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Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?

Banjoman_CO 29 Oct 00 - 08:26 PM
kendall 29 Oct 00 - 08:30 PM
pict 29 Oct 00 - 08:38 PM
The Shambles 29 Oct 00 - 08:39 PM
Rick Fielding 29 Oct 00 - 08:44 PM
Allan C. 29 Oct 00 - 09:21 PM
paddymac 29 Oct 00 - 09:23 PM
Allan C. 29 Oct 00 - 09:27 PM
Malcolm Douglas 29 Oct 00 - 09:44 PM
Troll 29 Oct 00 - 10:35 PM
Gary T 29 Oct 00 - 11:57 PM
KingBrilliant 30 Oct 00 - 04:59 AM
Hamish 30 Oct 00 - 07:52 AM
Willie-O 30 Oct 00 - 08:39 AM
Bernard 30 Oct 00 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Oct 00 - 09:44 AM
black walnut 30 Oct 00 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,Russ 30 Oct 00 - 10:49 AM
JTT 30 Oct 00 - 11:08 AM
Mooh 30 Oct 00 - 11:40 AM
Whistle Stop 30 Oct 00 - 01:23 PM
JTT 30 Oct 00 - 01:54 PM
Ely 30 Oct 00 - 02:50 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 30 Oct 00 - 06:05 PM
The Shambles 30 Oct 00 - 06:47 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 30 Oct 00 - 08:35 PM
The Shambles 31 Oct 00 - 02:08 AM
Whistle Stop 31 Oct 00 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,leeneia 31 Oct 00 - 10:56 AM
Fred/Forsh 31 Oct 00 - 11:04 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 31 Oct 00 - 04:19 PM
Whistle Stop 01 Nov 00 - 08:07 AM
Peter T. 01 Nov 00 - 10:47 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 01 Nov 00 - 01:00 PM
WyoWoman 01 Nov 00 - 01:34 PM
Banjoman_CO 01 Nov 00 - 03:17 PM
WyoWoman 01 Nov 00 - 10:30 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 02 Nov 00 - 12:24 AM
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Subject: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Banjoman_CO
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 08:26 PM

I am learning mountain dulcimer and I am using a book by Larkin Bryant. I also have her tapes to go along with the book. Here's my question: I learn the songs note for note from the tab. I play along with her on the tapes and it sounds great. But..... when I play the songs on my own it sounds so amaturish. Even though they are played note for note, strum for strum, finger for finger... they don't sound the same. WHY Some of you seasoned performers should be able to answer this. Banjoman


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: kendall
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 08:30 PM

Maybe you are trying too hard?


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: pict
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 08:38 PM

I think a lot of people feel this way even when their playing is of a high standard.To really get a better idea of your playing record yourself and let other people hear it without telling them who it is and you'll get a more objective criticism of your ability.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 08:39 PM

Maybe you are being too hard on yourself. We all tend to be our own worst critic. Could be where you are playing, have you tried another room.

What do others who have heard you say?


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 08:44 PM

Hi Banjoman. Ya gotta pick with other folks! Tab can give you the notes but it NEVER gives the feel. If you know anyone who can back you up on another instrument (or even a dulcimer) you'll find that what you've learned will sound 10 times better. Same with all the higher pitched instruments such as mandolin, or fiddle. When you're just learning, you haven't locked in that "swing". It'll come in time, but much faster when your pickin with a group.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Allan C.
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 09:21 PM

Chalk it up to poor memory, Banjoman. A long time ago, when you were first doing gigs in K.C., you probably were just starting to be able to emote by way of your instrument(s) (...trying to remember, but I think it was guitar and bass in those days wasn't it?). But I would be willing to bet that for the most part you were technically accurate; but musically a little hollow. Time and practice along with playing with others changed that.

Be patient. All will be well.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: paddymac
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 09:23 PM

It might just be that you're hearing the difference between playing solo and playing a duet, even though the other half is on a tape. The missing voice can be deafening.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Allan C.
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 09:27 PM

Oops. I meant Oklahoma City - I think.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 09:44 PM

If you're just learning the stuff from tab, then that's your problem.  Spend time immersing yourself in the style -just by listening to it- and then try to play it; ideally by ear.  That's the way the players you want to sound like learned, and it's the only way to learn how to do it properly.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Troll
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 10:35 PM

Malcolm said it all.

troll


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Gary T
Date: 29 Oct 00 - 11:57 PM

It may help to think in terms of playing the song rather than playing the notes.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 04:59 AM

Sometimes it helps to record yourself then play it back in a few weeks time. That seems to trick the ear into listening afresh & you hear more objectively.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Hamish
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 07:52 AM

Yeah - I have a similar problem when reading conventional music - tha bar lines don't coincide with the phrases. And the 'diddly's, the 'dee's and the 'dah's always seem the wrong way round. But when the phrases suddenly make sense it all falls into place. On the other hand, listening to someone else who has already sorted out that tricky stuff can save all that bother ~;o)


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Willie-O
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 08:39 AM

If you can play note for note, strum for strum, like Larkin Bryant, I doubt "amateurish" is the right word!

