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Author Topic: Getting to the next level of (in)competence  (Read 9079 times)

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Julian S

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Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« on: August 20, 2018, 11:53:06 AM »

Given that learning and improving skills doesn't go in a straight line - there are ruts,plateaus and set backs - it would be interesting to hear other players experience in perhaps making a big leap forward. Maybe particular tunes which in themselves have made a difference, changes in learning or practise routine - or inspirational teaching...
We might be covering old ground of course but I think this is a worthwhile discussion.

I've been to lots of workshops this year and it's time to think through what I've learned...and how to make the most of it all. One personal goal is to play more slowly so I might put a sticker on the top of my instrument with a suitable pithy reminder  ::) And if I can nail the Leveret tunes Rain on the Woodpile/Terminus I think that would be a great leap forward for me.

J
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nigelr

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2018, 12:29:33 PM »

I think I've told my tale here a few times, but I first picked up a box in late 2013 and by the following April was seriously hacked off with it.  I'd tried Mally's book and not made progress, did much better with Ed Rennie's book but was still frustrated.  In May 2014 I signed up for lessons with Mel Biggs and things started to motor from this point and whilst lessons are now less regular, I still check in with her if I'm attacking a particularly tricky tune.  She has made the rest possible.  The second leap forward was in late 2014 when I joined a local Morris side and was able to sit alongside players far better than me (Jimbo and DTN).  This has really helped, although I know I will never be up to their standard but some of it does rub off given enough time.  This season has been the first year I've led the band on a few dance outs, which has been a real confidence boost.  So, lessons and Morris for me.  N
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2018, 01:43:46 PM »

Having tangible (and a few intangible) goals for yourself and acknowledging your victories when you have them - that's what I've found rewarding. There will always be something new to learn, it's easy to miss the things you have made progress with.

I don't have as much time to practice as I would really like to, but I try to do 'homework' between them, where I guess I study and pull apart a tune I'm trying to learn. I either do this through messing around with ABC, or, I bought an iOS app for an iPad that I use quite a lot to (it seems it may be available on android, too). I figure things out sometimes with that - it's not perfect unfortunately as if you diverge from the layouts it presents there's no recourse to adjust it, but, it lets me easily remember when there are note duplicates or what I might be able to sub a chord I can't play with.

I watch quite a few of the more prevalent youtube melodeonists (such as Paul Young and Anahata) play, as well as a lot of X of the month performances, too, and pay as much attention to their choices regarding how to actually go about playing the tune as possible. I remember Banish Misfortune came up as a possible tune for TotM and although it lost out, it's probably my current 'this is a tune within my ability to play that I should learn', and there's a lot of ways to choose how to play it. That tune goal used to be The Carpathian Tune, then the Morpeth Rant, then Seven Stars, then the Morpeth rant again, When Daylight Shines/Dingle Regatta, the Bluebell Polka, William Taylors, The Origin of the World, Tripping Upstairs, The Serpent with Corners, Day Trip to Bangor, Danbury Hill, the Bluebell Polka again, A Night on the Gin/The Bed breaker... I know all that because I can see them as a list in my ABC file, and there's a few more on that list still - these aren't just tunes I have in there but are specifically ones I've messed with the arrangements for to work out how I want to be able to play them.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2018, 02:07:05 PM »

I suspect Julian and I are trying to learn the same tunes, as we both attended the same DG workshop recently.
My progress since the workshop has been slow due to 'life' things such as being knackered at the end of a long year; stupidly hot weather resulting in difficulties finding the time to prperly practice and then booked holiday without the box.

Now I am back in harness, I'm up againstk the ever present problem of when learning new tunes, the old ones become forgotten.
I find the balance between learning new but keeping old ones going the biggest obstacle whilst having to work so time is an issue.

I haven't progressed much with using a metronome, as recommended on our course, but have been aware of speed of tunes. My metronome app was used the other day and the results surprising.
The difference between whizzing through a tune and blasting through the difficult bits  (with variable results ) and slowing it down so those bits are played sounding each note was possibly 2 beats per minute.
Yes, I need to play at that slower speed to improve my playing.ŵ

I will stop there as I appear to be having problems editing this post using my normal iPad.
...but you get the idea!
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Gena Crisman

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2018, 02:19:05 PM »

I suspect Julian and I are trying to learn the same tunes, as we both attended the same DG workshop recently.

