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Discussions => General Discussion => Topic started by: The Oul' Boy on February 11, 2019, 07:13:21 PM

Title: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 11, 2019, 07:13:21 PM
OK, so I've had my DG Pokerwork for just over a month, and I'm coming on a storm on the treble side, banging out any straight-forward tunes that come into my head, though not always perfectly of course. Just today I picked it up and played Horn Fair (which I know from Spiers & Boden, a very sweet tune on the melodeon) pretty much straight off without having planned to or thinking about it. So things are going well on that front...

But then come the difficulties. I can oom-pah or oom-pah-pah all day on the bass end, and can play Frere Jacques on it without thinking too much, but I'm damned if I can get the bass and treble ends to go together. As soon as I try, things fall apart entirely. I can just about play the Winster Gallop with oom-pahs in slow motion, but even then it's awful, and everything else is a non-starter, especially when there's not a one-to-one match in the beats on the treble and bass ends. Any tips for how to get past this impasse would be much appreciated! (No doubt Richard or someone will be along soon to tell me I should have gone with B/C, and part of me can't help thinking the same even though I love my DG; indeed Theo has a nice one for sale right now, hmm, MAD may be another problem I have, or would be if I had any spare cash...)

A few other things are giving a bit of trouble too. The change in bellows direction on buttons 11 and 12 tends to catch me out as my brain keeps expecting the scale to keep going as it was. Presumably this will come with practice. And whilst my scary melodeon faces have toned down a bit (it has helped to play in front of the mirror for some reason), I'm still breathing with the bellows a bit. I'm also pulling my right shoulder way back, which seems to be the only way I can get my right hand to where I want it, but it's not comfortable. Tips on breathing and posture are also welcome.

Thanks for your help and advice!


 
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Theo on February 11, 2019, 07:21:44 PM
You are doing well but it takes time and patience, so relax, don’t rush it. Don’t try to work on too many tunes, one or two is plenty to begin with.  I’m not exactly sure what you mean by “banging out” tunes,  but it makes me think that you might be rushing.  Try to chill out take a more relaxed pace and think about the rhythm and feel of the tune. That way you will be learning good playing habits. 
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Lester on February 11, 2019, 07:27:33 PM
I'm afraid to say that the answer to the treble v bass problem is perseverance. I usually get people going on Donkey Riding as the bass and treble mostly go at the same speed, but as you say you are getting somewhere with Winster Gallop I suggest practice followed by more practice. The good news is one day it will just click and you wont know why it was such a great deal.


As to bellows directions changes I recommend you play scales for a while every day and the change will become second nature.


And finally to posture. Assuming you are using two straps have you got them adjusted so that the keyboard lies on a chin to bellybutton line, this should give your right arm more freedom and thus preventing pains.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 11, 2019, 07:46:38 PM
Perseverance is pretty much it.  Well do I remember the frustration.  I actually learnt basses first on 'Speed the Plough' - someone (possibly on here) told me that the right and left hands were evenly matched and it was a good one to start with. Not sure how true that is but it is good that you care enough to be concerned about this issue - I have known players ignore the basses because they are difficult and rush off, developing relative fluency on the right hand only having to pretty much re-learn the whole instrument when playing basses becomes unavoidable. Equally I have seen one or two players who are unable to separate the left and right hands so that the basses mimic the treble end exactly in rhythm - not a good habit to get into and it would seem not an easy one to get out of.

If you are using any sort of notation I could suggest writing B (bass) and C (chord) under the relevant notes - this was a ruse I came up with and it seemed to help although it was a long time ago now.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 11, 2019, 08:06:16 PM
Thanks all, couldn't ask for more experienced feedback! I probably am rushing it a bit, but I kind of can't help playing whatever comes into my head when I pick the melodeon up (that's what I mean by banging out, i.e. not reading the music or playing along with anything), though I'm also practicing the starter tunes from the Garside and Rennie tutor books every day too. I'll keep persevering with the bass and see if I can get any better at matching it up with the treble, hopefully the click will happen one day! Writing B and C under the notes is a good idea Helena, thank you, I think that will help (I probably need to look at the dots more rather than working the tune out then playing it from memory from then on).

