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Author Topic: Advanced tutor?  (Read 5799 times)

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2013, 01:59:23 PM »

Anahata: Yes indeed. It's amazing how she manages to express herself with what appears to me to be a huge beast of a thing, yet little nuances give a lot of light and dark in a piece. I need to look again!

Squeezy: Thanks for the summary, I think you've just reminded me about a few fundamental things with a melodeon. Yes it's a bonkers instrument which is why we're all here!
...... and errr, no, you're not selling the dvd very well  ;D
but your advice is perfect  and much appreciated. Thank you.

ahhhh as I type, more's come in.
Yes I've got JK's dvd and gleaned advice from it. In fact that dvd and his English Choice book/cd are being constantly mined by me.
It really is my source of choice for tunes and how to play what's written as simple dots. I listen to the cd's a lot.

I second Anahata's sentiment - thank you John S for kick starting this place.
I wouldn't have become so involved or as competant a player in this amount of time without Melnet and the great inhabitants of this forum.
It was a Good Idea!
cheers
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Pete Dunk

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2013, 11:09:29 PM »

The universal truth is that all of the good melodeon players have found their own way to make this quirky instrument work for them. By good players I don't just mean those who make a proper living income from box playing (very few!) but also those who are passionate hobbyist box players. Given the relative obscurity of the melodeon in musical circles I would say it's fair to describe it as 'minority interest' in the world of general music making so aren't we lucky to have so many talented players in our little forum?
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #22 on: December 30, 2013, 09:16:01 AM »

The variations of keyboard layout and therefore different ways to play a tune lends itself to individualism, and as you say, making it work for you. Yes, I think we all have friends or people we've met that are good players and those often inspire us to start up in the first place. That certainly is true for me.

Yesterday I was reflecting on the people on this thread and was thinking how much I appreciated those who have been helping me and giving their advice and knowledge - yes I think we are incredibly lucky to be able to be given good advice, always freely given in the spirit of friendship to help us along the way. Thank you for saying that. I agree!

...and yesterday I had a great time poking around the keyboard and making the odd chord or harmony ( but only in some places  ;) ) Just got to remember theme today and get them in the brain.
It was great fun, and I realised because I was  concentrating on something else, I was also learning the tune quite quickly too. Bonus!
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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squeezy

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #23 on: December 30, 2013, 10:08:50 AM »

I'm becoming increasingly sure that there are two very distinct types of "practice" that someone who is self-teaching goes through.  And it's being confirmed here in this thread.  What I'm writing below certainly applies to how i practise.

Type 1 is the kind of instrument practice that most people think of where you have a distinct goal in mind, where you are trying to commit a tune to mind and teach your fingers to go there in a fluid manner.  It can involve some planning of fingering, choice of harmony and ornamentation, but in essence it is a rehearsal for some kind of performance.

Type 2 is an altogether less focused thing, where you pick up the box with a completely blank canvas.  I either use simple tunes, or make up random passages as I go along - sometimes it's just exploring making up random chord sequences and seeing what happens.  The main thing is that there is no specific goal, no pressure and you need to be able to zone out enough that you are kind of watching and listening to yourself enough to realise when you have stumbled upon something worth pursuing.  At that point you then explore the thing you've discovered and maybe make some record of it.

I think that if you are being taught an instrument methodically, then you can get away with only using type 1 and become a proficient technician, but type 2 is what really improves you as a musician. I am painfully aware (as a father of 2 young kids) that type 2 requires precious time and an environment free of distractions, preferably out of earshot of anyone.  Sometimes it yields no results at all too which can be particularly frustrating if you have little free time.  But it is where I write all my tunes, find new techniques and explore the boundaries. When used in conjunction with type 1 it is very useful indeed.

Of course the 2 types can crossover, but I've found it very useful to identify them and try to make sure I don't spend all my time doing just one of them.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2013, 11:01:17 AM »

Hmmm.... that is an incredibly thought provoking idea, maybe revolving around one thing - time.
I think most people start off and want to be able to get a tune out a.s.a.p., within the shortest time. They then can start to join in a session, play for morris or whatever has driven them to start learning in the first place and feel included and a sense of achievement.
After this first goal, you want to improve, become more proficient, learn more tunes, as you say, to be able to perform more competantly. That also takes time.
Personally, I'm becoming aware that since taking it up ~ 3 1/2 years back, I've now got a repertoire built up. Some tunes are fairly automatic, others need more work but..... with a number of tunes under my belt, I now want to go back and think more about *how* to play them. That's what prompted this thread.

