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What keeps you practicing music?

Dave the Gnome 15 Aug 13 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 Aug 13 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,leenia 15 Aug 13 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,IainG 15 Aug 13 - 10:42 AM
Phil Cooper 15 Aug 13 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Stim 15 Aug 13 - 11:27 AM
Ron Davies 15 Aug 13 - 12:03 PM
Mark Ross 15 Aug 13 - 01:56 PM
Kim C 15 Aug 13 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 15 Aug 13 - 05:22 PM
Dave the Gnome 15 Aug 13 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,Guest - Michael Harrison 15 Aug 13 - 08:24 PM
Will Fly 16 Aug 13 - 08:01 AM
The Sandman 16 Aug 13 - 08:17 AM
Ron Davies 16 Aug 13 - 08:17 AM
Ron Davies 16 Aug 13 - 09:22 AM
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Subject: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 09:50 AM

OK - First off I will openly admit that I probably suffer from attention deficit. I bore easily and enjoy doing multiple things. I am also turned 60 and a bit long on the tooth although I still enjoy learning and new challenges.

So, how do I practice an instrument for the required amount of time to become competent? I can play Guitar, Mandolin, Anglo-Concertina, Piano Accordion, Tin Whistle and Mouth Organ all well enough to get a tune out and even join in with others at times. But it is just 3 or 4 of tunes except on whistle and gob-iron, where I can play a few and can often jam along a bit.

I don't read music well although I can get by - Slowly! One odd thing. Of the tunes I can play reasonably well, most of them are in waltz time. Is that indicative of anything?

Anyroads, I have decided to concentrate my efforts a bit more on Piano Accordion and now have a tutor who is great and has helped considerably, but I still get bored after half an hour and frustrated when I cannot seem to get something right.

Any advice from you good musicians out there? Any psychological tricks to make it work better?

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:06 AM

IMHO Dave, a half-hour session is about all you can expect of yourself, especially if you are working intensely on new techniques or trying to conquer a rough spot.
The key to accumulating the many hours needed is NOT a brute struggle to stay in the chair long beyond the point where you're not progressing. It is to have the persistence to keep coming back for the next half-hour session (and you can do three or four a day if you can figure out how to space them) -- even when the last session sucked and made your fingers hurt and the dog howl.
What "keeps me practicing" usually is knowing what I sound like when I don't.
Cheers and good luck
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: GUEST,leenia
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:39 AM

I agree, Dave. Half an hour is plenty.

Me, if something in a piece just won't come, I re-write it. It's one of the joys of being an adult in the free world. After all, that bit may have been written for some other instrument, and it came naturally on that instrument.

However, if something is new or tricky and every time I try it, it's a little better, then it's actually a pleasure to keep working on it.

Oh - you are doing this because it gives you pleasure. Pick up the accordion and play the pieces you've mastered and enjoy, just to give yourself a treat. You don't have to make progress all the time.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: GUEST,IainG
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:42 AM

Dave
I have to agree, it is the ability to keep coming back to the tunes or the songs in my case, I also am over the 60 mark but I find it easier to learn something if I really like it myself than if I feel I have to learn it

I play mandolin and I can't read a note of music but can get along with Tabs and listening to the song/tune and then work out which chords I need to fit with my voice
Keep it up as it is supposed to help slow down the onset of other problems with memory when you get older
Iain


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 11:12 AM

When I'm working on new pieces I like to concentrate on them. To just keep my chops up, I also will practice while watching TV. Itzaak Perlman once said he practices while watching ball games. But it gets back to I sometimes just like playing the guitar.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 11:27 AM

I am a guitar player, and I practice a lot. Three or four hours a day is not unusual for me, though a lot of it is fooling around rather than concentrated drill.

Generally, I work on scales, or play rhythmic phrases through a chord progression, or something like that. I don't perform any more, so I don't have a polished repertoire that I work with (probably should, just in case, but...) Lately, I've been playing around with a descending scale that moves from the first down to the fifth. I start in C (eighth fret, high E string) and move thru the circle of 4ths all the way down the neck. You can spend hours doing stuff like that.

I tend get distracted and jump around a lot, too,and I've taken to making an effort to concentrate and stay on things till I've got them finished. Easier said than done, though...


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 12:03 PM

I have a lot of respect for all the multi-instrumentalists I hear about on Mudcat, like you, Dave.   I don't play many instruments.