As for the posture, the right side does seem to roughly be along my button line (I have two straps), so maybe I'm just compensating for the weight on the left-hand side, I'm not sure. I'll work on not pulling my shoulder back to see if it helps.

Much appreciated, still early days of course, so I've much to learn.

Warren.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on February 11, 2019, 08:18:57 PM
Hi Warren,
The best advice I was given when starting wad to get both hands working together.
As you're experiencing, it is a headbanger, but one that is worth keeping at. One day it *will* happen and the brain will have got around the problem.
Helena's right, if you just get used to playing on the right hand, you will have to re-learn fingering if you want to play the basses. Re-learning, in my experience, is twice as hard!

Theo's right too, just chill and keep at it. He once told me it'll take time and he was right, but once the door opens...  :|||:
Good luck
Q
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 11, 2019, 08:31:00 PM
Thanks Thrupenny! I'm enjoying it enormously so far, even if it is difficult. Good to see I can still learn something new in my mid 40s, hopefully with a bit of practice it will get easier.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 11, 2019, 08:31:59 PM
... I'm also practicing the starter tunes from the Garside and Rennie tutor books every day too...

If you've got Ed's book you'll also have the DVD - I found the DVD really helped because I could actually see what the two hands were supposed to be doing - even when I couldn't quite do it myself.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 11, 2019, 08:33:31 PM
I have, though I haven't had time to look at it yet, as I only got it last week.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Helena Handcart on February 11, 2019, 08:38:20 PM
I have, though I haven't had time to look at it yet, as I only got it last week.

Aha - then that would be my top tip. I found the DVD really useful - CDs are all very well but if you can hear that what you are doing is wrong but don't know how to correct it then you're a bit stuffed. Having the DVD in split screen means you can see as well as hear what you are supposed to sound like - really useful if you don't have an experienced player on hand to guide you.


I started playing when I was 40 - and that was actually quite young.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Dick Rees on February 11, 2019, 09:20:01 PM
Two hints:

1.  Metronome.  There are all sorts of ways to set the tick-tock from "beats" to "bars".  I prefer the old- fashioned pendulum gizmos and found that rather than having to keep up with it, it kept me from rushing into whatever was problematic, letting me know there was plenty of time and to relax into it.  A steadily dripping faucet is just as good...

2.  You don't need an instrument to practice "hands".  Select your rhythm (polka, march, hornpipe, jig, waltz, whatever) and pat the basic beat with your LH, then pat out the rhythm of the melody with your RH over the LH pulse.  You can begin the LH slowly with only the "bass button" (1 & 3 in even meter), then double up with "bass/chord" (1,2,3,4).

Pat LH in caps, pat RH per syllable:

WHAT shall we DO with the DRUNK-en SAIL-or...


Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 11, 2019, 09:28:33 PM
To be honest, I think you're worrying about a nothing thing. Your brain has to burn pathways. It will already be happening and will continue to happen. You can't force it. Much better to wait for it. Do the things people recommend and the phase will pass.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Daz Barry on February 12, 2019, 08:31:59 AM
Hiya this has been very interesting.I have learnt a lot.can you give me the name of the dvd and where I can get it.I'm really enjoying learning the melodeon and as you say taking it slowly.Daz😎
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on February 12, 2019, 08:36:42 AM
Hiya this has been very interesting.I have learnt a lot.can you give me the name of the dvd and where I can get it.I'm really enjoying learning the melodeon and as you say taking it slowly.Daz😎

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Melodeon-Tutor-Edmund-Rennie/dp/0957284608
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Daz Barry on February 12, 2019, 08:47:07 AM
Thanks will send for it today.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Gena Crisman on February 12, 2019, 07:06:57 PM
I think it's very worth your time to challenge yourself with coordinating bass rhythms with melody in your first months (or any months!). The different options of playing a melody note without changing bass, playing a new bass without a melody note, for all the different common tune structures. One of the most important lessons I got from tutor books, I think. It took me quite a long time (months) of occasional studying the book, playing & solo learning to get it all sorted and to feel like I'd really scored a victory over, let alone conquered, egan's polka and cock of the north. I think if I'd had a DVD or lessons it would have helped a lot.

