Quicktime to open and play it - this utility allows you to play the file at half-speed, which is really useful for learning.

 

Nobody seems to have picked up on this howler of mine from yesterday, so I can only apologise for any confusion caused and rectify it now. Quicktime will *not* open ABC files (I was thinking of the .mid files that you can download from this site: http://www.thesession.org/).

 

For ABC files (on a Mac) the best utility is BarFly:

 

 

http://www.barfly.dial.pipex.com/download.html

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If you want "play along" for morris tunes you can try THIS

Modesty prevents me saying who is the player and I also apologise as it appears to be played on a melod**n

 

Nice playing, Lester (even if it *is* on melod**n).

 

Nice too that the theme tune from The Archers (composed by Arthur Wood in 1924 as "Barwick Green") has finally achieved "traditional" status (as Grundy's Delight from Moulton)! :)

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Many thanks for your replies, you have all giving me lots of really useful advice, and I think that basically I should learn to walk before I run. Many thanks.

 

Wendy

 

Hi, Wendy,

 

"Walk before you run" is a good metaphor - but you can apply it to concertina playing in different ways. My interpretation is: "walk" = "whistle/sing/hum/lilt"; "run" = "play on the Anglo".

 

"Lilting" is nothing more than singing nonsense words to a tune. You can sing a jig to the words "Liverpool, Everton ...". Most dance rhythms are derived from speech rhythms, so the stress of the words keeps your rhythm correct.

 

If yout tutor has recordings to go with it - just listen to them until you can reproduce them by "natural" means, and they'll be much easier to play.

 

Cheers,

John

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