What do you think of your musical ability?

What do you think of your musical ability?

I’ll start with myself. Anyone who wants to follow suit I absolutely encourage you to join the fray with your best shot.

This has to be about playing tunes in sessions; IMO. I probably suck. I appreciate the fact that sessions happen & I’ve played with many people in many places. Sometimes it’s magic. Sometimes it’s a sheer trainwreck. I do my best & strive to keep it steady, play with solid tone, seeking a mutual balance of drive & lift with my fellow session mates. I want to be a good listener so sometimes I won’t play unless I feel the tune as it happens. Great thing about this music is there are lots of tunes and I can play ‘lots of tunes’.

Confession time. I don’t start tunes in sessions. At least not a session with more than 5 or 6 people. That’s funny because the 1st session where I played with people I only met at the session there were exactly 5 people. I’d been playing a session for nearly a year but ‘that’ session began with people I’d known. When another session spawned from ‘that’ session it was where I met 2 new players. New to me. Point is I was very comfortable, didn’t know how much I sucked and I’ve been learning ever since.

Now I’m digging a hole. I know I suck, maybe not as much I make it out to be. I do improve. I do try. (There is try for me. For others it’s only do, etc…) I always thought that was one of Yoda’s more selfish moments. Yet, he is the Master so who am I to downgrade such a venerable Jedi?

Wrapping it up I’m not the best player in the session. Personally I don’t think that’s the only thing sessions are about. Though the qualities of my playing matter. If it’s ragged that’s unacceptable. If others are better players than me (& they are) that’s who I listen to. I turn to them. They do. I try!

NEXT!!

"What do you think of your musical ability?"

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I don’t completely suck.

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A little off subject, but your Yoda comment is actually quite interesting if you’re into Star Wars canon! The Star Wars timeline is during the downfall of the Jedi (who used to be widespread and respected) and part of the reason was them becoming more dogmatic and absolutism with their rules, yet not following them in reality causing them to lose respect and their downfall (plus the famous quote “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”)
Yoda’s quote is cool but, canonically, could be thought of as an example of him being old school and not necessarily correct.

I digress slightly! I’m similar to you I think.
Although I played in lots of fun sessions, most of my learning has been through YouTube tutorials, musical notes etc so I don’t have the timing, drive and perception needed to play as well in a group as my technique/tune library would suggest.
I’m trying to work on this by playing along to music tracks with multiple instruments a lot more.
Thanks for the thread idea 🙂

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I’m very happy with my music ability when playing alone, but to try and play with others my playing can become as disabled as my mind. When in my normal safe state of ‘splendid isolation’ playing my fiddle, then ‘contentment is wealth’ and I play well and happily. I could only prove my ability with a recording, but I don’t care to prove myself to anybody. I’m good enough ‘for myself’ on most days, and when I’m not, well… so long as I keep getting better.

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There are two sorts of musical ability. Or maybe it’s a spectrum between the two.
One is the ability to play like virtuoso. The concert pianist, the bebop sax player, the fully ornamented playing of the Irish fiddler, the lyrical lead guitarist, the freeforming hiphop vocalist, the classical sitar player, operatic lead tenor singer, the pedal steel guitar player et cetera…
The other category are the composers, arrangers, the backers, the producers, the bloke who writes the horn parts out, tells the backingvocalists what notes to sing, the jack of all trades but master of none, the guy that can remember hundreds of tunes and can start sets, someone who can always do a half decent glockenspiel or trombone overdub on your recording session, the musicologist, the cat that can suss out the chords to a complex song et cetera…

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Very true!

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Very occasionally, especially if I’m playing with people who are better than me, I become inspired by them and play better myself. Other occasions I play like a total loser and wish I hadn’t bothered. Most of the time I coast along at a competent/average/ acceptable sort of level………………….

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Like Christy says.
As for sucking, that wouldn’t help my instrument!

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Ha, ha!…. I missed that, ….thanks Twiz. … So that’s the problem Ben, ….. you say that you suck, but your supposed to blow!

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To answer the original question…..

Not a great deal. :-|

Unfortunately, I’ll never be a wonderful musician but I’m fairly happy when I play well enough to enjoy myself and not to be disruptive when in th company of other musicians either at a session or some other group or gathering.

However, even although I can achieve this much of the time it’s not always consistent. It’s possible to have "off nights" at sessions and the make up both in terms of members and repertoire continually varies. Of course, the answer is to "sit things out" in these situations as and when they occur.