Maybe your right hand technique (assuming that's your strumming hand) needs development--so it can relax a little and be in a groove?

Wild guess there. That's what took me the longest to develop, on any instrument I've played.

] W-O


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Bernard
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 08:49 AM

That's about it, really - playing the notes mechanically, and having a feel for the music. There's your difference!

Much like MIDI files - the ones 'recorded' by a real musician have the slight inaccuracies that give them 'soul', whereas those which are programmed are technically perfect, and musically bland...


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 09:44 AM

1. It may not be you. The recording you are comparing yourself to may have been enhanced by a sound engineer to seem richer than it actually was.

2. I improved the tone of my dulcimer by building a little frame out of dowels to hold it up and off my lap. It resonates more when the vibes aren't absorbed by flesh. A lot of mountain players are doing this sort of thing.

3. I use my thumb to play the melody string, and I put a plastic thumb-pick on it to get more sound.

4. Your dulcimer will sound its best when it is tuned just right. Do you have an electronic tuner or a reliable instrument to tune to, or are you just tuning it to itself? If you just tune it to itself, it could be off enough to damp its natural resonance.

Think about these possibilities and get back to us.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: black walnut
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 09:52 AM

Larkin plays with 'squeakless bass' strings. You can buy them from her. I did, and it made a big difference!

I also bought a couple of dulcimer picks from her....they're German, I think. Each pick has 3 points with 3 different thicknesses. That helps too.

Choosing where on the strings you strum or pick makes a huge difference to the sound.

Comparing yourself to Larkin is always going to be tragic, I'm afraid....she has such a delicate yet incredibly rhythmic way of playing; she's a genius on the dulcimer, and she's been playing and teaching it for a long time. Nonetheless, we trundle on....

~black walnut


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 10:49 AM

A lot of really great points, but....

A performance represents the tip of an iceberg. The most important reason Larkin sounds the way she does is because of what she brings to the music, her lifetime of experience. She's not just playing a tune, she's "telling a story" (in the words of Dwight Diller). It is impossible for you (or anyone else) to tell her story when you play a tune, so don't even try. As you get more comfortable with the dulcimer and as you get more comfortable with using the dulcimer to tell your story instead of Larkin's you'll start to like your sound. It won't be better than Larkin's but it will be yours.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: JTT
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 11:08 AM

You probably sound amateurish because you aren't very experienced yet. Take all the advice you're given here - but also allow yourself to be a beginner! Even Shostakovitch didn't start out as a polished musician. After all, if you were given a book on carpentry and told to follow the instructions, you wouldn't expect to come out with a perfect inlaid mahogany and rosewood gale table on castors the first time.

Cheer up. You'll get better as you go along. Keep one tape a month, and after a few months play them all - you'll be surprised how much better you've got.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Mooh
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 11:40 AM

Not being a dulcimer player, I don't know if this will work, but...

The first technique discipline that I discover my guitar students learning which suddenly makes them sound more experienced is legato. There's an inclination for early playing to be more staccato than necessary.

Good luck. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 01:23 PM

One of the problems with the modern world is that we all get to experience the joys of comparing our playing to recordings -- which often represent "the best of the best" that's out there. We all need to learn to lighten up on ourselves a little. For example, when you watch ice skating on television, it's a handfull of Michelle Kwans and Tara Lipinskis that you see. You might be a perfectly good ice skater in your own right, but these are world-class champions -- you're bound to feel inadequate if they are the ones you're measuring yourself against.

It's good to strive for excellence, but it's also worth remembering to be kind to yourself along the way. Your playing may not yet be as good as the ideal you've set for yourself, but it also might not be as bad as you think it is.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: JTT
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 01:54 PM

Returning to this subject, the greatest obstacle that lies between you and your creativity is your self-consciousness. If you are constantly wondering how well you're performing, it's impossible to fall into what writers call "the zone", where the division between you and your action disappears and there is only the story, or the song.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Ely
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 02:50 PM

I think the above are right. Relax. Learn the tune, then give up on note-for-note replicas and play it as you want.

