Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Sessions - how do you learn?

autoharpbob 08 Nov 10 - 06:38 AM
alex s 08 Nov 10 - 07:06 AM
Alan Day 08 Nov 10 - 08:41 AM
breezy 08 Nov 10 - 08:59 AM
Les in Chorlton 08 Nov 10 - 09:02 AM
SylviaN 08 Nov 10 - 09:13 AM
Howard Jones 08 Nov 10 - 09:23 AM
Valmai Goodyear 08 Nov 10 - 09:37 AM
alex s 08 Nov 10 - 10:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 08 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Dáithí 08 Nov 10 - 10:34 AM
Leadfingers 08 Nov 10 - 10:40 AM
Howard Jones 08 Nov 10 - 10:44 AM
Taconicus 08 Nov 10 - 11:46 AM
Leadfingers 08 Nov 10 - 11:54 AM
Paul Davenport 08 Nov 10 - 11:57 AM
autoharpbob 08 Nov 10 - 12:05 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 Nov 10 - 12:07 PM
Will Fly 08 Nov 10 - 12:09 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 Nov 10 - 12:10 PM
Seayaker 08 Nov 10 - 12:18 PM
SteveMansfield 08 Nov 10 - 12:27 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Nov 10 - 12:53 PM
Will Fly 08 Nov 10 - 01:24 PM
Les in Chorlton 08 Nov 10 - 01:59 PM
Mavis Enderby 08 Nov 10 - 02:29 PM
autoharpbob 08 Nov 10 - 03:33 PM
Jack Campin 08 Nov 10 - 05:01 PM
G-Force 09 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM
SteveMansfield 09 Nov 10 - 01:05 PM
Will Fly 09 Nov 10 - 01:43 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Nov 10 - 07:14 PM
Valmai Goodyear 10 Nov 10 - 04:53 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Nov 10 - 05:15 AM
johncharles 10 Nov 10 - 05:26 AM
Howard Jones 10 Nov 10 - 06:48 AM
RobbieWilson 10 Nov 10 - 08:26 AM
Marje 10 Nov 10 - 08:50 AM
Valmai Goodyear 10 Nov 10 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,LDT 10 Nov 10 - 09:48 AM
Marje 10 Nov 10 - 10:46 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Nov 10 - 01:36 PM
autoharpbob 10 Nov 10 - 02:34 PM
Tootler 10 Nov 10 - 07:03 PM
SteveMansfield 11 Nov 10 - 03:11 AM
Phil Edwards 11 Nov 10 - 03:59 AM
Valmai Goodyear 11 Nov 10 - 05:21 AM
SteveMansfield 11 Nov 10 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 11 Nov 10 - 06:26 AM
Pibydd 11 Nov 10 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Gavin Atkin 11 Nov 10 - 08:50 AM
Leadfingers 11 Nov 10 - 09:12 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:




Subject: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 06:38 AM

I was at a great session yesterday - thanks to all at the Dog and Bone Lincoln. Now this is not what I do. I sing, and play autoharp solos. I don't know many tunes, and playing fiddle tunes up to speed on the autoharp is difficult anyway. The autoharp is also limited in the chords it has available, especially my diatonic harps, so often modal tunes and minor tunes and tunes in E or B are particularly difficult for me. But I really enjoy playing with others, and the autoharp can add a lot to sessions - good bass, good rhythm, full bodied sound. But this post isn't really just about autoharps. What I want to know is how do you learn how to play in a session? How do you learn the tunes, how do you learn how to fit in? I suppose just by going along. But does anyone run any "beginners sessions"? The one I attended was certainly to me very advanced!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: alex s
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 07:06 AM

There are some very good session tunebooks by Mally which will give you a good repertoire of popular tunes, assuming you've got time. Otherwise, keep going along and you will start to hear "patterns" and become more able to anticipate. But the golden rule is - if you don't know it, don't play until you do!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Alan Day
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:41 AM

A tune consists of basic notes and a lot of twiddles.
If you listen very carefully the first time through you should be able to find the basic notes that form the tune ,which you can start playing (quietly). After a number of times through you can gradually introduce the additional notes that form the tune.If you attend sessions on a regular basis you will gradually learn these tunes off by heart, which will then make room for others. If you introduce a new tune to a session ,do not be put off that very few join in. They are going through the same learning process. If after five sessions you are still getting no response from your tune then ,it may be time to move on to another.
Al


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: breezy
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 08:59 AM

If the session always feature the same tunes each week then by about 100 visits some of them may stick in your mind.