Like Gobby, I’m usually happy enough playing at home but even there I have bad days from time to time and this can be very frustrating too. It’s got worse since Covid and some days I haven’t had the heart to play. Also, other health conditions have affected my playing over the last few years and my general enthusiasm for the music hasn’t been constant.

Having said that, I still play at home and enjoy it most of the time. I’m less inclined to try anything new though or do serious practice as there’s been no real incentive in recent months.

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unless you play the moothie then you do both - hopefully in the right order……………..

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Reminds me of the old moothie player when someone asked if he could write down the music for a tune he had played…….. He just wrote down "blow suck suck", suck suck blow….and so on" 🙂

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JJ, was that Will Atkinson by chance?

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I was speaking in jest here but I did hear such a story from older musicians including some moothie players who regularly attended Newcastleton Festival many years ago.

So, it might well have been Will Atkinson as I assume they would have met him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py6jmQjqA7M

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Wow, the things you learn on this site. I had never heard of Will Atkinson or ‘moothie’ playing, but I really enjoyed that clip. Thanks Johnny.

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I dislike the word ‘moothie’.
Sounds too like ‘smoothie’ (the healthy fruit based drink) in my English accent.
I’ve always referred to the harmonica as ‘tin sandwich’ or ‘gob iron’.

Incidentally, I had a friend called Krick Stahlschwanz who said Larry Adler used to visit him every night and speak to him in Klingon.

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I suppose ‘mah-fy’ would be a London version!

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"Moothie" is more Scottish/Northern but it isn’t actually pronounced like "smoothie" where there is longer emphasis on the "oo". The "Moo" and "thie" have much the same emphasis. So, it sounds quite different from "smoothie"

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"…when someone asked if he could write down the music for a tune he had played, he just wrote ‘blow suck suck, suck suck blow…’"

Reminds me of the musicologist watching an Appalachian dulcimer player, and noticing the odd placement of the frets, asked him what notes the dulcimer played. "The dulcimore ain’t got no notes! You jess play it!"

About my own musical ability, I think I do a fair job for an American who learned before the internet, isolated from the Irish musical milieu. I’ll never sound like "a real Irish guy". Not being a real Irish guy, it’s to be expected.

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I think my playing is better than it sounds.

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My impression is that the word "moothie" meaning harmonica seems only to be current in Scotland and I’d be interested to hear if it’s used anywhere else. It definitely does *not* rhyme with "smoothie", since it derives from the Scots form of "mouth" and has a short vowel in the first syllable. My father still plays moothie at the age of 98, and won a prize at one of the last folk festivals before the Plague. Considering the case of Will Atkinson, I wonder if there’s a link between longevity and moothie playing.

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I am neither the button on Fortune’s cap nor the soles of her shoes ; )

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Still showing promise.

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"A little off subject, but your Yoda comment is actually quite interesting if you’re into Star Wars canon!"
Yoda’s cool. My style is more into Orville canon, especially the sayings from First Officer Kelly Grayson. 😀
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OleGXd8n9Q

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Infrequently, there is a ray of sunshine when I play a set well enough that I don’t feel embarrassed.

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Previously, I played GHB for about 10 years with a local pipe band. This was my first musical endeavor and at first I thought it was an impossible hope. But I stayed with it and was able to play with other pipes and drums without embarrassing my self or my bandmates. I have left the pipes about 7 years ago and taken up the whistle. My playing, at home, by myself has greatly improved but due to laziness, depression, and lack of confidence it is not at all where it could be. On reflection if I could pipe in front of 100’ s of people there is no sound reason to be intimidated about playing a whistle. My goal is to present a set or two of tunes on St. Pat’s ‘22 at a local brewery.

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I started playing the Irish flute in October 2019 with no previous flute experience but with a good knowledge of music theory deriving from many year of self-taught guitar playing.

The journey so far has been awesome, though a rather lonely one (also due to the pandemic), mainly learning new tunes, trying to master the technique and pursuing fluency with the instrument.

