How not to give up

How not to give up

I’ve been learning tin whistle for some time. (2 months) I feel I’ve made very little progress. I listen to other whistlers, it used to inspire me but now I kept saying that I can’t be as good as them, don’t know why. I am learning the irish washerwoman now. Two weeks - can’t play it fast enough, can’t play good enough.

I don’t want to give up but I feel this way. May be I am doing something wrong, studying wrong or practicing wrong.

I’ll be thankful for any advice, that can help me to go further, to play better, to be better musician.

Thanks for reading. I felt better, when I wrote it.

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Re: How not to give up

Learning to play any instrument well is a process that takes years. The best way to get better is to keep at it. Keep your whistle easily accessible and play a few notes while you’re waiting for other things.

Re: How not to give up

I’ve been trying to play banjo for 25 years……….. think yourself lucky 🙂

With very few exceptions, we’ll never be as good as we aspire to. But, keep at it and one day, someone will drop in a complement (and it doesn’t have to be a big one - something like "oh, I like the way those triplets sound" or "Thats a great tone" ) and it makes it all worthwhile…….

In the meantime, practice, and enjoy the music - thats why we’re all here after all!

Jim

Re: How not to give up

I play a variety of stringed/fretted instruments. Some I play very well so I know my fingers are capable of what I’m asking of them yet I cannot fathom trying to learn a pipe with holes in it in two months. Give yourself some time because that’s what it will take.

Re: How not to give up

Don’t give up. Don’t worry. Two months is not a long time for learning an instrument, which is a lot about your body getting used to unfamiliar movements and stuff. This takes time, especially if you are an adult. Just be patient and continue playing. There will always be ups and downs, good days and bad days, even if you’ve played for years. By the way, The Irish washerwoman is not the easiest tune to play on the whistle. Why don’t you try another one?

Re: How not to give up

Said in good humor…2 months isn’t a long time for anything. If you really want to quit after 60 days, maybe you should ask yourself why you bother at all.

Re: How not to give up

I’ve been working on the mandolin for about a year and a half. And as you said, "can’t play it fast enough, can’t play good enough." But last week, my wife opened the door to my cave and stuck her head in long enough to say "you know, you’re getting pretty good at that thing." Wow. What a great thing to say out of the blue. True or not.

In that year and a half, I have kept myself going because I have enjoyed the process of learning something new. Usually the progress is almost immeasurably slow day to day. Week to week it is perceptible most of the time. Month to month it is definitely there. And year to year, heck, even the wife notices.

If you really, really want to play, hang in there. It’ll come.

Re: How not to give up

Ross has it nailed. There are no easy roads to success or even mediocrity for that matter. A lot of people never learn anything after school, many learn next to nothing there too. You’ve a choice, learn how to learn or pack it in and do something else. Find a tutor if you really want to get going is my advice.

Re: How not to give up

The best way not to give up is to post a discussion on here about it. All posters will pretty much unanimously tell you not to (excepting any that use the reverse psychology approach). I then defy you to ignore everyone’s positive advice and encouragement.

Two months is no time at all. I’ve been playing over 20 years and I’m not good enough. Nobody is ever good enough, and that’s what keeps us on our quest to improve. It’s good to compare your playing to that of others, to assess where you’re at and what can be improved, but try not to judge yourself against others - allow yourself to learn at your own pace. Some people might seem to be playing faster and slicker in a shorter period of time, but the chances are, you are picking up some things that they are not.

As for tunes, I would not consider The Irish Washerwoman an ideal beginner’s tune - there are plenty of easier jigs out there. Learn it, by all means, but don’t get disheartened because you’re not on top of it yet after two weeks.

Most of all, don’t be discouraged by the fact that you’re feeling discouraged - we’ve all been through it and we just have to ride it out. The times that feel the hardest are often the times when you are learning the most; when it feels easy, you’re just enjoying wht you’ve learned.

Re: How not to give up

you never know……you might become a twenty year overnight success! 😉

Re: How not to give up

My theory is that if you practice every day you shouldn’t have to be bothered by asking the big question - whether you’ll ever be "any good" or not. If you’re practicing daily, don’t worry about the future. If you’re not practicing regularly, then OK, worry about the future.

And the Irish Washerwoman is probably the last tune you want to use to measure yourself. Go with something less complicated, and don’t try to do too much too fast.

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Re: How not to give up

On the topic of not giving up, I gave up for like 3 months after not getting anywhere. I eventually ended up coming back to it after I heard a great concertina player by the name of Caitlín Nic Gabhann. (She ended up becoming my role model for what I wanted to accomplish) Then listening to her led me to other musicians and even more inspiration. I guess the reason that I didn’t give up is because I knew that I could get really skilled eventually and that when I did I would be able to meet new, amazing people. I hold onto the fact that someday I might be able to play with the likes of Caitlín Nic Gabhann or Mary Bergin. Also the fact that I may meet a significant other with the same love of the music through these interests. I hold onto the fact that maybe one day I will be among the greats. I also tell myself that this could all happen if I keep at it.