I can see why Type 2 practice improves you and it does make sense.
Again, I think it's only achievable after time has passed - you have become sufficiently good that you can turn out some tunes proficiently at a session/morris etc. so have time to relax and explore and mess around without the pressure of feeling you *have* to learn more tunes to be able to join in with your group of players.
Perhaps your learning curve is flattening out slightly so 'quantity' of tunes starts to move into 'quality' ?

My pressure comes from early starts and the madness around working in a school. Evening practice often means I have to wake up from a nap first  ;D
I find it's only at holiday times I can be alert enough and have time to mentally freewheel and follow whatever path I choose.
....like working out what to do on my right hand! As you rightly say, time and space to do this is difficult to come by.
Thanks Squeezy, I think your clarification is well made.
cheers
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Chris Brimley

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2013, 11:23:14 AM »

Thanks Squeezy for a real insight, not just into practising, but also the whole creative process of music!  I often feel that musicians divide themselves into two - the convergents and the divergents, and you have very neatly explained how to bring them together.  I have often felt audiences most want creativity, although they are often satisfied with just virtuosity.
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george garside

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2013, 01:00:55 PM »

I strongly agree with 'type 2' as being the road to go up once you have a few tunes that can be played reasonably well  i.e. with a little more aplomb than just the right notes in the right order i.e  giving due attention to phrasing and dynamics so it sounds ' proper musical'!  This, in my opinion is aa very important first stage if only for the reason that the ability to knock out a few half decent tunes early on is vital to continued enthusiasm rather than shoving the box  on top of the wardrobe or whatever.  ( every year when I do the crash course for beginners at Whitby I can guarantee  getting one or two wardrobe melodeonists , sometimes of 2 years standing, at my workshops.

But from there on squeezy's type 2 is the way to go and it  should come naturally to those like myself who have a propensity to arse about rather than follow something written on tablets of stone!

george ;D
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2013, 01:46:15 PM »

a propensity to arse about

A perfect description of the majority of musicians that I know.

P.S. I'd be happy to adopt that as my profile sig.  ;D
« Last Edit: December 30, 2013, 01:52:30 PM by Mike Hirst »
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2013, 01:57:02 PM »

a propensity to arse about

There is an a delicious irony in the notion that we can appreciate the sentiment of George's posting within the context of 'Advanced' technique. Once more the forum has been proved to be both erudite and unique.
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squeezy

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2013, 02:05:54 PM »

Hmmm.... that is an incredibly thought provoking idea, maybe revolving around one thing - time.
I think most people start off and want to be able to get a tune out a.s.a.p., within the shortest time. They then can start to join in a session, play for morris or whatever has driven them to start learning in the first place and feel included and a sense of achievement.
After this first goal, you want to improve, become more proficient, learn more tunes, as you say, to be able to perform more competantly. That also takes time.
Personally, I'm becoming aware that since taking it up ~ 3 1/2 years back, I've now got a repertoire built up. Some tunes are fairly automatic, others need more work but..... with a number of tunes under my belt, I now want to go back and think more about *how* to play them. That's what prompted this thread.

I can see why Type 2 practice improves you and it does make sense.
Again, I think it's only achievable after time has passed - you have become sufficiently good that you can turn out some tunes proficiently at a session/morris etc. so have time to relax and explore and mess around without the pressure of feeling you *have* to learn more tunes to be able to join in with your group of players.
Perhaps your learning curve is flattening out slightly so 'quantity' of tunes starts to move into 'quality' ?

My pressure comes from early starts and the madness around working in a school. Evening practice often means I have to wake up from a nap first  ;D
I find it's only at holiday times I can be alert enough and have time to mentally freewheel and follow whatever path I choose.
....like working out what to do on my right hand! As you rightly say, time and space to do this is difficult to come by.
Thanks Squeezy, I think your clarification is well made.
cheers
Q

While it's true that for someone starting out from scratch needs to go through quite a long period where my type 1 practice (I don't mean for these terms to get set in stone btw) is the only thing going on with some good guidance from a teacher or a tutor book.  I think introducing type 2 fairly early on when the player has several simple tunes under their belt is beneficial.  I certainly did it fairly early on after cracking most tunes in Mally's Melodeon Methods Cotswold Morris book 1. 

What I have found is that type 2 practising is a skill in itself and it gets better and more productive the more you do it ... it is less about the instrument and more about learning and music - and I find it to be easily transferable to other instruments ... and even other areas of life.