Needless to say I am far far away from playing satisfactorily, but still it is great fun to struggle (!) against a roll or proper breathing. Just a couple of days ago I was re-watching a couple of videos that I had recorded from my practice when I was learning some new tunes (The White Petticoat and Rights of Man) in order to check the aspects that I have to work on to improve my playing, and had the impromptu idea of assembling the shortest ever documentary on achievement and frustration in flute practice which I titled "The Splendors and Miseries of an Aspiring Flautist" (after Balzac’s book…) and shared privately on FB with my friends. You can watch it here if you are curious: https: // youtu.be / 2CUW74v_2wE (it is a hidden, unlisted movie on Youtube, but can be accessed through the link simply by removing the blank spaces around the / symbols).

Despite the pandemic I had the chance of joining a small group of very nice and inclusive people based in Pisa, Italy (where I live) and Livorno (a city nearby) who have started again to meet almost regularly for open-air sessions. This is helping me a lot.

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JJ, thanks for the Will Atkinson vid - I used to see him a lot at Whitby Festival back in the day and occasionally on his home turf around Wooler just by the Border. Does anyone know the title of the reel he plays at 3.27?
[sorry AB this discussion has taken a bit of a detour!]

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I put the Idiot into Idiosyncratic. :P

There’s lots of good players out there, and sessions restarting in my neck of the woods has reminded me of people’s different strengths from the guy who starts sets that everyone knows (not me) to the person who can play one melody instrument very well but sacrifices his ego to be a competent backer all night when the session needs it (again not me, but 2 guys I know) to the lady who rocks up late with her harp but is the life and soul of the session.
Its good. I’ve missed it.

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I think my musical ability is fine, but apparently I’m "a terrible violinist and I write crap tunes."

(from some recent fan mail). Anonymous, of course 🙂

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I usually enjoy my playing these days. There are certainly times that I don’t, but enjoyment is why I play — if you’re too down on your own playing, it’s not going to be fun, so why do it? For me, there was a period from about 5-10 years into my playing, where I felt like I only did my best playing when I was playing with a handful of people whose playing really inspired me. But times change, people change, and I found myself not able to play with those people as often as I would like (or ever again in one case). So I took what I loved about their playing and tried to make it my own, so that I can provide the inspiration for myself (and hopefully others) from within. It’s been a work in progress for 10-11 years, but I am finally fairly comfortable with my playing, generally speaking.

But that’s only half of the question. The other half is really what do the people you play with think of your musical ability. I don’t ask, and they don’t tell. 😉

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christy taylor: I know that tune as [Something] Castle - Inverary? Hmmm - will look it up; think I have it in a book somewhere.

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I play pretty good on B/C accordion, but only play Irish music.

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‘I think my musical ability is fine, but apparently I’m "a terrible violinist and I write crap tunes."’
Mate, pathetic people will always say these things no matter what level you’re at. (Unless you get famous enough then they have to shut up or just look jealous.) There has to be something wrong with them either as a musician or more likely as a person to want to run down a fellow player and thereby elevate themselves.
You’ll notice the top musicians don’t do this and when they speak of another musician it is almost always positive.
I’ve learned i hope from my last run-in with such, and I tender the following advice:
‘Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it’ (paraphrasing GB Shaw?)

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On Yhaal House’s musical spectrum, I’m probably closer to the second category of composer/arranger/etc - I’m certainly no virtuoso.

But I like to think of it in terms of technicality and musicality. Younger people tend to be driven by technicality, pushing the boundaries in all aspects, whether speed, tonality, metre, etc. Older people tend to be driven more by musicality - how the note sounds, lyrical phrasing, how to say more with less.

I’m reasonably happy with my musicality. I can produce some pretty pleasing sounds out of a guitar. I can pick up tunes pretty quickly and can "suss out chords" for tunes (mostly very straightforward) and songs (usually more complex).

I’m reluctantly accepting of some of my technical limitations - in particular the ability to play fast. It was a revelation to me when I discovered I could do tremolo picking on the guitar/mando with my left hand first time I tried, but have never been able to do it with my right - don’t know if it’s mental or physical (I’m left-handed but play right-handed). I just can’t move my right wrist fast enough which means that I can flat pick steady quavers/eighths in a reel at 100bpm (four notes per beat) but fall apart at say 112bpm.

I think it was Calum who quoted an Irish player who said something along the lines of "find out what you can’t do and don’t do it". So I do what I can do well. I work within my limitations to produce music that pleases me, which is important as I am my number one fan!