Its not very easy to join in with tunes you dont know

So

plan B

learn your own tunes and play them and let the regulars get to know your repertoire and let them struggle to join in with you

or learn a song

Whatever, good luck


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:02 AM

A growing phenomena are 'Beginners Sessions'. Quite a few festivals, eg Shrewsbury, have them, some established sessions have them for the first hour and some people run them as an evening or as part of a weekend session.

At Beginners sessions tunes are generally available as dots and sometimes via ABC or Noteworthy files. These files will play the tune to you at any tempo you fancy. At the actual sessions tunes are played slowly with lots of repeats.

Cheers

L in C#
PM me for more details


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: SylviaN
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:13 AM

Slow/beginners' sessions at festivals are great. Some regular sessions spend the first part of the session either teaching tunes or playing them slowly(I know of a few in Derbyshire so contact me if you are interested).

Something nobody has mentioned thus far is to record tunes at session that you usually attend when they play them too fast for you to join in. This is something I found very useful. Then, you can take them home and learn them at your leisure. Play them in the car and learn to hum them. Once the tune is in your head, you'll know if you're playing it correctly.

Hope this helps

Sylvia


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:23 AM

You could try these guidelines:

1) Identify the key. It is really annoying to have someone confidently bashing out a 3-chord trick in the wrong key, or who has identified the key but plays major chords when minor is required. In particular, be sensitive to tunes which change keys or which switch from major to minor.

2) Identify the rhythm, and be aware of subtleties. Just because tunes are in the same time signature doesn't mean they have the same rhythm. A tune in 3/4 isn't necessarily a waltz, for example. 3/2 isn't a slow 3/4.

I know a guitarist who appears to be unable to hear the difference between major and minor keys, and who uses the same strumming pattern pretty much regardless of the rhythm of the tune. He thinks that just because the strum comes on a beat he's playing in time. Both habits are very annoying!

3) Look for patterns. Most British and British-derived American tunes follow a simple pattern of 2-bar phrases, repeated with slight variations. Typically:

A part:
Phrase 1a
Phrase 2a
Phrase 1b (possibly with a slightly different ending)
Phrase 2b (usually with a slightly different ending)

B part:
Phrase 3a
Phrase 2a
Phrase 3b (possibly with a slightly different ending
Phrase 2b

Once you understand the pattern of the tune, you'll find you only have to learn a few short bars in order to get by.

4) You don't have to play everything. If there's a bit of a tune you haven't quite got, just miss that bit out. If you can't get your head around a tune, take a break.

5) Until you've got it, play quietly.

6) Record the session in order to learn and practice tunes

With experience, it's quite easy to fit into a new session even if you don't know the tunes, provided they're in a genre you're familiar with, and comfortable with.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 09:37 AM

May I recommend the Lewes Favourites tunes, which were put together by a few people wanting to learn tunes popular in local English tunes sessions? Most of the work was done by Andy Warburton, who deserves a lot of credit. You can download the tunes from the Lewes Saturday Folk Club website download page in abc, Noteworthy Composer and MIDI format. This is free. You can also buy them as a book with illustrations, photos of the habitats where they flourish, historical and anecdotal details and a foreword by Dr. Vic Gammon (£10 plus £1 p&p).

The collection arose out of monthly free practice sessions for any instrument played to any standard. These Lewes Favourites practice sessions are still running in Lewes, Sussex on the fourth Tuesday evening of the month at the Elephant & Castle. We play the tunes over and over again, slowly, so that people can pick them up by ear whether or not they ready music. It's a self-help group, not a course of instruction; experienced players may turn up with an instrument that's new to them, as may people who've been playing for years or have only just started. We don't stick to the book; people bring tunes that they've heard recently and want to learn. It's great practice for playing with other people.

For some years now, the Spare Parts Concertina Band has run English tunes practice sessions at the Chippenham Festival and other festivals as well. We generally get about 50 people at each session and they are good fun.

