To become good

To become good

I just wanted to know how long it took the members to become good at thier instruments? How many hours or minutes a day do you practice or play? What did you find the hardest when learning? Try not to have a go at me will you.πŸ˜‰

Re: To become good

Paul-kin, I had a wee chuckle when I read this one. You’re a quare one for asking contentious questions. All these poor sessioneers are probably sitting there right now scratching their heads thinking "Am I GOOD? Well I think I might be, but I’m certainly not going to let on". You are a classic example of what is known as a "mixer".

Depends what you class as "good". You might think you’re good but other people think you’re crap… or vice versa. I fall somewhere in between; I think I’m crap while everyone else KNOWS I am. ;

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Well connan I think a good player is one that is friendly unlike some people on this site and he/she know their tunes. Why is it that all semi pro musicans are mean? Because I’ve talked to some really good pro’s and they always seem to be friendly but then you have the guys that think their S**t hot but they’re not and they’re really mean. I love the bodhran by the way and I think it brings life to the tunes. Do you like Tommy Hayes. My brother plays the bodhran and I think his good.

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Hey, if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t be in the kitchen.

Where’s the fun in not having a go.

I’ve only been on this site a few days & already I’ve seen enough nonsense written here to fill a skip! I know, most of it by me. However, once you understand that everyone gets a slagging, you loosen up & speak your mind & to hang with the consequences - after all we are all working with pseudonyms here anyway. Pssst …Conan is actually Tommy Hayes, Zina is Liz Carroll, Will of course is Harmon Munster & I am ………………the Bothy Band.

When I was starting off I would have practiced at least two, maybe three hours every day, but then I was in my mid twenties when I started so I had a lot of catching up to do. Nowadays, I would always play, every day, but I have 7 sessions each week, including a couple of junior ones I run, so I don’t get the same time to actually practice.

I discussed this with Sean McGuire a few years back, ( I just love dropping names ) & he told me he practiced 5 hours a day, & I wasn’t sure I believed him, but when I thought about it later, I guess he has more to loose than the rest of us, if he goes out & plays badly!

My son is a Jazz player, & I know for a fact he practices 5 / 6 hours every day.

I suppose it really depends on how much natural ability you have, how keen you are to improve & how much spare time you have to devote to music.

When I started out, the hardest thing I found to do was actually to put the instrument down & go & do something else. I remember sitting watching some of my favourite programs on TV with the sound turned off & De Dannen on the turntable - me playing along.

Don’t worry too much about how long you need to practice, practice for as long as you are really enjoying it, & try to get something positive out of each practice session. Set yourself wee goals, like a new tune, trying to perfect your ornamentation techniques, putting sets together smoothly, etc. etc. you know the kind of stuff. But never let it become a chore, remember why you wanted to learn to play in the first place, most probably your initial impulse was not to become the greatest player in the world, but you just wanted to be able to join in cause it looked like great fun - just make sure it stays great fun.

Well, I’m sure none of that waffle helped a bit, but then what the heck, none of us are getting paid for all this free advice anyway………………are we???

As to who’s good & who’s bad, just remember we’re all not as good as we could be, & none of us are as bad as we used to be - I hope!

Re: To become good

Con

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i’ve been playing the violin for 8 years now- in classical. for almost 5-6 yrs. i hated it and i wanted to quit-despretly. 2.5 yrs ago i went to a san francsisco scottish fiddlers concert lead by alasdair fraser concert, and fell in love with the energy of his music. i immidiatly signed up for the san francsisco scottish fiddlers after the concert. now 2 years later my playing has been effected tremendosly. i don’t practice every day- it depends on my schedule (i try to play at a local pub session 2ce a week) i really play whenever i feel like it. i’ve found that the more i practice when i don’t want to mentally i feel horrible. i think it really depends on the person. but GOOD LUCK!!! i’m sure you’ll become fabulous in no time!! πŸ™‚

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I am not what I consider "good" on my fiddle, but I think that I am making pretty good progress. I just thought I would offer the observation that practicing five hours a day for a beginner may not be the best thing. It is like the beginner golfer who goes out and hits bucket of balls until his hands are raw, and for the most part all he is doing is ingraining bad habits through muscle memory. I read some advice from a teacher that said, leave the fiddle out and pick it up throughout the day when you have a chance. His thought was that initially, short practice sessions done correctly are better than marathon done just for the sake of saying you practice five hours a day. This kind of made sense to me.

