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How long to learn to play?

Fadac 07 Jun 99 - 12:39 PM
Bert 07 Jun 99 - 01:01 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 07 Jun 99 - 01:01 PM
Nan 07 Jun 99 - 01:07 PM
Fadac 07 Jun 99 - 01:17 PM
Mudjack 07 Jun 99 - 01:22 PM
annamill 07 Jun 99 - 03:35 PM
Peter T. 07 Jun 99 - 03:55 PM
annamill 07 Jun 99 - 04:42 PM
Rick Fielding 07 Jun 99 - 05:29 PM
Fadac 07 Jun 99 - 05:39 PM
Banjer 07 Jun 99 - 05:56 PM
campfire 08 Jun 99 - 12:12 AM
gargoyle 08 Jun 99 - 12:21 AM
Rick Fielding 08 Jun 99 - 01:16 AM
Night Owl 08 Jun 99 - 02:27 AM
Banjer 08 Jun 99 - 05:40 AM
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au 08 Jun 99 - 06:43 AM
Indy Lass 08 Jun 99 - 10:27 AM
Fadac 08 Jun 99 - 10:38 AM
Night Owl 08 Jun 99 - 10:39 AM
Peter T. 08 Jun 99 - 12:09 PM
Rick Fielding 08 Jun 99 - 12:16 PM
gargoyle 08 Jun 99 - 10:27 PM
dick greenhaus 08 Jun 99 - 10:55 PM
Night Owl 08 Jun 99 - 10:57 PM
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Subject: How long to learn to play?
From: Fadac
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 12:39 PM

Hi, I have heard that it takes 7 years to make a bagpiper.

I think it will take me at least three years to get comfortable with the accordion, to play in public. my teacher thinks more like five. Probably about that much for a piano too.

So here is the Mudcat question: How long do you think it would take a beginer, that would be willing to take instruction, practice at least an hour a day, to play your instrument in public. I'm not talking about professional quality, but good enough to play at a sing-a-long, or campfire music, informal stuff.

Thanks,

Fadac.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Bert
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 01:01 PM

That I guess would depend on the persons musical background. What would take me years, a good musician could probably master in a couple of days.

That aside, I have these personal rules for doing anything.

To be able to do something, you must practice (or train) at least ten minutes a day.

To be able to do something WELL, you must practice at least two hours a day.

To be able to do something PROFESSIONALLY, you must practice at least eight hours a day.

FWIW, Bert.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 01:01 PM

This depends so much on the instrument, the learner, and the instruction! Some people are quick studies at any instrument; they pick it up and seem to know intuitively how to make it sing. The rest of us have to struggle on, hitting plateau after plateau (or is it wall after wall?). I practice sporadically, and the older I get the longer it seems to take to get even half-way decent at a new instrument. Practice, practice, practice and be brave enough to make mistakes when you're around other more experienced musicians- you'll learn so much from them! Good luck!


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Nan
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 01:07 PM

As long as you have a "fire" in your heart about the instrument and practice I would have to say in a year you could feel comfortable playing with your friends.

There is ALWAYS somebody who can play better than you so why wait? Have fun! Yours in running horse hair across cat-gut and calling it music! Nancy


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Fadac
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 01:17 PM

Well, what I was looking for, was more like, an instrment compairson. Like I remember kids in HS that would take gutiar and be playing something at the end of the summer. Ok only 4 chords perhaps, but that is good for strum along, sing a long.

Yes, the key is practice. I think that someone who can play by ear, listen to a song, then play it. Well, that is some sort of natural talent that eludes me. The only way I can play a tune without the sheet music, is to muscle learn the song. Even on my "easy" concertina playing one note at a time, it takes me weeks to get a new tune down, to play by memory.

Blessed are the talented. Me, I alwise feel that I'm just on the edge of "getting it". Then the carrot moves, so I reach out again. I think its a road with no end, but I love the trip.

Fadac


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Mudjack
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 01:22 PM

Learning basic G,C,and D on guitar and practicing everyday I was doing my first song in three months. That is using a cheat sheet or singing and playing without any memory work.
Last year a young lady called me to teach her banjo and sing along to it. She was an excellent student and did her daily practicing. Since I'm not a banjo player and only dink around with it. I made it clear to her that I could only get her started and promised her in six months she would play and sing a song. About three months into the promise, she sang and played banjo chords giving a very respectable rendition of "This Land is Your Land".
The amount of time one takes to step up and do their first presentable song is a wide variable. I know folks who have been hacking for years and still will not sing in front of other people. The sad part is they're probably good and will never share their song(s).
Good thread...Mj


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: annamill
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 03:35 PM

