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Author Topic: Best way to learn, teachers?  (Read 696 times)

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Chris Hurd

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Best way to learn, teachers?
« on: August 10, 2018, 08:57:48 PM »

Good evening friends, just starting out on the journey of learning to play the melodeon, I have a DG and am keen to play english tunes to start with, are there any contacts in the Bristol. South Gloucs, Gloucs areas, either to join groups or able to teach, or any tips on starting would be welcome. Many Thanks. Chris
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tom f

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #1 on: August 10, 2018, 09:37:44 PM »

Hi Chris,
If you look under 'links' on the left hand side of the home page you will see a section for 'Teachers'.  Alternatively if you go to Wesson Accordion Company under the 'shops/repairers' link and look at the free noticeboard you'll find some more tuition links there.  Mel Biggs also runs a distance learning tuition site.  Hope this helps.   Enjoy the journey!
Best wishes
Tom
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2018, 10:35:18 PM »

I have no doubt whatsoever that a good face to face teacher is the best way to start. Second best is a good online teacher, such as Mel Biggs. There isn't a good third best, really. Someone to check you out and make sure you're set up well is essential.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 10:38:08 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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MelonBox

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2018, 06:43:03 AM »

Hi Chris! Check out my Pick Up & Play with Mel Biggs: Let's Get Started online course. It has everything you need to get you playing your first tune confidently with both hands - and the best thing is it's all there ready and waiting for you when you sign up so you can work through it at your own pace. It's broken down into bite sized pieces so it can fit into even the busiest lifestyle!

Here's the link so you can read more about it: https://melbiggsmusic.co.uk/course/pick-up-play-lets-get-started/

I'm running a deal at the moment: 10% off your first month with code SUMMER10

If you've got any questions, drop me an email! puap@melbiggsmusic.co.uk

Many many thanks to those who've already mentioned my name. Every recommendation REALLY helps so keep spreading the word!

Hope to hear from you soon Chris!

Mel
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Geoff P.

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2018, 08:43:15 AM »

I have no doubt whatsoever that a good face to face teacher is the best way to start. Second best is a good online teacher, such as Mel Biggs. There isn't a good third best, really. Someone to check you out and make sure you're set up well is essential.


Yes, but to get you going, or supplement a one-to-one teacher, there is lots of stuff on you-tube. e.g. Daddy Long Les "Learning to play the Melodeon" Blog, and many others. Also, there are books available, e.g Melodeon Tutor by Ed Rennie. Or, like me learn from other melodeon players at sessions and workshops, but it will take a lot longer!
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heartshaped1

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2018, 08:49:37 AM »

Hi Chris, and welcome!

I entirely echo what’s been said so far, I started just over four years ago and for the first nine months sat at home with a book trying to learn. I did make progress but it was slow. I was fortunate enough to live in the same city as Steve Freereeder who very kindly offered lessons, and that’s when things really took off for me. He’s been fantastic not only in terms of encouraging and supporting the general direction my playing has headed in, but also offering other options and styles so my playing doesn’t become too ‘narrow’ if that makes sense. Unfortunately he is a bit far away for you, but someone similar would be a great help. I’ve not had a Skype lesson from Mel but have been in one of her sessions at Melodeons at  Wensleydale and she’s a superb teacher.

Last thing of note, I’ve found that some of the best players can be poor teachers and you don’t have to be the absolute best player to teach well, though I was very lucky to find the best of both with Steve.

Good luck on your melodeon journey, if you love it half as much as I have, it’ll be an absolute blast!

All the best,
Vicky.
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2018, 09:13:14 AM »

Oh!  :|bl
Thank you Vicky!
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george garside

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2018, 09:27:58 AM »

at the risk of indulging in a bit of 'thread drift'  I will , hopefully within the next 6 -8 weeks be moving from Anglesey to Southport  and will be able to offer friendly relaxed tuition  (one  row, DG and BC, BCC# , piano box and C sytem continental) in that and surrounding areas.

george

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Dick Rees

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2018, 04:05:39 PM »

The instrument is much easier to learn when you know the music.  Too often the instrument catches the blame when the reality is  the aspiring player is trying to learn both the instrument AND the tunes.
Even with a good teacher, things will fall into place better if you spend time LISTENING to the music and absorbing it.

I always say, "Listen until it's coming out your ears.  If it ain't coming out your ears, it ain't coming out your hands."

Good luck.  Enjoy the journey.
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Helena Handcart

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2018, 06:12:35 PM »

I have no doubt whatsoever that a good face to face teacher is the best way to start. Second best is a good online teacher, such as Mel Biggs. There isn't a good third best, really. Someone to check you out and make sure you're set up well is essential.

I'm not sure that's a helpful generalisation - that approach may work for you but people have different learning needs and learning styles which should be acknowledged. 

Personally I found Ed Rennie's tutor book to be an excellent starter. The beauty of Ed's system is in the colour and number coded notation which is designed to both get you started quickly and lead you to read music but also in the fact that the book includes a DVD alongside the usual CD and the DVD includes split-screen footage showing the left and right hands so you can both see and hear what your are supposed to be doing. 