Valmai (Lewes)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: alex s
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:32 AM

This is a great resource, Valmai. many thanks


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM

We meet in this spirit on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at The Beech, Beech Road, Chorlton, Manchester to play steadily, although we are picking up a bit of pace as we enter our third year in January

L in C#


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: GUEST,Dáithí
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:34 AM

Hi autoharpbob!

I was the whistleplayer at that session you mentioned and can confidently endorse much of the above comments and advice.

BUT also - it really is an informal session and most of us would have been delighted had you played some of your own stuff solo - or led us into something. Pease don't be shy next time!
Best wishes
Dáithí


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:40 AM

Good quality digital recorders are not 'orrid expensive these days - I use one for collecting new tunes at sessions . Dead easy to dowmnload to 'puter then burn a CD to play in the car . NO problem asking for titles from who ever leads a tune at the end of a set either!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 10:44 AM

"NO problem asking for titles from who ever leads a tune at the end of a set either!"

No problem asking... I know lots of tunes and lots of titles, but somehow I'm unable to connect them together in my head :(


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Taconicus
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 11:46 AM

When you're just starting, playing along with the others in the session consist chiefly of knowing, or being able to figure out, what chords are being played, and being able to play those chords or a string progression (in the case of the harp) that goes along well with what is being played. Learn the melodies of the songs being played, so you can anticipate what is coming next. If possible, ask the other players before hand what the chords are, or at least what key is being played. Quite often the group leader, or helpful players, will (or be willing to) say out loud what the key is before the song starts. Of course, you have to know what chords are generally played in the different keys. For example, key of C tunes will have lots of C, G, F, and perhaps corresponding minors (Am, Em, etc.) in them. Until you're sure of yourself, play softly so if you make mistakes it won't be too noticeable.

Don't give up; eventually you'll get the hang of it, especially as you become more familiar with the songs generally being played. Remember, we've all been there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 11:54 AM

Howard - ASKING is no problem - Getting a sensible answer sometimes can be !
And I still cant make up my mind wether I'd rather name all the tunes I can play or play all the tunes I can name !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 11:57 AM

Howard's advice is very comprehensive. Just oe trick nobody's mentioned is to listen carefully to the final note of a tune. This is usually, but not always. the 'key' note of the tune. You can use this note to identify the key and then you have access to the so called 'three chord trick'. Then, as Taconicus notes you also have the relative minor chords which can, in many places, be substituted for their relative majors.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:05 PM

Thanks for all the friendly help and advice - and Hi Dáithí, sorry I didn't get your name! I started by saying this wasn't all about the autoharp, and appreciate the general advice I have received here. I am reasonably competent about picking out the key, and usually can tell where a minor chord is needed, and given the key I can usually suggest what chords will be used - though the odd B7 in a C major tune throws me, and a lot of the modal stuff throws me! I deliberately sat quiet in the session as I was just not confident in that situation. I did lead one tune - "Hector the Hero" - which is slow, mostly major and one I confidently play solo - but found that I was pushing to make myself heard on such a quiet instrument and making mistakes I don't usually make. I guess in a session you don't expect guitars to lead - though your very own Django was an obvious exception Dáithí, - and I guess the autoharp needs to be in the rhythm section too. I do intend to persevere in trying to find a place in sessions, or at least in playing with others, so maybe I will not be so shy next time! I will obviosuly need to learn at least the chord progressions for some tunes - I recognised "Soldiers Joy" and that was about it on Saturday! - my usual repertoire is songs and Carter Family stuff, with a few slower Old Time tunes thrown in. And as I said, thanks for making me welcome, and I did enjoy listening as much if not more than playing.!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:07 PM

Fiddle tunes for the most part are of the most elementary structure. Often the song's key acts as a "dwell" point for the melody. Soldier's Joy, for example, could be played in D with no fourth or fifth elements.
You may be helped by going to the Pegram Jam Site and downloading the Pegram Songbook, which has chord notation for nearly every fiddle tune. This has helped me immensely, and is almost indispensable for the more complex fiddle tunes like Blackberry Blossom.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:09 PM

About a year ago, I started going to a monthly session of French tunes in a country pub not too far from me. Not knowing the score (no pun intended...), I took a guitar along and played quietly, listening mostly as most, but not all, of the music was unfamiliar to me.