Oh Gads! This doesn't give me much hope to have "keep on truckin' Mama" down by July 17th. I'm going to try though.

annap


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Peter T.
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 03:55 PM

Annap, all you really have to do is get the moving right. Once you truck right, that's what they'll be looking at. The question is: does your body have music in it, and where does it come out to play? Ain't no July 17th in it.
Yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: annamill
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 04:42 PM

Peter T, Movin' right has never has been a problem ;-) That's a natural talent. Playing guitar on the other hand is a real challange for me and I'm working under the handicap of no natural talent in that area.

annap


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 05:29 PM

Rick's highly predjudiced formula to cut your learning time on stringed instruments by two thirds, and to reach a skill level that will earn you praise from good players:

1. Your ear (once trained) will give you far better and much quicker results than tablature.
2. Decide which style you want to play (at first) and have a number of recordings at hand of the folks who perform that style. Put them on cassette so you can do a lot of stop and start listening. If it is old-tyme banjo that turns you on, listen to Rufus Crisp, Dock Boggs, Bob Carlin, Chris Coole, uncle Dave etc. and then read about these people and find out what stoked the fires and made them masters of their instruments. You'll learn so much faster if you don't take a superficial approach.
3.Learn three chords: G, C, and D7, and then sing or hum (to yourself if you're shy) from an entry level folk music song book,(always start with the "G") pieces like Skip to My Lou, 'Comin Round the Mountain, Tom Dooley, Old Grey Mare, Froggy, etc. while strumming your three chords. Ignore the chords in the book, and after about 3 days of this (some take a bit longer) you'll find that the chords you choose are starting to be the right ones more often than not. This is how you train your ear, and it won't take long.
4. Only now, start adding a chord every 3 or 4 days, ie. an Am, or Em and try to find simple songs to sing, that you can use the new chord in.
5. If it's guitar your learning, buy a capo, and try singing your songs with the capo on the first up to the sixth fret. This is how you'll find where your voice is at and once again really helps the ear training.

Within about 3 or 4 weeks following this method you should be able to play along in a rudimentary fashion with quite a number of fairly simple songs, and you'll be developing "feel" which is by far the most important thing in the making of a good musician.
If anyone's interested I'll post the second part of my (highly prejudiced) method a bit later. Good pickin'
rick


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Fadac
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 05:39 PM

Rick, Sounds good. My wife wants to learn banjo, I think she might be able to work your method. Please post more.

This is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for.

Now to search the 2nd hand shops for a used 5 string...

Fadac


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Banjer
Date: 07 Jun 99 - 05:56 PM

Wonderful Rick, I always felt a little guilty when my teacher told me how to fret the chords and where to use them on my banjo, and after he left I would experiment and find different ways of doing the same thing! At first I thought that by not following his teachings to the nth degree I was not doing things right and therefore never would.

Throw the guilt trip out the window, tell the teach how YOU are going to do it, and then have fun. I progressed much more rapidly after adopting that method than I had in the months under his tutelage. He still comes and shares new ideas with me which I incorporate into my playing, but I no longer feel that his is the only way of doing things! I guess the moral of the story is, "There is more than one way to skin a cat" (With apologies to Catspaw, of course!)


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: campfire
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 12:12 AM

I liked your suggestions, Rick. Its a little late for me, but I think I'll try it anyway. (Never too late, right?)

I've always regretted not being able to play by ear. I "need" the chords, at least; then, if I've heard the song enough, I can "fudge" well enuf to play and sing the song reasonably well. Does that mean I fudge by ear?

campfire


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: gargoyle
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 12:21 AM

My personal experience (not with bag-pipes)

3 = personal satisfaction

5 = untrained public

7 = a trained person on the same intrument

9 = a good instructor

On a similar note: PRACTICE
Miss one day = you know it
Miss two days = your instructor knows it
Miss three days = the whole WORLD know it.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 01:16 AM

Campfire - can I call you Dawn? It's my all-time favourite female name.
IT'S NOT TOO LATE! Read my lips, as your next president's father used to say. (sorry about that..please, no political rejoiners) A lot of folks start to play in their 60s! I know cause I've taught several of them. One of the reasons that I made a conscious decision 11 years ago to play concerts half the time and teach the other half, is the absolute joy I get from seeing people learn to HAVE FUN with music.
The hardest thing to do is be a long time player and realise that you are not getting the full benefits from your experience. I really hope I'm not over-stepping the line here but what the hell! Peter T has been playing for many years but felt he might benefit from a couple of sessions, so we got together. He has accumulated a vast array of skills, but I felt something very basic was missing. His right hand picking was far too complicated and consequently it was hard to hear the actual "beat" of the song, making it very difficult to play along with him. I've asked him to break his right hand style into 3 or 4 far simpler patterns, (one involving a flat pick) and this can take a few weeks to do. Most folks in this situation cant bring themselves to "unlearn" that which they've been doing for so many years and consequently they will always have difficulty playing with others. Peter has kept an open mind, worked at it and probably very soon will reap a lot of benefits from harnessing a simpler approach. Immediately after, he'll be able to decorate this style with dozens of interesting variations - but only because he had the patience to re-learn the basics.
Sorry Peter, I really didn't mean to expose your right hand to the world!

