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Author Topic: Performance Skills  (Read 19479 times)

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pikey

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #60 on: September 21, 2017, 12:45:37 PM »

The thing is that the top performers at Festivals these days virtually never get it wrong, at least not noticeably.  And it is mightily impressive.  If there are mental skills that they have acquired to allow them to achieve that, what on earth are they?

Mostly, they are young  :-\

That's no excuse! They need to understand that this is folk music and that it is an essential part of the genre to get things wrong on a regular basis. I've been playing like that for decades and I don't need some smart-arse youngsters coming along and playing without mistakes, as if that's the way you're supposed to do it. What is the world coming to?  :o

But Bob , if you play a C drone all the way through every tune in G or D , then it's much harder to make a mistake
 >:E
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #61 on: September 21, 2017, 04:31:50 PM »

The thing about being young is that you haven't had enough time for long experience.  Therefore, if they're getting it right and oldsters like me are not, they must have a secret of some sort.  Is it sheer focussed practice, or what?  Or maybe, and quite possibly, old players are just hopeless cases? 

Actually I don't really believe that things are hopeless, just yet, because I've noticed my reliability improving through much live performance, which tends to suggest that this focus may be the key.
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Stiamh

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #62 on: September 21, 2017, 04:59:24 PM »

Oldsters? I recently attended a concert of music of the sort I don't normally cross the road to hear (it was a benefit for an NGO that I support). Western swing, jazz standards, country and so on. The acoustic guitar virtuoso and the singer (no slouch on guitar himself) were both in their sixties and they played two sets of about an hour each, song after song after song, including requests (and thus presumably unrehearsed), truly sparkling musicianship, and not a mistake, hesitation, forgotten line or any kind of blip anywhere.

That's what they have been doing for a living for decades, of course. And I'd like to think that if I were a professional musician with decades of experience, I'd do the same. But I was still impressed.

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #63 on: September 21, 2017, 05:05:22 PM »

Greg - re: juggling skills.
A brilliant trick and yes worth thunderous applause.
I am NOT going to drop any of my boxes on my foot no matter how many mistakes I've made.
Just thought I'd point that out ::)
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #64 on: September 21, 2017, 06:08:34 PM »

they played two sets of about an hour each, song after song after song, including requests (and thus presumably unrehearsed), truly sparkling musicianship, and not a mistake, hesitation, forgotten line or any kind of blip anywhere.

If you went to any of the BBC proms concerts,  or indeed any other classical music concert,  you'd see and hear the same, of course.
The same with an evening at any decent jazz club. Or rock concert... or anything that isn't "folk".

The problem some people have is the inverted snobbery that seems to insist that folk music must be played by musicians without proper training or skill. And then when somebody who has done the necessary graft plays folk music, they wonder how it's possible...
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butimba

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #65 on: September 21, 2017, 06:38:05 PM »

Interesting discussion! From my own experience I think the things that help are:

1) Being really comfortable with the music so you can play it on automatic pilot when your mind inevitably starts wandering in the middle of a performance. (This comes down to focused practising and a lot of it.)

2) Having the right mindset that allows you to relax and enjoy the performance. I think part of this just comes down to practice: the more performing you do, the less scary it gets. But it’s also about just having confidence in what you’re doing and wanting to share it with other people. And being able to focus your attention on the music rather than the audience.

Also, from experience I’ve learnt you can get away with a surprising amount of fluffs as a performer and as long as you keep going, most of the audience don’t notice. So re Chris’ comment that top performers virtually never get it wrong: I bet they actually get it wrong a lot more than most people notice. Which I think is a heartening realisation.

