Over practising

Over practising

Is it possible to over practise? Does all playing have some value or is it better sometimes to just give it a rest? Each time I return from a break of a week or two, I come back with improved timing, phrasing everything. This makes me wonder about the pace of learning. There seems to be an absolute constant rate of improvement for me (slow) that won’t budge no matter what.

It also makes me wonder about the quality of the practise. I’ve read about practising playing it wrong, reinforcing poor technique and so on, and I am guilty sometimes of just grabbing the thing and plucking away unthinkingly because anything is better than nothing(?) Most of the time though, I choose a tune I like, have a quick listen to it by someone who can and then play it slowly- that’s my practise, I enjoy it and it works. Speed has yet to appear though, so tunes get stuck in their own place for long periods (as learner tune entities). Occasionally, I’m about to play a tune and think “no, leave that one alone you’ve killed it - let it decompose - learn it afresh somewhere down the road.”

Does anyone have similar experiences or thoughts on the subject

Re: Over practising

I think you’ve answered all your questions yourself very well there and I agree with them all.

To elaborate specifically on your point about giving it a rest: If you are consistently making the same mistakes or your timing is not great, you can end up spending a heck of a lot of your time listening to music where the timing is not great and is full of the same old mistakes. Your playing will always gravitate towards what you a listening too most, so, as you already know, go away and listen to music you like to listen to for a change and when you come back, you’ll sound more like the music you’ve been listening too.

Good thread

Posted .

Re: Over practising

yes, thanks, getting out of balance with the listening seems to be the thing- the brain just not knowing what it wants the fingers to do anymore.

Re: Over practising

The comment - llig leahcim
Has posted above - You should Read again - Its the about the most Important thing in learning Tune’s and Your Instrument —
” Listening ”

I would also advise Watching to What other musician’s do. ie,
Session’s, stage or if possible a good Youtube Video of the Player, / s you are Interested in ,,, Just watching { Not Playing With } Fiddler’s - Andy Dickson, Ben Lennon, And Gerry O’Connor ( Fiddle) - influenced me a great Deal in those Important Early year’s.. And as llig leahcim said —

< Your playing will always gravitate towards what you a listening too most, >

This Very True - and also I think Applies to Watching them too!

jim,,,

Re: Over practising

One of the most important points about improving one’s ability to play Irish music there, I agree entirely. If you become your own source for the music you play it becomes an entirely self-referential process.

This is one of the reasons people often notice a sharp step-up in ability when they’ve been to a really good festival, and had the opportunity to listen and play along with strong musicians for hours on end.

Something else to consider might be the quality and quantity of listening your doing. If you listen to traditional Irish music for a few hours a day you’ll absorb those rhythms a lot better than you will if you only listen to an album every few days. Likewise, if you attend three good sessions a week, you’ll be exposed to so much more good music that it will inevitably lead you, when you practise, to play more like the good musicians you are hearing and playing along to in the session.

There are some technical ways to examine your practising - the most obvious being that when you play through a tune, rather than hammer through the phrases that are out of shape, or ignore the fact that you don’t quite have the right interval in one small phrase, break it down and play it as slowly as you need to in order to work out exactly what it is you’re missing. Then once you’ve worked it out, got it in your head, then slowly in your fingers, bring it back up to speed and play it correctly ten times.

Also, if you are struggling with a certain part of a tune, or a particular ornament etc., it’s likely that you’ll play it incorrectly a number of times - and just like playing over the same phrase incorrectly, you will be learning and re-learning it incorrectly. If you play over the phrase or the ornament eight times, getting it wrong each time, then get it right on the ninth: stop. Don’t play it again until you’ve consciously registered that you have got it right (even if you have no idea how it happened). Allow yourself to register that it it’s possible and that you can do it, before you go back to playing it again (in case you end up playing it incorrectly a further twleve times before it comes out right again).

The other point that might be helpful is to register the difference it makes when you are ‘learning’ a tune rather than just ‘practising’ it. I personally find that an hour sat down learning the details of a tune that I have in my head (either from a recording or a session) is such an intense and concentrated form of playing, thinking, and learning that it is worth two or three hours of just ‘practising’. The danger of just playing through tunes is that you can go into auto-pilot and stop making the mental effort to realize the full potential of the tune. In one way, the effort of practising makes the tunes harder, rather than easier, to play, as you become more familiar with the tune and begin to understand the almost infinite variety with which it can be played.

Re: Over practising

practise picking combinations, go across three adjacent strings, in 3 different ways in quavers dduddudu, duuduudu, dduduudu, these are bluegrass picking rolls, 1.forward roll2 backward roll.3 forward reverse roll, this should improve your picking dexterity, it has certainly helped me.
alternatively use a method recommended by enda scahill for reels du for all quavers , and down for crotchets, so if you played a crotchet and two quavers it would be down down up.
extract problematical phrases and practise them slowly and seperately

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Hi Eosaph,

I generally only have one significant break from playing each year, when we go abroad on holiday for a couple of weeks. I’m always interested in the effect that has, and I make sure to record the first couple of practice sessions when I get back. What I notice is that my playing is freer, in two different ways, one negative, one positive. On the negative side, I notice that my playing is less "crisp", I tend to fluff things like rolls more easily. On the positive side, I feel a sort of expansiveness in my approach, it’s easier to take things in a different direction. I also notice that I remember tunes that I might not have played for a long while, another reason to record these practice sessions.

On another of your interesting points, I’m always a bit sad when I realise I have played a favourite tune to death.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I find that sometimes I don’t think I listen to myself playing, but listen to the version I would like to be playing, you know the version that’s floating around in your head, I find that recording myself is a great eye opener and from there I can really identify and work on the problem areas, obviously the listening process is key to having a version in your head in the first place.

Also slowing down the music to half speed and playing along exactly with a good solo recording on the same instrument is great for appreciating the timing and the finger speed you will as you bring the tune back to it’s proper tempo.

I’m reasonably inexperienced as playing goes, so these are just a few of my thoughts, that I will probably laugh at in 3 years time.

Re: Over practising

You’re absolutely right, Theirlandais: this is what we mean when we keep on about "listening". We mean actually paying attention to the sound that is coming into your ears, rather than what you imagine the sound is / should be. Aural illusions have been mentioned here before, and are as powerful as optical illusions.

Recording yourself is a great eye/ear-opener. Getting past the imagined sound to what is really coming from your instrument takes great concentration, but once you can do it, you can then set about improving. Everyone is brilliant, of course, on air guitar.

There is the added problem of listening to your fellow musicians at the same time, monitoring the overall sound, and modifying what you are doing. The human mind never ceases to amaze me in its ability to do all these things, and a little bit of direction seems to be all we can hope to achieve. Thankfully I have no idea what is going on in there — all I know is that it likes music.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Jim - I thought "Llig Leahcim" meant "read twice" anyway

Nice point about watching; had n’t considered it.


