Not playing an instrument for a year?

Not playing an instrument for a year?

Basically I moved country in December let’s say, and I had to choose between bringing my fiddle and my accordion. I chose the fiddle, it is my #1 love. Anyways where I live now accordions are not easy to come by and also I have not had much money - any spare money I’ve had for music has gone towards maintaining the fiddle. As a result I have not played accordion since December and I probably won’t be playing it again until I can afford one, let alone find one, which I would hope is November-ish.

I had been playing for nearly 5 years up to that point and was pretty skilled at it. I fear that when I pick it up I will barely be able to pump out a tune and it will take me months to get back to where I was, and there’ll be some tunes that I’ll probably never play again on it.

So just wondering what are people’s experiences with playing an instrument after not having played it for a year or more, despite having been skilled at it? Did you have the same spark when you picked it up, was it hard to get back to the same level, did you realise that it was a thing of the past and moved on? Discuss :)

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

You mightn’t ride a bike for a long period or swim a stroke but once you’ve learnt certain motor skills, I don’t think you ever forget them, barring some brain injury or the like. Sure you’ll be rusty and it’ll take a bit of time to get back to where you were on the box and probably beyond it, but I wouldn’t be too bothered. I’d reckon the more important thing is to keep playing a few tunes on whatever instrument, in your case the fiddle.

Posted .

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

I hadn’t been playing much for well over a year because I had health issues. My heart wasn’t really into it. I still picked up instruments from time to time though.

I’m starting to enjoy it again now and, while things do get rusty, it doesn’t really take too long to get it all back again to the same level as it was before. In my case, it wasn’t that high anyway. :-)
I asked one of my nurses if I could play music after my treatment and she replied "Could you play before?" :-P
A lovely sense of humour.

Actually, I’ve found that even with an absence of a few days from playing music I feel that I’m not totally up to scratch and it takes that little bit longer to warm up.
Serious musicians will practise every day and for several hours to retain an optimum level. However, I don’t think any of us really "lose it" even after several years. It all comes back fairly quickly as long as there is enough will on the part of the player.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

Is it out of the question to have your accordion sent to you? Would it end up costing more than a new equivalent accordion?

I had a not identical but similar dilemma when setting out travelling some years ago. My choice was between fiddle and mandolin - I opted for the fiddle, since I’d only been playing it 18 months at that stage (I had been playing the mandolin for about 12 years and felt that my technique was ingrained enough not to suffer too much). I did actually arrive at a compromise, in the form of building a travel mandolin that I could fit in my rucksack; owing, however, to poor design and exposure to direct sunlight, it didnt last long into my trip. I went about 7 months without a mandolin altogether (although I had the odd opportunity to play one here and there), then borrowed one for a while. I would say, all in all, that my fiddle playing benefitted much more than my mandolin playing suffered. In fact, having become more attuned to the fiddle, I found that, on picking up the mandolin again, I was striving for a different level of musical expression, which ultimately enriched my playing.

Your situation is a little more extreme, in that i. you will be almost a full year without your instrument, ii. you have fewer years of playing under your belt than I had and iii. there is no overlap in technique between your two instruments. But if you feel that you are "pretty skilled" on the accordion, then I doubt it would take you long to get it back after a break. There might be a certain amount of re-learning to do, but that is not necessarily a bad thing - you might find, once you get back into the instrument, that your playing makes a quantum leap, making up for all the playing you haven’t been doing in the meantime.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

Coincidentally I’ve just started ‘playing’ again (whistle) after a break of over three years, and I now have a fused wrist and partially fused thumb (both on right hand)

https://s15.postimg.cc/5ok0xfnob/Wrist.jpg

Ouch!!

Thinking I would never play again (and finding the sight of them depressing) I let all my instruments go during my ‘exile’ so when I got the ‘all clear’ to start again I purchased:

1. Dixon polymer High D

2. Howard Low D

Nice whistle but I didn’t get on with the Dixon at all, neither my hand or ears can cope, sold it.

The Howard is lovely (thread to follow) but I am struggling with that due to issues with thumb, that is ‘on the shelf’ and I dearly hope I can return to it.

So

3. Dixon Trad A

Just right (both my hand and ears cope) and after a couple of creaky days I swear it was as if I’d never stopped playing, I’m a bit off on some faster numbers so I’m concentrating on ballads/airs etc for now, but I’m very surprised and pleased how much I’ve retained (though my hand/wrist aches a touch after practice)

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

PS: I’ve also had a Susato A delivered today, will give a ‘review’ later.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

I have had, in the past, much much longer breaks from playing certain instruments: but if something motivates you to get back to it, you will. As others have said, you won’t have forgotten everything you ever knew before, and beyond that it’s just practice, practice, practice to get back to how you were before or better still. I say better still, as you may bring something new to your music after a long break: a fresh approach, more mature attitude, etc.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

I have had, in the past, much much longer breaks from playing certain instruments: but if something motivates you to get back to it, you will. As others have said, you won’t have forgotten everything you ever knew before, and beyond that it’s just practice, practice, practice to get back to how you were before or better still. I say better still,as you may bring something new to your music after a long break: a fresh approach, more mature attitude, etc.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

Sorry for double post: not sure how that happened! Something I said?

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

I played violin, mostly classically, from age 6 to 21 when it was stolen. Around that time I began listening to ITM, but I didn’t do anything with it, other than fool around with a piano accordion, until the year I turned 34 when I acquired a fiddle again and began playing. It came back pretty quickly - the biggest hurdle for me was the change in style of playing, not the 13 year hiatus.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

I enjoyed that Mike Rafferty interview, thanks for posting it.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

When I left home and went to university and started living in shared accommodations, I practically stopped playing. I believe I went nearly two years without playing fiddle at all after playing from about age 6 until 17. When I picked back up (I was living at my parents’ house again for a summer) I definitely had a real thirst for it. Generally listening to ITM (the right ITM) was enough to ignite the flame.

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

In my experience, over 45 years as a guitarist, I’ve come to find that what suffers most is your muscle memory. It typically takes me a few weeks to get back to where I was, when I set the instrument down. This applies to the other instruments I’ve picked up over the years as well, whether it be pipes, whistles, mandolin, cittern or tenor banjo. As I’ve aged, I’ve also found that my "tune" memory suffers somewhat as well. I often have to either refer back to the music or listen to a recording of the tune, to regain it in my mind and keep it there. The same goes with lyrics, I find myself stumbling over verses, getting them out of order and so forth. It all boils down to the old maxim: "If you don’t use it, you will lose it."

Re: Not playing an instrument for a year?

Generally, I would agree with most of the comments here, but not so much with the "use it, or lose it" type response. Because of life circumstances and the fact that my extremely expensive piano accordion (I did farm labour work until I had the 295 quid in 1962) was burnt to ashes in a wild-fire, I did not play accordion for FIFTY YEARS. I bought one around 15 months ago and fired it up fairly quickly, I feel. With maturity and new vigour, I am pleased to find that I picked up and proceeded with levels of skill that I had never imagined, especially since ploughing into Irish style dance music (and that is all I’m playing at the moment).
I believe that it is all about the ‘neural pathways’, and if you’ve done it before, you can do it again. My thought is - if you want to quote a maxim, then try the NIKE - ‘Just Do It’. Rest assured, it works.
Just sayin’.