Fadac, make sure she gets one with a straight neck. If you can find one of the Japanese banjos, from the seventies or early eighties (El Degas, Ibanez, Fender, Washburn etc.) They are really well made, and are pretty cheap. Most of the Korean ones (even with the same names) are pretty bad.
rick


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Night Owl
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 02:27 AM

Rick...just want to say THANK YOU for being here and your posts...(I'm still trying to take lessons from the "Weird Chord" thread.) Without sounding presumptive, as I just play living room music, I would add to your wonderful "formula"....to be careful to slow EVERYTHING down, while learning, to the slowest part of your playing. Otherwise, once the tune is up to speed, there will be a hesitation which is difficult to undo. Re: "How long to play".....I love handing people (who feel they have no musical talent), either a Dulcimer or an Autoharp. With a five minute explanation of how the instruments work, its always exciting for me, when they're then left alone with the instrument, to see what results. I also think the Dulcimer is an excellent instrument for training an ear to hear whether the next note goes up or down and how far....maybe because its so visual. I could ramble on about how introductions to these two instruments have encouraged people I've met in my life to go on to more complicated musical goals and enjoyment..but 'nuff said!


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Banjer
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 05:40 AM

I believe Night Owl is correct in his evaluation of the dulcimer as a teaching tool. I was having much trouble with timing in my banjo learning process. After just a few days of playing with the lap dulcimer I had a better grip on the process and was able to transpose what I had learned to the banjo. I now alternate both instruments abvout equally and am even getting up nerve to pick up the long neglected guitar again! One of my main problems, I'm sure, is that I have been inable to find someone in my area (other than my instructor) to practice with. I really feel if you have someone sitting across from you with whom to trade playing styles it would be a great help.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 06:43 AM

That is good advice Rick. I think everyone should take it no matter how they choose to learn their instrument. Even if you are a world champion sight reader, you have to develop your ear. That is what music is all about. I do think you make progress faster if you play with other people as soon as possible. I like to do that as soon as I can play a few notes/chords on an instrument.

Murray


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Indy Lass
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:27 AM

Dont' forget to listen, listen, listen. It was the listening that motivated you to pick up the instrument you have now adopted as a major part of your daily life. I used to think that listening to other players would keep me from finding my own "style." But that listening is what keeps passion for the music going, I've since found out. And however you make the music yourself, you can't help but play it your way.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Fadac
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:38 AM

gargoyle;

Is that hours, days, months, years?

My guess is years, and it sounds 'bout right.

Surprised nobody mentiond the recorder or penny wistle. I bought one of the pennywistles and book, and was able to play the dots fairly quickly. I gave it up when I tried to play a tune that didn't have the nice little "helper" dots. Only music. I have found that most of the "cheets" really don't help all that much. Yes you can make a tune quicker, but then you have to unlearn all the helper stuff, and learn to read the muisc anyway.

I very first started on a recorder. Sheet muisc, finger chart next to the music. Look at note, find fingering, (tweet), find note, read fingering, (tweet), repeate untill end of song. (EOS?) Not very fast, but after a week or so, I had the baisc fingering down. Took about a month, before I felt comfortable enough to play for mother-in-law. (Who is a very very advanced piano student.) Well, she didn't faint, or throw-up, so I guess it wasn't so bad.

Anyway, this is a great thread, let's me see how others are learning.

Fadac.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Night Owl
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:39 AM

Banjer..."he's" a she.....no sexchange operation just a very straight "she"...who enjoys good acoustic music that speaks of life's struggles, whatever the source. (whoops..."thread creep") I meant to include in my previous post that both the Autoharp and Dulcimer can be played simply or complicated as the player progresses or wishes.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Peter T.
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 12:09 PM

