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learn by patterns in head or learn the notes for each buttons


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I can read music and have just started to learn the 3 row anglo concertina.

Using the excellent Bertrand Levy concertina tutor plus CD I have begun to learn Twinkle Twinkle Littlw Star and now Constant Billy. However the way I am learnin is by remembering the pattern/tab in my head - like 6in 8in 7 in 7out 6i for the first bar of Constant billy - is this a good idea or should I right from the start take more time and learn the notes saying the notes each time I press the button and learn both the pattern and the notes at the same time ?

:blink:

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You might start like that but you'll limit yourself severely if you have to reel off a list of buttons or notes to play a tune - works ok on easy tunes but you'll tie yourself in knots as you progress.

The best way is to learn the Sound that each button makes (in both directions) - have the tune in your head (like Twinkle Twinkle) and then let your brain steer you to the right button, without thinking about it too much. Do you play another instrument? That helps, try the tunes you know from that first, try and figure them out with a little trial & error. Soon enough, your brain will learn where to find the sound (tones) that you need. If you don't already play another instrument, then stick at first to tunes/ ditties that you know well and can hum etc. Have a go at these first, 'cos you'll know when you hit a wrong note - it won't sound right. Folks here will probably give all sorts of other advice, but the above is where you need to be going, imho. Trust this assists.

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You might start like that but you'll limit yourself severely if you have to reel off a list of buttons or notes to play a tune - works ok on easy tunes but you'll tie yourself in knots as you progress.

The best way is to learn the Sound that each button makes (in both directions) - have the tune in your head (like Twinkle Twinkle) and then let your brain steer you to the right button, without thinking about it too much. Do you play another instrument? That helps, try the tunes you know from that first, try and figure them out with a little trial & error. Soon enough, your brain will learn where to find the sound (tones) that you need. If you don't already play another instrument, then stick at first to tunes/ ditties that you know well and can hum etc. Have a go at these first, 'cos you'll know when you hit a wrong note - it won't sound right. Folks here will probably give all sorts of other advice, but the above is where you need to be going, imho. Trust this assists.

 

 

I begin learning a tune usually from the sheet music. But I can attest that tombilly's method works . . . at least for me . . . . at least sometimes. I have surprised myself, when trying to play a tune for the first time, stored only in my head, that my fingers went to the right buttons about 75% of the time. If you'd have told me 4 years ago, when I was starting out, I would have bet you I'd never develop that ability. I come from anything but a musical background. While this is still a nascent ability, I can tell it is slowly improving and becoming more consistent. I imagine it comes from the aggregated experience of playing and that nothing can teach this method expect the aggregated experience of playing. So play a lot, listen a lot, and be patient with yourself too.

Edited by CaryK
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I can read music and have just started to learn the 3 row anglo concertina.

Using the excellent Bertrand Levy concertina tutor plus CD I have begun to learn Twinkle Twinkle Littlw Star and now Constant Billy. However the way I am learnin is by remembering the pattern/tab in my head - like 6in 8in 7 in 7out 6i for the first bar of Constant billy - is this a good idea or should I right from the start take more time and learn the notes saying the notes each time I press the button and learn both the pattern and the notes at the same time ?

:blink:

I've used 'numbers' from when I started...and now I'm trying desperatly not to think in numbers and hear the sounds...but its like trying to take the training wheels off a bike....I tend to fall flat on my face. :P

Edited by LDT
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Another vote for - what Tombilly suggests is good advice for learning "your instrument". You can learn "a tune" by the tab and/or music notation and that'll work fine unless you ever need to busk along with somebody or play what you haven't got tabbed or notated. I would never suggest that the dots are not good (although music got along just fine for hundreds of years before it was invented) but the ability to hear a tune and reproduce it, even just close (especially in different keys), means that the instument is starting to became an extension of you, like humming/whistling. It doesn't even matter what each note is called - the interval from the previous one is the important thing. In time, when you don't need to work it out and it just kinda happens, you've got it. Tony.

Edited by TonyRussell
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  • 2 weeks later...
Another vote for - what Tombilly suggests is good advice for learning "your instrument". You can learn "a tune" by the tab and/or music notation and that'll work fine unless you ever need to busk along with somebody or play what you haven't got tabbed or notated. I would never suggest that the dots are not good (although music got along just fine for hundreds of years before it was invented) but the ability to hear a tune and reproduce it, even just close (especially in different keys), means that the instument is starting to became an extension of you, like humming/whistling. It doesn't even matter what each note is called - the interval from the previous one is the important thing. In time, when you don't need to work it out and it just kinda happens, you've got it. Tony.
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Another vote for - what Tombilly suggests is good advice for learning "your instrument". You can learn "a tune" by the tab and/or music notation and that'll work fine unless you ever need to busk along with somebody or play what you haven't got tabbed or notated. I would never suggest that the dots are not good (although music got along just fine for hundreds of years before it was invented) but the ability to hear a tune and reproduce it, even just close (especially in different keys), means that the instument is starting to became an extension of you, like humming/whistling. It doesn't even matter what each note is called - the interval from the previous one is the important thing. In time, when you don't need to work it out and it just kinda happens, you've got it. Tony.

 

I second that absolutely!

This is what the (Anglo-)German push-pull layout is all about - instinctive playing, especially chording, without much knowledge of music theory or notation. I believe that the Hayden duet follows this philosophy, too.

 

The English and the Crane duet are much more closely linked to notation and theory (e.g. knowing what sharps and flats occur in what keys), and are much more sight-reader friendly, but less instinctive.