Dragut - "If you become your own source for the music you play it becomes an entirely self-referential process."
I’m afraid that has happened a bit lately and your advice on practising has reminded me of things I have let slip too. All taken on board esp "registering the correct way". As for learning new tunes, I ‘ve stopped for the meantime. I’ve learnt the order of notes of 60 tunes in this first year and they provide enough challenge and variety to be getting on with at the moment.

music reader - The problem is not so much technical deficiency, although it all needs improving, but as pointed out above, "knowing" what it is you are trying to play in the first place.

Bernie 29 - yes yes yes, expansive is the word, just back from holiday, finished a tune and my wife and myself were looking at each other with dumbfounded expressions -"how?" "where from?" . And it is interesting that it is quite a leap, well for me obviously, from that experience to - not listening.

Re: Over practising

I know it’s technology, But !
That Idea < Recording yourself is a great eye/ear-opener>
By : Theirlandais:
Dose what it say;s on the Tin - lol,, You will likely be you own
worsed critic,,, And youl Strive for better Tone, etc,
jim,,,

Re: Over practising

"The problem is not so much technical deficiency, although it all needs improving, but as pointed out above, "knowing" what it is you are trying to play in the first place."

Ironically, that’s exactly the problem with music reader’s playing

Posted .

Re: Over practising

….one of….Llig

It would help to know how long you’ve been playing Eòsaph, is it a year as in your last post? It’s a good thread topic. I still find a break now and again is helpful even after years of playing. I don’t believe a complete break is an advantage though, maybe just leave all the tunes you normally play for a week or two now and again. As the guys above have said listening loads is a huge help. There are ways of having a break and still practicing though. IMO one of the best ways is decide not to play any tunes you know for a week or two and learn some new ones. A lot of the tunes in the database here have youtubes in the comment section. Why not learn some of these? …..by ear of course, don’t be tempted by the dots or you’ll miss what the guys above have been talking about, the listening and picking up good stuff from better players. I learn tunes all the time from youtube, some of them stick others I lose interest in but they’ve all been good and enjoyable practise. Miles better than scales and exercises.

Re: Over practising

Have you heard Music Reader play?

Re: Over practising

He has put around 60 videos of his own playing up on youtube.

Re: Over practising

oops sorry PB.

Re: Over practising

Ah ok… thanx… I didn’t know who Music Reader was… carry on.

Re: Over practising

What sums it up more is that he took down the only Irish jig he had up there, The Blarney Pilgrim, as it got such a negative reaction and exposed him as a complete chancer who cannot even nearly back up his whacky ideas with his playing

Re: Over practising

It wouldn’t be a bad idea if people offering advice here had samples of their playing available in their profile.

Re: Over practising

If I leave off practicing a tune for a week, it nearly always disappears from my head. Likewise, I can practice it a thousand times and it still doesn’t lodge. Maybe I’m just not musical enough!

I’ve been told I think too much (placing emphasis on whether notes are right or wrong) while playing, rather than just playing the tune.

Re: Over practising

Thank God we don’t have to do that, Jack. No one wants to hear an example of my playing.

Some tunes stick. Others I have to work hard on for weeks to get it. Sometimes leaving a tune for a while helps. Sometimes it just leads to forgetting the tune and then relearning it.

Re: Over practising

@phantom, IMHO there is nothing worng with people posting opinions over what they believe works for them. But it should always be leavened with a dose of self knowlege. Nothing wrong with saying, I’ve been learning for a couple of years, and what has really helped me.. etc. Passing yourself off as an expert OTOH (sometimes on multiple different instruments) when you clearly aren’t borders on the dishonest.

(I mean this as a general point. It is certainly is in no way aimed at yourself, PB)

- chris

Re: Over practising

I guess I mean people who have really strong opinions. I understand that sharing information with fellow learners is different. Some people posting here speak with assumed authority; they are the ones that it might be nice to have examples of their playing available.

Re: Over practising

I stopped practicising between 1981 and 2009, what ever about over practicising, on thing for sure my music suffered from under practising.

Re: Over practising

I stopped spelling correctly in or around 1978

Re: Over practising

Yes bogman, been playing for one year- feels like longer - sounds like less. Gave up the scales quite a while back; they helped at the very start and then sent me to sleep. Youtubes from the database sounds like a good distraction from the usual.
@PB - I don’t think recordings in the profiles would speed up the current vetting process ; )

Re: Over practising

Dont think I ever spelled correctly now I am leaning French it gets worse. Having a french keybord doesnt help either.

( Theirlandais did you get my email ?)
How about pictures on the Profiles ?





I could put a picture of tooty on mine ,my own visage being too scarey

Re: Over practising

At a year in I think scales and exercises can help with some instruments, ones that require a lot of work on the tone and ornaments like flute, fiddle and pipes but I think tunes have all you need for technique in general.

Re: Over practising

This has been a very helpful thread for me, thanks for the original post and all who answered it.

Re: Over practising

I gave two bits of advice, one was from Enda Scahills tutor[he is an expert] and does play the banjo.
the OP is a banjo player, the second bit of advice was something I have found useful, at no point did I say I was an expert mandolin/ banjo player.
.I did not take down any video because of negative reaction.
I took it down because I felt I could now play the tune better, there was no negative reaction.
finally I have been subjected to harassment which has been reported to you tube.
on oct28 ,shortly after I posted on this forum, some person calling themselves dickmilesfan, posted the following abuse on my you tube channel
1," ur sh*t"
2.can’t be satisfied??

i’d be more than satisfied if my dick was miles long like yours .
3.ru feeling horny.
at the same time a member of this forum called woD,posted a thread about me which JEREMY has deleted, which was an attempt to ridicule me.
remarkable coincidences, and extremely unpleasant behaviour.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I know it can be boring like Scale’s, But I found arpeggios,
in different Key’s etc,, can be very helpful, esp- in ITM. As there are many Irish tune with arpeggios, of part’s of in them in the tune.
This could start a thread all on its own - lol.
Examples - Reel - The Green Gate’s ..
Works for me and the guy I am Teaching Fiddle to at the moment.
jim,,,

Re: Over practising

Blarney Pilgrim,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rQDndzLglU

as I have said, I have never claimed to be an expert, but just trying to help someone else, and relate that which I have found helpful myself.
I recommend Enda Scahills tutor, plus his picking instructions.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I sometimes struggle for hours to get the sound I want with a certain bit of a tune I might be learning, only to find that the following morning I can play it straight off.

Anyone else share that experience, or am I just strange ?

Regarding "losing" tunes you don’t practice, I think that, on the whole, its just because you did’nt know them well enough when you stopped practicing them. Any thoughts on that ?

Re: Over practising

ormepipes: I woke up one morning in 1984 (well around 12 noon as it happens) after wathcing the Los Angles Olympics all night and studying for my repeat maths exam having the answer to a complex double integral of a TAN to the -6 equation thingy, I tried running the 100m in 9.96 but that didn’t work..