I'd suggest focussing on playing one or two bars at a time, figuring out each 'step' your hands will have to go through, note by note, bass by bass, but, linked together - slowly, without worrying about keeping the rhythm too much. That way you can perhaps begin to mentally construct the individual states of your two hands in combination, without changing your fingers if they're not supposed to, or, adding in the steps your brain wanted you to skip over. Then you can slowly try to add the rhythm, and then speed, back in. I still use this method, and I'm sure others do too, for leaning/figuring out how to play any strange tunes that defy the tools I've generated so far, or have confusing rhythms of pushes and pulls.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 12, 2019, 08:03:29 PM
Thanks so much everyone, you've all been very helpful. I shall persevere, keep going with the slow-motion playing of treble with bass, and hopefully things will eventually click (I even felt a slight improvement on the Winster Gallop today thanks to your encouragement, though oom-pa-pa-ing to 'Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be' still seems to be beyond me for now).  :||:
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 12, 2019, 08:05:37 PM
I'd suggest focussing on playing one or two bars at a time, figuring out each 'step' your hands will have to go through, note by note, bass by bass, but, linked together - slowly, without worrying about keeping the rhythm too much.

Yes, this seems to produce results (of a sort), painful and cacophonous though they might be right now. Thanks!
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Jesse Smith on February 13, 2019, 11:50:59 PM
The good news is that like everyone says, it comes with practice and suddenly it's no big deal. I put the two hands together with Frere Jacques as well (from Dave Mallinson's book). It doesn't surprise me that Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be is extra-tricky; I think most people have trouble getting the oom-pah-pah of waltz time right at first since your hand wants to oom-pah-oom like you just taught it to.

So that's the good news. The "bad" news is that once you get this you'll be wanting to switch chords, and then control the length of the oom and the pah, and then you'll want to go beyond oom-pahs and start adding bass runs, and basically it just never ends. ::)
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Lester on February 14, 2019, 07:44:46 AM
Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be seems to me to be an excellent choice for learning waltz basses, as there is not a great deal going on on the treble that is not aligned with something going on on the basses.

Stick with it
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on February 14, 2019, 08:42:32 AM
You've triggered a memory from my early playing days:
I remember struggling with the waltz basses when other rhythms were coming along quite well.
I used to play non waltzes to reinforce the bass/treble hand/brain links and then keep on going back to waltzes until I cracked it, and sure enough it did come!
Q
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Alan Pittwood on February 14, 2019, 03:04:31 PM
Warren

The development of a skill to performance level involves three stages [the technical aspects/names of these are better avoided unless you are a student on a Certificate in Education course] that may be expressed in the melodeon-learning context as:

listen and look ;
repeat and practise;
extend and perform.

A good way to proceed is to listen to recordings of working musicians.  For examples.  Either go by the tune: Johnny's so long at the fair (Oh dear, what can the matter be) was played by Scan Tester and others on English Country Music Topic TSCD607 (CD, UK, 2000) as a waltz and by Arnold Woodley on Rig-a-jig-jig Voice of the people #9 Topic TSCD659 (CD, UK, October 1998) as a jig-time Morris dance tune.  Or by performer: Bob Cann  'Proper Job!' - Melodeon playing from Dartmoor recorded 1952-1988 Veteran VT138CD.



If you hold your collection of music in ABC notation you can use programs like ABC Explorer and Easy ABC to play the tunes to you [and slow them down without change of pitch] allowing you to play along to build confidence in both melody and basses.

What is your goal?  What do you want to do with your playing?  If it is playing for dancers then find some dancers and their musician(s) and join in with them - that was how I started over fifty years ago.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 14, 2019, 07:23:32 PM
What is your goal?  What do you want to do with your playing?  If it is playing for dancers then find some dancers and their musician(s) and join in with them - that was how I started over fifty years ago.

Thanks Alan.

As for what my goal is, right now it is to learn to play well to please myself and anyone else who listens. I live in Scotland these days, so there may not be many dancers to join in with (though this is Edinburgh, so who know?!), but that's not my primary aim at this stage.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on February 14, 2019, 07:29:29 PM
So that's the good news. The "bad" news is that once you get this you'll be wanting to switch chords, and then control the length of the oom and the pah, and then you'll want to go beyond oom-pahs and start adding bass runs, and basically it just never ends. ::)

Ha ha, I don't mind, it's fun learning!
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Alan Pittwood on February 14, 2019, 08:05:53 PM
Quote
As for what my goal is, right now it is to learn to play well to please myself and anyone else who listens.