Would that be the tunes presented here: http://robertharbron.com/?p=270. If so, are you playing them transposed to a different key signature, or playing them as presented on the web here?
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2018, 02:30:00 PM »

Apologies.... Looks like the piskies bit into the iPad and played about......

Gena - Julian might be trying them, but these are not the ones at the workshop. We were given a great tune from Andy Cutting to learn, and a couple from Hazel Askew the main one being in 3/2 time that I'm just getting my head round.

The general points made to us was to slow down especially at sessions, and to use a metronome.
All 3 tutors were exceptionally gifted players and all said the thing that we all suffer from -speeding up over the tricky bits - they too suffered from doing it too. They all advised using a metronome to maintain a constant speed and *not* speed up over the tricky bits.
Andy described it like a plane taking off, you speed up over the tricky bits, come back to the normal part of a tune and lo and behold, you are playing fosters.
Having a liking for quirky tunes with odd accidental runs, I need to take this on board.
Q
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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: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2018, 02:34:22 PM »

Gena: not sure about Julian's approach, but if it was me tackling these, I'd put both into an abc file and see how they looked transposing it into D or G using abcexplorer ( my preferred one ) or easy abc.
That's my normal way round tunes in other keys.
I 'spec Julian will ve along soon to shed light on his approach
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Julian S

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2018, 03:01:54 PM »

I suspect Julian and I are trying to learn the same tunes, as we both attended the same DG workshop recently.


Would that be the tunes presented here: http://robertharbron.com/?p=270. If so, are you playing them transposed to a different key signature, or playing them as presented on the web here?

N
Yep - those are the tunes - slightly different from the dots helpfully provided in the Leveret 'Inventions' cd (highly recommended !!!!)
 Andy Cutting taught 'Rain' in a workshop at Halsway last year, transposed a tone up so I play it in Bm. I've also bumped up Terminus by a tone - means there is an Eb in bar 4 of part A and bars 2 and 4 of the B. As Q says, the challenge - apart from hitting the right notes of course - is not letting the tune run away. For me 'Rain' means I really have to concentrate on keeping the notes regular so the metronome is a great tool - and I gradually increase  tempo as fingers warm up.
Whether I'll ever be happy enough with the tunes to perform them is another matter !
Btw the other tune Q referred to is 'Lola Flexen'...wonderful...

J
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2018, 03:24:56 PM »

Thanks Julian for the heads-up.
Haven't really looked at those tunes but now will do as you say regarding transposing  and have a listen.

Yes Lola Flexen is a beautiful tune and I'm working on it!

Just had a relevant thought ( that's miraculous in itself  ;D )
Before I take a look at the tunes mentioned here, I need to finish what I'm doing.
I am currently brushing up a couple of 'nearly learnt' tunes, that I never quite hammer home, but leave...only to return a time later, re-visit, leave until next time etc.
It is a really bad habit, often brought on by someone posting a tune and it sounds good so off I go, easily distracted.
Focus on something!
Almost by way of contradiction - I realise some tunes are too difficult to just keep banging away at, and leads me to a rapidly diminishing return so I leave them, but *must * remember to return to them later. Another thing I don't always do.

I am but a simple human with failings......  ::)
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

nigelr

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2018, 04:39:22 PM »

Oh, and Julian Sutton's workshop at Witney in 2016 learning Way To Wylam... and, and, and ...  (:)
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Dick Rees

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2018, 05:21:23 PM »

...if I can nail the Leveret tunes Rain on the Woodpile/Terminus I think that would be a great leap forward for me.

J

Great tunes.  This is where I find "saturation listening" to be a great time saver in the long run.  I put the Leveret video on repeat play while going through my morning wake-up hours until I knew in my head and heart how it flowed.  When I got time to sit down with a box I had enough of a feel to stay on it while working out the mechanics.  An hour of listening meant 20 minutes on the box to get the layout.  Now it's filed away enough to just play until comfortable.

I'll return to the video and repeat the process to make sure I've not missed out anything and to soak up the ensemble sound, but it's basically done.  If I'd just sat down with the box in the first place I'd still not be much beyond square one.  As it is, I can enjoy the tune "in flow" while committing it to muscle memory.

I'll 'fess up that this is after several decades of playing, but time spent has taught the inestimable value of listen, listen, listen.