Talking to the organiser during a break, I discovered that he'd put together a PDF document of some of the more popular tunes which were played more or less regularly at this session. He willingly emailed me this to me at my request and, when it arrived, I spent a pleasant hour or two going through it and decided to learn them on mandolin, rather than guitar. I think it's easier - for me, at any rate - to pick up melody lines and join in (with totally unfamiliar tunes) on a mainly solo string instrument like a mandolin, rather than on a guitar.

So the next session I went to, I was armed with some knowledge of the repertoire and even managed to kick one off myself. At a later session, I also did what Leadfingers has suggested above and took along my Zoom H2 - as have other novices at this session.

I still have a fair amount to learn as new tunes from the seasoned regulars keep cropping up every session, but at least I'm more familiar with the genre and can pick up more of the music by ear as I go along. The music, by the way, is generally played on hurdy-gurdy, button accordion, French pipes, and fiddles - a sound I'd not really heard before and one which sent me away searching for CDs by La Chavanée and others!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:10 PM

Pegram Fiddle Tune Chord Book


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Seayaker
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:18 PM

If you find out the names of the tunes most will be on YouTube, a really good resource for familiarizing yourself with them and playing along.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:27 PM

All of the above, and the more you do it the easier it becomes.

Do just ask before recording a session - most people (myself very much included) are happy to be recorded by people like yourself who want to learn more, but I do also know that some people get quite extraordinarily upset about it, so best to check first.

Good luck


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 12:53 PM

I think it's really important to find a nice friendly bunch of people to play with. Not all sessions take this side of things very seriously and sessions can turn into a bit of a competition as to who can play tunes quickest

L in C#


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Will Fly
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:24 PM

As a recent stranger at the Beech, Les, I was most impressed by the quality of the playing, the friendliness of the players - and the rather swish way you produced the stand-up tune books for the tables! Very well organised indeed.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 01:59 PM

That's very kind Will. We are making progress. I think strictly speaking we are not really a 'Beginners Session' anymore and we are caught between a bit quick for 'Beginners' and not quick enough for a standard session.

The stand up tune book has been most usefull. We are moving on to Edition 5 which will most tunes in pairs and around 80 ish altogether. We have played for a couple of Accoustic Ceilidhs with a band of between 18 and 28 so things are looking Ok

thanks again drop in when passing

L in C#


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 02:29 PM

Bob,

I'm not much of a tune player myself but I love the Dog and Bone session, probably because it attracts some very inventive and open-minded musicians and as such the quality is high and the variety is good.

I'd fully agree with what Dáithí says above. I tend to lean more to the Old Time / Blues end of the content myself, and if I lead something it's usually a fairly simple song, almost always a three-chord trick, and I try and call out the key when I start. I try and leave plenty of space for folks to take a break/solo also. I didn't lead too much on this session though as I was very happy to sit back and listen, and join in with some of the tunes on the madal (double ended drum) - hopefully tastefully.

Hopefully you'll come to the Dog & Bone again - Carter Family / old-time songs are extremely welcome with me - I'll bring the "quiet" banjo next time!

Pete.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 03:33 PM

Hi Pete, and I really enjoyed your "Oh Death"!!! And the drumming was extremely tasteful and restrained - so like most drummers! I will certainly come again - my wifes parents live in Lincoln, so I can drop her off and keep her happy, while amusing myself also. Win/Win! To hear how Hector the Hero should really sound click here and for a slightly faster tune, try this old chestnut click here . Interestingly, one of the suggestions for further study from YouTube is Will Fly's version of this! I get the impression mine would not be fast enough for the Dog and Bone session, but that is the speed that is comfortable on the autoharp! That is one of the problems I have with leading anything - I am never really sure if I can play something at a speed that is acceptable amongst really good musicians. I agree on the variety though - I heard everything from Ralph Stanley to Paganini by way of Johnny Mercer!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Nov 10 - 05:01 PM

The problem with recording is that you might go home with 2 hours of audio, pick three sets from it to memorize, then find they only play those every six months or so. Same goes for lifting set lists from other towns, or even other sessions in the same town. It helps to ask people which the most popular tunes or sets are.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: G-Force
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM

... And when you have learnt to play all the tunes, please don't stop listening to what the others are playing!!!