Re: How not to give up

Learning a musical instrument is a humbling process for most people, because we are not used to skillsets that take years to acquire and we find it hard to believe that the only thing that is required is intelligent application (along with aforesaid years).

Take your time and enjoy improving. You’ll get there.

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Re: How not to give up

I would also like to add that perhaps the Irish washerwoman is a bit too complicated for someone at a mere two months I would suggest the swallowtail jig, it’s what I started with. Also maybe Britches full of stitches (polka) and the kesh jig.

Re: How not to give up

From a practical standpoint:

Get a teacher.
Make some musical friends and play with them.
Dance to the music at ceilis.

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Re: How not to give up

2 months is not much time at all for a musical instrument. I’d say give it more time. Especially if it’s your first instrument. Also, you mentioned studying and practicing. These are good to do as well but just relax and enjoy playing it. Don’t worry if you’re not playing as fast as Frankie Gavin.

Re: How not to give up

How can you "give up" something you’ve barely started?
You’re admitting defeat already?
Well, perhaps the tin whistle is just not the instrument for you!
On the other hand, after only two months of practice, you have learned (and are deeply aware) that to play the tin whistle to (even) your own satisfaction takes more than two months of effort.
Well done you!!
I would second @Kellie’s suggestion to listen to the playing of Caitlín Nic Gabhann, if only for a better selection of great tunes!

Re: How not to give up

I would suggest that you start by learning a few airs. This will allow you to play relatively slowly and still produce a listenable end-product. Then move on to jigs and reels!

Chris B.

Re: How not to give up

Hang in there Tat and keep plugging. Take it slooooow. Literally. Learn and practice playing slowly and don’t worry about fast. I always like to think that you’ll learn faster, playing slower. As you get more accustomed to things, you will find yourself just playing faster naturally, without even noticing. If you come to a spot in a tune where you are having problems, stop and work on that problem spot slowly, over and over, and then work it back into the overall tune.

Playing a tune is only half the enjoyment — having the patience to learn the instrumemt is the other half. And keep telling yourself all along that you are learning to play a wonderful musical instrument, something that far too many people out there never take the time to do. Which is a shame for them.

One easy little jig you might try is Tobin’s Favourite.

Don’t be in such a rush — you are learning something that will last a lifetime. Cheers!

Re: How not to give up

Not everybody is meant to be a musician. If you have a passion
for it, you will enjoy practicing and have fierce determination to
improve. For most people, that’s too hard and they would rather
do other, more fun stuff. It’s not a huge crime not to continue. Having
a taste of what it’s like to play gives you more appreciation for music.

Re: How not to give up

I started late. I was twenty when I began flute and everyone I knew who played an instrument already had more than ten years under their belts. It was at around 30 that I began playing Irish, and it was like starting all over again, the technique being very different from what I was used to. I am good, but not great, yet the stories I could tell of where the music has taken me in terms of travel, experiences, friendships and good times could fill a book, even though I have never earned my living through music. My brother, on the other hand, began early, quit, and has had a very different life than I have had.

I offer no advice, just my story. I hope I’ve given you food for thought, since that is what you asked for.

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Re: How not to give up

One more thought (which occurred while I was stumbling through my first attempt at playing Kusnacht, a pretty little tune that I just heard today and aspire to play well): when you hear the negative self-talk going through your head, challenge it.

If I harassed myself for not playing that song as well as I would like to, I would not improve, nor would I enjoy the process of improving. I expect trying new things in music to be a bit of a challenge at first. Instead I engage with the process of learning, and then after awhile, I realize it’s starting to get better in small ways, and pretty soon I can’t stop playing the new song because I love the way it sounds.

Who are you to have an opinion about how good you are or are not? Just tell the inner critic to shut up and play.

Re: How not to give up

Memorize 4 tunes - at a nice steady pace, but that is fine.

Then memorize 4 more. With practice on all 8, maybe you can now play them at a medium speed.

Then memorize 8 more. Practicing 16 gets you to medium-plus speed…. etc.

My point is that every time you double your repertoire, you "level up". It is really difficult to learn one tune well and fast. Accept the reality that maybe at 32 or 64 tunes you will start to be more pleased with your progress.

That isn’t to say that your skill automatically follows the number of tunes. Skill develops as you spend the time at each level memorizing and mastering the tunes at that stage. Adding too many, too fast actually slows you down, so there has to be a balance.

My favorite beginner tune right now would be the Kerfunten. Easy to remember and easy fingering.

Re: How not to give up

If it’s any consolation… I only felt I achieved consistent tone quality on my fiddle after 11 years.

Learning an instrument is a journey - a lifelong journey! I always thought I’d have "arrived" as a violinist after playing my grade 8 exam, but after finishing it last year, I realised that NOW the music really starts!