For me, well the last thing I wanted was a teacher looking at what I was doing in the early months. As adults we are often not very good at not being very good at things - unlike children who approach new skills often without fear or embarrasment.  Frankly I would have been uncomfortable and embarrassed to have had a teacher (or even a member of my family) listening until I had at least figured out the basics for myself - and I now know from teaching Absolute Beginners at the original Melodeon Playgroup and from running a successful steady speedy session that I am not alone in feeling like this.

To the OP - hi Chris and welcome to the forum. You'll find pretty much everything you need here on melnet and there are many ways to begin your melodeon journey. If you are connected with a morris side then you'll probably already have a bunch of contacts. If you aren't then your local morris team is usually a good resource - go and see them, practice season is just around the corner and most sides are friendly and welcoming to apprentice musicians (although they will probably try and get you to dance).

Check out local teachers and definitely give Mel Biggs's website a look - I was her first Skype student longer ago that I care to recall and can recommend her lessons.  If you can, get along to the remaining summer festivals where you may even find beginners' workshops but will certainly find a range of tutor books. Music shops specialising in folkie stuff will also have the books - Hobgoblin have a Bristol branch I believe - should be some useful stuff there for you.  I can personally recommend Ed Rennie's 'Melodeon Tutor' book which got me off to a great start.  Also you may find a local 'steady speed' or BITS (beginners and improvers tune session) where you will be able to meet other learners and progress to joining in with a few tunes. If you are a Facebook user there is  a group with information about these.  In short, there are many ways to start or progress your melodeon journey - good luck in finding the right path for you  :|||:
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2018, 06:34:45 PM »

I have no doubt whatsoever that a good face to face teacher is the best way to start. Second best is a good online teacher, such as Mel Biggs. There isn't a good third best, really. Someone to check you out and make sure you're set up well is essential.

I'm not sure that's a helpful generalisation - that approach may work for you but people have different learning needs and learning styles which should be acknowledged. 

Personally I found Ed Rennie's tutor book to be an excellent starter.

There are, indeed, some excellent tutor books around and Eddie's is one of the best, I used them myself.

What I'm saying is that having a good tutor to get you started right makes an enormous difference. It wasn't until I went and had a few lessons with the lovely Pauline (aka Ganderbox, sometimes of this parish) that I actually got started properly. Only 4 or 5, but these made things so much easier.

She addressed things that no book could, because a book can't evaluate what you're doing and give you feedback.
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george garside

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2018, 07:39:21 PM »

The instrument is much easier to learn when you know the music.  Too often the instrument catches the blame when the reality is  the aspiring player is trying to learn both the instrument AND the tunes.
Even with a good teacher, things will fall into place better if you spend time LISTENING to the music and absorbing it.

I always say, "Listen until it's coming out your ears.  If it ain't coming out your ears, it ain't coming out your hands."

Good luck.  Enjoy the journey.

Spot on!. This applies particularly to those playing by ear/from memory but is also helpful to dot readers new to the box.  I teach people how to play the box and use tunes  as a vehicle to do this rather than teaching tunes from scratch in the early stages.  I always stick to tunes that the student can either hum or whistle which can include things implelike the saints go marching in  , daisy daily etc  ,Blaydon races etc etc

Once they have got the hang of the basics of box playing i.e playing tunes they can hum or whistle  other tunes can be explored but most have a very large repertoire of humable/whistlable tunes to keep us going for quite some time.

In many way learning to play the box and learning tunes are  separate but complimentary skills.

george
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2018, 12:35:30 AM »

George modestly didn't mention his excellent D/G Tutor, which I can thoroughly recommend. See the blurb below his post.

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2018, 10:01:17 AM »

I always stick to tunes that the student can either hum or whistle which can include things implelike the saints go marching in  , daisy daily etc  ,Blaydon races etc etc

I totally agree with the idea that the student should know the tune in their heads before attempting to get their fingers to play it but those tunes are exactly the kind of stuff I had no interest in playing and skipped over in search of 'proper', 'grown up' tunes.

These were tunes I played as a child, badly on various instruments so have an inevitable connection to childhood. As an adult learner I was already self-conscious enough without the added feeling of being sent back to childhood. I merrily skipped those tunes when learning the melodeon and now I've started on the anglo I am doing the same again - bypassing 'twinkle twinkle', 'oh susanna' and 'when the saints...' in a single turn of several pages  (:)

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Chris Hurd

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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2018, 01:05:39 PM »

Thanks to all for the tips and advice, much appreciated, starting from scratch its really important for me to get the foundations correct, would love to be able to read music as well, not sure which way round i should approach that, learning to read music first or the instrument...or a combination of the two...or the music reading evolves from the instrument playing over a period of time, it seems there are no teachers in my area which is a shame, however i am planning to visit some local folk establishments ( pubs ), hopefully to meet some good local players, Thanks again, I'm excited to challenge myself and ultimately ( hopefully ) to make music which puts a smile on peoples faces as it did when i first heard melodeon music !!
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2018, 01:36:06 PM »

...would love to be able to read music as well, not sure which way round i should approach that, learning to read music first or the instrument...or a combination of the two...or the music reading evolves from the instrument playing over a period of time...