Re: To become good

Hey Paul,
I think I know the kind of information you are after! Unfortunately, the good folks on this list will never admit to being good. So, I’d just avoid that part and get to the meat of it. What does it take? It takes regular practice, and lots of listening to other good players to become good. I’d suggest that you also get a teacher, or several teachers and get tuition from them. You can ask their opinion of your progress. So, I think part of getting to the point where you are a good player is getting real feedback from "excellent" teachers. They will tell you that it’s a long, lifetime journey, and that you will know when you are ready for each step along the way. Your mentors, peers, and general experiences will help you along the journey. Have fun.

I have a goal to become good myself, Paul! Actually, I’d settle for knowing that when I die, the people who have to hear me at my regular session don’t say, "Good, now we can burn his #&@*!^9 pipes!"

All the Best,

Dirk (That’s my real name. I don’t carry a knife in my sock.)

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I’m not good so i can’t answer your question!
Some people say that i’m "good" but being the eternal pessimist i think that they are just being kind.
Anyway i practice about 10-12 hours a week and i agree with Conan above in that i am spurred on by the progress i’m making.
I’m happy enough in that i’m still enjoying playing and find myself getting more addicted every day. I think that i’m ok but suffer from being over critical of myself. I’ll never be the next Andy Irvine but i’ll die trying- at least i have the beard!

Re: To become good

Paul in regards to your earlier comment - not all semi-pro muso’s are mean & I know loads of pro muso’s who are really mean! Anyhow as mentioned before we are just slagging, I really dont think anyone on this site is deliberatly mean at all. Back to the subject, I for one practiced about 4-6 hours a day when I first started for about 2 years!! The result was an RSI type thing which meant I had to stop playing for 6 months! So I dont really recommend that. Now I dont practice at all, I was until very recently doing about 11 sessions a week, so didnt have time, but thats sort of practice in itself. So maybe an hour a day is a nice figure.

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Re: To become good

Johnny Cunningham (I like name dropping too, but just don’t have the years and contacts to drop as many as you, Dick *grin*) said that he leaves various fiddles sitting out around the house, and whenever he passes one by, he’ll pick it up and have a go. I started doing that (only 2 fiddles but then my place only has 2 rooms - works out well) and think it helps. At the very least, it makes walking through the house fun (albeit slow).

To answer your questions - I’ve been playing for 2 years come this Oct, I’m not good (unlike others on this site, it really *is* true about me πŸ™‚, the amount of time spent playing varies a huge amount from 8 hrs a day during particularly manic periods (unlike other areas, alcohol doesn’t help here, but drugs do!) to minutes a day during down periods (until I discovered that playing is a good cure for being in the dumps - now the avg is about 2 to 3 hrs per day - better living through ITM!) and the hardest part of learning was dealing with the frustration and anger at myself for not getting it. I still don’t quite *get* it, but am slowly creeping up behind it and hope to bag it real soon now. Actually, I still have a learners permit so bagging it has to wait. The word ‘practice’ no longer passes my lips (that’s 2 lips, 2 eyes, one nose since we appear to be counting), I only play. Focused play, stream of conciousness play, whatever (ok, semantics, but it works for me). No more ‘my rolls suck; if only I could get that triplet; man am I glad no one heard that; well, now, was that butchering that tune or what; geez, any worse and people’ll be calling animal rights about the torturing of small animals’ ad nauseum that is practicing for me (yup, well trained as a small child). Not that I don’t think the ‘I wish I sounded like X’, fill in the current fiddle-throb whose CD is on the player, thoughts, of course.

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It’s not a measure of time, or practice, etc. It’s more about when someone can emote through their playing. When you are so comfortable with your instrument that thought dies & all you have learned is just a second nature - all that matters is the music. When you feel something it just comes out, it’s something that just happens. I’ve heard people who’ve only played a short time be able to do it - I’ve also heard people try to do it for years & never get it. It sounds cliche, but there is something to the old addage "Be the ball" except that your should "be the music".