(I would expect sight reading and instinctive playing of the Maccann duet to be equally difficult, but maybe that's just me :P )

 

I think the distinction between "learning your instrument" and "learning a tune" is a very important one. The ultimate goal, IMO, is to know your instrument well enough to be able to play a new tune as soon as you've learned to hum or whistle it.

 

Cheers,

John

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I think John is spot on.

 

I made a number of previous attempts to learn to read music in relation to different instruments, but it's only been with the Crane that I finally cracked this. I don't learn new tunes from the score alone. I listen to recordings (real or digital), especially to get the timing. And my aim is to memorise the tunes - I'd never play from a score in public. I regarded this new ability as a huge breakthrough and step forward, but I'm beginning to have second thoughts.

 

I now think I'm missing out on training my ear. If I could pick up tunes better by ear I think I'd be better able to play tunes in sessions which I haven't heard or played before, or even just find the right key.

 

Richard

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Another vote for - what Tombilly suggests is good advice for learning "your instrument". You can learn "a tune" by the tab and/or music notation and that'll work fine unless you ever need to busk along with somebody or play what you haven't got tabbed or notated. I would never suggest that the dots are not good (although music got along just fine for hundreds of years before it was invented) but the ability to hear a tune and reproduce it, even just close (especially in different keys), means that the instument is starting to became an extension of you, like humming/whistling. It doesn't even matter what each note is called - the interval from the previous one is the important thing. In time, when you don't need to work it out and it just kinda happens, you've got it. Tony.

Me too. I couldn't even tell you what note most of the buttons have without working it out. I found the key to getting it was doing at least a short practice every day, and often several times in a day. I think you'll be surprised how quickly you start getting the hang of it.

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Another vote for - what Tombilly suggests is good advice for learning "your instrument". You can learn "a tune" by the tab and/or music notation and that'll work fine unless you ever need to busk along with somebody or play what you haven't got tabbed or notated. I would never suggest that the dots are not good (although music got along just fine for hundreds of years before it was invented) but the ability to hear a tune and reproduce it, even just close (especially in different keys), means that the instument is starting to became an extension of you, like humming/whistling. It doesn't even matter what each note is called - the interval from the previous one is the important thing. In time, when you don't need to work it out and it just kinda happens, you've got it. Tony.

Me too. I couldn't even tell you what note most of the buttons have without working it out. I found the key to getting it was doing at least a short practice every day, and often several times in a day. I think you'll be surprised how quickly you start getting the hang of it.

 

The advantage to those of us who play alone purely for our own amusement is that we get to choose the tune, the tempo, the volume etc. and we have no need to know what note we are playing, what chord we are playing or in what key we are playing it, provided the end product is music to our own ears. Much pleasure, in my experience, is derived from a combination of creative composition and improvisation with the opinion of only one critic to satisfy !

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The interesting thing about patterns is that every new piece of music you play is a different pattern from the last.It is experimenting with new patterns that can create a new tune.

Al

 

Oh Al you've just put in two sentences something I've failed to explain to my band at all! - I've changed the way I play single-line melody tunes to incorporate many more bellows changes to increase lift / light and shade and so on, but this means that all tunes I knew by finger memory are no longer accessible and have to be relearnt. Fiddlers pick up the analogy with changes in bow direction, but your explanation says it all, especially the last bit - I've just spent half an hour relearning two of my first tunes for a gig on Saturday (Phillebelula all the way and Castles in the air, for Nottingham Swing) and discovered that the new fingering pattern makes them a right pair of crackers to dance to instead of the tired ones I think I played before.

so many tunes - so little time - and so much bloody-mindedness needed to carve out some playing time!

 

Pippa

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Thanks to evetryone who has answered my question on learning a tune - I have sat and practiced over and over again Constant Billy with the right hand only, combining listening to the tune, learning the pattern in my head and looking at the dots - i left the tune and concertina for about a week or two - loads of stuff to do like paint fences - then picked it up last night and on hearing the tune again on the cd could automatically play the tune - iwas really chuffed - now i have to incorporate the left hand so that will be a simi;ar process until your muscle memory picks it up - its difficult to explain how you can just play it - that was a real buzz so thanks again !!!!!!

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"i left the tune and concertina for about a week or two - loads of stuff to do like paint fences - then picked it up last night and on hearing the tune again on the cd could automatically play the tune"

 

I used to call this "horse learning". My ex wife was heavily into horses and breeding and bringing on youngstock for eventing, cross country, dressage etc.

 

Her approach to training was to introduce different "topics" to the young horse, whether a particular pace or movement or whatever, just to the point where the requirement was understood (and that is important) but the facility of execution was nowhere near achieved. Then she would allow the horse time to soak it in for a day or two. After a couple of days the exercise would be re-introduced and the step change would be significant, the soak time had allowed the brain to process the requirements offline and the ability to perform it was greatly improved without any intervening training time.

 

I certainly know this works for me on the concertina too, particularly where my fingers are trying to do something new. I give it a break and come back a day or two later. But, for this to work, you have to do it right before leaving it. If you can't do it right, there is no correct muscle memory to process in the soak time.

 

This doesn't work quite the same for new tunes per se, you have to shorten the soak time after the first run through or it will be forgotten completely. At this point the tune memory is more around the shape and sound of the tune, not in the movements. It is possible to learn a tune at lunchtime and forget it by evening. Though once the tune is moving into finger/muscle memory, then the breaks can be much longer. and very beneficial.

 

Just my personal observations.

 

Simon

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