Give yourself time. Most of this stuff only becomes second nature with lots and lots and lots of time. And enjoy the journey!

Re: How not to give up

"I listen to other whistlers, it used to inspire me but now I kept saying that I can’t be as good as them"

That may be true, but there’s no reason to quit just because you’re not as good as they are. The reason Irish music exists isn’t to compete, it’s a social pastime! I’ll never be Joe Burke, and realizing this has led me to find my own style in a way that has made me a much better player.

Imagine if Seamus Connolly had heard Coleman, realized he’d never match him, and given up?

Re: How not to give up

This is a long journey, not a destination. And you have to LOVE the journey too - all of it - the hard work, the set-backs, the repetition, the frustrations and the criticisms. I promise that eventually you will be rewarded, but only if you embrace the journey.

Re: How not to give up

The road is long, with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where.

Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, but one practice session at a time equals years of practice and (hopefully) successful learning and playing.

But for most of us, it’s years - not months.

Re: How not to give up

Record yourself today. Listen to it in a year and see how good you got.

And you’re a hell of a lot better at it today than you were the day before you started.

Re: How not to give up

Try a different tune. Irish Washerwoman is a difficult tune to learn, especially for a beginner. It’s one of my least favorite to play, because of the fingerings, and I’ve been playing whistle for over 10 years. I’ve just never gotten the feel for the tune, and you will come across tunes like that ….

Re: How not to give up

Hang in there. Decades later, I still can’t play like my heroes. But I can play well enough to have a lot of fun!

Re: How not to give up

Don’t give up, your efforts will be rewarded in due time! Two months is not a long time at all. I agree with many of the other posters that the Irish Washerwoman may be a bit complicated for a raw beginner. I’ve taught a couple of newbies fiddle and my two first tunes are Eileen Aroon and Egan’s (Kerry) Polka. Eileen Aroon is basically scales. Egan’s has six notes and at least on the fiddle using open, index, and ring finger on just the A & E strings. Good luck!

Re: How not to give up

I think we have ALL been there.

I read something recently about writing a book. So many wannabe authors give up because they think they can never write like their favourite author. But when you consider that most mass market published writers scribble down draft after draft, have professional editors working for them, send their work to a group of ghost readers who evaluate it all, then send it back for further edits. . it’s a wonder anything gets done at all.

Fact is. . .you doubt your ability, just as I do…just as most of us do. We wonder if we’ll ever be good enough. But you have to ask… good enough for what? I’ve been playing mandolin now for four years - having never played an instrument before. Am I good enough? I dunno. Maybe. Doubt it. But what I can tell you is that I need to practice some scales right now and mebbe figgur out a new tune before lunch. Just a few minutes. It’ll take me just a few minutes. Or I could be watching Star Trek Voyager on Netflix? No…no…I’ll get this practice out of the way THEN I can watch TV.

Re: How not to give up

Don’t give up, your efforts will be rewarded in due time! Two months is not a long time at all. I agree with many of the other posters that the Irish Washerwoman may be a bit complicated for a raw beginner. I’ve taught a couple of newbies fiddle and my two first tunes are Eileen Aroon and Egan’s (Kerry) Polka. Eileen Aroon is basically scales. Egan’s has six notes and at least on the fiddle using open, index, and ring finger on just the A & E strings. Good luck!

Re: How not to give up

Tat….. Do you enjoy playing your whistle?..That is the most important thing. There was a time that I thought I could become a good whistle player but then I had a serious accident that amputated my arm. I thought that was the end of my whistle playing but after many surgeries and years of physiotherapy I picked up the whistle again. I had to modify my playing style because of lack of feeling in my fingers, atrophied fat tissue in my fingertips and lack of mobility and physical painful. I now have to play piper style with my left hand. I play at an intermediate player level and will never be an excellent player but the whole point of all this is that I love playing the whistle. It brings me pleasure. My advice is to play your whistle because it brings you pleasure. Find a group to play with that matches your capabilities (Ok…being pushed occasionally is a good thing). Don’t worry about how fast other players progress…we are all individuals. You may find a golden day where everything comes together and you will progress with leaps and bounds…..but until then just play and enjoy your whistle.

Re: How not to give up

"You’ll be good yet!".

Re: How not to give up

1. It’s a rubbish jig - Kerfunten or Kesh instead.

2. Practice slow and good - you’ll pick up speed in time God willing

Re: How not to give up

Choons I completely agree. With 1 specifically.

Re: How not to give up

I like Irish Washerwoman. I get why many people say certain tunes are not good, including this one. I’m just not of that mind when I know I can enjoy playing those commonly despised tunes.

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Re: How not to give up

Oh!

0: invest in a teacher
🙂

Re: How not to give up

AB - you total hipster ;-P

Re: How not to give up

progress is in small steps — you eat the elephant one bite at the time. make a recording of yourself and date it and put it away for 2 months and continue the daily practice — When you listen to the recording in 2 months, you will see the progress. Don’t give up

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