Re: To become good

Well said, Brad. Although of course when you’re adept on your instrument, it makes it easier to get the stuff out in a form that someone wants to listen to.

Really, Sos — I doubt that you’re all that horrible. And, unlike me, you don’t have mp3s and such out there to prove how awful you are. πŸ™‚

I do the Will Harmon thing — I leave my fiddle out by my desk and at various times of day when my computer is talking to itself or whatever, I pick it up and play it.

Zina

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I agree with you, Brad, it is not necessarily the amount of time or practice. However, for some of us, the ability to emote through our playing requires time and practice. Sometimes comments like "play what you feel’ and ‘when you feel something it just comes out’ really upset me. I ‘feel’ things about the music and the fiddle but when I play it doesn’t necessarily come out, this was especially true when I started. One of the biggest things that contributed to the self-directed frustration and anger was hearing over and over how just expressing feelings in the music was all you really needed to do. Arghhh! I was convinced that I would never get any closer to my main goals of making a jig sound like a jig and making music that made people want to dance because if all it took was to express the feelings inside, and my music didn’t do that, then the flaw was at a level that I could never, ever do anything about - in fact, I started to think that I had no feelings, or the ones I had weren’t valid, or something. Talk about angst! But, that was not the case. I had feelings, I just didn’t have the skill it took to make the fiddle express them. The more time, the more playing, the higher the skill level, the more I hear those feelings start to come out in the tunes (ok, maybe I’m not there yet, and maybe I’ll never be all the way there, but it has definitely improved).

So, while there are people who’ve only played a short time able to express the feelings (fair play to them), and there may be people who’ve played for years who never get it (lord, do not let me be one of them, it would kill me - but, at least I’d have ‘years’ before that happened), I’d claim there are people who, with time and practice, can get there.

Not saying that you don’t have a point (particularly with the getting comfortable with your instrument…) but want to encourage others that even if they can’t emote now, with time, practice and love of the music, they probably can get, if not ‘it’, then closer to ‘it’.

Ah Zina, but you do have a recording of me playing (and I cringe to think of it - I’ve thought about staging a raid on your place to steal it back and burn it) - remember the ‘Mighty Craic’ - so, whatever *did* happen with that?

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Kerri moved — and she hasn’t been back since that I know of. Searai? do you know what’s up with Kerri? I should write her and find out how she’s doing. I didn’t want to bug her with stuff until she wanted to deal with it. *You* know.

Sean Smyth talked a fair length about that whole emoting thing, Sos. To him, it appears to be a matter of having a "toolbox" full of "tools" (ornaments, bowing stuff, etc. — he used the whole tool metaphor throughout) to use and after you’ve gotten how to use the tools down, you can go on to the level Brad is talking about (I think), where everything you’ve learned is second nature and something you do as easily as driving a car, something that you don’t have to really think about. Then you can really "put yourself into the tune" as Sean calls it, with no effort, and changeable as sunrise.

Of course, ever had one of those nights where you’re playing — sawing, really — away, feeling like you’re really terrible and will never get better, and then someone, another player or a punter, comes up and tells you that they really appreciate all the feeling in your music? Weird.

By the way, if you want extreme slagging, you’ve got to hear the better Irish players, like Sean Smyth and Kevin Glackin, go at it. My god. Hammers and tongs and funny as hell, but not for the faint-hearted!

By the way — why do they call them punters? Anybody know?

Zina

Punters

Punters: for some reason, i always thought it was because of the "pints". But this is probably wrong.

To become good

How long does it take someone to become good? In my experience with the flute, it took about 6 months to be able to play melodies, and 5 years to be able to play on the third octave without offending the dogs. Then, at about 20 years of playing, i felt i definitely reached another level. Maybe on another 20 years i’ll get good, but probably not.

Technical proficiency is just a small part of it (but necessary). They you have to learn how to be fluent on a variety of musical languages, and how to integerate your own life experiences into your playing. And finally, find an Internet list where you can write stuff like this, so people will hopefully read and think i know what i’m writing about.

Hey, Arbo, no smileys!