This is what happened to me.  I originally started by notating tunes using the tutor book notation but soon learned to recognise notes without their alloted colours and numbers and moved away to just reading the notes in time. Also using abc notation helped me make this transition as abc is designed to both display the tune as a score and play the tune so it helps whether your learn from dots, by ear or like me using a combination of both. There are lots of abc resources on this forum if you want to look at this further.
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2018, 02:05:44 PM »

I think it's much better to learn to read music by 'hearing' the music in your head and then playing what you hear.
Apart from anything else, learning only to associate the position of a blob on the stave with a button/row/bellows direction combination means you have to start from scratch if you ever learn a new instrument (which includes singing at sight), or have to transpose something, or need to recognise a tune in print without actually playing it.
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2018, 04:19:51 PM »

I always stick to tunes that the student can either hum or whistle which can include things implelike the saints go marching in  , daisy daily etc  ,Blaydon races etc etc

I totally agree with the idea that the student should know the tune in their heads before attempting to get their fingers to play it but those tunes are exactly the kind of stuff I had no interest in playing and skipped over in search of 'proper', 'grown up' tunes.

These were tunes I played as a child, badly on various instruments so have an inevitable connection to childhood. As an adult learner I was already self-conscious enough without the added feeling of being sent back to childhood. I merrily skipped those tunes when learning the melodeon and now I've started on the anglo I am doing the same again - bypassing 'twinkle twinkle', 'oh susanna' and 'when the saints...' in a single turn of several pages  (:)

I agree that twinkle twinkle is not a tune or adults to start on  but when the saints is an adult tune that is easy for a beginner to get the hang of and swiftly getting the hang of a very easy tune  is important from the point of view of generating initial enthusiasm.   


  For; what its worth the tunes in my book are all fairly well known and humable by many would be players  which is important for the early stages of development  where interest is being kindled  and  feeling 'chuffed' is all important  - ''nothing suceeds like success''

The tunes are Oh dear what can the matter be ( a nice singly waltz), the Blaydon races (works well as a march, 2 step or jig), the keel row ( works well for border morris  and is a nice reel), The black velvet band ( another nice singy waltz that introduces using the E on the D row)  waters of tyne  ( a haunting slow air or song accompaniment introducing dynamics)  , Harvest Home ( a cracking  well known hornpipe that introduces some delicate bellwos work)  ,Winster Gallop ( because it is a very common session tune and a great reel and introduces phrasing),  Davy Nicknack ( only needs 6 different bars to play 16 bars therefore introducing the notion of looking carefully at repeated bars to make life easier!)  Winster gallop and oh dear what can the matter be are then revisited s vehiclesto develop decent 4\4 and 3/4bass rhythm. There are also a couple of 'spare' tunes Rattling Bgg and The dawning of the day included for students to have a go at.
.

george
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 04:54:30 PM by george garside »
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2018, 04:47:57 PM »

I always stick to tunes that the student can either hum or whistle which can include things implelike the saints go marching in  , daisy daily etc  ,Blaydon races etc etc

I totally agree with the idea that the student should know the tune in their heads before attempting to get their fingers to play it but those tunes are exactly the kind of stuff I had no interest in playing and skipped over in search of 'proper', 'grown up' tunes.

These were tunes I played as a child, badly on various instruments so have an inevitable connection to childhood. As an adult learner I was already self-conscious enough without the added feeling of being sent back to childhood. I merrily skipped those tunes when learning the melodeon and now I've started on the anglo I am doing the same again - bypassing 'twinkle twinkle', 'oh susanna' and 'when the saints...' in a single turn of several pages  (:)

I agree that twinkle twinkle is not a tune or adults to start on...

Sorry to disagree, but I do use Twinkle Little Star for my absolute beginners workshops at Whitby or Mendlesham. I've never come across anyone who doesn't know it, so no music-reading skills required. It's short, uses just three fingers and immediately establishes the push-pull feel of the melodeon RH. It's also easy to put a basic oom-pah bass-chord accompaniment, so I get the students using both hands together from a very early stage.

We might not spend too long on the tune - perhaps 40 minutes or so - and then move on to my second tune: Frere Jacques, which offers slightly more challenges. In my experience, in a workshop lasting perhaps an hour and a half, most people get the idea of Twinkle LS and Frere J enough to be able to play them both reasonably well, using both hands. We've even been known to play Frere J as a two-part round.

Having possibly never picked up a melodeon before, they usually go away with a real sense of achievement and ready to move on to something more substantial in the next workshop.
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Re: Best way to learn, teachers?
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2018, 08:08:43 PM »

   Harvest Home ( a cracking  well known hornpipe that introduces some delicate bellwos work) .

george

Sorry to  disagree with you on this one, George, but "Harvest Home" is definitely not a beginner's tune; aside from the dynamics and timing needed to get the right lilt in the tune, the pedal note and the oodles of triplets in the B music are way out of the reach of a beginner (and of a good many players with a few years under their belts, in my experience!  Present company excepted, of course).

Graham
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