I also didn’t play tennis between 1987 and 1992 , when I started back again in 1992 I was able to do a back hand top spin with no problem… weird stuff happens in the darkest recesses of one’s brain..

Re: Over practising

Random_humour -
Those are Good Thread’s - Kinda what I was getting at with the arpeggios, - Great Idea..

ormepipes
No you quite Normal - There’s so many thing’s can put you off you music - Emotion’s, No Coffee, Noise, Weather, Even pretty girls going past your window, Depending on your { sexual orientation } - lol… This man here- (see link,,) Put this in my head right from the very start —

http://www.onlinemusicschool.com/jimmckillop/jimmckillop.htm

And others day’s it’s so easy your saying to yourself..
” How the hell did I do that ! ”

jim,,,

Re: Over practising

Eosaph, that’s an important distinction you make between learning a tune and, as you so aptly put it, " I’ve learnt the order of notes of 60 tunes." Too many don’t see the difference. Good luck to you.

Re: Over practising

As a teacher and part-time athlete I know the research on this question…and the answer is clear: rest is as important as practise. Pracise minus rest equals problems; overpractise equals bigger problems. Most of the research applies to both brain stuff and physical stuff (and the two are oddly connected).

The ideal workout (for brain and body) practises something in a focused, way, then takes a break, then goes back to it. Breaks (short term) let muscles recover and let your rehydrate etc. For the brain, this is where one kind of memory (or skill) consolidation happens. Longer rests (sleep, or days away from the activity) help your brain do the longer-term consolidation that is necessary to mastering a skill. Also feedback is crucial: any athlete,w riter etc needs people other than themselves to watch them and provide another point of view.

From what I have read (and my experiences with climbing and music) I would suggest the following:

— at least two days a week (for me) should be without Irish music practise.
— practise one tune (or one section of a tune) for 3-15 min or so, then take 5 mi-10 min off. Return, do another tune, rest, back to first tune.
— if you aren’t taking lessons, play sometimes with 1-2 other people and ask for feedback…or tape yourself, and give it a listen a day ro two later. We always think we sound awesome while playing; but the recorder never lies ;-0

Re: Over practising

chris stolz -
I like everything your saying here- and something’s I, should take on board — And you could not be more right { Giving the technology there is now ! } when you say -

< We always think we sound awesome while playing; but the recorder never lies >

jim,,,

Re: Over practising

My first reaction to the the OP were: Similar experiences - yes; Thoughts - more about the breaks on the timescale chris stolz. suggested. Usually at the shorter end of the times.

Work over a troublesome tune fragment for no more than 2 or 3 minutes, take a break thinking about something non-taxing (or daydream, or read few posts here) for a couple of minutes then try the whole tune or one of the parts. I wonder if that couple of minutes is ‘processing time’ or ‘recovery time’. At the longer end of the scale, 15 minutes say, when working over a whole tune or two. Thats thought & experience not a recommendation.

I have doubts as to whether it is optimal but often I will want to work at a new tune obsessively for several practice periods, then either feel to needs to be left lie for a while or have that happen anyway due to a break in routine.

Re: Over practising

Forgot to say - a load of useful stuff above thanks.

Re: Over practising

I think the value of recording yourself needs a little more examination. It’s been a bit simplistic so far.

It goes back to listening, and specifically listening to one’s self playing. The very very first thing you have to be doing when are learning to play music is to learn to listen to yourself as you play. To be able to listen to yourself accurately enough so that you can hear in the finest detail every single thing you are doing. And that means being able to discriminate, in real time, every time you are succeeding in creating the sound you want and every time you are falling short of the sound you are after.

So when you first start out, by all means record your self and see where your recollection of your playing differs from your hearing of the recording.

Keep recording yourself and comparing your memory of what you recorded with listening to the recording until, and this is the important bit, the recording gives you no surprises.

If you get further down the line of learning and maybe get a bit better (let alone, for heaven’s cake, thinking you might be awesome), and a recording of yourself is still giving you information that you are missing when you are actually playing, then the most important thing this is telling you is that you are unable to hear yourself when you play.

It is absolutely vital that you get to a stage as soon as possible, no matter what your actual ability at playing music, where a recording can tell you nothing that you don’t already know.

If you are not at this stage yet, drop everything else until til you are.

And when you are, you’ll never need to record yourself again. And your improvements in your playing will come exponentially faster as you’ll be adjusting your playing in real time. (And if you ever get good enough warrant to a proper recording studio, you’ll save yourself a fortune in time.)

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Two valuable pieces of advice I got along the way.
First is from Joanie Madden, who said to learn every note of the tune, and appropriate ornaments in appropriate places, when you learn the tune, instead of a stripped down version. In my eagerness to play tunes at sessions as soon as possible, I didn’t listen at first.
Second is from guitarist Matt Heaton, who said don’t practice mistakes. He said the way to learn to play a tune fast is to play it slow, even painfully slow, but until you can play it without any mistakes or fluffing notes or guessing, because if you do that when you are playing slowly, you will never be able to get the tune up to speed well.

Re: Over practising

That is a fairly spectacular piece of advice there, Michael. Hearing yourself accurately is so important.

There is such a thing as over-practicing, but only when you’re up to many hours a day. There is a neat little box at the bottom of this article with Perlman’s thoughts on practice. Hard to imagine being better at an instrument than he is!
http://www.stringsmagazine.com/issues/Strings121/coverstory.html A friend of mine quoted Perlman in his touring days as saying "If I miss a day, I know it; if I miss two days, the world knows it." I cant find a source for that quote but I like the sentiment. There are certainly such things as practicing wrong and counter-productive practicing and I imagine that’s more the issue.

Re: Over practising

not sure if ‘pratice makes perfect’

i prefer to think that maybe ‘perfect makes pratice’ which dosn’t (or does it?) work logically but who knows …

i know one thing though, i love my mum, and she thinks i’m already there, so praticing aside, i don’t care …

(and i don’t do it anyway)

Re: Over practising

I set goals (sometimes) for practice. "learn tune by this afternoon, in two days, tune will be up to speed with ornaments. If I don’t succeed, that’s OK but it’s the fact that you’re working towards something that makes the difference between ‘impactful’ practice and just Fing around with an instrument. Also choosing only tunes that you enjoy and want to play well helps you focus. I don’t think you can practice ‘too much’ if it’s good practice. Practice is play and if you enjoy what you’re playing there’s no way you can ‘over’ do it to your detriment. Is there a teacher near you that could give you lessons on a semi regular basis?

Re: Over practising

ElaineT — I like this !

"If I miss a day, I know it; if I miss two days, the world knows it."