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Zina, re. your comment earlier about me; all I can say is "Be still my beating heart"! Aw shucks - you’re pretty cool yourself.

All I can say for the benefit of those new to Irish Music boards in general is not to take anything people say on here too much to heart, especially if they’re making fun or if they seem nasty. It’s very easy to "speak your mind" on here; the most timid people in real life sometimes have a habit of becoming keyboard hard-men (or women). And it’s much more difficult to know when you’ve offended someone here than if you talk to them face to face. I think that’s actually one of the good things about these boards - that you can say what you want (within reason), but of course you must bear in mind that others will do the same. I also think some of us are at a slight advantage because we know other people or know friends of some of the guys ‘n’ gals here. Therefore, I can say, for example, that MICHAEL SANDS IS CRAP! with impunity ‘cos he would know I’m joking. Hopefully this addresses a point made earlier in the discussion.


Paul, I don’t know Hayes personally but he’s an excellent player. I’ve never seen anyone use his style before - he plays "upside-down" as far as I can tell, in that he holds the stick at the bottom and uses the top for the heavy beats. Don’t know how he does it.


Dick, you’re right about Maguire - he practises 5-6 hours a day. I know because I’ve been up in his house in Poleglass a few times. The guy’s got more energy than all of us put together! That’s my name-dropping done for today… by the way, will you be in Belfast anytime soon? Wouldn’t mind getting a few tunes with you.

Zina, the term punters is taken from the common word for people who place bets. Over time it’s become accepted as a term to denote Joe Public, over here at least.

Better get back to my course…

All the very best

Con

Re: To become good

Con

Re: To become good

I should be practicing if I ever hope to get good! But anyway, The first meaning of punter given in OED is someone who plays against the band at baccarat and the second is someone who bets or gambles. Origins told me to look up pungent when I looked up punter. That word comes from pungere which means to prick and is related to pugil- a boxer. There’s more here than I want to read but punter may come from betting at boxing.

Steve

Re: To become good

I am not sure what Good is. I know that we fiddlers are pretty tough on ourselves and other fiddlers. If you judge yourself by the best - you will most likely never be good.

I can tell you this, I practiced from 1 hour to 6 a day when I was up in New Jersey. I immersed myself in Celtic Music and playing. After two years of this, I was invited to play in an upstart and not very good band. Two Irish Pubs in town gave us a way in so we started performing very soon after. At that time - I thought I was good. No matter what reality was - I maintained my illusion and enjoyed what I was doing.

It came to a crashing halt when I attended my first advanced session. I couldn’t figure how they could play for an hour and not play anything I knew - even when I knew the piece I couldn’t keep up.

I was no longer good. I have gone from being Good to bad to Good to Bad many times. Everytime I felt I was good was when I crossed a major milestone. When I feel like I am not so good is when I can see that there are a bunch of milestones ahead of me. I watch and listen to other fiddlers. I admire what they can do better than me. I hardly pay attention to what I can do better than them. To me - they have a skill that I want.

Perhaps you have heard something to this effect. The better you get the smaller your audience becomes. That smaller and smaller audience seems to be who I rate myself against.

I keep getting better by listening to better players and by practicing at least 5 times a week. If you want to know how I manage 5 times a week - ask. (I’m not sure how I do it myself.)

All the best to you Paul - remember to enjoy the trip along the way.

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Steve, yer a man after my own heart. That brings up a whole new line of questions. How the hell do you play against the band at baccarat? And how do you play baccarat, anyway? How the heck am I going to get my work done on deadline if I keep this sort of thing up? *grin*

If you find something definitive on "punter", let me know, wouldja, Steve? I haven’t time to chase it down myself right now, but now I’m curious! Actually, I’m almost always curious. So nothing new there.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled subject.

Zina

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Sorry, Zina, I got bands on the brains. It’s play agains the bank. And I haven’t a clue about it. Steve

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Must be Burt Baccarat, Zina. You know, tall guy from Canada, had a small part in the Austin Powers movies.

