What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I have probably nearly 30 minutes of tune with reels and jigs and a couple hornpipes oh and a couple or airs too. I said to myself I wouldn’t water myself down any more by learning new tunes till I got the current ones down pat however I find myself getting bored of playing them as it becomes too routine yet I still am not competent playing them. As such my practice can become lackluster effort wise if I find myself having to ‘force’ myself to play the tunes I am finding stale.

Is this the time to add some new tunes in and watering down be damned? and come back to the old ones anew a few weeks later?

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Are you asking for practice sake or playing in session, Arthur?

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Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

That’s why technical practice is so valuable!! Keeps the tunes fresh . They are not exercises they are works of art .
You should imo play a tune slowly and when you make a mistak, start again…. don’t just carry on. Start again. That way when you get to the end of a tune, you’ve played it through with no mistakes, then repeat that three times.
So your tune has been played three times through with no mistakes. Its a good time to think about variations with ornaments and phrasing.
If you make a mistake, start again.
Play slowly with a click track or percussion / bodhran loop.. if you make a mistake , start again at the beginning. If you keep fluff8ng up at the same place then that phrase can be isolated and repeated slowly. Do it all slow.

Technical exercises , arpeggio, patterns scales etc have the advantage that they are more flexible forms. Still start again when you make a mistake . But there is less pressure of all the facets of a tune and you can focus on single aspects.

There are 2 things your trying to do at the same time. Learn an instrument and learn Irish tunes.id suggest focusing on the instrument and technical stuff till you can play it . Then start more on the tunes.
Boredom is an attidude , a habit. Give it up. Music is someth8ng where what you put in is what you will get out .be persistent and patient and focus on different aspects so as not to get confused and downhearted, small challenges . As a whistler you can practice your ornaments as technical exercises just as a fiddler or piper would do,. Good luck.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Maybe you can vary the order in which you play them? For example, if you always play Out On the Ocean/Kesh, you could play Kesh/Out on the Ocean?

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

A good way to freshen up a tired tune is to create a set with it. Find your tunes on YouTube and sample how they are combined with other tunes. Learn to create your own sets with tunes you know combined with tunes you want to learn. IMO, the best sets have a satisfying feeling of forward motion as they transition from tune to tune that makes people want to clap and dance. Do this, and your tired tunes will take on new life and become part of a greater whole.

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Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Play them in different keys.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Arthur, you’re in the similar place to me.
There is a really simple answer to your question, without the long-winded approach of Will Evans.

*Discipline*

Full stop.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

And.
No - joe fidkid. Playing in different keys means - fundamentally - learning a new tune.
I know that we can play utilising intervals, sometime easily, but not always.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I have to disagree peter .a tune is an idea , once the melody is learnt you know the tune. Playing it in a different key could still require quite a Lot of brain work , depending on instrument but it’s not learning a new tune. Playing it well is another thing altogether.
Seeing as Arthur is playing whistle that just means picking up a different whistle and voila … different key !
Actually Arthur IMO just keep learning new tunes !! Still follow my above advice anyhow …. just carry on learning new tunes , preferably simpler jigs and slip jigs .

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

One of the best things you can do for your technique, as well as for your musicality, is to learn different types of tunes in different keys. Pick a key where you know the least tunes, or a tune type where you know the least tunes, and learn more of them. It will make you more comfortable in those keys and with those tune types; while expanding your overall physical competence of the instrument. Also, the more tunes you know, the more artistic freedom you will develop because you will learn more and more, what the music is supposed to feel and sound like. It’s ok to focus on a small number of specific tunes that you feel you’re a bit weak at playing. But you’re only ever going to learn so much from one tune, no matter how difficult it is. You may learn a lot from that one tune, but there will always be another tune that can teach you something different, expose different weaknesses, or play on different strengths.