You're absolutely right about the time pressures on everyone though ... that's why I flagged them up as a potential barrier to being able to do this.  Frankly, for me, it was the discovery of this kind of practice that led me to hesitate about getting a normal career in my early 20's and instead work for low wages in a music shop.  But since becoming a dad and a busy musician - the thing is that life also becomes so busy with more mundane stuff that it's easy to forget quite how important a chance to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours with your instrument and no set goal can be.  And only in the last couple of years have I managed to timetable in space once again to do this thing which used to come completely naturally with a more student-type lifestyle.

I can justify that time spent to myself and to my family because it's what I'm currently doing for a living ... and I realise that it's harder to justify if you have another career and commitments ... however - I do think that if you look at how you practise and realise that you're only doing type 1 - then in the long term a bit of type 2 will help your playing immensely.

I used to think that the idea of creative people like writers and musicians were just being all arty-farty when they talked about needing space and inspiration in order to be creative.  But now I think there's real substance in that kind of talk.  I've come to see it also as a form of meditation where you can come out of the other end feeling almost refreshed!

I'm going to stop waffling now!  It's only a squeezebox after all!

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Matthew B

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2013, 05:12:51 PM »

Type 1 is the kind of instrument practice that most people think of where you have a distinct goal in mind . . .

Type 2 is an altogether less focused thing, where you pick up the box with a completely blank canvas. 

To this list I'd add a "Type 3", which is "Adaptation".  I've found that I've learned a lot in recent years by trying to adapt the limitations of the instrument to different situations and to work around challenges that I usually didn't know existed until they cropped up.  This comes up quite a bit when looking at music outside one's normal repertoire, playing in keys away from the home keys, and playing with other musicians.  Sometimes the answer is to transpose a tune into a different key, sometimes it's possible to change things around so the notes fit in some other way, perhaps by harmonizing, using chords, or just being quiet for a bit.  Switching fingerings can help, and changing registers.  The one-row players are masters of these techniques, and it's interesting to see how different one-row traditions approach the challenges.  Of course its also possible to change the set-up of the instrument to address the needs, or to switch boxes to get new note and chord possibilities. 

However you do it you can get a lot out of fitting a square peg into a round hole.   
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george garside

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #31 on: December 30, 2013, 05:49:16 PM »



However you do it you can get a lot out of fitting a square peg into a round hole.   

aka the noble art of faking!

george
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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #32 on: December 30, 2013, 06:46:52 PM »


To this list I'd add a "Type 3", which is "Adaptation".  I've found that I've learned a lot in recent years by trying to adapt the limitations of the instrument to different situations and to work around challenges that I usually didn't know existed until they cropped up.  This comes up quite a bit when looking at music outside one's normal repertoire, playing in keys away from the home keys, and playing with other musicians.   

While I certainly acknowledge that adapting music on to a box is a thing that can frequently happen, I wouldn't personally say it is a type of practice method.  If it is with a distinct goal of a piece of music to play then I would work out the fingering and use the learn by rote method (type 1) ... But equally I would play about with different keys and fingerings (and rhythms and so on) when doing type 2.

However - it starts to get rather academic at this point given that the two types I mentioned are arbitrary extremes of what is actually one process. But I find that distinction works very well for me.   
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Owen Woods

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2013, 06:50:54 PM »

While it's true that for someone starting out from scratch needs to go through quite a long period where my type 1 practice (I don't mean for these terms to get set in stone btw) is the only thing going on with some good guidance from a teacher or a tutor book.  I think introducing type 2 fairly early on when the player has several simple tunes under their belt is beneficial.  I certainly did it fairly early on after cracking most tunes in Mally's Melodeon Methods Cotswold Morris book 1. 

What I have found is that type 2 practising is a skill in itself and it gets better and more productive the more you do it ... it is less about the instrument and more about learning and music - and I find it to be easily transferable to other instruments ... and even other areas of life.

You're absolutely right about the time pressures on everyone though ... that's why I flagged them up as a potential barrier to being able to do this.  Frankly, for me, it was the discovery of this kind of practice that led me to hesitate about getting a normal career in my early 20's and instead work for low wages in a music shop.  But since becoming a dad and a busy musician - the thing is that life also becomes so busy with more mundane stuff that it's easy to forget quite how important a chance to spend a couple of uninterrupted hours with your instrument and no set goal can be.  And only in the last couple of years have I managed to timetable in space once again to do this thing which used to come completely naturally with a more student-type lifestyle.

I can justify that time spent to myself and to my family because it's what I'm currently doing for a living ... and I realise that it's harder to justify if you have another career and commitments ... however - I do think that if you look at how you practise and realise that you're only doing type 1 - then in the long term a bit of type 2 will help your playing immensely.