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Aargh. Next time you’re in Denver, Glauber, remind me to throw something at your head. *grin*

Zina

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Sosaidh’s struggles with "practice" and playing "what you feel" are all too familiar for me, too. Life sucks when you have all this wonderful, soulful, heartfelt music welling up inside, and you reach for the fiddle and instantly annihilate any hope of reproducing what’s inside you because no matter how dearly you *want* to bring it out on fiddle, all that comes is an awful, sputtering caterwaul of elongated wreck-in-the-subway noises.

And after 20 years, I still go there way too often.

Consistency, at least on fiddle in my experience, is nigh impossible. I’m usually surprised and happy with my playing at sessions. I get in the zone and can play for hours with good tone, timing, and feeling. But nine times out of ten at home, just playing, I ruin every tune. It’s probably the pints at the session working their magic, heh, I dunno.

So rather than hate myself for sounding like crap after 20 years, I’ve decided to just experience the music for what it’s worth. Any more, I don’t worry about "interpreting" the tunes, seeking to express some experience that the music supposedly symbolizes. To me, the music IS the experience. Realizing this helped me enjoy the bald physical act of swinging a bow across the strings. Then I can almost forget whether it measures up to some notion of "good" or not and just enjoy playing.

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I previously perhaps overemphasised the practice time factor, but hey, who can improve without putting in the hours. I’m afraid I disagree with Brad, I believe time is a major factor, cause if you don’t commit serious time to practice, it doesn’t matter how much feeling you do, & 2nd nature you have, none of those things are accidents.

It’d be lovely to think you could go to sleep & wake up playing like Gavin, but no, it just doesn’t work that way, you’ve got to earn it. I really hate it when folk put great musicians down by saying, hey so & so’s a natural, like he didn’t even need to work at it. I wish I had a

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Oh, fair warning to you, Dick, don’t go throwing smileys and asterisks at Brad. He’s another smiley-hater. πŸ™‚ You won’t go winning any fast friendships with him that way!

Zina

P.s.

Brad can admirably take the heat in the kitchen, though, Dick …hell, half the time he’s the one heating up the oven!

zls

Re: To become good

persistence

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I’ve often thought that it’s oddly reassuring to know that some people bust their knuckles for tens of thousands of hours to get good at this stuff, and that even more of us can put nearly as much time in just to be passable players. Knowing that hard work leads to improvement (even if not virtuousity) is better than wondering why "magic comes out of his or her fiddle/flute/button box but not mine."

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Speaking of busted knuckles, could we have a show of hands for those of you who feel that physical problems (due to arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, nerve problems, etc.) limit your ability to play to your fullest potential? I’ve got joint inflammation that just about rusts my fingers solid, making it near impossible to play fiddle some days, and rotator cuff damage in both shoulders that interferes with bowing and the usual left-hand motions. In the small group of friends I play with, two whistlers have rheumatoid arthritis affecting their hands, another fiddler has worsening hand tremors from nerve atrophy, and perhaps most devastating, another is losing his hearing. We’ve joked about a good band name being Easlan (or whatever the plural is), the Invalids.

At any rate, I’m guessing that for many of us, our musical potential, our personal definition of "good," is shaped in part by irreparable body parts.

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Body parts

Well, there’s the old story (true or not?) about Mat Molloy having only one lung. My hands are small, and they still hurt when i play my M&E flute (a heavy bastard of a flute) for more than an hour straight. And i’m afraid i’m no athlete either.

Good for creaky joints

Hammered dulcimer is an excellent option for those with hand and wrist problems. I’ve recently experienced flare-ups of an old wrist injury, and realized that about the ONLY thing I do that doesn’t bother my wrist is play my dulcimer. (I interpret this as a message from the gods that I should work less and play music more.) It’s no problem to play wearing a wrist brace. A few months ago, I spent a couple weeks with my left index finger in a splint due to an injury. It was akward, but I managed to figure out how to play in spite of that. It would have been a lot harder to play a flute, fiddle, guitar, button box — you name it.

Given my location at 65 degrees North latitude, it’s probably fitting that I play one of the very few instruments that can be played wearing mittens. πŸ™‚

Sarah
Fairbanks, Alaska
(where it’s autumn now, and the birch and aspen trees are turning yellow)

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Dear Will
I have been off the air, busily doing my bit to try and change the world, and it was refreshing to read your last post. I took up the fiddle at the time that most musicians are going through that physical break down, and it was hard, really hard, to begin with, the RSI and finding ways, the most economical ways to use a left hand unused to the dexterity of rolls and cuts and triplets etc. I think it has been a blessing in disguise, because, now I play with a reliably economical left hand that does things without the unnecessary energetics of youth, and I can put ornamentations into something that sounds full of feeling and excitement.