Keep the repertoire flowing. Practice the tunes you know. Learn some tunes you like that expose your weaknesses. And learn some tunes you like that amplify your strengths. You’ll be fine.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

"I said to myself I wouldn’t water myself down any more by learning new tunes till I got the current ones down pat"

of course it’s a good idea to work on a tune until you have it properly, but if you only play the same tunes you know "90% good" until you get to "100% good", i think you’ll find your progress slows down a bit because you aren’t really pushing yourself (plus, as you’ve found, you might get a bit bored).

i’d suggest picking up a few new tunes to work on at the same time as your current set, particularly ones that have new techniques. for example on fiddle i found tunes like Kid on the Mountain and Tripping Up The Stairs very helpful for working on clean string crossings, or on the flute Harvest Home or Lord Mayo for clean register jumps. doing this kind of thing will improve all your playing, not just the specific technique or tune you’re working on.

i’d also second Will’s suggestion of trying different ornamentation and phrasing - if you force yourself to do something a bit differently each time you play it, you can find whole new phrases inside tunes you thought you already knew.

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Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I view every tune as a song , so each time through the phraseing , would change as do the lyrics . So it’s quite possible to vary a tune with phraseing alone, no ornaments , which is how I suggest beginners play…. no ornaments . People focus on what is different about Irish music , when the focus needs to be on the similarities with other music!!!
Learn to make your tunes exciting lively and danceable without any ornaments ….. the more of your energy you put in , remember the excitement you felt when you first learned a tune …. put that into your playing.
It’s not the tune that’s boring, it’s your playing!! No harm meant in that statement ! Rather the most valuable piece of advice I could give…..

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Will.
Disagree you may. But I have done that - play in different keys and it ‘may as well’ be a new tune. Really a waste of time if one is attempting to get on top of a particular list of tunes.
Playing a different keyed instrument is not what I would call being consistent with the same either.
OK. So I’m only a p/accordion player, but I still go through the same situation as others. Get a tune to a point where I am happy, *then* proceed to the next.
I do not sight read, so I have to learn slowly and carefully, committing every note to developing the neural pathways, and that, along with exercises in fingering and such, simply takes a lot of work of course.
Keep in mind, I do not have a teacher or mentor of any kind.
So, it is *discipline* that keeps me on course. Without it one can easily wander off and get nowhere fast.
I cannot understand why anyone would get ‘bored’ with learning tunes. It has got to be some sort of attitude anomaly. Sure it can be draining to learn, but it is a means to an end. And the end is sensational.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Hmm…
Will, I mucked around with that post for quite a while and I see you have chucked up another one.
I refer to the older post.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I know you like to have your teachers online here at the sesh - and it’s a great resource.

But just think of the power of having a supportive friend who can give you this help having heard and seen all your technique!

I know you are very anti-teacher, maybe due to poor personal experiences - well maybe a group teaching environment could be perfect for you.

Also - if there is not one near then there are many folk weekends where great teachers and players do learning sessions with bigger groups too.

Instead of wondering as to next steps - or struggling to judge ‘exactly how much am I improving’ - you can benefit from years (usually decades) of learning. From someone who will most certainly boost your playing more than you might ever believe!

I’m sure we would all agree that there’s only so far that text can take us on our journey!

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I just uploaded the falls of Foyers, can be transposed fairly easily on whistle and other instruments. so its up in 3 keys .

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Arthur.
If you know the tunes it is time you got out and about and interacted with others. Play at their pace, listen and respond to their ways of playing and figure out how to play and listen at the same time. That’s the test for really knowing the tunes.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Arthur, if you’re bored with what you’re doing do something else. You already know what to do. You don’t need our permission to break away from your self imposed limits. Learn new tunes. Like allan21 says, get out more! What you know will always be what you know. Here’s another idea. I suspect you have learned very nicely to play all the notes in the tunes you know. Now’s the time to start playing the tunes, the lift the feel, the expression of the tune, without worrying about the "notes". Too, Will Evans isn’t being "long-winded". He’s describing how learning the technical skills (what I’ve always called "chops") will improve your playing and let you bring out the tune in the tune. Good chops also lets you learn tunes much faster and play them much better, freeing you from having to learn the mechanics of playing the tune while you’re learning the tune.

So, Arthur, I mean this in good spirit, you’re a bright guy. Take the plunge and do something besides the things you’re already doing, I’m on your side. good luck

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Re-casting a tune in another key stretches you to hear phrases out of their familiar surroundings, breathe new life into its structure, and can help break you away from making playing a purely physical, reflexive undertaking. Even on whistle. Take a tune in G and give it a try in A — you can work on half holing that G# and add another bit of technique to your toolbox. Play your D tunes in G. If you think that’s tantamount to learning a new tune, I would urge you to put your sheet music to one side, if only for a practice session or two, and play by heart.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

What some above said. Learn more tunes. Insert them in old sets. Combine old tunes in new sets. Play the sets backwards. Play them in different keys.