In ITM it may not be just so stricked - but say, the same thing would be- 2 or 3 day’s,, — But the Bottom Line of this quoted of Perlman’s ,,, ” Is exactly true ” —
jim,,,

Re: Over practising

What a response. Valuable advice and greatly appreciated; and I’m sure I’m not alone. For a beginner a thread like this is invaluable. Thanks.

Re: Over practising

Shanty, your post suggests that you are ‘learning the tune’ then adding the ornaments at a later stage. It reminds me a little of a poster who said that they learned the ‘bare bones’ of the tune then ‘made it sound Irish’ after they’d learned it.

I hope you don’t take offense, but I imagine that there might be a serious disconnect between your listening and learning practices. The ornamentation is so fundamental to this music, so integral to each tune, that it needs to be an integral part of your playing - an integral part of your learning process. It should be a lot more difficult to play without ornamentation than it should be to ‘add it in’ at a later stage. If playing a tune (if it can be called that) without ornamentation isn’t a real challenge to you, then it might be the case that you’re compartmentalizing the different aspects of the music - separating the tunes and the ornamentation when no such separation can really exist.

I’m not trying to put you down - I’ve never heard you play to my knowledge - I just think it’s important for any musician to train themselves to hear ornamentation as an integral aspect of the music, and to train themselves to play the basic ornaments so fluently that they don’t register as ‘things to do’ - rather that they become ‘things that are’.

Re: Over practising

I am not sure I fully agree with that although if we’d compare notes we probably find we’re thinking along the same lines.

Over the past ten years or so I have found myself stripping down tunes. I agree ornamentation is part and parcel of Irish music and should be at the tip of of your fingers. it is the structure you put on your music, how you phrase it however that defines it. Ornamentation and everything else is there to serve that purpose, to make this bit shine here or to contrast that bit there. It’s not something you drop in, it’s something you use with a purpose.

I have spent years playing with very lovely players who barely used ornamentation but who had a minute understanding of what it is that makes Irish dance music tick. And it would be hard to find finer music than what they had.

i think learning to play, that (understanding rhythm, phrasing and structure) what you should concentrate on, everything else is built on that foundation. I am sure we could all think up a few examples of people trying to play this music without understanding that. They have nothing.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Dragut Reis—Certainly did NOT mean to imply that! I Learn the tune (by ear, can’t read music well anyway). The crunchies can’t be ignored in this way. But if I’m learning something that Gerry O’Connor does on banjo I will not be able to play it at speed for a few days. And after I can play it at speed with ornaments there’s a lifetime left to get the subtleties, smoothness and to ‘own’ the tune.

Re: Over practising

Dick Miles STOP Emailing me! I am NOT Intersted in anything you may have to say. Go away.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

"I have spent years playing with very lovely players who barely used ornamentation but who had a minute understanding of what it is that makes Irish dance music tick. And it would be hard to find finer music than what they had.

i think learning to play, that (understanding rhythm, phrasing and structure) what you should concentrate on, everything else is built on that foundation. I am sure we could all think up a few examples of people trying to play this music without understanding that. They have nothing. "
a subjective opinion, who are any of us to say[hypothetically], that Sean Maguire, Martin Hayes, have something and that Tommy Peoples or Denis Murphy dont.
some people make good music with very little ornamentation, some people make good music with a lot of ornamentation,some people believe in practising tunes without ornamentation ,some people believe in using the method Dragut Reis,suggests, both work for different people

Posted .

Re: Over practising

What I was saying was not about little ornamentation, it was about the foundation of rhythm and phrasing, which all players you mention have. If you don’t have that you have nothing to build on. I think I was clear about that. The people I alluded to, particularly Micho Russell and Kitty Hayes, had a very solid foundation and didn’t need any great amount of ornamentation to make their music work, just because they had such minute understanding of the rhythms and structures underlying dance music. If you skip that layer, or fail to understand it, then you have nothing. And that holds true for everybody.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I can only tell you how I do it - and that it works fine !

I dont learn by ear, I learn from dots - which by definition are sparse on ornamentation. I learn this way because I find it easier for me. I check my timing and structure by listening to others - UTube usually, and at the same time, listen to the ornaments and variations that they deploy. Sometimes I like it and copy it, sometimes I don’t.

I then "dress" the tune with the ornaments and articulation - a bit like decorating a Christmas tree. Then I throw all the instructions away and practice like mad until I’m satisfied with the sound I’m creating.

It might be a backwards way of doing it, but it works for me.

Re: Over practising

I still learn tunes unornamented, but then while I am still playing them slowly, I am starting to try out different ornaments in different spots, and often different ornaments in the same spot, so I am not repeating the same thing over and over. I think the key is not to speed up too fast in practice.
And regarding over practicing, sometimes it is good to take a break of perhaps a week. Over the past couple of months, however, I have been very busy and only played at the session about once a week, and I can feel the loss of control, especially on the accordion, which I find much less forgiving than my tin whistle.

Re: Over practising

Early on when learning a tune I gather up what recordings I can find and, for those were ‘a lot is going on’ like the Comhaltas session CDs or recordings of actual sessions, I clamp some headphones on and try to concentrate on each instrument in turn. What they have in common (well, usually) is what the Prof says "rhythm, phrasing and structure" but often *not* the twiddly bits. Off topic though ?

Re: Over practising

phrasing;
all diatonic instruments are limited when it comes to phrasing,when playing in d and g , the dg accordion is less limited than the bc, or c#d, there are more notes available for cross rowing on the dg which are in the opposite direction .
the CG Anglo concertina , will have limited phrasing which is dictated by having certain notes not available in different directions.
Kitty Hayes would be forced to use different phrasing when playing in C major, than if she had ever played in b flat major on a cg box[which as far as I know she didnt].
if a player plays in g, straight up the g row, the phrasing will be different from playing in g using the c row, if a player plays in d the phrasing will be different on a cg box than if it was played on a dg.
so phrasing on anglo concertinas and button accordions, is to some extent enforced, there are sometimes no options to do anything different, yet many people would say that this is how irish music should sound[ is this because they have become accustomed to it], I cant agree, it is IMO just the best they can do under the circumstances.
On the violin , the phrasing is not limited, it is entirely up to the skill of the player, the violin is the instrument[imo] that has no limitations when it comes to phrasing.
the bow[imo] is a superior tool when it comes to direction changes than even a plectrum.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Michael, your advice about recording oneself is some of the best advice I have read on the session.org

Posted by .

Re: Ornamentation

@Prof. P (I haven’t read the intervening posts properly, sorry if what I’m about to write was mentioned…)

Exactly. What I meant was more about having the technical ability to make the choices about ornamentation that you describe above.

Re: Over practising

The term *ornament* brings with it a catch-22 conundrum.

Posted by .

Re: Ornamentation

@Shanty

Didn’t mean any harm, just misunderstood your approach. Playing more with the tune as you become more comfortable with it isn’t what I meant.