Jesus, Rick, now they know about my travels and my right hand! Stop!!! (A lady once came up to James Joyce and said, "May I kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses?" and Joyce replied, "No, it did a lot of other things too!")
Rick happily didn't point out that I play basically like a mentally challenged horse. And that he is extremely patient as a teacher.
Anyway, as a late dope, I thought I might add one thing to this thread -- a very little music theory can help a ton. One reason I was stuck for so long was I couldn't organize all the hundreds of songs around me, and the screwing around on the piano I was doing. I learned all these chords to all these songs, but they didn't mean anything -- I just played what was there. Then one day, I sat down and learned some elementary theory, and Jesus is it simple!
Rick mentioned G, C, and D7, but what he didn't say was that you find these together in hundreds of songs, because they are in the same key! And they are related!! If you know all this, move on, but if not, hang with me for a second. Here is the relationship. If the song starts with a G chord and ends with a G, it is likely in the key of G. So call the G chord a one chord ( I). The rest of the chords in the key are built on the bottom notes (G,A,B, etc) as you go up the scale. A C chord is the IVth in the sequence, and the D7 is the Vth (actually V7), called the dominant (the little 7th is to push the chord in the direction of the original chord G which is where the song is heading) . The one chord (I) is also called the tonic chord, and most Western music since 1700 goes from the tonic (I) to the dominant (V) and back again. Like Beethoven's symphonies and virtually all songs. So in the Key of G, you will get G, C, D7 (the I, IV, V7). There are different patterns where the IV chord comes in to supplement the V. This shaping of the tune works in all other keys too! If you have a song in the Key of C, C is I, F is IV, and G7 is V7). As the keys get more complicated, there are flats and sharps, but that is the main idea. Lots of folk songs stick in G or C. Once you are started in a folky type of G song, you can usually bet that it will work towards a D7 and out again to G. This doesn't work for complicated tunes or jazz, but lots of tunes. You will also get IIs and sometimes IIIs, and occasionally weird chords from somewhere else: but mostly the chords are predictable Is, IVs and Vs!! Lastly: if you go past the V to the VI (in G that would be E), lo and behold you will usually find it showing up in the song as a minor (Em). You can find out what a minor is on your own. Anyway, this is the relative minor of the key you are in, and tunes often migrate into that particular minor key, just to be different. G tunes migrate into Em, C tunes into Am, D tunes into Bm, and then back out again!!

If I had known that whole last paragraph 20 years ago, I would have saved years and years of messing around on the guitar to no purpose.
Moral: Reinvest in music education in schools!!!!!!
Yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 12:16 PM

So glad you mentioned Autoharp and Dulcimer, Night Owl. I've had a number of students who admitted that they were "unteachable". HaHaaa! I whisper quietly to myself. That's where I become Svengali in a T shirt. NOBODY is unteachable! I just feel that the vast majority of teachers aren't willing to put in the time or the imagination to find a way to get these folks playing. (on the other hand, the vast majority of teachers probably know how to run a business properly and relate to the bottom line - something that seems to continually elude me.)
Some folks are so visually oriented that they can't relate to guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, or concertina, cause they simply can't see up close what their fingers are doing. I just bring out the old Dulcimer or Autoharp. I've even done a conversion on one of my harps so it can be played on the lap with plenty of space for the right hand to strum, and can be started with just one bar in the cartridge. The person can just strum along while I sing a one chord song. (Pretty Polly, Nottamun Town etc.) Without any other bars to distract them, they get the hang of it pretty quickly. Then I add a second bar (usually a 5(7th) chord, and start singin' "Skip to my Lou". Eventually they get used to the idea that they're actually MAKING MUSIC, and as far as I'm concerned, the battle's half won. Play an autoharp for a few weeks and a banjo doesn't seem so fearful anymore.
rick


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: gargoyle
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:27 PM

Whoops!!!

Years on the top

Days on the bottom

If someone went three years without practicing I doubt that they had any musical spirit.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:55 PM

Interesting question. My first public "performance" was in 1945, when I had been trying to learn guitar for about a week. I found that I could accompany a group singing Hey Ho Nobody Home by picking the two bass strings (open, of course) of my guitar. To make it look good, I pretended to fret all over ther neck on the other strings. Chutzpah is a perfectly adequate replacement for technique when it comes to performing.

As to how long it takes to play, I'll let you know when it happens. I suspect Rick and Art would concur.


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Subject: RE: How long to learn to play?
From: Night Owl
Date: 08 Jun 99 - 10:57 PM

Rick...I agree totally with your comments about the instruments...I do think that once a human being of any age realizes that they are actually MAKING MUSIC, the battle is won, because it creates the motivation and commitment to learn more....the rest is just work. It was a wonderful surprise for me to learn how many Autoharp players are here. I've always felt both instruments are grossly underrated given the beautiful sounds they produce and their ability to create confidence in the player. Someday, I WILL SEE this Autoharp you have created!!!!!!!!!


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