Warren

That's fine.
Listen to as much melodeon playing as you can; listen to as much of the music you want to play; use IT to support your practice.  Playing music with other musicians is a good way to extend your practice and understand the performance by others.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Chris Rayner on February 14, 2019, 08:31:51 PM

As for what my goal is, right now it is to learn to play well to please myself and anyone else who listens. I live in Scotland these days, so there may not be many dancers to join in with (though this is Edinburgh, so who know?!), but that's not my primary aim at this stage.

It may be just as well that there are no Morris sides local to you.  I somewhat diffidently went to the local team, and now I find myself, a year later, desperately trying to learn enough tunes to feel I’m pulling my weight; great fun though.

I have also discovered that, even though the standard D/G box appears to be severely handicapped by limitations in all directions, there is a wider range of musical possibilities than first appears.  Currently I’m working my way through some Billie Holliday songs.  The accidentals at the top end allow all manner of blue notes to be played.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Jeremy Gunson on February 14, 2019, 09:06:51 PM
I have been learning how to play vallenato and cumbia so the bass rhythms are probably a bit different, but in any case I found working through scales and just one song at a very slow pace have helped. If you take the time to break down the tune bit by bit it will certainly pay off... Also, just tapping away with my bass fingers all the time, at work, brushing teeth, walking along... especially to music :) , just about to start learning english melodeon got a DVD and the replies on this thread will surely come in handy !
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Peadar on February 14, 2019, 10:02:07 PM
Quote
As for what my goal is, right now it is to learn to play well to please myself and anyone else who listens. I live in Scotland these days, so there may not be many dancers to join in with (though this is Edinburgh, so who know?!), but that's not my primary aim at this stage.

Warren,

I doubt very much that there is a ceilidh dance class in Scotland (even in Edinburgh) that would not welcome an aspiring dance musician looking for victims to practice on! (Especially if he is willing to play one 8 bar phrase at a time and repeatedly as the teacher takes the class through a dance). A willing musician is a lot easier to work with than a CD player.

If you want to go that road I suggest you get hold of the First (or Second) Ceilidh Collection For Fiddlers (Taigh nan Teud ISBN 1-871931-35-5). There is a good selection of Scottish dance and song melodies there- mainly in the keys of G & D.  Tog Fonn 1 is also good - a mixture of puirt-a-beul and songs, all set in G or D.

One word of warning- I am on a one row in G, which is an octave lower than the G of a D/G box.

Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: busbox on February 14, 2019, 10:09:06 PM
When I had the pleasure (?) of interviewing some MPs, I asked whether they would do things differently. The wisest answer I heard was to the effect that there is little point in looking back because you woud make a different lot of mistakes.
Having said that, there is a point of view that says we learn by our mistakes so we should not think of them negatively. Mind you, there is another which says to be careful what and how we practise because we can be reinforcing errors.
I don't know that I would do anything differently. I suppose that I am not a perfectionist. I'm Australian.
Tony
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: george garside on February 16, 2019, 10:18:05 PM
there are in fact  1st 2nd 3rd and 4th ceilidh collection for fidlers and they do come up sometimes on ebay. I find them very useful.

george
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: george garside on February 16, 2019, 10:20:02 PM
When I had the pleasure (?) of interviewing some MPs, I asked whether they would do things differently. The wisest answer I heard was to the effect that there is little point in looking back because you woud make a different lot of mistakes.
Having said that, there is a point of view that says we learn by our mistakes so we should not think of them negatively. Mind you, there is another which says to be careful what and how we practise because we can be reinforcing errors.
I don't know that I would do anything differently. I suppose that I am not a perfectionist. I'm Australian.
Tony
[/quote

indeed - a mistake is alos an opportunity! . or every negative has a positive!

george
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: baz parkes on February 17, 2019, 01:26:48 PM
there are in fact  1st 2nd 3rd and 4th ceilidh collection for fidlers and they do come up sometimes on ebay. I find them very useful.