Re: Over practising

I think the christams tree analogy is dreadful. It makes the tunes should like they are pristine trees existing in a pure natural state. Until they get cut down and brought inside and smothered in ornaments. This is absolutely totally wrong.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I assumed it was referring christmas songs.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Did I say it was’nt an artificial tree? - nope, as usual, you just thought the worst.

Do you have just a bare twig in your dining room at Christmas? - or is the object in you playing to sound like a twig or the festive tree?

At the end of the day, you can think what you like - but I believe thay most will have understood what I was talking about in terms of defining my approach. Like I said - it works for me - it does’nt have to work for you. But please don’t rubbish it, because it may work for others.

Re: Over practising

Hmmm the typing is going down hill again, sorry

Re: Over practising

ormepipes, it seems you are using ornamentation the way it has been applied in classical training ~ embellishment notes added to the melody. There is a very different concept of articulation, but which is often simply called ornamentation. The two are different approaches to playing. That’s what I was alluding to further up the thread.

Posted by .

~

Re: articulation
"Which, for me anyway, gets to the heart of this whole debate. Irish trad musicians favor articulations that enhance pulse and create a sense of rhythmic lift (and also suspense or surprise). The articulations are peculiar to each instrument, and they’ve developed to suit the music (so that an Irish roll, for example, is different than a classical mordant)."
May 2nd 2008 by Will Harmon
https://thesession.org/discussions/17606#comment366693



"But yes, a lot of Irish music’s articulation is about how to put rhythm into a continuos tone. Both by Interrupting the continuous tone with very very precisely placed blips and squeaks and by letting the tone flow uninterrupted to accentuate where you do interrupt it."
May 2nd 2008 by llig leahcim
https://thesession.org/discussions/17606#comment366705

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Can I play too random -;)
"In Irish music, we don’t do that. We don’t hang tinsel on a note. What we do is accentuate the rhythmic pulse by varying how we articulate (enunciate, start-carry-and-end) beats (and the notes that play those beats)."
# Posted on September 29th 2010 by Will Harmon
https://thesession.org/discussions/25651#comment539331

Re: Over practising

Back on topic, I’ve had enough of fast stuff for today, off to practice some waltzes and marches for a change.

We get an extra hour for playing tunes tommorow. Why not turn up for a session 5 minutes early and see whos already been there for an hour 🙂

Re: Over posting

Cheers, David.
Gulp … you caught me mid glottis.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Random,

Nope, I don’t do that. Looks like I need to explain more clearly. Just because I read dots better than picking up stuff by ear does not mean I have any classical training whatsoever. I don’t have any understanding or knowledge of classical ornamentation so therefore could’nt use it if I wanted to.

The ornaments I refer to are those solely within the canon of ITM which are both given in the tutors and heard in the playing of others.

In fairness I think you missed my last sentence - which is just as important (to me) as the rest of what I said. Here it is again.

"Then I throw all the instructions away and practice like mad until I’m satisfied with the sound I’m creating."

I am actually in full agreement that it is the final sound that matters - just saying that I perhaps have a different way of getting to it. It does’nt mean that what I do is wrong.

There can be more than one approach to learning this stuff you know, and the same methods will not work for everyone. Like I said - twice - it works for me. There is therefore perhaps the smallest possibility that discussing it will benefit others.

I thought that sharing knowledge was what this forum was about. Perhaps I was being naieve.

Re: Over practising

So, the concept of articulation works with what you’re ending up with, ormepipes?

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Random,

I firmly believe that it does.

To be fair, you would have to hear me. So far I have’nt posted anything anywhere. There are 2 reasons for this.

1/ I’ve been out of "the music" for about 18 years and don’t want to do anything until I’m ready.

2/ I don’t, as is stands, have the hardware to do it.

After 6 months of fairly intensive practice, I’m beginning to think I’m about ready though.

Re: Over practising

You’re ready as soon as you play with one other person.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Doing that already! - but only in private so far !

And before the rest of you start, its another "he" and I’m not that way inclined !

Re: Over practising

ormepipes, you that you don’t learn by ear, you learn from dots … because you find it easier. And then you "dress" the tune with stuff you hear.

The problem I have with this concept is straight forward. The information in the dots is a very small proportion of what the music is, but those particular bits of information are the easiest bits to get by ear. What you are saying is that you want the dots for the easy bit, but for all the other bits, the subtleties, the percussive little twiddley bits, the phrasing, the real gist of it, you have no problem learning by ear.

So there’s a tune that goes from a D to B. You can play a languid roll to there, or a snappy little flick with a little gap for a breath, or a double stop, or a fast roll followed by a breath, or just one long languid note followed by the next note a little behind the beat or play it straight as part of a little accent that rhythmically mirrors the phrase before, or a …. the list goes on and on and it changes every time.

You are saying can get all of this stuff all the subtlety, but you need help from a transcription to get the D to B bit?

Can you see where the distrust in this approach comes from?

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I learn in a way similar to ormepipes.
I do get quite a bit from my ears, but not everything I need, not easily. If I could kidnap my friends from the pub, bring them home and force them to play the tune over and over and over at various speeds while I play along, and play those four bars or whatever I am having trouble with half a zillion times, I would not feel the dots were as useful as they are. Hearing a tune once a week is not enough to help me learn it. And myself, I am not so good with recording devices, I am old fashioned that way. So like ormepipes, I use dots to help.
And I experiment with all those articulations and ornaments at home, trying different things in different places. And then I play the tune at the pub, and for a few weeks it sounds a bit ragged as I get it to mesh with the way the group plays it. And I bring out all those articulations or ornaments I tried at home, and see how they work or pick up new ones, or the slight variations you hear in tunes when they are in the hands of different people. It can take me months of playing the tune in the pub to feel like I have really learned it.
I wish the process was easier for me, but this is what works. And when I say learned, I mean I have made a close friend of the tune. Not just a casual acquaintance, that I fluff through while others lead it.

Re: Over practising

There is an old fashioned recording device. It’s singing the tune. One at a time.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Hi llig,

One thing I didn’t make clear - and nothing to do with your question!

I am also aware that there is a big difference between knowing a tune well enought to "busk along with it" and actually KNOWING a tune. What I am talking about is the process I adopt to achieve the latter.

And now to answer your question.

Yes - I need the dots for the bit that you think is easy. Its nigh on impossible for me!!

I don’t necessarily have to learn a tune well enough to have it 100% burnt into the memory banks before I add the "twiddles". Thats a process that speeds up as you get more profficient. Sometimes the "twiddles" screem at you from the music even though they are’nt written into it.

This is going to be a long reply - to be thorough. The last part of "TheGold Ring" - as written on the tunes section in here.

I can see how its written, and I can see how to play it. 1st bar tells me triplet then roll, 2nd bar tells me the same. Next 2 bars are as written. Next 2 bars tell me triplet then cran. Last note of the tune, being dotted, is a possible roll – but I choose not to play it that way. Once I’ve listened to others to confirm that it fits and works I’m away.