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@TheHappyCamper - I think the fact that it was an anonymous post simply makes the comment worthless. He might as well just have said, "you breathe, therefore I hate you" 🙂

//find out what you can’t do and don’t do it".// @DonaldK : bluegrass musician John Hartford said something similar : "your musical style [and ability] is based on your limitations."

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Yeh. Its teh internets. What can you expect?

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Since we’re all sharing our true innermost feelings here… 🙂

I’ve been a wind player since age 6, and playing traditional Irish music almost exclusively for about 30 years (I’m turning 60 this year). I’m proficient as a session player on Uilleann pipes, flute, and whistle, as well as on Anglo concertina. In previous years, I’ve at times been competent on tenor banjo and mandolin as well as backing on octave mandolin, but not playing strings much these days.

The past year during the pandemic lockdowns, I’ve been working exclusively my B/C box proficiency so that I can play it comfortably in sessions at the same level as my other instruments as an alternative to the pipes. Most of my work on the instrument has been based on assisting John Whelan’s host and produce his weekly "Taking Time" online teaching events for over a year. It’s been amazing.

I’m also good at organizing and hosting sessions, both in-person and online.

I feel like I could walk into most social pub sessions anywhere and would immediately be accepted as a proficient player, so far that’s been my experience.

All that being said, I still have a lifetime of work ahead of me. That’s what I love about this music.

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Ok. Here goes. My playing is absolutely brilliant … until it isn’t. I have my moments if I know the tune well, like the tune, played it pretty recently, am playing with the best of my peers, am well rested, have no mental distractions, not too "enchanted", paying attention, the moon is in the right position, holding my mouth just right (as a flute player that’s actually pretty important) … you get it. There’s a lot to fit in. Last night at a house session I was at my best most of the time, last Sunday the first hour in front of an audience was great. After an hour’s break, well, the fiddle player had to do the heavy lifting. Sometimes I’m pure and clean, sometimes I can’t make a good note happen. Like Michael I think, hope, I’d fit in most places as long as I don’t try to play what I don’t know. No I’m not being egocentric. I’ve been playing, mostly not trad, for a long time. I know the difference. Thanks to many of you and some great instructors I’ve learned a lot. I truly believe that a great many of you would fit into the same kettle, we’re not bad just inconsistent. The hard part, the one we struggle with most, is to be at our best every time, and I believe that’s true of even the best of us.

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When I’m on, I’d rather listen to me than anyone else. The reason is, I play what I intend to play, which is all I’ve ever aspired to. The great secret is that you don’t have to be great to be good.

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Me as well Ailin. For me there’s nothing like improvising, creating.. (Although not the topic of this discussion, I know)

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I’ve only been playing for 18 months now, starting at 42 years old, never in a session, never with anyone who knows the music, and playing on Satan’s favorite bowed instrument no less.

My playing isn’t (never will be) technically great, I don’t know many tune types (polkas and jigs), nor many tunes (more will come), but I play nearly every day and am proud of where I’m at, and look forward to some day playing with others, especially people I’ve been fortunate to make a personal connection with.

I’d feel pretty comfortable (excited as hell) participating in a learning or slow session when the time is right, and am sure excited about getting over to some of the festivals in Ireland.

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Well said Ailin. My father always said that no matter how good you are at something, somewhere or sometime someone will be better. The "best", even "great", is fleeting. Maybe "enough" is as good as it gets.

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In vintage craftsman terminology I’m a Journeyman musician. At least on mandolin. I’m no longer an Apprentice, and while I will never be a Master of the craft suitable for teaching others at the top level, I can at least get the basic job of playing this music done reasonably well. I suppose that’s another way of saying what Ailin did: "You don’t have to be great to be good." The great ones are Masters, but there’s a heck of a lot of good music being played by musicians at the Journeyman level.

I’ve played well enough to get paid for gigs in a couple of ITM-related bands in over the past years, but that’s not a very high bar in my area with very few groups playing this music out here. I can hang in local sessions well enough for the tunes I know. One other thing… I played this music on mandolin before picking up flute, and I think I’ve finally reached the point where I can choose which instrument to play on a given tune based on where I think it fits better, and not just because it’s easier on mandolin. That took a while. I’m not sure I’m at full Journeyman level on flute just yet, but it’s getting closer.

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Loch Leven Castle - excellent. Thanks meself.