I play because I have to play. It soothes the soul, and I love it. If I hadn’t run into left hand problems I wouldn’t have gone about trying to solve them and I wouldn’t play the way I do today. The depth and feeling would not be there.

When I first joined this site I posted a poem I wrote about practicing. I wrote it because I felt that way about practicing, and I still do. I guess you wouldn’t call it practicing in the technical sense of the word (I used to do that and it only caused me greif) - but it is getting the hours up - and it isn’t hard, in fact it is so easy, it is simply, come hell or high water, what I do.

For years I have been scoffed at, and dismissed as too old, crazy, what have you. I have had oodles of the conflicting kind of advice that upset the young friend of Zina’s at the session. I guess musicians can be well meaning, but they can be VERY WRONG. I have been labelled and ostracised. I even closed a session down. But I am still here - and playing heaps better than ever. I may be deaf, blind, crippled and insane - but I simply love the music, and that love is repaid 100, no 1,000 fold by the music, that has been so very good to me. The rest is piffle! Thank you ITM - you’re the greatest.
Cheers

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PS: My bow hold is, by necessity, highly unconventional, too. But amazingly similar, by accounts, to James Kelly.

Am I good? Well, no! Of course not. To me it isn’t about being ‘good’, but I hope I will continue to learn and grow forever.

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Yeah, I too have found that physical ailments can help you find more relaxed, efficient, and effective ways of playing your instrument. In fact, that’s THE distinguishing trait of my fiddling—I’m extraordinairily relaxed. I mean, people have actually laughed at how ragdoll I sometimes look. But it’s all about economy of motion and releasing every ounce of tension from your body. Funny how a serious limitation can actually improve your playing….

The aches and pains still take their toll, but the music far outweighs all that. I never enjoyed a carefree youth of playing without pain—the joint inflammation is a genetic disorder and I’ve had symptoms as far back as I can remember. The doctors put me on a wicked drug a few years ago, and until the side effects proved worse than the joint pain, I enjoyed about two months of hands and fingers that did whatever I wanted without complaining. It was really fun to have everything click—crisp quick rolls, great timing, almost no intonation problems, able to play for hours with no soreness or stiffness. But the honeymoon’s long over. Now I rely on special stretching and strengthening exercises, RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), and the lubricating effects of 12 yearold Jameson’s.

Anyhoo, sometimes it helps to share our stories so we realize that we’re not alone in battling our particular demons.

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That’s an interesting thing you mention there, Will, that serious limitations often improve your playing. It’s something like that thing we all find out as we grow older — that without pain (or at least some serious impetus to striving) often there’s not as much growth, in lots of the different processes we go through in life.

I’ve thought of this on and off since I began teaching — it’s the students who had things to overcome that I can’t seem to help but feel proudest of. Students who are naturally gifted at dancing are fun to have, it’s like magic and everything clicks, but when a student works and works at overcoming a problem and finally gets it, I want to dance and sing hallelujah for them. It’s such a lovely thing to see them be able to be so proud of themselves!

I don’t have kids, but I imagine it’s something parents must be familiar with when helping their children. No wonder most parents wouldn’t give up their kids for the world.

Zina

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There’s a saying among parents and teachers who sometimes face children in their ugliest moments, or children who don’t know any other way to behave: "The child who needs love the most will ask for it in the most unloving ways." In a milder form, that’s how I think about the people I’ve taught music to, how communication works, and how I think about my own shortcomings. The things in life that give you the most pain can also be the most rewarding to overcome.

We’ve talked about this on other threads too, that you’ll know you’re on the verge of making a lot of progress in your playing when you’ve been stuck on a plateau for a long time. That’s a miserable place to be for most of us, and that misery is exactly the motivation that makes us work harder, and so we end up better than we were, up on yet another plateau. Those gains are even more significant and powerful when you make them—or help someone else make them—in spite of some genuine physical (or mental too I suppose) limitation.