Next stage of actually learning the piece and “burning it in” is done by listening to myself. I occasionally have to refer to the dots to make sure I’m on track until I can manage without them. Whilst I’m doing this, the articulation (tongue, cut, tap, slide etc) just falls into place.

Sometimes my fingers have a life of their own and I have to whip them into shape by practicing the same bit over and over to get the fingering pattern to work but that’s more a “familiarity with the instrument” thing than a tune learning thing. I get this when I come across sections of tunes that ask me to play sequences of notes that are substantially different to any that I already know. As you get to know a larger number of tunes this gets loads easier over time, but it happened to me on a hornpipe quite recently. It does’nt fox me on ornamentation because I used to play scales of rolls etc. Those finger patterns are already ingrained so I can rapidly deploy them on any note I choose.

Once I actually know a tune properly, it will still continue to evolve as I try different things out with it. You get to a version you are happy with but there is always more you can do. I would (very immodestly!!) describe that as being completely unlike an artist who knows that that one was the last brush stroke. There are no “last brush strokes” with the tunes.

Re: Over practising

Al,

My reply was so long it crossed with yours! - BUT - we sing from the same humn sheet brother !

Re: Over practising

That sounds like overpracticing. Find a session. You won’t know what it’s like til you do that. It’s the fun part.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

typing going down hill again! read Hymn for humn - see I even ornament words!

Re: Over practising

Yep, ormepipes, our practice methods have a lot in common. And random, thanks for looping us back to the original topic of the thread again!!!

Re: Over practising

Random,

Your right - but you have to start somewhere! You can’t beat playing with others. I however want to be rock steady and , more importantly, want to feel confident before I inflict myself on the waiting world again.

Re: Over practising

I inflict my mates on a weekly basis & they inflict me right back. It’s been going on for years.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Al,

The burning question is can we convince llig that it works? I’m sure I would indeed be "over practicing" if I tried to learn 100% by ear.

Re: Over practising

I’m going home, cheers. llig is always saying the sheet music gives you a limited bit of information, mainly the bits you can pick up by ear. IMHO, he is spot on.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

I usually use dots in 2 ways: either as a supplement to the aural version I am referencing, or if that isn’t available, I compare different versions and try to assemble what I remember hearing. If I only have one version—I try to adapt that to what I remember hearing combined with whatever understanding I have of the music, but this is dangerous territory… not having an aural source and relying on dots alone is like tightrope walking without a net. Someday I hope I am capable to interpret dots satisfactorily, if that’s all I have to refer to, but I try not to go-it-alone if I can avoid it.

Re: Over practising

"What you are saying is that you want the dots for the easy bit, but for all the other bits, the subtleties, the percussive little twiddley bits, the phrasing, the real gist of it, you have no problem learning by ear. " (llig). I’m not sure he is saying that.

Personally I wouldn’t go that far but the reason I like this music from listening to players who, understand "the gist of it" in the Prof’s terms - "rhythm, phrasing and structure". I am beginning to understand bits of it but I *recognise* it well enough to know it is not in the dots.

Getting the melody notes in the right order is not "the easy part" if you can’t do it well, it is an obstacle to getting on with the bits that you can make progress on.

For me the killer argument is the essential need to pick up what better players are doing and adapt to it on the fly on work it out afterwards. But I see is no reason not to do things like PB or learn from better players who have AlBrown’s approach.

(sh*t, thats ten minutes of the extra hour gone already)

Re: Over practising

In the days of the old silent movies, my granny used to be a cinema pianist. She could play anything after hearing it just once and you could put any piece of sheet music in front of her and she would play it straight off.

I’m deeply envious of that skill set. Maybe one day……………

Re: Over practising

Just an aside… how does an artist know which is the last brush stroke?

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

That analogy (artist/last brush stroke) applies, I suppose, to making a CD or other recording. But, in terms of development as a musician, it has no bearing. Like in business, as a musician, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling back. And that, IMO, applies to every tune in your arsenal. (With apols to West Ham supporters.)

Re: Over practising

I gave up using dots a while ago. It made sense to me but it took a while to be convinced; I’m self taught in reading music and was very reluctant to drop it after all the effort taken to learn it. The advice here has made me more certain of the no dots route though. My main underlying gripe in the original post was of the tunes not going anywhere and this I’m certain is due to not listening enough. So if you are not listening at the very beginning, if you’ve dropped the actual tune in favour of your own interpretation from the start, however basic, that cannot be the best method of starting out. The last argument of mine to fall was that the dots were a quicker way to just get started off. But for me – not steeped in the tradition – this came with the deluded notion that I already “knew” the tune I wanted to play. So now I listen over, slowly, this teaches me the tune and means I can pick out the first few notes (a skill that improves surprisingly quickly given the chance). I obviously don’t do any of this enough hence the OP.
This music is so much about listening to others play. Sometimes the yearning to be able to do it yourself and be listened to gets in the way.

Re: Over practising

I don’t use the dots all the time, and very rarely do I learn a tune just from the dots. I just find it a useful tool, which works for me, and am not going to turn my nose up at a useful tool just because someone else makes fun of it on the internet. And while the loudest voices in this website discussion section mock it, one of the biggest uses of this site is the sharing of written music.
Oh, and gam, I don’t remember who said it, but no work of art is ever finished, only abandoned. I have also done some writing, and find it can be painful to read my work, because there is always something I would have changed…it is difficult to give up something you have been working on, and ‘lock it in’ to its finished form, whether it be written or recorded or painted or whatever…

Re: Over practising

Al - I agree that the dots are a useful tool to share music but not to learn it. And mocking it is like mocking a languge of a country you have no intention of visiting. Each to his own. It works for me.

Re: Over practising

I think that most who mock the dots have this fear of their being used in isolation and with no knowledge of the unwritten sublties if ITM. Those with a kind of "If its not written, I don’t play it" attitude. They, of course, are the very worst exponents of the dot school. its playing without a soul.

On the other hand, there are those who can not play a tune "solo" from start to finish that have failed to learn by ear. Those who can play along in a session but not lead a tune.

Back to my granny, she had the best of both. Never heard her play ITM though I must admit.

And for those that fail with either method, that presumably illustrates the dangers of "under practice".

I do have a more serious question though - do the "bum notes" ever stop ? Not the ones that are down to unfamiliarity with the instrument but those that just creep in unnoticed. Do both "schools" suffer from them in equal proportion? - I think I know the answer but I, of course, only have expereince of my learning method.