I used to think that the idea of creative people like writers and musicians were just being all arty-farty when they talked about needing space and inspiration in order to be creative.  But now I think there's real substance in that kind of talk.  I've come to see it also as a form of meditation where you can come out of the other end feeling almost refreshed!

I'm going to stop waffling now!  It's only a squeezebox after all!

This post speaks to me. I have struggled so much with music over the last year or so purely because I am stuck doing type 1 because I just don't have the time, energy or inclination to do type 2. I have always been a type 2 person and it tears me apart that I don't have that time available. Even if I do get to my box, it is always pressured for time and so I feel that I need to achieve something - which is of course bollocks. As it is, I am not good enough (or commercial enough) to earn a reasonable amount of money doing music, so I don't know how to get out.
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Matthew B

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2013, 07:23:46 PM »

While I certainly acknowledge that adapting music on to a box is a thing that can frequently happen, I wouldn't personally say it is a type of practice method.  If it is with a distinct goal of a piece of music to play then I would work out the fingering and use the learn by rote method (type 1) ... But equally I would play about with different keys and fingerings (and rhythms and so on) when doing type 2.

Point taken.  Well, both points taken really.  However for me, sitting in my kitchen after the kids have finally gone down for the night, I guess a lot of what happens as I work on adapting things feels rather different from the two physical and mental disciplines you describe above -- both of which I use.  I feel much more as if I'm trying to cross a river on stepping stones.  I find fragments of music theory starting to make sense, and various bits and pieces of information I've picked up here (and there . . .) falling into place.  There's a lot of stuff out there that I'd never have thought about without a hearty push.  Foremost among these has been a slow journey towards learning to read music after years of playing by ear: there are things out there that I would simply never have got to on my own. 
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2013, 07:34:17 PM »

Welcome aboard ukebert, who for me is the spiritual origin of me starting this post!

I too recognise feeling the need  'to achieve' and pressure to do so when I have precious spare time.
This is purely me exerting pressure on....me!

I think the wonderful meandering of this thread is teaching me things like:-
You're right, it is b*ll*cks to exert pressure on yourself to achieve...... after all, I'm doing it for my own personal pleasure.
By taking that pressure off and allowing myself to explore in an unconstructed way is not wasted but the exact opposite - a very constructive thing to do.
I'm sure there are a lot of us not very skilled in the art of practice, so just hammer onwards without lifting your head up to see which way we're going. I include me in this point.
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2013, 09:05:01 PM »

I'm becoming increasingly sure that there are two very distinct types of "practice" that someone who is self-teaching goes through.  And it's being confirmed here in this thread.  What I'm writing below certainly applies to how i practise.

Type 1 ...
Type 2 ...

Of course the 2 types can crossover, but I've found it very useful to identify them and try to make sure I don't spend all my time doing just one of them.

Great post and I find I am leaning to type 2 for about 10% of my practice time. Having my phone handy to record sequences really helps so I can revisit without trying to figure out everying at the same time.

Stephen
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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2013, 10:52:05 PM »

What a really interesting thread this has become. I notice that recurring theme is pressure on time available for practice and "doodling about". My problem also, but typically self imposed because I am out virtually every evening at some type of folk music related activity BUT this is all good practice as it is time spent playing the box or singing. Mind you, spending two hours at Morris Side practice twiddling one's thumbs whilst they endlessly walk through a new dance is not very productive other than polishing the shiny bits on the box.
 
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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #38 on: December 31, 2013, 10:35:10 AM »

I have a strong dislike for the word 'practice' for the simple reason that it has connotations of 'hard slog' 'something that must be done'  'something that is not pleasurable'  ----------------'something to be put off til sunday-----------------bugger , didn't have time on sunday but will definitely spend 2 hours next sunday----------- and it never happens!

I know its just playing with words but  'having a quick  go at improving such and such a tune'   can see the allotted 10 minutes stretch to half an hour, to an hour or whatever of absolute enjoyment -------------which it must be if you don't notice the time!

Before I retired from a stressful job I often used to pick up a box  immediately I got home  to have a aquick tune or two to unwind.  It often went to half an hour and did me the world of good.

So my advice is DON'T practice    - just get into the habit of having a quick tune ? several times a day  - its surprising where it will take you  -  its fun and it takes no time at all!!!

george
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Re: Advanced tutor?
« Reply #39 on: December 31, 2013, 10:39:51 AM »

Best advice yet George - anything which stops you playing and enjoying it is bad for your playing - even if it is in the head.  All practising is just playing at the end of the day.
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