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Author Topic: How long did it take you to feel like you "got somewhere" with the melodeon?  (Read 5673 times)

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Julian S

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And those wonderful 'lightbulb' moments when a tune finally comes together !
For me it was about a year before tunes really started to flow, and not long after that I felt confident enough to play in public (wonder how it sounded !)A year or so after that I was playing for a Morris side, and started playing with a dance band. I was certainly practicing at least an hour a day in the first year - lots of repetition. I don't know if I have mastered the instrument yet (- it's only been forty years) - and work used to get in the way !
Every day and every new tune I attempt brings new challenges - and hearing and watching the tunes shared on the forum confirm I still have lots to learn.
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george garside

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"Overall, in crude terms, forget the bloody written music - chuck it away (or at least close the book). Play by ear: just pick up your box, push and pull the bellows and waggle your fingers on the buttons to play the tunes of your choice, regardless of what actual pitch they sound in. Use the basic home row layout of your instrument to play tunes in the easiest, most comfortable fingering position."

Hurrah!

seconded! or should it be thirded!

george :||: :|glug
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Mike Carney

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It's supposed to take 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything!!  >:E Bob
At an hour a day that's 27.47 years. So, just 21.47 to go.  ;)
M
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Chris Ryall

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A good 6 months to get my initial tunes playing 'automatically' and it  was a year later that I was playing polkas with any sort of 'panache'.  I had tried concertina previously 

A lot of the issue is finding suitable repertoire, at the right sort of level. We could do with more tuition in melodeonism?
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george garside

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I think one of the 'keys' to reaching a reasonable standard as quickly as possible ( and quickly varies very much from person to person)  is to stick to a relatively small number of relatively simple tunes and to recycle them as vehicles for new or revisited bits of 'technique'.  For many the temptation is to 'learn a new tune'  in order to improve technique and  this immediately creates two obstacles to learning rather than one if recycling a tune you can already play after a fashion!

There are ?players out there who claim to be able to 'play' x number of tunes when in reality the can just about play the right notes in something like the right order with little or no regard to rhythm (right and left hand) dynamics and phrasing which to me are the absolutely essential ingredients of good playing.

It can also help in the early stages to stick to tunes that are more or less hummable or whistleable rather than trying to get the hang of two things - playing the instrument and playing the tune!

Just as an example of a list of simple tunes my tutor book only contains only 10 well known tunes 2 of which are recycled to bring in new techniques'
 
the tunes used are Oh dear what can the matter be, Blaydon races, keel row, black velvet band, water of tyne, harvest home, winster gallop, davy knickknack  + rattling bog and dawning of the day as a couple of spares at the end of the book. The book also contains reminders to go back to the beginning and  polish the earlier tunes up a bit!

george



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**DTN**

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Progress seems to go in 6 months chunks ... then you seem to hit a musical wall , playing and listening to the intricasies of what you can hear from better players and working out how to do it helps , as does going to a few good workshops and playing around better skilled musicians.
To get over the walls does not come with constant practice practice.. sometimes you have to walk away for a week or so and come back to it and then things make sense again.
Also i notice that mornings are great for progressing quicker rather than tired evenings which is useless when you work :-) 
I always set a "hard tune" to aim for as well as standard stuff and that hard tune might take months to get but was definitely the next reward of satisfaction of improvement.
I've said on here before that i didn't play any instrument until starting melodeon aged 33 and that's harder than playing from a very young age but it doesn't stop you getting to quite a reasonable standard, pitfalls along the way are the realisation that what you listen to sometime come from different layout of rows / basses and you need to learn to fudge notes a bit. some of "our" youtubes  are not instantly repeatable as we spend days getting them right before the recording captured them and then not playing them for a year or so makes them impossible again!  hehe!
But do keep moving forward its worth it! ... i worked out and learnt a new tune yesterday and going to play it again today! so the next challenge is on the way. i'm now 23 years on from when i started and i still think about tunes pretty much every day!  good luck and have fun!    Derek (DTN)
« Last Edit: February 25, 2017, 12:07:33 PM by **DTN** »
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All the gear and no idea! .... DTN   "Hampshire UK"

fc diato

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Best not to think about the 10,000 hours! Which it turns out is bunk anyways - thank goodness because the process is what should be fun.  As DTN says, seems to move in 6 month chunks – but faster at the beginning. At the beginning, "getting somewhere" (ie: not where you were before - as opposed to "playing as well as DTN" or some such) is almost weekly.