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What an interesting read, this thread. Folks pouring out their inner being as they confront the most difficult question of all. How well do we rate ourselves? To it, let others be the judge, use their wise words to answer. So for this noodler the diagnosis is ‘practice’ , but be happy in it, just a little every day makes a better player. Too, cannot help but notice our seniority in years.

But the writing; Ah! so well done, were we all as good playing music, then no answer needed!

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"Loch Leven Castle - excellent. Thanks meself."….. Seconded.
"What an interesting read this thread" … Seconded.
I specially like Yhaal House’s first comment. It sums it up for me. There are so many different types and levels of musical skills and contributors that make this site so valuable to me. I would love to mention names but I won’t because I would be bound to omit people. Great thread Ben.

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Ya know, sometimes I feel amazed that I can play music, and it it such a joyful experience.

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What do *I* think of my musical ability? Sometimes I think I’m brilliant, sometimes I think I’m awful. Based on reactions I get as a busker (I earn a worthwhile amount, make people smile or dance, and rarely get asked to stop), on balance, I think I’m probably OK. As for playing in sessions, I’ve never been thrown out of one (except nearly last Sunday for playing O Sole Mio during the England-Italy match – I live in Wales, but the publican and most of the punters were English).

I think Yhaalhouse’s analyis of musical ability is on point, but I don’t quite agree that it is a *spectrum* exactly. They are simply different aspects of musical ability and some people more of one than the other, some have both in equal measure – and a rare handful have both of them in spades. I am not a player that anyone would go out of their way to listen to but, at my best, I can inhabit a tune and give it some meaning (at my worst, I can’t even get through the first couple of bars); I can also do a bit of the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff when required – more on the technical side (finding chords & harmonies, telling the guitarist which string is sharp etc.) than the creative.

Conial bore: "I’m a Journeyman musician."

I like that. I think that describes what I am and have been for the last 25 years or so. I’d like to think that I’m a little further along the journey than 25 years ago, but I’ve taken a few backward steps here and there, and ventured into the odd cul-de-sac.

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Putting you onn YhaalHouse’s ‘Spectrum’ CMO, I have so often appreciated and gained from your deep knowledge of our subject.

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@Gobby: I know nothing – but I know it great depth.

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leoj, nytimes is like facebook…or it’s like any site which asks me to log in, subscribe…I cannot read the article, see the video… That sucks. 🙁
At least it does at the moment.
Thanks for posting since other members’ might tell me what I cannot read.
Anybody online read the full article?
Thanks in advance. 🙂

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Re the Realization thread Jeff referenced, let me offer this:

When I hear someone play flute better than me, I acknowledge the fact, but don’t really care. It doesn’t dininish what I do. For me, the holy grail of music is achieved when I hear a musician do something that would never occur to me. When I accompany a singer, I strive to give the song something it might otherwise never have. When I succeed, I have something no one can take away and I am satisfied.

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I constantly hear musicians playing something which has not yet occurred to me. I call that listening. 🙂

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I didn’t say "yet." I mean it would NEVER occur to me. No amount of listening will give you their gift, but it may inspire you to find your own.

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I know, Ailin. You didn’t say "yet". I did. ;)

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It’s really funny that this topic came up now, as I am right in the middle of a self-assessment crisis! Really interesting to read the previous comments too 🙂

Basically I’m starting the Irish Traditional Music Performance Master at UL this September, and I don’t feel ready at all. This is kind of stupid as I had to go through an interview process (including an audition obviously), and was accepted based on my experience, "Prior Learning Entre Route" as they call it… But still, I feel very insecure in my playing.

I’ve been playing concertina for nearly 15 years, and most of the time I am quite happy with my playing. The reason I’m doing the course is to really work on the technique mostly, as I am a self-taught musician. But there is so much to learn… I suppose an important component when judging one’s own playing is who you are comparing yourself to. And in my case, I am lucky enough to have some of the very best concertina players (and other instruments) on my doorstep. It is a source of inspiration and motivation, but sometimes it can also be sort of depressing, ie "I’ll never be that good". But I’m trying to push myself and keep on improving…

Interestingly enough, I was talking to a top class musician a couple of days ago, who has an album coming out soon, and he had the same fears, self-doubt. I couldn’t believe it, as he is someone I look up to big time, and seems so confident in his playing. I guess it comes with being a musician/artist…

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Big thanks!

I’m just finding time on a peaceful Saturday afternoon to read the replies. I appreciate the lot of you. Please forgive me if I don’t thank you individually. Here are a few gems which make me happy to have started off this particular thread.