What we’ve been doing for the past two months now (in a 101 setting) is to go through a couple of new tunes per week AND review some of the older stuff, say, something from the week before, something else from a month ago, something from a few months ago, one or two of our classic sets and so on. How hard can it be?

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I agree with a lot of the advice given by Will in his first post, and by Ross later on.
As well as varying keys, (possibly!), varying pace is helpful, ad may shed a whole new light on a tune.
I can also get bored - not with learning the tunes, but with playing the same ones again and again, especially if they are ones chosen by other people as essential repertoire and not necessarily terribly appealing to me.
You say that despite all the repetition, you don’t feel you are getting them all right: well, maybe they are difficult tunes on your instrument? Allow yourself a little "watering down" with some tunes that you find easier and like a lot, which may break up the boredom.
And what Jeff said, about keeping the old "back burner" tunes going.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I posted a comment here a couple of hours ago. Was there a glitch? Was it deleted? Maybe I hit preview instead of post? If it actually was deleted I’d love to hear why.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Anyway, my original post was more or less this:
One option is to alternate btwn 2 melody instruments, preferably not in the same family. So if you play whistle/flute, take up mandolin/banjo. Those boring tunes can find new life within you on a different instrument.
Option 2: take up guitar or bouzouki. Learning to accompany tunes can make you see and think of those tunes in a completely new way.

And you’ll discover synergistic effects with either approach. Believe it or not, playing one instrument will improve your abilities on other instruments.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I try to resist the temptation to add too many new tunes, because I know need to get better at the tunes I already have. That said, I tend to learn four or five new tunes as a batch.; I’ll take several new tunes, and work them up to speed together, sort of like a set, I guess.

I find that after two or three batches of new tunes, I go back to work on my previous tunes with fresh eyes and fresh muscle memories.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

A lot of valid answers. I think it’s an individual thing.
I just wanted to add that for me, listening drives almost every one of the answers I see above. I think you should constantly listen to recordings of players that resonate with you. It should: make your tired tunes fresh, drive your technique, drive your discipline and drive all related things related to playing music well. My issue has more to do with wanting to learn so many great versions from recordings I’m constantly listening to. It is always too much. I try to learn everything and, at the same time, try to have a set of tunes that I can play well. It is an imperfect balance but it is never boring. The tunes that I play regularly are constantly influenced by the new versions as well as other tunes and styles that I come across on a daily basis. My dream is to have a seamless connection between the tunes in my consciousness and that which comes out on my instrument.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

Simple. Learn new ones and you’ll eventually come back to the old ones to further perfect them

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

The question is whether you feel like you’re still getting any better with the tunes that you’re working on. If the boredom is causing stagnation in your progress, then you’re not doing yourself any favors by trying to power through the boredom.

I tend to let my interest level dictate when I learn new tunes. If a tune really moves me, I learn it. If I am really tired of playing a tune, I give it a rest so that I don’t come to really dislike the tune.

When you’re learning new tunes, you can also pick out tunes that contain specific things you’d like to work on, whether it be cuts, taps, rolls, cross fingerings, octave jumps, moving triplets, arpeggios, different keys, or whatever. And then as you build your skillset, you can revisit the tunes that used to bore you, and realize that you can give them new life by playing them with new skills. I used to get really bored with tunes, but after developing my skills further, I realized that I could amuse myself with the "boring old tunes" by playing them better - putting more style into my expressions of the melody, and adding variation that amuses me, etc. That’s a step you probably can’t really get to until you have a wider repertoire and more experience with different tunes. So I wouldn’t bother limiting yourself to a fixed list of tunes. Learn new tunes and see what new things you learn that can be applied to your other tunes.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

>The question is whether you feel like you’re still getting any better with the tunes that you’re working on. If the boredom is causing stagnation in your progress, then you’re not doing yourself any favors by trying to power through the boredom.

My thoughts exactly. I’m not at all for this tweedledee attitude of ‘if you’re bored you’re boring’ or whatever PMA type slogans there are. It is like as useful as when you’re depressed people saying ‘just think positively’.