Re: Over practising

Hope you don’t think I’m mocking notation, ormepipes. I use notation on a regular basis. I learnt abcs fairly extensively, write transcriptions, can read clefs, sight read … these are useful visual (& cerebral) tools. However, I consider them secondary sources when learning a tune. Ideally, I listen to a new tune several times through & up to speed before playing a single note. The exception is when all I have are transcriptions of tunes (several there). But, what I most enjoy is playing music with people who are familiar with different ways of playing a tune. So for me personally, the primary source (ideally, because there are always exceptions) is listening to someone play a tune.
But no, I don’t want you to feel I am mocking you. Though, if we sat down to play & you set a music stand between us, I may grumble.
"Bum notes" ~ feel free to play as many as you like. There are plenty of reasons; nerves, concentrating too hard, daydreaming … the important thing is to keep playing. As long as you’re not always making the same mistake or throwing the rhythm off. Sessions (I hope) tend to be quite forgiving. You’re not saying you play bum notes in every tune you play, are you?

Eòsaph, your last 2 comments are great! As a matter of fact I like everything you’ve posted in this thread. ;)

Posted by .

One of my mates I play with is always changing up the tunes. I play along when I am able, if not I stop playing & listen. He plays PA & is always changing octaves. I play flute, so I don’t necessarily make the same changes. It does keep me listening closer since I never know when he may change something. Another thing he does, he starts off tunes in different keys. He doesn’t do this to throw anyone. He is just very good as transposing. Last Tuesday he was doing this on purpose. I was only able to keep up with 3 of the 4 keys in which he played the tune … song actually, which is why he played so many keys.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is transposing tunes is great for developing your ability to play by ear &, with time, just becoming comfortable with lots of ineffabilites.

Posted by .

Re: Over practising

Random,

No sir - I don’t think your a "dot mocker" - not for one minute.

You would perhaps not grumble at the music stand if it hid my face. Seriously, I may use it in practice but never in a session. The only reason I may bring it out in a private group practice is because I get all excited about "new" tunes.

Bum notes - they seem to crop up in tunes I think I have mastered and played without them dozens of times. And no, not in every tune I play - well, not all in the same session anyway!

Re: Over practising

Thank you for the compliment random - I’ll take it at face value : )

Re: Over practising

Bum notes never completely stop, but one skill that comes in time is the ability to take them in stride, not lose the thread of the tune and keep going. Any landing you can walk away from is a good one…

Re: Over practising

"It works for me"

That’s fine if you want to be egocentric about it. But how can you tell if it really works objectively? If you can’t even hear the order of how simple strings of notes go?

Posted .

Re: Over practising

llig,

A good question. I do have evidence though.

I play with other people without issues.
In the past I’ve played "on stage" and been received positively.
Ive been invited to join bands.
I’ve been placed in an All Ireland fleadh.

Its not a question of being able to understand how "simple strings of notes go" actually - its more about getting to know which way they go in the shortest possible time. I got The Gold Ring into my head in about 4 hours. If I’d been trying it by ear I would still be at it 3 weeks later.

And I am sincerely sorry if the above makes me sound "big headed" - it just seemed the easiest way to give you some evidence that it works "overall" as well. Please, I don’t think I’m "the bees knees. I don’t need evidence that there are better players - I know only too well that there are. These are the people i look up too and try to emulate the best way I can.

Re: Over practising

One person’s bum note is another’s variation. 🙂

Re: Over practising

I think that the real point you are not grasping is that you think that that "three weeks" you refer to will be a waste of time. I guarantee you it won’t be.

Try it. Get a tune, it doesn’t have to be a 5 parter, but a good tune, a real cracker with some lovely twisty bits, that you have a recording of, a good recording, preferably solo, but a bit of strumming won’t hurt. And say to your self, OK then, there’s no rush.

Spend a week just listening to it, over and over, don’t attempt it on your instrument, just get all the nuances in your head. Then start singing it along with the recording, spend a few days like that and then start singing it on your own. Sing it and sing it. Whistle it, hum it. Sing it out loud, sing it in your head. Sing it all day. Sing it slow, sing it fast. Ask someone to play it in your session, but don’t try and play along, just listen, if you are confident how it goes, sing it under your breath the second time through. And if you thought that went OK, sing it out loud the last time through.

Only then, when you know for sure you have it in your head, get the instrument out. Try it phrase by phrase. Your fingers will take you to the wrong places because you’ve never tried this before, but perceiver, phrase by phrase. If you get a bit wrong, put the instrument down and sing it a few times until it’s back in your head. The attempt to try it on your instrument might have knocked it out of your head a bit so you might want to go back and listen to your recording a couple of times. Do not, under any circumstances try to play along with the recording. Get it back into your head then back onto your instrument. Only when you are confident that you have certain phrases right should you attempt to play them with the recording. This is very important. The way to do this is not by trial and error, you’ll play a bum note and either you’ll gloss over it or not even notice it. You need to be able to cross reference what you have in your head with what comes out of the instrument. The trial and error way is very unsatisfactory and will eventually lead to to trying that in a session.

If you think you have it now on your instrument, try it a few times until you think you can get it up to the speed of the recording. Now try it with the recording, but keep a close ear out for bum notes. When you hear a bum note, keep playing through, but miss out that whole phrase the next time through and listen hard to it instead, then carry on playing with the next phrases you do know. Keep going at this. Keep putting the track on and play along with the bits you know you have and gradually filling in the other phrases. Again, if you make a bum note, keep going but miss that phrase out the next time through.

So, after your three weeks what have you? Two things mainly.

Firstly, you will forever have a very intimate relationship with this tune, it will always be special for you. You will never struggle with it and you will always be able to be inventive with it. You will have learned the value of a tune for what it is, rather than just a mere tick in your clamour for the acquisition of repertoire.

Secondly, the next time you try it it will only take two weeks, an one week after that. Then three days and it won’t be long before it’s down to your four hours. And then it won’t be long until it’s down to ten mins and then it’s only a hop and a skip to you having a tune after three times through.

Go on, try it, What have you got to lose? Three weeks?

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Great post, Michael.

It may help to bear in mind that ormepipes is playing whistle and pipes. No harder to learn by ear on them, but dicier learning by ear in a group without annoying the group.

Some would use that as an excuse to recommend seeking help from the dots. Others might suggest that being potentially annoying is all the more reason to become adept at learning by ear, accurately and efficiently.

I’m tempted to say that four hours is a long time to learn any tune, even a five parter. But that sounds like I’m advocating being in a hurry. It’s just that when you hone your ability to pick up and remember tunes by ear, you do it all the time. Every tune you hear registers in the grey jello between your ears. Listen often and closely enough, and soon you’re picking up tunes "in three go rounds." Some will be tunes you’ve actually heard many times before. Others will be fresh, but idiomatically so familiar that it’s not hard to play them.

A benefit of learning by ear that hasn’t been cited much before is that once you can do the above, you’ll also be quicker at sight singing and learning a tune from the dots. With aural immersion in the music, the dots become yet another way to "hear" the tune.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

‘With aural immersion in the music, the dots become yet another way to "hear" the tune’

That’s true, but with a few caveats.

