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Learning tunes and practising


frogspawn
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Another little "benchmarking" exercise...

 

I need a structured approach or things will just drift. I've taken on board recent recommendations to ensure I tackle new stuff, but my initial target is just to put in the time, regardless of what I'm actually doing. In my first serious year of concertina playing I averaged 2 hours a week. In the current year I am averaging 3 hours a week. Not much and not enough, but about as much as I can fit in with work, commuting and domestic commitments. I record my time on a spreadsheet which calculates the running weekly average. I don't do this because I'm obsessive but to provide the discipline I would otherwise lack.

 

If it's a snatched 20 minutes I'll just play the tunes I already know by ear. If longer I'll play the tunes I can read from scores. If longer still I'll try out some completely new tunes or experiment with song accompaniment. If I know I'm going to have more than 20 minutes I'll line up what I'm going to do before I start. This ensures the time spent is entirely hands-on the machine.

 

I aim to accumulate 30 new tunes each year. I get bored easily so instead of concentrating on a few tunes, I aim to learn all 30 at once. First I begin by listening to them over and over again at every opportunity, but particularly when I'm commuting. I will then try to play them from scores, concentrating on the tunes I have absorbed. Eventually I find I can play them by ear.

 

I do something similar with songs. Some tunes/songs are easier to absorb than others. By focusing on lots of tunes/songs I don't get bored and some at least will stick without too much time and effort.

 

Once I have the tunes by ear I can concentrate on improving them.

 

Richard

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I aim to accumulate 30 new tunes each year. I get bored easily so instead of concentrating on a few tunes, I aim to learn all 30 at once. First I begin by listening to them over and over again at every opportunity, but particularly when I'm commuting.

 

You're crazy!! :rolleyes: Well, everyone has different learning styles but trying to learn 30 tunes at the same time is different! I mean, you've a whole year according to your schedule!

 

Pick a tune you like, listen to it often as you say, so you can hum it or sing it easily. Then pick up your instrument and have a go - most tunes have a catchy phrase that defines them, pick these out and then fill in the other bits. Go back to the humming version you have when you get stuck. Forget the sheet music - for various reasons. You can also try slowing down the tune on your PC with some software like Amazing Slow Downer and then play along, isolating tricky bits. But the direct method is quickest and easiest. If you get stuck, listen again for a day or so and try again. It will come.

 

When you know this tune well which won't take long, move to the next.

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You're crazy!! :rolleyes: Well, everyone has different learning styles but trying to learn 30 tunes at the same time is different! I mean, you've a whole year according to your schedule!

 

Pick a tune you like, listen to it often as you say, so you can hum it or sing it easily. Then pick up your instrument and have a go - most tunes have a catchy phrase that defines them, pick these out and then fill in the other bits. Go back to the humming version you have when you get stuck. Forget the sheet music - for various reasons. You can also try slowing down the tune on your PC with some software like Amazing Slow Downer and then play along, isolating tricky bits. But the direct method is quickest and easiest. If you get stuck, listen again for a day or so and try again. It will come.

 

When you know this tune well which won't take long, move to the next.

 

We are all very different for sure. I am learning one tune to start with and have taken weeks over it. Soon I will face the decision of when to move on because I guess it will never be perfect but good enough for the next one. The amount I have learnt with this one tune is interesting though and no doubt some will find it strange that, instead of going for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or suchlike I jumped straight in at the deep end with a 3/4 time tune.

 

Ian

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I get bored easily so instead of concentrating on a few tunes, I aim to learn all 30 at once. First I begin by listening to them over and over again at every opportunity, but particularly when I'm commuting. I will then try to play them from scores, concentrating on the tunes I have absorbed. Eventually I find I can play them by ear.

I get bored really quickly to...I also find it hard to find tunes I don't mind playing over and over again without then hating it...and never wanting to play it again.

I also try to keep a record everytime I think I've reached another milestone. By recording the audio or video of my playing.