I practice as long as it takes for me to be satisfied that I'm making progress--or at least holding my own.   The only instrument I practice every day is the piano, and I find I really need to do at least about an hour a day to keep the pieces in my fingers.   Sometimes of course I can't do it that long, for scheduling reasons but I try to at least play the memorized pieces every day. The less I have to think about what I'm doing, the better. It needs to be as automatic as possible, so I can concentrate on actually making music--dynamics, phrasing etc.

My goal is also to memorize as much as I can, to be able to play as many pieces as possible every time I see a piano.    I'd also like to be able to play as many songs as possible so people can sing with me.    On a very few songs I can sing with myself while playing the piano--and of course that is easier if you have the song memorized. Obviously I don't sing with Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, etc.

I do read music--and I'd recommend that to anybody. It opens a whole new world--you'll never regret it.

I also play guitar, but only well enough to accompany my own singing--lopsidedly country and western, since I love to sing the good old country songs--do a lot of Hank Snow, Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Jim Reeves, Charlie Pride, Eddie Arnold. etc.. Lots of Carter Family.   Some Gordon Lightfoot .I am actually a miserable guitarist but fortunately the old country songs usually fit 3 or 4 chords. My main goal on guitar is to keep callouses on my fingers so it's not painful to play the guitar. And of course to keep as many songs memorized as possible--and constantly learn new ones (which are of course really almost entirely old ones).

I also play viola--but don't practice at all.   So I can't play fiddle tunes at all. I can however make up harmonies or countermelodies on the spot on others' country songs--and that is remarkably appreciated.

Mainly I sing--and I don't consider that practice at all.    Everything from big choral pieces in a group of 150 plus, of which I've been a member for over 20 years, to doo-wop, jazz, sea songs, gospel, Western swing, bluegrass and country, lots of parodies.   Etc. etc.   Including singing harmonies.

What keeps me practicing?    That's easy--I just love making music, especially singing. (I'm a music addict. ) And playing the piano--if I do a decent job.    I sing as much as I possibly can--especially in stairwells since the acoustics are good.

And these days I am singing and playing at my mother's retirement community. It happens they have quite a few pianos--it's a big place. And when they are not playing cards, they seem to appreciate my memorized piano pieces. I don't play when they are playing cards. I haven't yet taken music up there for them to sing but I plan to do so--when I have quite a bunch I can play for somebody other than Jan or our cat without getting nervous. I figure I should be able to take at least some requests.

I already do play and sing with the bluegrass-country band based at the retirement community, and the residents seem to really like the old country songs. I try to do songs they can sing along with. And I whistle breaks.

Gist of this whole thing:   I find that you get a huge amount of positive feedback if you can help other people to make good music, or if they like what you do. And that's more than enough incentive to practice--at least piano, and to a lesser extent guitar. If you are part of a group that's making good music, that is endlessly satisfying. And the more types of music you do the better.    It's ridiculous--and self-defeating--to be narrow.

And also of course even if you aren't part of a group,   if you make music you yourself like to hear that's satisfying in itself.

But in my opinion that's what it's all about--if others like to hear you --or even if you like to hear yourself, that should be enough incentive to keep practicing.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 01:56 PM

Pablo Casals was asked why he was still practicing at the age of 90.

He replied that he thought that he was making progress.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Kim C
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:38 PM

I usually go for about an hour. I just like to play and it's encouraging to notice my own improvement.

Plus, my teacher said he was proud of me, and that goes a long way.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:22 PM

I practice for the gig I haven't had yet. I have a sort of idealized or fantasy gig in mind and when I eventually make it happen, I don't want to embarrass myself. It also helps that I know from past experience just how easy it is to get "rusty." So combined, I guess that kind of sums up my carrot/stick approach.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:33 PM

Piano, guitar and viola sounds multi-instrument enough to me, Ron! And your opinion is very much appreciated. I also think you are right about learning the dots. I'm going to give it a try!

Kim - The encouragement from my new tutor is invaluable - I know exactly what you mean.

I like the confirmation that 30 minutes at a time is good. It's about all I can do without my mind drifting :-(

Thanks all and feel free to keep the ideas coming.