Our recent session was mucked up by one guy, a good player but a hopeless listener. Set after set was messed up by him speeding up or forgetting to repeat the A-music, etc.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 01:05 PM

a monthly session of French tunes in a country pub not too far from me

As a veteran of the legendary Preston EuroJam, that sounds like my kinda session! Where is it Will?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 01:43 PM

The French session is on the last Monday of the month at the White Horse, Maplehurst, West Sussex. The next one, as far as I know, will be on 29th November. Let us know if you can make it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Nov 10 - 07:14 PM

'Sessions' or any sort of informal group unrehearsed performance is useful for learning to play with others, which mainly involves 'listening': to actually 'learn tunes', there are three things which you have to do on your own....



Practice, practice, practice ....


:-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 04:53 AM

Gavin Atkin is starting up some practice session at the Gun & Spitroast, Horsmonden, Kent: see this thread.

Valmai (Lewes)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 05:15 AM

I have been at sessions in which people pick up and play tunes after a once or twice through. It may well be that that some of those people have heard or even learned those tunes before but some people can pick up tunes after a short hearing and join in on the second or third time through.

This is an amazing talent and I guess it's one that few of us have. However it does lead to sessions in which most of us cannot quickly become involved.

The big break through has been 'Beginners' and 'Improvers'. I think they may become as important as Folk Clubs were in the '60s.

L in C#


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: johncharles
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 05:26 AM

Find a couple of mates who are used to playing in sessions. practice with them and record it. Listening to what you have done is often helpful in working out how you can improve.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 06:48 AM

Picking up a tune on the fly is a skill which can be learned, like any other. It's also one which a lot of session musicians have - perhaps more than you realise, since the best ones will be able to join in so convincingly you may think they already know the tune.

I would suggest it needs the following abilities:

Firstly, complete familiarity with one's instrument, so that you can play a phrase without having to think about the fingering, and in particular without needing the music in front of you.

The ability to identify the key, including any modal variations, and to play the appropriate notes and chords

As I outlined above, the structure of most folk tunes is simple and repetitive to a greater or lesser extent, so it is then largely a matter of recognising these patterns.

Finally, the ability to bluff confidently when there's a phrase you can't quite figure out. Leave that bit to those who do know it, but if you play something which doesn't clash, or even just pause briefly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 08:26 AM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Marje
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 08:50 AM

I think I'm generally farily quick at picking up/following new tunes, and also quite good at knowing very soon whether it's one I can attempt or should leave alone. For me, it's partly a matter of having a reasonable musical memory (at least in the short term), which can cover up for all manner of musical inadequacies in other areas, but practice also plays a big part.

I don't agree with those who say you shouldn't join in until you know it - it may sound ridiculous but I often join in when I don't know the tune, and find I learn it much more quickly than if I just sit and listen. I do listen carefully, and try not to second-guess where the tune or the chords are going.

I'm not sure quite how you cope with new tunes on an autoharp, but with melodeon, I often drop the melody side and just play the basses (chords)until I get a feel for the tune. In many cases the melody just slips in over the top quite naturally once I've got the chords sussed. Having a go at a new tune does mean that if the same tune comes up again in a few weeks, some parts of my brain and fingers will recognise it without having to re-learn it.

But we're all different, and some people do it entirely differently. Melody, rhythm, and chord/harmony all matter, but some instruments - and some players - are more concerned with one of these than the others. I'm sure you'll soon sort out a niche for yourself at local sessions.

Majr


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 09:46 AM

There's a big difference between being able to follow a tune led by someone else, and being able to start one off yourself and keep going even if hardly anyone joins in, or some people join in loudly and inaccurately.

Learning to play through your mistakes rather than coming to a dead halt when you go wrong is valuable. When that happens, rhythm is more important than melody.

Play at a volume that lets you hear everyone else, not so loudly that you mainly hear yourself.

Valmai (Lewes)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 09:48 AM

"That's very kind Will. We are making progress. I think strictly speaking we are not really a 'Beginners Session' anymore and we are caught between a bit quick for 'Beginners' and not quick enough for a standard session."