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #66 on: September 21, 2017, 07:06:41 PM »

Greg - re: juggling skills.
A brilliant trick and yes worth thunderous applause.
I am NOT going to drop any of my boxes on my foot no matter how many mistakes I've made.
Just thought I'd point that out ::)
Q

Don't blame you.
Bet you think it's a good idea to pick up a tune, after you lost it a bit, without losing the beat.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #67 on: September 21, 2017, 07:10:47 PM »

On a less flippant note - there's no melodeon equivalent that I can think of.
It really dies come back to simply keep going!
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: Performance Skills
« Reply #68 on: September 21, 2017, 07:18:48 PM »

I suppose that when players fall over in mid-performance, there's two problems involved - the first and obvious one is that they have temporarily forgotten the necessary muscle memory.  But perhaps the second is that they don't know their instrument enough, theoretically, as say a classical violinist does, and therefore they don't have the immediate recovery skills which allow them a seamless continuation in performance to the next notes.  If this is the case, could it suggest that the traditional 'by ear' way of learning to play the button accordion/melodeon is a very bad one, because it avoids the discipline of learning the tune's structure?
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #69 on: September 21, 2017, 07:27:24 PM »

I suppose that when players fall over in mid-performance, there's two problems involved - the first and obvious one is that they have temporarily forgotten the necessary muscle memory.  But perhaps the second is that they don't know their instrument enough, theoretically, as say a classical violinist does, and therefore they don't have the immediate recovery skills which allow them a seamless continuation in performance to the next notes.  If this is the case, could it suggest that the traditional 'by ear' way of learning to play the button accordion/melodeon is a very bad one, because it avoids the discipline of learning the tune's structure?

I don't think that learning by ear particularly 'avoids the discipline of learning the tune's structure'. Someone who doesn't know the structure of a tune hasn't absorbed it thoroughly enough, regardless of whether they learned it by ear or from written music. It is only when the tune is completely internalised in the brain that the player can (a) seamlessly recover from errors and/or (b) play variations/improvise, as required. If you know the tune and your instrument well enough, the distinction between (a) and (b) becomes increasingly blurred.
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george garside

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #70 on: September 21, 2017, 07:57:29 PM »

I think that there is frequently too much emphasis on learning 'new' tunes  and not enough put on  rally trying to master the instrument  and its built in idiosyncrasies.  Like any other instrument this requires a high level of manual dexterity on treble, bass and bellows     which does not come from solely playing tunes. 

 manual dexterity is a prerequisite to complete command of the instrument  and greatly facilitates cockups the seemless uncocking of!

george
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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #71 on: September 21, 2017, 08:42:13 PM »

I think I fail in mid tune simply because the tune has gone from my head. Somehow I've snapped out of it.
It's not necessarily wondering which note to press, it's more 'how does it go?' in my head.
I think George's comments are sound. Not so much learning new tunes but really getting the old ones built in so they are part of you.
Something I need to do - *really* get them embedded in the brain.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

playandteach

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #72 on: September 21, 2017, 09:28:11 PM »

Of course I play from music, but that doesn't mean that I focus on it all the time. One of the biggest reasons for falling off a piece of music, assuming that it is not just that the technical requirements of the piece are at the edge of your playing skills, is the transition between auto pilot and aware playing. Auto pilot is good, but the awakening is a dangerous no-mans land of neither one thing or the other where the brain trips itself up - I guess they may even be different neural pathways or different sides of the brain needed.

One thing I used to tell people just starting out in the profession was that a small mistake is often the cause of a much bigger mistake, because your response to tripping up a bit can take more operating memory from your playing brain than it can really cope with.
Another habit to avoid is knowing that a technical passage is coming up, and in the mental tensing leading up to that passage we knock an easy phrase over.

Don't mess it up before you have to, is the sort of advice I give, so that you stay with the playing through the straightforward bits.
It is like actors forgetting lines - they are much less likely to forget lines if they are staying in character, really listening to the words from their fellow actors and responding as their character would, rather than switching off until they are the centre of attention again.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 09:57:35 PM by playandteach »
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AirTime

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #73 on: September 21, 2017, 09:55:12 PM »

Interesting discussion! From my own experience I think the things that help are:

1) Being really comfortable with the music so you can play it on automatic pilot when your mind inevitably starts wandering in the middle of a performance. (This comes down to focused practising and a lot of it.)