Like I have read before you are still improving when learning new tunes so I think that is the best way for me. I definitely feel I learn more slowly working on the same tired ones. Or maybe I learn the same amount as new tunes but it is more like my mind has to grind into gear and force myself every step of the way, whereas with new ones my mind feels fresh and exuberant. So I will hereby give myself permission to learn new tunes :). Maybe once the repertoire gets to a certain size then there will be so many that the oldest ones are always fresh by the time you get to the end of playing your repertoire and I should just keep adding tunes till that happens.

Maybe it is also a lack of variety in the tunes, so just having a nice wide and varied cache.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

This thread has been a great read, great discussion topic Arthur! Boredom can kill a person’s desire to keep going, or it can spur future growth by inspiring creative thinking and listening. Eventually you get enough in your practice toolbox that it’s never boring again.

Just summarizing some ideas presented into list form:

1. Learn a new tune or a new set of tunes. When choosing new tunes, pick ones in keys and rhythms that may be underrepresented in your repertoire so you can practice the melodic patterns that crop up in that class of tunes.
2. Change up tune order in a set of tunes.
3. Change the phrasing of the tune with breaths, bowings, tonguings, ornamentation, etc.
4. Play along with recordings and match what other people do with a tune.
5. Focus on a technical element to improve, either through tunes or exercises.
6. Break a tune down to essential notes — how few notes can be played, with the basic tune sounding "there?"
7. Switch a well-known tune to another key.*

* I love this suggestion from Joe and Will: I think it’s a great technique for times when I feel like I’m stagnating. If I move a tune to another key, particularly on a diatonic instrument like a whistle or melodeon, not only does it *sound* different, but I get into a world of very different fingerings under the same melodic idea. I end up making different decisions based on the "limitations" of the instrument: I might half-hole, mess around with octaves, or find a way around the note entirely. It really broadens your sense of the tune when you bring those ideas back to the "home key" you usually play the tune in. When I started practicing Concertina Reel in C a while back, and it opened up my sense of this dead simple tune and I started having more fun with it with all the possibilities the technique exposed. But like Reverend said, this may not be for early in a person’s learning, as it’s more for people seeking to breathe new life into an old tune.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

It’s an interesting thread, and I can relate to the OP’s problem.

I’d just like to echo JWiseman’s advice earlier: I found that what re-sparks my interest in old tunes is listening to new, different recordings and being inspired by them. Seeking out new ways to play a tune. Just today I bought a record online I hadn’t heard before and listened to some tunes I knew; wow they sounded great with some variations that were new to me, it really brought them to life again.
But I wouldn’t restrict yourself, if you hear a new tune you love you should learn it :-)

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

I’m still a novice, having only been learning ITM for a little over a year and a half, but there’s an all-level session near my house where, as long as you don’t drastically and/or loudly screw up the tunes, you’re welcome. That’s encouraged me to learn tunes quickly. I think my way is working, though take anything I say on this subject with a grain of salt. My method is to learn by ear (this is something I haven’t done before, and has vastly helped me with all music I play), and practice 10-20 known tunes per day to remember and work them further into muscle memory, then occasionally take a couple days to go, by tune type, through my entire list, playing each one twice. Sometimes, though, I don’t have the energy/brain power to learn a new tune, and it feels like I’ve played every tune I know to death. Lately I’ve been finding and listening to other versions of the tune (advice someone gave earlier), which often gives ideas for different melodic variations and/or accompaniment. I’ve also recently started learning chordal accompaniment (I play mandolin), which is changing how I hear tunes I thought I knew well. My playing is very basic, with few ornamentations, which I think is a good idea for a newbie, but I’m aspiring to get to the point where I "play it Irish," which is to me magical, loose-feeling but absolutely in-the-pocket, where the musician dances around the melody but the soul of the tune is present.

Re: What do you do when you’re bored of your rotation of tunes?

That’s great that you’re learning both melody and chordal accompaniment on the same instrument, Kathodus! Once you know more tunes, you’ll be playing melody on most of them, but introducing a chordal note or two on adjacent strings while playing melody will really flesh out your sound. Keep listening to good mandolin, tenor banjo, and bouzouki recordings of trad and you’ll get all kinds of ideas for how to marry these techniques. Jonas Fromsaier, Andy Irvine, Marla Fibish, Angelina Carberry, John Carty, and Alec Finn are among the many great players to listen to if they aren’t already on your playlist!