Several people have mentioned this, but I’d like to stress it.  Oddly, big jumps often happen after a break in playing (as little as three days, to several weeks …). Maybe someone can explain the psychological process, but it does seem that all that practice time benefits from decanting.
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fc diato

Corinto

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I think one of the 'keys' to reaching a reasonable standard as quickly as possible (and quickly varies very much from person to person)  is to stick to a relatively small number of relatively simple tunes and to recycle them as vehicles for new or revisited bits of 'technique'.

It can also help in the early stages to stick to tunes that are more or less hummable or whistleable rather than trying to get the hang of two things - playing the instrument and playing the tune!

george

Seconded!
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Carpe diem, C.

boxer

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First time around, forty years ago, and on D/G, I spent five years getting no further than learning four multi-tune sets to play for a NW morris team.  At the end of five years, and having had little time opportunity or guidance for practice, I was barely competent, but could play well enough for a good team to dance well to.  I gave up.

Second time around, fifteen years ago, now on B/C and still learning, I'm surer than ever that the ultimate "somewhere" I'm heading for is an ever-receding target.  After playing the B/C for a couple of years and doing a lot of practice, I'd got good enough to be asked to play in ceilidh bands.  When I think back to how I played then, I'm astounded that I was asked, although the results seemed good enough at the time.  I still play in bands and I still strive to improve.  There's lots I can't do.  I practice for fifteen or twenty hours a week.  Most pros do at least forty.

I suppose that, for me, the first big "somewhere" to get to is the point at which you can play a thirty two bar tune three times through, entirely from memory without any significant mistakes or breaks, and in front of an audience, in a place other than the one where you normally practice.   

The second "somehwere" is to do all of the above, but with a set of three or four tunes back-to-back, with all the expression and and however much or little ornamentation as you see fit or are able, and with enough lift and precision for people to be able to dance to. 

After that it's about expanding repertoire, developing advanced technique, and applying artistry and taste to the point at which "somewhere" is a good place for you personally to be.

Other people will have different milestones.  It doesn't really matter.  Set your own goals and remember, it's about the journey, not the destination.

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arty

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It is strange that having a break does seem to have improved things when you come back to it. I started a little less than 5 years ago now and I practiced every single night for at least an hour. Then, a few months ago, I made the decision to have one night off per week and every time I am surprised by my improvement when I go back to it.
As regards "how long does it take before you are any good?" - I don't think you should think like that. It is not a race and neither is it competitive. You should be enjoying the journey, each little sign of improvement, each little bit of technique that you get under your belt. That's where the fun is, because you will never arrive at a point where you are satisfied, there will always be something new to learn, new tunes, new techniques. It's the process of learning that is so good and satisfying. Some people will take a year to play a simple tune, others will be rattling off some difficult piece in no time.
Just love the instrument, love the learning process and above all....love the music. You'll be just fine! 
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Melissa Sinclair

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Thanks all - maybe I'm sounding I'm militant with myself, but I absolutely am not. This is about STRESS RELIEF!!!

Like, I didn't practice yesterday. I hope to today. And yes, little mini breaks do result in jumps as our brains learn new things. And yes, I am keeping to learning just a few tunes. I try to add one new thing a day, but then go back and run through the 3-4 tunes (all SHORT) that were introduced in the last 3 weeks.

And curious - when you all say play by ear - do you already know tunes that are commonly played on melodeon? Most of these tunes are all new to my ear. It would mean learning the tune first, then figuring out where on the box it all is, how to do the basses, and then somehow keep all that in my head.

To me... that sound infinitely more complicated and time consuming to learn when I already know how to read music. When I've memorized music before, it was through reading it and then memorizing it by muscle memory... but always having the music to refresh my memory if it slips out of memory.

Maybe this is all backwards for most learning and maybe I'll regret following music, but it's what I'm doing for now.
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playandteach

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One of the phrases that has never made sense to me (along with 'Cheap at half the price') is 'If I were you...' because, presumably if anyone were me, they'd do exactly as I do, otherwise they wouldn't be me. The best we can say is, 'in a similar position to where you find yourself, this is what worked for me'.
The advice not to use music is excellent. But it doesn't work for me - I can't even remember how pieces that I wrote myself go.
If I were you... I'd try a bunch of things advised here, and find your own way of enjoying the learning process.
There will be long plateaus along the way, but then steep curves. The better you get the further apart and shallower the curves get.
Good luck, keep at it.
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arty

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Maybe I shouldn't say this but I think there is a bit of musical snobbery going on here. Of course, being able to read music is a huge advantage and will speed up your learning process no end. Just as Play and Teach says, you must find what is right for you.

I have read this article many times and I have found it to be very good and helpful. It may help you too: http://www.creativitypost.com/arts/the_most_valuable_lesson_i_learned_from_playing_the_violin
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Gary Chapin

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It was about a year, for me.