I'm at the too quick for beginners but not quite quick enough for full session speed stage myself.
So I've started to try to 'play by ear' in the slow session to make it more challenging for me. But I use sheet music in main session and hang on for dear life. Its just that little too fast so I make mistakes on tunes I know back to front and off by heart.
I've also started recording tunes in the session to practice going that speed. Problem is the recording device is usually right near my box so I hear all my mistakes. *cringe*

Its funny when I started I could only play 1 tune. And tried to learn a new 1 tune each month to attempt to play. Now I'm attempting not to forget the precious tunes I've learnt and still learn 'new' ones.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Marje
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 10:46 AM

Valmai's right, of course: knowing a tune well enough to lead it at a session entails a lot more than knowing it well enough to follow when someone else leads it. You almost need two tune-lists: tunes you can play completely and tunes you can play well enough to join in.

Your first few tunes may seem like hard work, but it does get easier as you get more experienced. One of the satisfying things about building up a repertoire of session tunes is that the same phrases and chord-sequences come up in different tunes, so each time you learn a tune, there are phrases which seem to fall under your fingers almost without thinking. So you actually learn new tunes more quickly as you get used to the recurrent patterns.

Marje


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 01:36 PM

Tunebooks are great - every session should have one. A collection of "our favourite tunes" can take a bit of organising - the session probably needs to have a sub-group that's willing to take this on - but if you use ABC (or Noteworthy) it's very easy to maintain & distribute.

I've been going to the Beech session since it started, and I've got to say that if I hadn't had the chance to practise the tunes in between times I'd still be a struggling beginner (instead of a struggling improver). I recently decided to attack the tunes that were still putting up resistance more systematically; I've split the Beech tunebook into "easy" and "hard", and I play a few of the "hard" tunes every day. (I'll probably find I've gone rusty on the "easy" tunes now.) It's easy to do this kind of thing with ABC.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: autoharpbob
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 02:34 PM

"There's a big difference between being able to follow a tune led by someone else, and being able to start one off yourself and keep going even if hardly anyone joins in, or some people join in loudly and inaccurately. "

Thats absolutely what I was finding Valmai, and why I didn't have the confidence to do the leading bit. I was able to hang in there on some of the simpler tunes - playing chords only, there is no point even trying to play tunes at speed on an autoharp as a) unless you are Mike Fenton or Bryan Bowers it can't be done and b) even it you could do it the notes would not be audible. I was still getting lost in some tunes that were modal. Once I played what I thought fitted quite well to (I think) a fiddle solo, at first. Then a guitar joined in and I found that I had been playing totally the wrong chords. I can hear what I believe to be a set of right chords - doesn't make me right, as so often there are many ways to chord a tune! And the point about recurring phrases in different tunes actually makes it harder for me to learn them - I don't know how all you fiddlers remember which is which. I like the idea of stand up chord books - and the PEGRAM and Lewes links were wonderful. But there wasn't really time in that session to start flicking through song books, even if I knew what the tunes were called, and I, with one exception, never did. I also love the idea of beginners/improvers sessions, and if anyone knows of any in the Nottingham are, I would be really interested.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Nov 10 - 07:03 PM

Nothing worse than starting a tune, finding you are on your own because no one else in the room knows it and then nerves get the better of you and "finger fumble" sets in.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 03:11 AM

Tunebooks are great - every session should have one. (Pip Radish)
Agreed to a certain extent, but stagnation can also set in (if it's twenty past nine it must be 3x Staten Island going into 3x Soldiers Joy) unless there's also the freedom and willingness to have new tunes introduced. Even if it's a beginners' or slow session I'd suggest that the occasional new tune is a bonus to keep stretching people and improving people's repertoire, but that can be 'managed' if necessary by updating the tunebook.

If it's a open session, I find the best are those where the majority of the tunes are familair to a greater or lesser extent, and some are new tunes. If it's a good tune and people like it, it will 'stick' and worm its way into the core repertoire.

