Speeding up on a B/C box

Speeding up on a B/C box

B/C player (Irish tunes) - any tips / excercises for playing faster?

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

Sure. It’s easy. Practice more. Play with better players. Play along with YouTube clips. Memorize more tunes.

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

Have you had any instruction? I can’t recommend John Whelan highly enough for teaching. I was stuck at a speed plateau for many years before I spent a lot of time working with John assisting him with his online events and now can play reels pretty solidly at session speed.

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

Make best possible use of your alternative Bs and Es to minimise pulling and pushing and achieve nice fluid runs of notes in the same direction. And, which goes with it, check fingering patterns.

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

While not being a box player, I can only offer some general advice on top of what David posted, and that is to relax. Our natural inclination is to try to play harder to play faster, the same way that we run harder to run faster. But if you watch experienced players playing just about any instrument, including box, you’ll notice that they don’t look like they’re expending a lot of energy playing.

To play this music fast, it can help to relax. Practicing slowly can help you with building the so-called “muscle memory”, and practicing slowly can help you stay relaxed. Then when you’re trying to push the tempo up, you can use a metronome to help you push up tempos gradually while you concentrate on staying relaxed. (I don’t like using metronomes, but they’re helpful when you’re working specifically on tempo).

Another thing you can do is use the metronome to help you determine where your current speed limit is (the tempo where you can play a given tune fairly cleanly while being relaxed. Then push the metronome up by maybe 10 bpm, and work on playing at that tempo for a while (and try to stay as relaxed as you can). After a while, you can pull the tempo back down 5 bpm, and it will feel much more relaxing, while still being 5 bpm faster than your “speed limit”. Doing little drills like that repeatedly will ultimately help you get your tempos up.

But I should also point out that it’s easy to obsess about tempo in this music, because we tend to listen to professionals that are often playing at blazing speeds. It’s ultimately more important that you play the music with nice rhythm. Tempo will come with experience.

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

@Michael Eskin, can you elaborate a bit on what helped you the most? Was it a different approach to fingering solutions? Or a novel way of adapting tunes for the box? I would be interested to hear what the things were that were keeping you plateaued. Thanks!

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

Yes, it was a lot about John’s approach to fingering and his approach to efficiency of motion and airflow management.

Also posture, ergonomics, straps, how one holds the instrument, all of it is involved.

He did a 2-hour workshop on the basics of B/C box, talking a lot about all of this, I think it’s a must watch for anyone playing box:

https://johnwhelan.gumroad.com/l/HCSsdj?layout=profile

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

@Michael great, thanks!

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

One technique I’ve found helpful is to set the metronome on the slow side, 95 for reels maybe, then play one tune for a long, long time, notching up the speed very slowly. Maybe 30 times through the same tune in total, and only speed up the metronome when the tune feels smooth and easy.
Slow is smooth, smooth is fast…

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

Thnks for the advice folks

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

@ Michael Eskin, I’ve clicked on your link for John’s workshop and it looks like just what I’m looking for. It doesn’t mention in the text what form of media it’s sent out in. If it’s a DVD, I can handle that, but it would be helpful to know. Thanks in advance, J.P.

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

It’s a downloaded .mp4 video file and .mp3 audio file of the workshop.

Re: Speeding up on a B/C box

Thank you Michael for bringing this to my attention.
It already has proven to be well worth the price, even when maybe watching it only one time.
John Whelan has very valuable seasoned insights and is highly articulate in sharing those effectively.