Reverend ~
"But times change, people change, and I found myself not able to play with those people as often as I would like (or ever again in one case). So I took what I loved about their playing and tried to make it my own, so that I can provide the inspiration for myself (and hopefully others) from within. It’s been a work in progress for 10-11 years, but I am finally fairly comfortable with my playing, generally speaking."

Michael Eskin (because it encapsulates where he is at now, I think that’s why I asked) ~
"The past year during the pandemic lockdowns, I’ve been working exclusively my B/C box proficiency so that I can play it comfortably in sessions at the same level as my other instruments as an alternative to the pipes. Most of my work on the instrument has been based on assisting John Whelan’s host and produce his weekly "Taking Time" online teaching events for over a year. It’s been amazing."

Happy Camper ~
"There’s lots of good players out there, and sessions restarting in my neck of the woods has reminded me of people’s different strengths…"

Gobby ~
"Ya know, sometimes I feel amazed that I can play music, and it is such a joyful experience."

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At a house session now. Good tunes and people. It’s 85 f in the shade and the gin tonic is calling. I’ll let you know!

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I just played the Will Atkinson clip again, does anyone have a title for the last reel he plays at 7.17 ? I’m sure of having heard it before at a session or gig somewhere, sometime………? Regarding musical ability , if I could play like that at the age of 91 I could leave this world contented!

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I play flute so I don’t suck I blow

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Thanks Jeff, quick off the mark as usual!

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As far as playing in tune, learning and remembering tunes, picking stuff up by ear, and putting expression into a tune - I’m ‘not too bad’ and might even have said I had a talent if I hadn’t waited to take up folk fiddle till I retired. All those wasted years!

As far as playing things fast enough, playing double stops/chords, or knowing about harmonies: not very good.

Now unfortunately even the level I’ve reached after nine years back is starting to decline: age is making me more hesitant and forgetful, my fingers sometimes seize up, and I’m out of practice playing with others. The time I spend practising has declined during lockdown, too - no real reason except feeling tired and demoralised.

Still, what would my retirement have been like without my fiddle? I’m grateful for what I’ve had and what I still have left.

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"What do you think of your musical ability?"
I might answer with the question "What do I think of my musical tenacity?"
I’m on a journey which began 5 years ago when I was 61 and I decided I would learn to play the concertina . I had learned to play guitar ( Chords and songs ) quite easily when I was much younger .
I took concertina lessons and workshops from a wide range of very accomplished players here in Ireland . I played every day for an hour or so for the first year . I made progress but quickly realised how inadequate I was when I sat in on a few sessions . I then upped the practice time to over two hours every day and have seldom missed a day in the last four years . I love playing and love learning new tunes . Have I musical ability ? I would say yes . I have good rhythm and a good ear . Did I think it would take me 5 years to reach my present level which I would describe as above average but not top of class . No
So to sum up I would say tenacity is more important than ability and being satisfied that the level I’m at is the level I’m at and it’s a great deal better than it was four years ago . And I love being on the journey to mastery . I now realise though that time will probably run out on me .

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

As promised … right on the curve. With tunes I know well and only a little gin tonic, my outer rock star matched my inner. Still, "a good time was had by all". Now this morning busking at the farmers market with one other person, well, I was uniformly up to the task. So yeah my ability is still inconsistent, I’ll live with it.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

I’m a backup artist, which began 40 years back when I chose to be a "continuo" (improvisatory accompaniment) harpsichordist instead of a solo artist. Then the hammer dulcimer, playing rhythm base, ending up with a five-octave instrument - and surprisingly being regularly asked into sessions. On the way I had to learn how to play in the Irish traditions…
So, whilst I’m not the best in the field, I do have to be all there, listening to EVERYONE and staying fully aware and awake; neither too loud nor too soft - because if I don’t, I can, singlehandedly, bring the session crashing down into total ruin.
When I’m invited to a session group I’ve not played with before, I prefer to sit out and listen for a few sets. And if there’s a guitarist present, I work with them, alternating between playing melody and backup, listening to what they’re doing, and we often end up stealing each other’s progressions…

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

If children start dancing and feet start tapping that’s enough for me

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Yeah, it’s hard to beat that rewarding feeling when the kids jump up and dance.

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Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

I guess I’m doing OK then.

