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Author Topic: Learning tunes - am I completely off?  (Read 2899 times)

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eitreach

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Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« on: July 01, 2009, 07:42:52 PM »

Yeah, I'm a bit of a spammer these days, to my own great dissappointment..

But - there's this thing with me and learning tunes, on any instrument, and I can't figure out if it's a normal thing or if I'm just doomed to begin with here.

I've been learning a few simple tunes the last days. Queen Mary, Weile Weile, etc, and even though they're dead-simple and plain, it can still take me days to get everything right. I have a thing for.. Eh, blacking out mentally whenever playing anything - I can, for instance, play something semi-well at one point during the day, and then at another point, be completely blank after playing the few first notes - or simply play the wrong notes, even though I know the tune.

This is something that happens with every tune - and as you can probably all tell, it takes a great deal of time to get things down.

What I want to know, is if this is 'normal'.. Or if it's something that can be treated somehow. As always, any advice and information will be very much appreciated. :)
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GbH

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2009, 10:22:32 PM »

I'm sure that there are lots of people that have, or have had, problems of this type.  However, due to each of our brains being different, I suspect that each person has to deal with it in their own way. 

One suggestion that might help you in the longer term would be to make a point of learning as much as you can about music theory and then specifically thinking about that when learning something new.  If you can easily associate things like keys, modes, rhythmic patterns, scales and intervals with a particular tune, you're more likely to have 'hooks' that can be used for aiding memory.

Perhaps another approach would be to learn more about generic memory techniques, which tend to involve coding information into picture form, which many people tend to find easier to retain and recall.  I've not tried such an approach myself for remembering tunes, but don't see why it couldn't work.
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ladydetemps

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2009, 03:19:32 PM »


I've been learning a few simple tunes the last days. Queen Mary, Weile Weile, etc, and even though they're dead-simple and plain, it can still take me days to get everything right. I have a thing for.. Eh, blacking out mentally whenever playing anything - I can, for instance, play something semi-well at one point during the day, and then at another point, be completely blank after playing the few first notes - or simply play the wrong notes, even though I know the tune.

This is something that happens with every tune - and as you can probably all tell, it takes a great deal of time to get things down.

What I want to know, is if this is 'normal'.. Or if it's something that can be treated somehow. As always, any advice and information will be very much appreciated. :)
that happens to me too...
or there's a point I can't get past..
or even worse if someone is listening I loose all co-ordination and memory.

WendyG

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2009, 07:52:34 PM »


I've been learning a few simple tunes the last days. Queen Mary, Weile Weile, etc, and even though they're dead-simple and plain, it can still take me days to get everything right. I have a thing for.. Eh, blacking out mentally whenever playing anything - I can, for instance, play something semi-well at one point during the day, and then at another point, be completely blank after playing the few first notes - or simply play the wrong notes, even though I know the tune.

This is something that happens with every tune - and as you can probably all tell, it takes a great deal of time to get things down.

What I want to know, is if this is 'normal'.. Or if it's something that can be treated somehow. As always, any advice and information will be very much appreciated. :)


Yes I sometimes have this problem, sometimes I just can't remember how the tune starts and have to start from the middle.  Other times I can go through the tune first time with no problems, but then keep making mistakes when I repeat it.

Wendy
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george garside

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2009, 08:04:24 PM »

it is often easier to remember a tune if you have learned it by ear rather than from reference to the dots.  It is almost as if the internal bits of the brain say, when a tune is learned from the dots, that there is no real need to remember it as you can always get the bit of paper out again.  In other words much of it doesn't get transmitted to the long term memory, only being 'held' for a very brief time in the short term memory.  Eventually more or most of it will move into the long term memory in exactly the same as  frequently used phone numbers etc do

On the other hand learning a tune without the dots tells the brain to shove it into the long term memory asap as otherwise there is no simple way of retrieval.   Also bear in mind that learning by ear & playing from memory is or can be a very different  process than playing (& perhaps remembering) from the dots.  The dot reader naturally starts at the beginning (where else!) & progresses bar by bar to the end. On the other hand the 'by ear' playr may well start by playing the bit of the tune that is already in the memory & subsequently adding bits quite raandomly until its more or less all there.  This is useful information for thoe new to session playing --- you don't have toknow all the tune! - just play the bits you know as they crop up & you will generally find each time you play it you are able to add a bit more.

george
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Martin Duffy

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2009, 10:59:52 PM »

I've only been playing melodeon for a matter of weeks (and up until the last few days on a battered old Hohner), but have been playing the violin for the last 13 years & have to agree with George in that the tunes I recall & play the best are those I play from memory rather than from notation.  I can sight-read very well, but it doesn't go into the memory, and although it's more of a struggle to play by ear, those are the tunes I know the best.
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jb