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Will, I absolutely go along with your RICE recipe (and mine), and the Jameson’s (a tad expensive for rubbing it in isn’t it!!!) *grin*.

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heeheehee…Jameson’s as a liniment…that’s one I hadn’t thought of!

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How do you know that Zina’s friends are young jill? Anyhow - I have loads of problems and Ive been playing only 7 years, which most of us realise is still nothing compared to most trad players. My right arm (bowing) is going through something, it feels like lead and often like there is no circulation….very weird and painful when I play. And the other hand has been in and out of RSI type things for as long as I can remember! Just getting back to the previous post of Ptarmigan, yes you have to practise, but it is sooo true some people have talent and others dont! You meet people who have been playing for years who are crap and others who are brilliant even when they practise the same amount each day!
Oh and jill - how on earth did you manage to get a session closed down πŸ˜‰ And as you say Musicians can be very wrong - we are all only human after all!

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Re: To become good

I developed a taste for the aged Jameson’s when the host of a local annual St. Paddy’s Day party got in the habit of giving us musicians a bottle as a thank you. I’ll admit, after half the bottle’s gone, some of it does start to spill onto the outsides as well. We had a session regular thank us for getting tanked one night—"I’ve been listening to you for years and thought you weren’t human you played so well. And tonight you’re really really bad. It gives me hope." Ah, Jameson’s the elixir, the balm, the great leveler…. πŸ™‚

bb, be careful with that bow arm! Is the deadness from the elbow down, or also in the upper arm? You may have a kink in a neural and/or arterial bundle, not something to dismiss without treatment. If a nerve is chronically pinched, you can end up with permanently weakened muscles or lack of feeling.

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Re: To become good

Definitely, bb! Remember, Mike Dugger had to stop playing fiddle entirely (but is now onto the box) because of something similar. You go get that checked out, young miss. πŸ™‚

Zina

Re: To become good

Oh! bb, that’s very sad. I hope your bowing arm gets better. And Will’s joints too, of course. I haven’t had any trouble with my hands for about 3-4 years now, touch wood (and even though I am computing, practicing and playing heaps). Maybe you could try Will’s RICE and 12 year old Jameson’s remedy? Elevated feet sound really good as well. Ahhhhhhhh, yes, that’s it, take some ‘r & r’ you probably deserve it.

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Re: To become good

Sorry, that sounded a bit cras bb, and I didn’t mean it to. It sounds as though you need to find a way around this problem. Cheers.

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Re: To become good

Great thread, Paul-Kin.

I will argue that it is not about "becoming good", but rather the exchange between musician/musician, and musician/listener-dancer-etc.

The music passes from musician to musician, generation to generation, and also from musician to "the listeners", whether the listeners are dancers, or any form of an audience, or simply people at a house party.

The music is an expression of our humanity, the same way that the love of chocolate cake is an expression of our humanity. It helps to define our human-ness, and is a result of our human-ness. Society may change, our values may change, but our desire to make music doesn’t change. It is part of whatever it is that makes us human.

People are able to enjoy music performed at almost any level of skill. Just observe a room full of parents at a piano recital given by children. LIkewise, the exchange between musician and listener can be a positive experience, regardless of the level of the player. Be SENSITIVE to the needs of the others, and have fun, and everybody will enjoy the music in the spirit in which it is intended. i.e. as an expression/celebration of our humanity.

Forget about becoming "good". Continue to refine your ability to
express your humanity, and have fun. If you’re having fun, then you’re doing it right!

still swimming upstream…expecting to run into flotsam and jetsam soon,
scottythefiddler

Re: To become good

Music is not about becoming good, but about becoming God. Just for a while (twice 8 bars times 2).

Re: To become good

God Will and zina, youve freaked me out now. The funny feeling is from my elbow down, tell me doctor Will - is it terminal?? It is a strange feeling tho, and if I do have to give up the fiddle like Mike Dugger then I cant imagine starting up another instrument, so I hope it isnt serious!

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Re: To become good

Glauber, oh my God, I hope it isn’t really about becoming God for even a little tad, even a demi-semi quaver or a cut.

