A New Year and Fresh Start…

A New Year and Fresh Start…

You may have already had this discussion but, I couldn’t find it.. So, with the new year nearly in sight, I’m cleaning and organizing and thought that you might help out. How do you organize your music? How do you organize your practice sessions? How do you go about setting goals in terms of learning new tunes? How do you keep up with old ones? How much time do you dedicate to this each day (or week)?

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Re: A New Year and Fresh Start…

organization?, what’s that?

Re: A New Year and Fresh Start…

I *try* to practise once a day. In reality, I probably practise once every couple of days. I practise whatever comes to mind to practise. Lately I’ve been trying to play through at least one new tune each time, either from a local session or off a recording I’ve been listening to. Most of my cds are in a cd cabinet, which hold, oh, I’d say 30 cds in each drawer, and I keep meaning to alphabetize them, but haven’t gotten round to it. Some of the rest are scattered throughout the house in various places.

Every now and again I get some bright idea about organization, but generally don’t have the time to put it in practise. *sigh*

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The Pile Method is as close as I choose to get to organization.

Every week or so a new small piece of scrap paper of the most current 10-15 tunes floating around the old melon gets started. Old one goes on The Pile. CD’s containing tunes I want to learn find themselves added to The Pile on the passenger seat of my car. Old CD’s from said pile either find their way to the floor of the car, or miraculously get carried to my room where they are deposited in The Inbox Pile, consisting of various media not yet sorted into their respective piles. That sorting only goes so far as the following categories:

1. ITM CD’s
2. Black Sabbath
3. Scrap Paper pile
4. Sheet music pile (sub-categories are a. Tunes I’d Really Like to Learn Soon, b. The Rest)
5. Contact Information Pile - (requires a routine emptying of my fiddle case, followed by a rigorous effort to remember who was who from what session when and where)

I’m happy to say that this site is largely responsible for the relocation of Pile #4 to an Archive Pile. If I resort to checking out sheet music, I just take a peek here and don’t bother printing anything out anymore.

Disclaimer: Personal results may vary. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

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I treat the tunes as if they were a collection. Let’s say you collect and build miniature model boats. You have a shelf or some sort of display case you keep them in of course, and you position your favorite ones prominently. You get them out and look at them now and then, dust them, share them with friends, and you sometimes have to repair little pieces that fall off. Every now and then you might take a few out and polish them up for a model boat show… if you’re into that sort of thing. But you have to always maintain them so they don’t fall into disrepair.

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I arrange music book on the shelf according to category - as I categorise it in my head. The loose page stuff (photocopies) is mostly in document wallets, which are mostly labelled. However, it inevitably spills out in to piles that sometime don’t get dealt with for years. In fact I’m reaching a bit of a critical mass at the moment, so if you stop hearing from me I’ve probably been buried under an avalanche of paper.

However my Irish repertoire is mostly by ear. Lists are helpful. My system for what I put on the list/how I use it for practise changes from time to time, but it gives me some focus. Too often tunes by ear get lost not because you forget how they go but because you forget they exist.

I go through periods of being very disciplined about practise, and periods of not caring. And periods of "OMG I have to play this stuff in two days" panic practising.

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I have these A4 albums with eighty little plastic wallets per page. I have an album for each country of origin and and within the albums everything is ordered by the postmark date. (except for the ones without a postmark, they’re lose in folders at the back. I send them to freinds in other countries so they can post them back to me and then I have them postmarked)

I have about 15,000 now and it does make me laugh when I think back to the days when I only had a hundred and I thought I was fab

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All my tunes, tune books, whistles, music stands, flute cases etc are at the moment scattered on the floor of what I like to call my ‘music room’, but is really a dining room which my mum wants back. But Cds take pride of place in a huge pile in my room on top of my hi-fi, some missing covers, but all well loved and used.

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I have tried to organize myself for 50 years…. in vain.
When I opened a pile of papers the other day I found a song mixed in with my stuff on old french wine, but in fact it was to my way of thinking in the right place because of the conviviality of the night in question. Memories are more important than order.

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And do you still remember how to play Lord Gordon’s Reel, Ian?

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I used to keep a list of sets in my fiddle case, reels on one side, jigs and misc. on the other. So if I couldn’t think of what to play I had a quick look.
Playing in a group of nine you can’t help but get organized. One of us notes down what was played and the arrangements at every rehearsal.
I made a list of tune genres - slides,polkas.. . Then I tried to sort out one or two sets for each category. We all make suggestions for new songs and tunes and we like to start and finish our musical gettogethers playing stuff that we used to know quite well. This often involves leafing through a large collection of sheet music (sorted in alphabetical order).

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My music is currently arranged as to the type, jigs, hornpipes, reels etc. but subject to change at any time. I’m still looking for a system I like better.
I practice scales every morning before work for about 20 minutes then scales and music every night for at least an hour.
Ok, ok, I’m addicted.

Mary

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Good GOD Kuec you’re organised!

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Everytime our group has a practise it either turns into a mini session, or we start to arrange a tune but then forget what happens.

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About a year ago I organized all my sheet music, in alphabetical order, in a 3-ring binder. Just the other day I looked through the book and realized that I hardly ever play any of those tunes any more, or I haven’t gotten around to learning some of them, or I play different versions —- plus I have sheet music that I’ve obtained in the meantime that’s not in any binder, and the binder is already too fat —- time to reorganize into two or three binders, I guess.

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking fiddle lessons, strictly ear training, no sheet music (and, I’ll congratulate myself, getting much more comfortable with and better at playing by ear), so for a lot of the tunes I play, I have no sheet music, just minidisc recordings from my lessons. My teacher suggests making a list and noting which tunes you need to practice once a week (or more), which you know well enough merely to run through once a month or so, etc. I do keep a list of tunes I know, just so I won’t forget to play them.