I had a long term loan of a melodeon from a friend, and I was just noodling around on it for fun for about a year ... then I realized I was doing tunes. None of it felt like practice or work (the way playing the flute had, for me). It was must a good time, noodling around. That's how I knew this was the instrument for me.
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Melissa Sinclair

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Maybe I shouldn't say this but I think there is a bit of musical snobbery going on here. Of course, being able to read music is a huge advantage and will speed up your learning process no end. Just as Play and Teach says, you must find what is right for you.

I have read this article many times and I have found it to be very good and helpful. It may help you too: http://www.creativitypost.com/arts/the_most_valuable_lesson_i_learned_from_playing_the_violin

I found and read this article the other day and I realized I do not mindless practice... and I don't do it until my mind is numb. I actually like the way I'm doing it and it's been productive... yes, I have questions along the way, but no matter what way I learn, I would have questions!
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Melissa Sinclair

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One of the phrases that has never made sense to me (along with 'Cheap at half the price') is 'If I were you...' because, presumably if anyone were me, they'd do exactly as I do, otherwise they wouldn't be me. The best we can say is, 'in a similar position to where you find yourself, this is what worked for me'.
The advice not to use music is excellent. But it doesn't work for me - I can't even remember how pieces that I wrote myself go.
If I were you... I'd try a bunch of things advised here, and find your own way of enjoying the learning process.
There will be long plateaus along the way, but then steep curves. The better you get the further apart and shallower the curves get.
Good luck, keep at it.

I am completely envious of people who can keep tunes in their head and their fingers. And it's funny. I have tunes running through my head ALL THE TIME... Right now it's Beauty and the Beast's, "Be Our Guest" as the staff I work with are doing a parody of it for a variety show in 2 weeks. I can sing out the rhythm and some words and all the notes of the song - maybe missing a verse. I could slowly plunk out the melody on the piano by ear, but it would be ever so much easier to follow the tune in my head while following along with sheet music.

I don't have that gene that can do jazz, let loose, be confident in relying on my brain. I would LOVE IT if I could.

And I totally need help from beyond noodling around to untie my two hands.
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Plunking on my 1st box: Vintage burl Hohner in GC,  a lonely Hohner Liliput in CF, and a borrowed Streb to have a "silent Melodeon" and a melodeon of many keys!

Melissa Sinclair

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Progress seems to go in 6 months chunks ... then you seem to hit a musical wall , playing and listening to the intricasies of what you can hear from better players and working out how to do it helps , as does going to a few good workshops and playing around better skilled musicians.
To get over the walls does not come with constant practice practice.. sometimes you have to walk away for a week or so and come back to it and then things make sense again.
Also i notice that mornings are great for progressing quicker rather than tired evenings which is useless when you work :-) 
I always set a "hard tune" to aim for as well as standard stuff and that hard tune might take months to get but was definitely the next reward of satisfaction of improvement.
I've said on here before that i didn't play any instrument until starting melodeon aged 33 and that's harder than playing from a very young age but it doesn't stop you getting to quite a reasonable standard, pitfalls along the way are the realisation that what you listen to sometime come from different layout of rows / basses and you need to learn to fudge notes a bit. some of "our" youtubes  are not instantly repeatable as we spend days getting them right before the recording captured them and then not playing them for a year or so makes them impossible again!  hehe!
But do keep moving forward its worth it! ... i worked out and learnt a new tune yesterday and going to play it again today! so the next challenge is on the way. i'm now 23 years on from when i started and i still think about tunes pretty much every day!  good luck and have fun!    Derek (DTN)

Well, this is encouraging in a way... I'm ever so much older than 33 (I'm 47), but you were an adult learner coming to this - not a teen or early twenties, but a true adult... and you have a true gift for the feel of music- I know I won't ever get there...  but it heartens me to know that didn't come from learning to play at age 5. And I should get to being at least musical which is fine enough. I don't need to be masterful.
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Plunking on my 1st box: Vintage burl Hohner in GC,  a lonely Hohner Liliput in CF, and a borrowed Streb to have a "silent Melodeon" and a melodeon of many keys!

malcolmbebb

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A lot of melodeon players came to it later in life. You are a relative youngster. Take heart.
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I was well into my 70's Melissa, now very nearly 80 will never be great but enjoy playing no end....
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catty

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And curious - when you all say play by ear - do you already know tunes that are commonly played on melodeon? Most of these tunes are all new to my ear. It would mean learning the tune first, then figuring out where on the box it all is, how to do the basses, and then somehow keep all that in my head.



Can you hum a tune?  Mary had a little lamb?  Jingle bells?  Start with those.
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