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Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

The Pie Eyed Piper: "If children start dancing and feet start tapping that’s enough for me"

If grown-ups start dancing like children, better still.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

I think I’m somewhere in the middle: better at some things than some, but there are a lot of people who are a helluva lot better than me! I’d like to think that my playing is on the whole solid and reliable for those tunes I know well, and that it’s at least adequate rather than mediocre. There were times in my life when I was better than I am now: things slide if you don’t keep practising! Having served my time in the percussion dept in the past I think one of my strong points is timing and rhythm. And among my hobby horses are phrasing and dynamics: tunes are not just strings of notes though you’ve got to keep with the other players in a session and not go out on a limb.
I just hope people like what I do, though I’m far from immune from mistakes!

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

If we’re talking strictly in terms of session/ITM playing:

I think I’m a better-than-average bodhran player (pause for generic joke about "good bodhran players" ) but a so-so melody player on mandolin.
Those things are kind for the same reason. Because I also play melody instruments, I have a pretty good awareness of what a tune does and doesn’t need from a rhythm player, so I can support the tune rather than flailing away heedlessly. But because I don’t focus my time and energy enough on the mandolin picking, I haven’t grown as much in playing melody as I would have liked in regards to technique and repertoire. Plus, I spend so much time playing solo, even pre-pandemic, I really crave the chance to play the drum with a group when I get a chance, so I’m much more likely to reach for that when the opportunity comes up.

Outside of sessions, I’m mostly focused on vocals and harp, and I’m a good singer (my part time job is as a church cantor) and adequate harpist, but those aren’t necessarily skills I bring to session.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Still learning . Improvememts come in sudden leaps and bounds. I have
been concentrating on remembering tunes. I’ve been dealing with long covid
and this project has improved my ability to concentration over all.
I would rate my playing as just good. Not playing live with others has held back my progress.
Bit of a lack of confidence issue as I contemplate returning to our session in the near future. At my age I shouldn’t care, I’ve embarrassed myself too often over the years. But there it is.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

I miss those out-of-body days, when I could look down from nine feet above, eyeing myself and my musical soul mates, and watching the music, and sometimes the chairs and fists, fly.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Sounds like the 80s, Barry. 🙂

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Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Yes, Ben. 80s combined with never finding a polite way to say "no" to playing until closing time.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

I don’t even know what that means.

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Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Sometimes it’s nice to look down at the fiddle or flute and recall when I couldn’t knock a tune out of it at all.
I’ll be good yet, I reckon.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Most of the time I can say that my musical ability is better than it was yesterday
-so I’m happy with that.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

VERY good at arranging. In any style.

Decent composer, but I’ve gotten out of practice.

Decent pianist.

Beginner-intermediate amateur flute and harp player.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Regarding the moothie, we all learned as school kids back in the 40s and 50s.
The scale was, blaw, sook, blaw, sook, blaw, sook, sook, blaw.
It is ideal when also learning the anglo concertina

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

"The scale was, blaw, sook, blaw, sook, blaw, sook, sook, blaw." The answer to asking why it was "sook, blaw" at the end is the earliest event in my musical "theory" education that I can remember.

Mediocre, but not bad enough that people a lot better than me don’t (sometimes) tell me about (some) sessions where good people play.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Hygiene aspects of school harmonicas - let’s not go there! Mind you, at my school we had the plastic recorders dunked in a jar of Jeyes fluid - and didn’t think twice about it.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

I’ve been playing too long to credibly call myself a "beginner" anymore, but that’s exactly how I feel about my playing. I have delusions of adequacy. Mostly self taught, so that’s probably part of it. The other members of my session seem to like my playing all right, and we all have a lot of fun so, I think it’s just fine.

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

"delusions of adequacy" - that’s the phrase I was looking for! That’s me all over ……..

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Thats it! That is my playing ability. Earlier I wrote"just good", but I was having delusions of adequacy. Hence my confidence issues. It all comes together now. Thanks Patrick!

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Aw meself and Daviec! You’ve just degraded me to to "delusions of mediocrity"! I really did have this long-held belief that I was at least "adequate"!

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Trish, you are neither mediocre nor just adequate, you’re exceptional. Delusions are running amuck. I wouldn’t bother with them.

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Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

Now who’s deluded, AB?

Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

What would I do without you, Trish. 😉

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Re: What do you think of your musical ability?

"Now who’s deluded, AB?"
Guilty!

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