In sessions, I jot down (haphazardly, on whatever’s available) names of tunes I want to learn. My fellow sessioners sometimes kid me about obsessively asking the names of tunes, and I tell them, "I collect tune names." (One of these days, I’ll get around to collecting the tunes themselves.)

One of my New Year’s resolutions, now that I finally have a CD burner, is to go through my CDs and burn discs of selected tunes that I like or want to learn. Often when I’m listening to CDs, I jot down on a little Post-It note the tracks I like; now it’s just a matter of sitting down at the laptop and pulling it all together. Once I get two or three such CDs compiled, I intend to copy them to a single minidisc for easy portability.

Happy New Year, y’all,
Carol

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I used to keep a little book with all my tunes in but gave it up long ago. I find I can learn tunes ok without playing my instrument nowadays which is a good job because when I’m drunk after a session I often leave my instruments with less-p*ssed people so that I can go on to drink for a few more hours w/o having to worry about where my instruments are. I’d like to have another hundred odd more tunes under my belt by March - all those stupid ones I’ve been meaning to learn for months but haven’t got round to it.

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"… all those stupid ones I’ve been meaning to learn for months but haven’t got round to it." — Sounds like it’s time to turn the dag-filter off, Dow.

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I’ve started to assemble a list of the tunes I know with the first two bars of each tune beside its name in abc notation, to get me kick-started. The plan is to continually rotate through the list so nothing goes unplayed for too long.

My music books (the ones I haven’t lost) are stuffed in a bag and rarely get looked at nowadays.

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Re: A New Year and Fresh Start…

Everything that I’m trying to learn is sitting in a few piles on top of the piano and once I’ve learned it it’s supposed to go in a torn up old folder. Or, if it’s in a book form, it usually stays on top of the piano for several days until I decide to play it one last time so as not to forget it and then I move it to the music bookshelf. That’s my idea of organization.
As for my CDs, well, they have two piles, With-a-Case and Without-a-Case. Those piles are organized too. Well-Loved on the top and Well-Forgotten on the bottom. Actually come to think of it that’s how my music is organized, too…

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Organized? *big cheesy grin* I’m a bookkeeper with Asperger’s syndrome. I think the term is "hyper-super-over-organized".
My storebought tunebooks are sorted by country (mixed, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales), and within country generally by height (its an Aspie thing, never mind) —- or if all of the same height, then by degree of favoriteness or by some other criterion that makes intuitive sense to me. They don’t come off of the shelf very often, though, only when I’m firming up my grasp of a tune.
My cds are done alphabetically by artist, from right to left and from bottom shelf to top shelf (it drives my husband nuts but that’s the way I’ve always done it), and within the artist alphabetical by title unless they’re in order of issue. I can find the one I want by feel, unless I’ve recently gotten new ones and then I have to scramble.
My homemade session tunebook is alphabetical by tune title, but next time I download the file from the yaller board I’m going to redo it and group the tunes by set or at any rate in some order which makes more practical sense. That’s usually the tunebook I actually use, when I use dots at all.
Then there’s the pile of photocopied dots, mostly courtesy of a generous friend, which is in whatever order I played them last. Most of them I’m in the process of memorizing.
Then there’s the list of tune titles, with the first note in the right margin, grouped by which book they’re in in case I forget a bit and need to check it.
Increasingly, though, I can remember enough tunes well enough that I spend a good part of my practice time just playing, not reading or memorizing. *mouse cheers*

My practice time is pretty freeform nowadays. I play what I feel like playing, which generally includes some tunes I’m woodshedding, some tunes I’m trying to memorize, and some tunes I just feel like playing.
When time permits I play for 60 to 90 minutes, but will snatch a brief 15 minutes if that’s all that offers. (Or will intend to snatch a brief 15 minutes, and stagger to bed 73 minutes later, after 11 pm. *Yawn*) I try to play daily, but 3 to 5 times a week is the more usual rate.
My goal for learning new tunes is to learn the tunes I love listening to. There are so many of those that I’m in the process of listing titles and recording sources in a notebook so I can keep track of them all! I try to keep up with old ones by regularly listening to recorded versions of them so I’ll have them in my head and thus think of playing them, but I do tend to let tunes slide out of my awareness over time. Hence the list of titles, which I really really need to update. I don’t try to learn X number of tunes in Y period of time because I’m a slow and unpredictable memorizer.

Sorry for the novel —- at work, snowed under with year-end tasks, and desperate for an escape hatch. ;)

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M gill, I noted for the amount of tune I have and the way that I can play them when required, I blame this on learning at a very young age. I don’t have 15,000 tunes at the same time and I seriouly doubt that you do too. If I am wrong I would like to know your secret.
In general, I don’t have anything writing down, I learned most by ear. I used to play with a fantastic box player from Newcastle West in Limerick on stage ( Danny Brouder) for a few years and he used to go a good 10 days without repeating a tune and this mean’ t I had to as well and it proved very good for getting the rust of the tunes and putting them into full active sevice.

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His secret might be that he has converted all his tunes into postal stamps.

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If they’re all in ABC he could *print* them all on postage stamps!

Are you accusing him of practicing philately? ;)

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Oh dear…and the puns begin!

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Tootie - I’m not as organized as it seems. The alphabetically sorted sheet music collections aren’t mine. I prefer to store my tunes on hard disc, then they get sorted automatically. The songs I play by ear but somebody has to tell me often enough what key we are in.
As most groups we have one person who is rather disorganized. It’s not so bad with papers because there the others can help out. It’s worse with fixed dates and bringing things needed.
I try to keep my CDs andf MCs sorted - but don’t look into my kitchen drawers.

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