When you learn a tune by ear the process is to pick out the important notes in a phrase first so you get the structure and each time the tune is played you fill it in further. In practice that means you store the phrase structure in your head, filling it in in different way as you go along.

Printed music , especially in the case of less experienced players, is more often stored as a whole with less flexibility with regards to variation etc. It’s easier to ignore the structure I think and just reproduce a string of notes.

There comes a point where it doesn’t make an awful lot of difference though.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Yes, one of the problems with the sheet is that the design of it forces the tune into blocks of bars rather than phrases which often cross those big heavy hard unforgiving black lines. If you are adept at it, as Will says, but it’s an extra unnecessary hurdle.

I remember someone posting a discussion here once about tunes that have an extra note or couple of notes at the beginning of them before the actual tune starts. This bonkers idea can only come from reading tunes, and misses the straight forward concept that tunes don’t have to start on a down beat at the start of bar 1.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

I’m glad I looked in again. Educational stuff.

Llig. In case I read you wrong. Does the part about "fingers will take you to the wrong places " mean ‘trial and error’ or ‘hunt & peck’ is OK when trying to match a tune in the head even though very bad when playing with a recording ?

Will. Unfortunatly my experience is that getting better at learning by ear (nearer to 10 minutes than 4 hours) had zero effect on the sight singing. Playing the dots (vocal lines only) then singing is the current experiment in that direction and, I hope, a ‘safe’ way of getting better with the dots.

Prof. Reminds me of something someone said elsewhere about flexibility and not learning the tunes too exactly (I may have got the words wrong).

Re: Over practising

I think the post that Llig has posted above might well be the most important single post I have ever seen here for those of us interested improving our playing and even for those of us wanting to improve our understanding of the tune. Sometimes the constant listening is the hard part and staying away from the instrument for a while. His post explains the neccessity and the method to learn it in the head. It would be nice to reproduce this post in bright red ink every second day to counteract our ability to avoid what is important in learning a tune well. Thanks to Llig.

Re: Over practising

Thanks Prof. for adding what I should have included in my post. Spot on.

Also, I didn’t mean to imply that the dots are anywhere near the same level of source for learning a tune. *Always* use your ears. What I was getting at is that once you have a deep aural understanding of this music, you *can* learn to hear it from the page.

David, I suspect that your sight singing will improve the more familiar you become with notation. But I’d put that ambition far, far behind improving your ears.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for not picking up on my list of "accomplishments" and declaring me a bragart or worse. I’m beginning to think you might all be gentlemen after all!

Secondly - and to llig - WOW - what a reply!

Thanks VERY much for taking the time to type all that lot out and get it onto virtual paper. Its a real good step by step guide to your approach and how it works. Its also kind of a window into your musical soul which I have also given by trying to describe my approach.

Its one hell of a good debate and thread this one. I am learning lots. I would like to think that it may be of interest to lots of other who stumble upon it. I may well save all of this on a Word document for posterity.

And finally, as you say, what have I got to lose? - the only thing I will say is that it will take me far longer than you think it will the first time around, yes, I am that much of a duffer at it. I’ll give it a go though.

Re: Over practising

When I was studying music in college there was a great emphasis on ear training. They had an ear training lab where we were to listen to music and write out what was being played. In theory classes we were often played 4-voice progressions on a piano by the instructor and expected to write out what was being played. This, in effect, was dot reading in reverse. When I encountered Irish trad this was what I drew from to learn tunes. The dots themselves are only storage devises that help me remember parts if I haven’t played the tune in a long time, or they might assist in tracking down tunes, but the ear training was what really served me best.

Re: Over practising

over practising,the muscles generally tell you, if your arm wrist starts to hurt …stop.
increasing speed, this is where a metronome can be useful, particularly an electronic one, you can increase the speed by one notch, please note i am talking about increasing speed or finger dexterity, nothing else.
playing through a tune is not necessarily practice ,practice is isolating the bits of the tune that are causing difficulty and locating what IT is THAT IS causing that difficulty. the best way to do that in my experience is little and often, in small bursts.
many people consider that 45 minutes is the longest the average adult can concentrate and absorb practice, 2 twenty minutes is often better or even 4 ten minutes.once concentration goes the person is over practising and the practise is not much use , neither is it useful to practise when tired.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

Hi Music reader,

I can completely see you logic but I believe that, if you only get 2% of benefit from practicing after 45 minutes, its 2% you would’nt have got otherwise.

I suppose it depends on how much time you have to throw at it. I snatch what I can, when I can. Some days is 1/2 hour, some 3 hours. I am however disciplined about it being EVERY day. No matter if I’m tired or not.

This is allied to my thought that if you do actually get as far as exhaustion, ( that would be one hell of a whistle incidentally!) you will be OK again after a good nights rest and will at least have added a small something. Concentrating on whistle, as I am at the moment, long period of practice may be having a benefit on my breathing that a 45 minute session just would’nt give me..

Beyond that, I’m sure most sessions last for longer than 45 minutes, so it is training to cope with that as well.

Re: Over practising

i agree i often practise when i am tired, its better than not doing it.
for the record i practised my 5 sring banjo40 minutes today, my tenor banjo 40 minutes my concertina foran hour and tonight hopefully some guitar ,i just love playing music so f## the begrudgers on this forum.

Posted .

Re: Over practising

“…neither is it useful to practise when tired.” “i agree i often practise when i am tired, its better than not doing it.”

Huh?

Re: Over practising

Par for the course

Re: Over practising

I don’t think I’ve "practiced" in years, or more truthfully only very intermitantly.

Even when I was first elarning, just etaching myself, this was something Iw anted to do. I never thought of it as practice, but then Iw as in no great rush to go out and inflict myself on a session.

Over the years I’ve rarely felt as though Iw as practicing. I jsut played stuff I likes and had a bash at learning the tunes I wanted to.

Every few years I’ll pick up on one of my (many) specific deficiencies and obsess over it for a while, but to be honest I’ve always found this more of a hindrance than a help. I’ve gotten boged down in details and lost the big picture and stopped enjoying myself. I’ve always felt releived when I’ve dittched the "practice" and gone back to just trying to play the tunes.

Although I woudl very much have benefited from more formal practice or at least tuition, or good advice at the begining. I mean I would still be benefiting today.

I’ve noticed the "not really practicing, just having fun" thing more actively since I took up a second instrument (c#d box coming from banjo) just over a year ago. I’ve not worried in the slightest about "practice", just had a bash at wahtever tunes come out. People worry too much 🙂 Although I suppose this is easier with a second istrument if you are already familiar with the genre of music that you want to play.

- Chris

Re: Over practising

>I don’t think I’ve "practiced" in years, or more truthfully only very intermitantly

So, Chris - you’d say you’re "over" practicing? 🙂

Re: Over practising

🙂 Yes, that’s one way of looking at it Jon.

Re: Over practising

I no longer over-practise my low whistle.

I guess I’m over over-practising my Overton.

Over (and out)