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2009, 01:56:14 AM »

I can, for instance, play something semi-well at one point during the day, and then at another point, be completely blank after playing the few first notes - or simply play the wrong notes, even though I know the tune.
If I read this correctly, there are two slightly different problems going on here.
One very good way of learning a tune, in the sense of getting it into your head, is by singing it (la-la etc) until it sinks in.
Getting your fingers to learn a tune that you know in your head is a slightly different matter. I find in most cases it's simply a matter of playing it enough times. Which can mean lots.
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Pushpull

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2009, 09:52:33 AM »

The dot reader naturally starts at the beginning (where else!) & progresses bar by bar to the end.
Not necessarily. The sensible "reader" will probably play right through as a starter and then home in on the passages which need work. These will then be done over and over, the simpler parts being left to later. If I'm learning a morris tune (from dots or by ear) once I've had a good look at the tricky bits I tend to work on the A B or C part repeatedly - lots of repetition - before moving on. This, I would say to the OP is the way to get over the "forgetfulness". You really do have to spend a lot of time on a tune to get to stick reliably. Then if you leave it alone, it will gradually fade away.

Incidentally, I play oboe from the dots and my approach to that is pretty much the same. I don't feel I can pay proper attention to phrasing, dynamics, articulation, until the tune itself is pretty much memorised. I will then play chunks away from the music, even though for performance I will have the music on the stand. By performance stage though, it should be there as a prompt.
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jb

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2009, 10:15:58 AM »

[I don't feel I can pay proper attention to phrasing, dynamics, articulation, until the tune itself is pretty much memorised.
And just to pick up on the point I made in my previous post, singing a tune not only helps you learn it but also, once learned, is a very good tool for exploring its phrasing and dynamics. Especially in the shower.
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ladydetemps

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2009, 10:26:45 AM »

[I don't feel I can pay proper attention to phrasing, dynamics, articulation, until the tune itself is pretty much memorised.
And just to pick up on the point I made in my previous post, singing a tune not only helps you learn it but also, once learned, is a very good tool for exploring its phrasing and dynamics. Especially in the shower.

I only have a bath..so no singing ;)

whenever I try to learn by ear I take so long to get the first 3 notes everyone gets bored/annoyed and complains

george garside

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2009, 10:35:59 AM »

once you've found the first 3 notes the next 3  come quicker -sometimes!

as to singing its definately a good way of remembering a tune, even if like me you haave a terrible singng voice!  Where a tune is just a tune i.e. without wrods try making some up, vulgar, daft or otherwise, although personally I find vulgar (ish) ones far easier to remember.

george ;D
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Keithypete.

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2009, 11:39:34 AM »

I find that when learning a tune by ear I cannot play the tune until I can whistle it right through. Once I can whistle it I then know it and can then play it, because  as with singing you don't need to search for the next note - you know where your voice needs to go.
  I often learn from the dots, playing over and over until it is commited to memory then I no longer need the score. I find it sticks just as well.  As for playing from sheet music there is a middle road. Many traditional music players shun it totally - which is quite wrong. Yes it's an aural tradition but much of the music we enjoy would not have survived without being written down.
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george garside

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2009, 12:39:18 PM »

or as  a very famous box player once said  - 'I can read the music for any tune I know!'  - which is probably where many 'traditional' musicians stand. 

Don't knock the dots but don't treat them as being writ on tablets of stone!  A great deal of traditional music was composed , invented or merely thought up without any form of notation being written.  It was then passed down 'by ear'  &  this of curse has lead to many variations of basically the same tune.  With the passage of tiem somebody wrote down their personal interpretation of a traditional tune & any such written version is nothing more than that - it certainly is not 'the correct' version cos there simply isnt one. 

Use the dots to get the outline if you find it quicker or easier but them feel free to either play it as writ if you particularly like that version or to modify, embelish ,or even bugger it up to get it the way you wnat it to sound.  (the latter can be avoided by playing your version in front of particularly honest 'friends & inviting their honest comments !)

george
 


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Martin Duffy

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Re: Learning tunes - am I completely off?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2009, 06:05:49 PM »

With my violin I was trained classically, and I'll never forget when I first took my violin along to the morris & asked for the sheet music - blank faces all around!  The next week one of them came along & said they had some tunes written down from a few years ago, but lo & behold when I came to play them from the sheet they were playing them in different keys with variations!  Since then I've learnt to play by ear better, which has been a godsend, and will hopefully help with the melodeon.
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