Good luck.
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Martin P

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2018, 07:23:04 PM »

Approaching this question from a different angle, my “problem” is that because I play for two Morris sides and I have limited practice time, I have to concentrate on perfecting the tunes I play for Morris so rarely have time to work on new tunes unless needed for a new dance. The plus side of this is that I get lots of practice at playing this limited repertoire. However, my challenge is that at home I can play these pieces wonderfully with fancy bass runs and ornaments, but at a dance out it all seems to get simplified, mainly because my memory is terrible. So is playing out for dancers a good thing or not? On the whole I would say a good thing, otherwise what is the point of playing Melodeon? I should point out that for Otter Border Morris we play a lot of hornpipes at full speed, so really good practice.
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Winston Smith

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2018, 07:29:13 PM »

"otherwise what is the point of playing Melodeon?"

That reads like if it's a bit sacrilegious! It's just for the shear pleasure of it, for me.
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george garside

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2018, 07:44:21 PM »

The brain can sometimes do 'magic' things with tunes that are proving difficult to get the hang of and possible get worse the more you try.  Stop trying  tp playparticular tune  that is proving problematic  and move on to something different .  Forget all together about the 'difficult' one  and its surprising how often weeks, months or sometimes even years later you can pick up the box and play the " problematic" tune you have put aside more or less perfectly. Its happened to me several times over the years and hopefully will continue so to do.

Perhaps its something to do with sometimes trying too hard!

george
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2018, 08:33:34 PM »

George, yes trying too hard is a perfect way to describe it.
Leaving it and returning to the tune later does work for me too.
I just gave to remember which tube I need to get back too  ;)
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!

Dick Rees

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2018, 09:35:07 PM »

I just gave to remember which tube I need to get back too  ;)
Cheers
Q

One word:

Playlist
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Martin P

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2018, 09:38:49 PM »

Mind you, as our dance out use gone was Beautiful Days Festival in Devon and we were competing against rock bands using Mega-Watt sound systems, just being able to play loud was main requirement. Horror of horrors we were using small portable amps. Sorry, bit of topic drift here, but when you can’t hear what you are playing, subtle playing is not possible. Worse for that are Morris Processions popular with event organisers but generally disliked by dancers and musicians.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2018, 10:14:11 PM »

Dick - I have playlists!!!
I also have a 'Tunes to learn' folder and those working on go there.
Despite this, there are still some tunes that somehow do not stick in my mind. It might not necessarily because they are difficult, they somehow take on a Teflon coat for my brain. They are non-stick  :D
It's these I keep going back to.

About Christmas time I went through tunes that I can play, or should be able to with a quick brush up.
I then converted all the times to abc format, ensuring the version found was the one I play, or tweaking it to reflect my version, and now have my personal repertoire. As it's an abc file, I am able to print them off so I have an A4 folder of the dots to refer to should I need it. I found this a really good thing to do.
After doing this I found my tunes were there in my fingers, but as said, an extended learning period means I need to get back to this list and brush them up again.
Bit like the Forth Bridge, you have to keep going back over the tunes to keep them up to snuff.
Q
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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: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2018, 10:23:17 PM »

George, yes trying too hard is a perfect way to describe it.
Leaving it and returning to the tune later does work for me too.
I just gave to remember which tube I need to get back too  ;)
Cheers
Q

I find that sometimes a tune I have given up on and completely forgotten ( consciously) about can suddenly  be sent down my arm from the depths of the brain  leaving me saying to myself ''that's a cracking tune - whats the bugger called!  .  so in those circumstances a play list would be of no value !

george ;)
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malcolmbebb

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Re: Getting to the next level of (in)competence
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2018, 10:28:45 PM »

Dick - I have playlists!!!
I also have a 'Tunes to learn' folder and those working on go there.
They get added faster than I can learn them  :(

Despite this, there are still some tunes that somehow do not stick in my mind. It might not necessarily because they are difficult, they somehow take on a Teflon coat for my brain. They are non-stick  :D
It's these I keep going back to.

Including some that I need for Morris that just will not stick. Leaving a gap then revisiting seem to help, but some are seriously long term. And even when I've learnt them they can slip out just as quickly.

And then I saw the dots for Harper's Frolic, heard many times but never attempted to play, and within an hour I could manage a pretty good stab at it.
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