 

I started off with 2hrs a day 5 days a week with 4 hours plus on a weekend. And not I usually try to get 30mins-1hr each weekday and about 2hours at the weekends...mainly because I get complaints from siblings which puts me off.

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I started off with 2hrs a day 5 days a week with 4 hours plus on a weekend. And not I usually try to get 30mins-1hr each weekday and about 2hours at the weekends...mainly because I get complaints from siblings which puts me off.

Perhaps with the longer days, etc., you need to encourage siblings to pursue healthy outdoors activities! ;)

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I started off with 2hrs a day 5 days a week with 4 hours plus on a weekend. And not I usually try to get 30mins-1hr each weekday and about 2hours at the weekends...mainly because I get complaints from siblings which puts me off.

Perhaps with the longer days, etc., you need to encourage siblings to pursue healthy outdoors activities! ;)

I can get rid of them for a weekend but usually not at the same time. *sigh*

Apparently I give my brother a headache with my practicing and my sister thinks the music I play is rubbish...and after 2 hours my mum 'can't think' with the 'noise'.

So 2 hours seems to be the longest I can practice before I get all three complaining. :(

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I started off with 2hrs a day 5 days a week with 4 hours plus on a weekend. And not I usually try to get 30mins-1hr each weekday and about 2hours at the weekends...mainly because I get complaints from siblings which puts me off.

Perhaps with the longer days, etc., you need to encourage siblings to pursue healthy outdoors activities! ;)

I can get rid of them for a weekend but usually not at the same time. *sigh*

Apparently I give my brother a headache with my practicing and my sister thinks the music I play is rubbish...and after 2 hours my mum 'can't think' with the 'noise'.

So 2 hours seems to be the longest I can practice before I get all three complaining. :(

How long before all three leave home? :unsure:

 

I used to have this plan about Folk musicians moving into an area, driving neighbours to distraction so that they would sell their houses at any price, and more (poor) Folk musicians could move in next door. :)

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I am learning one tune to start with and have taken weeks over it. Soon I will face the decision of when to move on because I guess it will never be perfect but good enough for the next one. The amount I have learnt with this one tune is interesting though and no doubt some will find it strange that, instead of going for Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or suchlike I jumped straight in at the deep end with a 3/4 time tune.

 

Ian

 

Learning just one tune at a time, playing it over and over to the exclusion of everything else would drive me bonkers! I tend to take on three or four pieces at a time, one of these will usually be technically challenging either as a musical piece (complex dots/rhythm) or instrument specific demands like lots of fifth jumps or repeated notes on the English.

 

You may find that if you leave the piece you are playing for a while, when you return to it you will play it through much more fluently - particularly if your new piece/s provides a greater challenge to your playing skills.

 

Pete.

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:

 

Quote

I used to have this plan about Folk musicians moving into an area, driving neighbours to distraction so that they would sell their houses at any price, and more (poor) Folk musicians could move in next door. :)

 

 

Seems to work on our Council estate with neighbours from hell!! Whole streets of scrotes who rule OK

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Learning just one tune at a time, playing it over and over to the exclusion of everything else would drive me bonkers! I tend to take on three or four pieces at a time, one of these will usually be technically challenging either as a musical piece (complex dots/rhythm) or instrument specific demands like lots of fifth jumps or repeated notes on the English.

 

You may find that if you leave the piece you are playing for a while, when you return to it you will play it through much more fluently - particularly if your new piece/s provides a greater challenge to your playing skills.

 

Pete.

 

Thanks Pete. The problem is that, if I left it too long, I might forget how to play it. Also, and I hope this is not too daft a question but, how can I know a tune would be more challenging than another?

 

Ian

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LDT

 

You keep up the practicing and if you have to go somewhere where family won't be bothered. When I was young I played the violin...or tried to. My brother was such a jerk about me practing I would go out into a vacant lot to practice. Not a real great place to be. I finally got where I didn't practice much at all because he raised such a fuss. If I have not had that negative pressure I would still be playing today and would have been pretty good. So do what you have to do to keep practing.