It is about being a creative human being - beautiful, but still highly imperfect (and who isn’t?). Writers find their flow by writing, musicians find it by playing. A glorious addiction that I bet everyone on this site has to a greater or lesser extent, whether he/she would admit it or not. Scotty-the-fiddler sees it as an expression of humanity and I agree. A musician opens him/herself up every time he/she plays and puts it out there. Ultimately though, playing music has got to be from the heart, for the self, but then again, listeners are much more likely to hear the sincerity in sincere playing, and if they don’t, its their problem, so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

bb, I really hope your arm isn’t serious, too. Take it easy, get medical help, and keep us posted. It is far too important.
By the way, I forgot to answer your question about the session. I closed the session by going to it - no big deal. I went - they closed it - end of story. Must be at least five years ago now.
Not very exciting, but I will always remember.
Cheers

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Re: To become good

I think Glauber was just being funny, Jill — he does that. πŸ™‚

bb, Mike’s case was a nerve case being pinched and thus damaging the nerve. He lost feeling in his third finger on the left hand. Definitely, without even checking with him, I know Mike would tell you to go to your doctor, I would say preferably either one who specializes in working with musician’s injuries or a sports doctor.

Better safe than sorry.

Zina

Re: To become good

It’s far better to travel in hope than to arrive.
If you actually got to a place where you thought you were ‘good’ (Played immaculately, knew all the tunes you wanted to etc. etc.), you’d surely get bored. Isn’t picking up new tunes, picking up new ideas and techniques and the feeling (maybe unwarrented) that you are gradually getting better the fun part anyway?

Re: To become good

Jill: Om!
Zina: i’ll get good one day, i promise. Right after i learn how to fly.

Re: To become good

I think that Miles Davis, jazz musician, said it all with "It takes a long time to sound like yourself."

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Re: To become good

What a great quote - thanks CDon

Re: To become good

A good player once said to me your actually learning for the rest of your life. I think he’s right because everyday you play your learning more.

Re: To become good

The most difficult thing of all when playing music by yourself is to really listen to your playing, to hear your playing as others hear it. It really is incredibly difficult to do because what you think you are hearing is not what you’re actually doing but largely what your brain thinks it ought to sound like.
I think the one factor common to great performing musicians in all genres - itm, jazz, classical, rock, etc - is that they know how to listen to themselves. So they get the instant feedback which helps them to correct mistakes, think critically, and get to the stage where what they’re playing really is what they want to play.
I believe the best teachers will help you to achieve this critical self-awareness, realising that when you do achieve this ability consistently then you will become your own teacher. After a certain stage in their learning career most great musicians do become self-taught, only going to a teacher occasionally for a second opinion or to iron out a particular problem.
One way, in the early stages, of getting towards this goal of critical self-awareness is to use a tape recorder with a good separate microphone and playback through a good amp and speakers. The first time you try recording yourself don’t record a tune you’re learning or think you know. The result can be very off-putting! It is better to record your scales and arpeggios etc, and listen critically to intonation, tone quality, dynamics, coordination of fingers and bow, bowing etc (if you’re a fiddler), and get those right before you start working critically on tunes.

m

To become good

Someone raised the spectre of deafness afflicting musicians, a terrible thing. Some hearing loss as one gets older is natural, but does not necessarily mean that music is going to be closed to you. In most cases you’ll still hear sufficiently and intonation is unlikely to be affected. And with ITM you’ll always feel the rhythm of the music!
In my alter ego I play cello in a chamber orchestra where we once had a lead viola player, an elderly man (now dead), who was very deaf and had to use a hearing aid. His deafness in no way affected his playing, his enjoyment of the music, or his ability to lead the section. The only observable result of his deafness was that he occasionally chose to surreptitiously switch off his hearing aid when the conductor was addressing him during rehearsals!
I heard recently on the radio that there is a lady violist in one of the big London orchestras who is now completely deaf, having lost her hearing in her late teens or early twenties. Her prior professional training was such that she able to continue playing perfectly in tune by "feeling" the vibration of the viola and to play in a major professional orchestra. And there is of course the great percussionist Evelyn Glenny who is stone deaf.

m