Nothing worse than starting a tune, finding you are on your own because no one else in the room knows it and then nerves get the better of you and "finger fumble" sets in. (Tootler)
Again, agreed to a certain extent, but as you get more practised and confident in your playing you can Fight Finger Fumble. The way I get round the situation you describe is to play through the tune a couple of times then switch to one that I'm pretty certain people *will* know. That and being sufficiently cussed to think well *I* think it's a great tune, you might like it and want to pick it up, and if not there'll be another tune along in a minute of course :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 03:59 AM

the occasional new tune is a bonus to keep stretching people and improving people's repertoire

I do agree - otherwise you could end up with a room full of people who can play Buttered Peas at warp speed but can't play anything else. We're up to 52 tunes now (I'm not sure we've ever got as far as number 52) and the next version of the book will be bigger again. (I say 'we', although I'm taking a break from tunes sessions at the moment while I get my whistle up to speed.)

We've had several tunes start as something somebody played for their own amusement in the half-time break and end up as core to the repertoire - John Fenwick's, Le Canal en Octobre and the Dusty Miller to name but three. (I saw the D. M. written down before I'd ever heard it; I drew the wrong conclusion from the time sig. and learned it as a slow air. I got the shock of my life when I heard it played.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 05:21 AM

The Dusty Miller will feel a bit lonely on his own. How about playing Old Lancashire Hornpipe, Rusty Gully and then the Dusty Miller? Have a lie down afterwards.

Valmai (Lewes)
(Can't help remembering Rusty Gully as Crusty Gusset)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 05:31 AM

And 'Le Canal en Octobre' goes nicely with 'Ganivalle', another Frederic Paris tune - but play Ganivalle first, because Ganivalle doesn't finish on the tonic and you should never be knowingly unresolved :)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 06:26 AM

I should have said, we do the Rusty Miller with Three Dusty Swords - although our Swords doesn't look much like the Gulley on thesession.org. More research required! I like the look of the OLH, and Ganivelle (sp.) - thanks both.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Pibydd
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 08:42 AM

Talking of tunebooks...

I've found the Lewes session tunes site great (thanks!), although I don't get to many English sessions. Sometimes I'll just leave the midi file play over and over (or, similarly, a youtube video or whatever), to get it into my head - as has been mentioned above.

Should anybody be interested in Welsh tunes and sessions, there's a book which came out this summer and which I think will rapidly become the basis of a core session repertoire in Welsh tunes. It's called 'Pwt ar y Bys', published by Clera, and contains something over 50 tunes, and some songs. It also comes with two CDs which have every tune played slowly and at a faster speed, and it's got chords too. For ten quid it's a bargain.

http://www.clera.org/saesneg/products.php

There are other, more voluminous collections but this is brilliant for learners and would stand anyone in good stead for a Welsh session. A few people to whom I've been teaching whistle have bought copies and they don't need me much any more...

Now, the next step after learning a tune is indeed playing it with others, which is a diferent hurdle altogether. I've got some learners' sessions coming up near Swansea - if anyone might be interested, message me and I'll say more.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: GUEST,Gavin Atkin
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 08:50 AM

Thanks for the boost re the twice-monthly traditional music classes I'm starting at the Gun & Spitroast, Horsmonden Valmai!

I do agree with you about not playing so loudly that you can't hear anyone else - for one thing, if you don't, you can't know whether the tune that's been started the tune is what you think it is.

Differences arise in timing or phrasing, in chords, or in the notes themselves. They may be quite subtle or they may be important, but you won't know whether they were interesting if you can't hear them because of other people's playing or your own, or you don't listen out.

It's true too that there's no 'right' or 'standard' version of a folk dance or session tune; there's only the way the person who starts it plays, and I think it's much nicer to follow their lead as much as possible. You wouldn't want to force a different speed or key on them, so why change anything else?

In picking up a new tune, I quite often don't play the first time or couple of times through a new tune and listen closely instead, perhaps playing a few quiet chords. Once I've got to where I can hum a tune and keep it in my head, I'm 90 per cent of the way to playing it. The opposite is even more true - if I can't hum it, I can't play it.

Gavin


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Sessions - how do you learn?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Nov 10 - 09:12 PM

I use a recorder ,because I have a pretty good ear , but NOT so good a memory ! I can Fake Along pretty well , but its running the tune over and over from the recording that gets it into my Brain Cell .
! Correction ! I MUST have at least TWO brain cells 'cos sometimes they bang together and it hurts !!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 25 February 9:06 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.