DtG


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: GUEST,Guest - Michael Harrison
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 08:24 PM

I practice because my life is music; in the end, it's what I am. I like all the input here, it puts everything in an expanded light for me. I also practice because I'm not yet a "guitarist" and I've got an awful lot to learn about how to play the instrument, and, music in general. It's a never-ending 24-7 job being a working folkie, so the guitar is never more than an arms reach away and the voice is always in your face. Cheers.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 08:01 AM

I can go for days without picking up an instrument but, if I'm learning a new piece to perform - say a guitar piece - then I'll play it constantly all day and for several days until I know I can walk into a performance venue and play it absolutely confidently.

It takes me between 30 minutes and two hours to "get" the piece, depending on the complexity, but it could be weeks before I can say to myself that's it performable in public. Occasionally I'll knock something off in the morning and perform it the same evening - but that's probably because it's a form or genre I've done lots of times before!

Age means nothing to me - I'm 70 next year and picking things up quicker than ever before. That I attribute solely to having retired from day job 4 years ago - I now have the leisure and the time to do just what I want - which was purely an evening job for 40+ years!

Of course, Age will get me as it gets everyboy, so I just get on with it and enjoy the time I have.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 08:17 AM

Anyroads, I have decided to concentrate my efforts a bit more on Piano Accordion and now have a tutor who is great and has helped considerably, but I still get bored after half an hour and frustrated when I cannot seem to get something right."
the piano accordian has a major problem, lack of natural rythym, work on finger attack playing scales staccato, and then legato. practice reversing bellows more often. for jigs try reversing on first beat of the bar to start with, for irish polkas try reversing after every crotchet, get simple morris tunes try revsing after every beat to start with then experiment and try evry two beats finally mix the two this will sound a little more like an anglo or melodeon because you are versing more often
. practise little and often, say 25 to 30 minutes, 3 times a day i s better than 90 minutes all at once


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 08:17 AM

"picking up things quicker than ever".   Congratulations, Will.

I'm with you.   I'm a firm believer that music keeps you young.   Quite beyond any benefits fighting off any potential mental decline, just the many-faceted and ever-increasing satisfaction it brings is bound to do that. Particularly making music with others. But also just making music yourself. And even learning to like different music--(though there are limitations on that--I'll listen to a new (to me) piece of Schubert chamber music or a reggae song I don't know long before I'll invest much time in rap.)

I'm constantly learning new (to me) songs--though they tend heavily to be at least 50 years old.


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Subject: RE: What keeps you practicing music?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 09:22 AM

Music can even be a lifelife.

My mother just 3 months ago lost her second husband, my stepfather (who was just a wonderful guy--among other things, he knew one clean bilingual limerick, made 18th and 19th century toys, , did a crossword puzzle every day, vand sang a song from World War I. )    (Also told great stories, was a kayaker until he was 94, and a member of a Gilbert and Sullivan troupe for 20 years--he and I used to sit in front of the stereo and sing "Bow, bow, ye lower middle classes...".   He told a story for instance about having seen Harry Truman in 1951 and Truman said McCarthy's next campaign would be against red corpuscles.) Sharp as a tack right up to his death at 98.

But now he's gone. sadly.   So she has to make her way in the world without him. She's of course disoriented, still in shock--and mourning.    Even though he wouldn't want her to mourn. And it seems likely that she was cruising on his huge social skills.    She finds it hard to make friends--never been that outgoing.   Now of course is a real low point. But through playing and singing with the bluegrass-country band I've made a lot of friends at the retirement community, and I always try to introduce her to my new friends and get her talking to them, which leads to topics they have in common.

This is particularly essential now since my sister is trying hard to take her out of the retirement community--where she has lived for 7 years, and can and does walk to the post office, dinner, entertainment, the drug store, the bank etc. and has lots of grounds to walk around in, with lots of flora and fauna---it's a big retirement community.   My sister plans to take her 200 miles away to another "home" to where she will know nobody, not have a clue how to get around, and be totally dependent on my sister for everything.   And my sister is not even at home for weeks at a time.

In her current state my mother would likely curl up and die down there within 6 months.

So she needs a support network here as broad and deep as possible. And my friends through music--she and I are always meeting new people who ask when the next bluegrass-country session will be--are part of that network.

I also take her to concerts at the retirement community--as well as going on nature walks around the grounds, taking her to lectures outside the community and taking her home to Jan's and my house.   But it's crucial that she develop closer ties to the people and environment in her community. Fortunately she also has other ties--as long as she stays here-- especially to the garden (she has three plots), where she grows sunflowers and gives them to people. And she goes to courses given at the retirement community.

It's still not easy, of course. But without the music connection it would be much harder for her now.


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