george

Hi Warren...I have a collection of music books for sale...not sure they include the above but if you might be interested PM me and I'' send you a list.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Gary on February 24, 2019, 09:37:26 PM
Find a way to play and enjoy yourself. getting to bogged down in the never ending technical challenges is in my view a way of sucking out all the fun.  I know many tunes right hand only and have my own way of adding left hand. Its not as correct as many prefer but is fun and people who listen to me do enjoy the result!
As everyone agress, keep practicing and pushing and pulling onto the next  tune which appeals to you.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on April 21, 2019, 06:27:55 PM
Just a quick update on this, a month-and-a-half on. I have now mastered oom-pah oom-pah with the Winster Gallop and oom-pah-pah with Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be, and am also applying them to other tunes, though the difficulty increases when the rhythm of the right and left hands are different. I've also been trying to get to grips with oom - pah oom - pah for Lillibulero, which is proving to be reasonably challenging, but breaking it down bar by bar is helping, especially when the left and right hands aren't in the same rhythm. Happy with progress, will keep practicing (though it's very enjoyable, so maybe practicing is the wrong word).
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Thrupenny Bit on April 21, 2019, 06:38:16 PM
Oh well done!
It sounds like the door is creaking open showing you light on the other side.
Now you've cracked it you will find learning start to speed up.
At this point you simply have to just keep plodding along, you're on your way so enjoy the journey.
Cheers
Q
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: The Oul' Boy on April 21, 2019, 07:36:39 PM
Oh well done!
It sounds like the door is creaking open showing you light on the other side.
Now you've cracked it you will find learning start to speed up.
At this point you simply have to just keep plodding along, you're on your way so enjoy the journey.
Cheers
Q

Thank you (and for your encouragement before and tip on breaking it down bar by bar), much appreciated! Still a long way to go, but at least I appear to be going somewhere.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Alan Morley on April 22, 2019, 09:33:55 AM
I played harmonica since I was around 10 years old so when I got an Erica I took too it quite well.

The main problem I had was that I used to breath in and out as you would with harmonicas. Not a great idea with quicker tunes as you tend to hyperventilate.... :|bl
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Tone Dumb Greg on April 22, 2019, 09:45:55 AM
I played harmonica since I was around 10 years old so when I got an Erica I took too it quite well.

The main problem I had was that I used to breath in and out as you would with harmonicas. Not a great idea with quicker tunes as you tend to hyperventilate.... :|bl

I seem to be stuck with breathing in sympathy with the melodeon bellows. Sometimes I get the same problem.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Peadar on April 22, 2019, 12:27:05 PM
Last night I got an old PA going (for someone else). Testing it out after I got the reeds going really freaked me out. The b****y thing wouldn't change note when I switched from push to pull. It was even more difficult to pull through push notes and push through pull notes.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Dick Rees on April 22, 2019, 12:52:43 PM
I played harmonica since I was around 10 years old so when I got an Erica I took too it quite well.

The main problem I had was that I used to breath in and out as you would with harmonicas. Not a great idea with quicker tunes as you tend to hyperventilate.... :|bl

I had exactly the same experience and had to play sitting on the floor surrounded with couch cushions and pillows for padding if and when I tipped over.  That phase lasted a couple of weeks.
Title: Re: Beginner problems
Post by: Robin Tims on April 22, 2019, 04:44:16 PM
I played harmonica since I was around 10 years old so when I got an Erica I took too it quite well.

The main problem I had was that I used to breath in and out as you would with harmonicas. Not a great idea with quicker tunes as you tend to hyperventilate.... :|bl

Just the same with me after years of harmonica in my teens. The problem has long gone with melodeon (started some 24 years ago), but is very much a problem playing Irish music on Anglo concertina even after more than a year. However there are encouraging signs that he problem is at last beginning to disappear.

Firm attempts at relaxation while playing, plus practise have to be the answer.

Posture is important too and it made a big difference when I really concentrated on sitting upright rather than just sitting hunched over the instrument peering at the dots. Arm and shoulder stretching prior to playing and a few deep breaths also help, especially if like me you have a tendency to tense up.

'best,  Rob