 

I have picked up the English concertina in the past year and I practice about an hour a day. My dear husband is so positive and encouraging to me. It sure makes a differences when you have a freedom to practice. I now play the tambourine for our local Morris and Garland teams. But my hopes is to one day be able to play melody too!

 

Pam

 

Brasstown, NC

 

I can get rid of them for a weekend but usually not at the same time. *sigh*

Apparently I give my brother a headache with my practicing and my sister thinks the music I play is rubbish...and after 2 hours my mum 'can't think' with the 'noise'.

So 2 hours seems to be the longest I can practice before I get all three complaining. :(

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Whenever I hear people asking about how long they should practice, I remember an interview I read with Vess L Ossman (an old ragtime fingerpicking banjo player) made in 1903 with the English magazine BMG (a journal devoted to the banjo, mandolin and guitar). He "... told the interviewer that practice is what made him so good: ten hours a day for the first three years and at least four hours a day thereafter."

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Practicing can have negative connotations for many people, like studying for exams etc - think more in terms of playing. You should enjoy your playing, if you don't then just give up - so play. Play tunes you like and are easy and also ones you need to work on.

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Thanks Pete. The problem is that, if I left it too long, I might forget how to play it. Also, and I hope this is not too daft a question but, how can I know a tune would be more challenging than another?

 

Ian

 

So just give the tune a rest for a week or two, you shouldn't forget it in that time. As to knowing if a piece is more challenging than the one you are playing now, just look at the dots. If it's a bit busier, in a different key, in a different rhythm, contains triplets, has a larger note range, contains accidentals or any combination of these things it will present you with a bit of a challenge. If you are currently playing a slow air in 4/4 try playing a waltz, the possibilities are endless as long as you don't pick a tune that's way beyond your current standard and will destroy your confidence; so give the Trumpet Hornpipe a swerver for the time being. ;)

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So just give the tune a rest for a week or two, you shouldn't forget it in that time. As to knowing if a piece is more challenging than the one you are playing now, just look at the dots. If it's a bit busier, in a different key, in a different rhythm, contains triplets, has a larger note range, contains accidentals or any combination of these things it will present you with a bit of a challenge. If you are currently playing a slow air in 4/4 try playing a waltz, the possibilities are endless as long as you don't pick a tune that's way beyond your current standard and will destroy your confidence; so give the Trumpet Hornpipe a swerver for the time being. ;)

 

Thanks Pete. Strangely, I found today that I have had a leap in my ability to play this tune and so have lined up the next one, using your plan. More than one would definitely confuse me though.

 

Ian

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I keep a few learning pieces going on at any one time, all in different stages; one day I'll be bored with the routine and spend some time playing new stuff; then I'll choose one to push at and add it to the list (it gets installed in a loose leaf folder so that I am a bit systematic about playing all of them at least once each time). If I get fed up with one I usually drop it rather than persist. Often, a few months later, while having an 'experimental' practice session I'll wonder why I gave up (or decide it isn't unplayable after all, sometimes!) and move it to the front of the folder again. As a result I'm always playing pieces I want to play, important I think.

 

I believe I learn all the time I'm playing, but particularly when stretching myself to play pieces beyond my ability; I'd say if you really like a piece, don't worry about whether the music's too hard even if it takes months to actually get to the stage where it sounds half competent, because it will do you good, whether you actually get it to the finished stage or not.

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LDT

You keep up the practicing and if you have to go somewhere where family won't be bothered. When I was young I played the violin...or tried to. My brother was such a jerk about me practing I would go out into a vacant lot to practice. Not a real great place to be. I finally got where I didn't practice much at all because he raised such a fuss.

That's just how I feel. Its not good for my confidence when I keep being bothered because I'm practicing.

 

I'm hoping when the weather warms up I can go down the park and practice rather than being stuck indoors with everyone else and being moaned at all the time.

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