2) Having the right mindset that allows you to relax and enjoy the performance. I think part of this just comes down to practice: the more performing you do, the less scary it gets. But it’s also about just having confidence in what you’re doing and wanting to share it with other people. And being able to focus your attention on the music rather than the audience.

Also, from experience I’ve learnt you can get away with a surprising amount of fluffs as a performer and as long as you keep going, most of the audience don’t notice. So re Chris’ comment that top performers virtually never get it wrong: I bet they actually get it wrong a lot more than most people notice. Which I think is a heartening realisation.

I think this is right on the money!  I suspect "professional musicians" have practised their tunes more times than we might realize. I recently had lunch with one of the pre-eminent violin players in Canada. I asked him how he was able to play flawlessly on command ... he said "practice". Playing the tune often enough that it becomes completely ingrained, so that while playing one is very relaxed & confident & able to concentrate on flow & expression. It takes me a (very) long time to reach that point, but I can see how it works. One might consider (for example) how many times Andy Cutting has played "In Continental Mood" - I'm willing to bet it's been thousands of times.

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #74 on: September 21, 2017, 10:01:54 PM »

Thanks p&t, some things there make a lot of sense, especially transition from autopilot to awareness.
I certainly relate to that.
in fact your post has a lot of excellent points to consider.
Thank you!
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Thrupenny Bit

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

george garside

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #75 on: September 21, 2017, 10:56:49 PM »

one thing that I don't think has been mentioned in this thread ( unless I have missed it) is the importance of really listening to what you are playing rather than just depending on so called 'auto pilot' to sort everything out.  I think of it as a sort of 'feedback loop'  brain - arm -fingers -  box - ear - brain - arm- fingers -box -ear - brain etc etc. 

This entails listening not only to the notes but to how you are making the notes sound long/short/loud/ quiet etc. Phrasing - where to phrase rather than a continuous stream of notes.  In other words to add great dollops of 'musicality' to playing the notes (hopefully the right ones!) in the right order.

Some people have said that Sir Jimmy Shand never made a mistake in a tune but a more likely tale is the one that said something on the lines of   'if he made a mistake  in , say the A part of a tune he was careful to repeat the mistake each time the A part repeated so it would  sound like part of the tune!'  or something like that

george
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Anahata

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #76 on: September 22, 2017, 10:50:34 AM »

I suspect "professional musicians" have practised their tunes more times than we might realize.

Spot on!
I've read in several places that all it requires to reach professional standard on any instrument is 10,000 hours of practice.
However you carve it up, that's a LOT of time and work.
10 hours every day for 3 years, or 3 hours every day for 10 years, or 1 hour every day for 30 years...
How many of us even get within an order of magnitude of that?
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #77 on: September 22, 2017, 10:52:16 AM »

George, it is a difficult balancing act surely?
If you are listening intently to yourself, realise you've made a mistake then as p&t says it can escalate/deteriorate from a minor glitch into a 'oh no I'm messing up....' disaster.

I think that the balance between autopilot, where you're really relaxed, getting into the tune etc  and really listening to make sure you are 'getting it right'  is a knife edge.
I sometimes 'over-enjoy' a tune and get so carried away with it that I just snap out of the euphoria and enjoyment into a nothingness of notes ad blank mind!
Maybe? or am I off course here?
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #78 on: September 22, 2017, 10:55:08 AM »

Anahata.... I too have done the sums regarding practice time, taken a look at my birth certificate and got very depressed..... :(
As far as musicianship goes I'll have to settle for the 'just for enjoyment' category, which is fine really!
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Thrupenny Bit

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

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Re: Performance Skills
« Reply #79 on: September 22, 2017, 12:53:37 PM »

Last Wednesday evening, I had a conversation with young Mohsen Amini, the brilliant Concertina player from Glasgow. He told me that he practices 8 hours a day and when I expressed surprise, he said - "it's my job and I treat it as such".
Says it all really. It's about putting in the time. 

If you want to see what 8 hours a day gives you ........ https://youtu.be/Am38t3DZiU0
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