Honestly, I found I got better once I started playing with fiddles, mandolins, banjos, etc, because there wasn't another dulcimer player there telling me how to play it. I just got the tune in my head and figured it out as it sounded to me. It's not the easiest way to do it, by far, but it's good once you feel ready to branch out.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 06:05 PM

The problem that you probably have (though I haven't heard you play, so I'm just guessing) is that you play the notes, but they don't sound good--I'll trust your judgement on this, too--you probably don't--there is a ton of difference between playing the notes, and getting each of them to sound good--If some of you don't believe me, just go down to the local middle school and ask to sit in on the beginning band class!!

You have to work on the sound. Just sit and play single notes, and try everything that you can think of, starting with all the nice tricks that people have posted, till you get a sound that you like--

You may experiment with the angle of the pick, the thickness of the pick, not using a pick- there may be a little snap that you can use that gives your notes more punch--Then think about the way you are fretting the notes---a little extra squeeze here, and little vibrato there, and your sound could improve overnight!! And be sure to ignore the people who tell you not to be too hard on yourself(and especially ignore the people who tell you not to hold yourself up to people that are really good--If you are going to copy, copy the best!!!)--you are just trying to get better, and, with all of their good intentions, they are discouraging you from following your own good instincts!!!


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 06:47 PM

*smiles* Be especially sure to ignore those people who tell you to ignore everybody else.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 30 Oct 00 - 08:35 PM

The music that we play is one of the few things in life that we can make into whatever we want--if I don't like what I am doing, I can throw the whole thing out, or change it around, or just tweak it til I like it--All I meant was that if you don't like your sound, even if other people think its OK, go ahead and change it til it pleases you--


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: The Shambles
Date: 31 Oct 00 - 02:08 AM

Just thought that maybe it could have been expressed a little more tactfully? I do understand well what you were saying. Point taken.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 31 Oct 00 - 08:20 AM

Yeah, I don't think my advice should be ignored. Maybe that's not what you meant, but I really think that it is good advice to lighten up on yourself. It can be very discouraging to hear the differences between your playing and the playing of the best musicians in the world, which is available to us through recordings. For some of us, discouragement is the enemy ("ah hell, I'll never play cello as well as Yo Yo Ma, so why bother?"). I think it's good to try to learn from people who are more skilled than ourselves, but the attitude is key; sometimes it can be destructive to the process to be too self-critical. That's all I meant.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 31 Oct 00 - 10:56 AM

Another thing: how old are your strings? They lose their vim with time.

I find that it really helps to use a keyboard instrument (especially a piano) to bring the new strings up to pitch when changing strings. Do you have or know anybody who has such a thing?


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Fred/Forsh
Date: 31 Oct 00 - 11:04 AM

Ditto to all the above!...It is a relationship that you are in with your instrument, and it will develop in time, (if you are compatable!)


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 31 Oct 00 - 04:19 PM

Sorry, Roger, you know that here in the States,we sometimes have tendency to go a bit overboard when we make a point, just for emphasis--

Whistlestop--Of course, I never intended that anyone should ignore you!! I agree, discouragement is the enemy, but the most insidious form of discouragement comes from people who seem to be praising you,"Oh, that's fine--don't worry about it, take a break, hey, you are just fine right where you are!" when what they are really doing is subtly telling you that your efforts aren't going to pay off--

You can accomplish a lot if you push yourself--it may take you a long time to get the sound you want, but when you've got it, you'll really have something--If you try, you can do a lot of the things that Yo Yo Ma does--but you can't if you don't try--(And you thought Norman Vincent Peale was dead!)


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 08:07 AM

Point well taken, Ted. I think we're both trying to convey the "power of positive thinking" in our own way.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 10:47 AM

Adding my two cents, and agreeing with both Whistle Stop and M. Ted, some people react negatively to positive thinking (like me!) except as dosed very, very carefully. I have usually found positive responses useless, because you can't do anything with them; while negative criticism, unless it is just blankly negative ("You'll never play that thing") is usually quite specific. But I have recently noticed in myself at least that this strategy is in part misleading: what one really wants is positive encouragement from people who know how to criticise properly. In my life, virtually all the people who knew how to criticise properly were negative thinkers: great critics, but not much on the encouragement side. The positive thinkers were mostly all vague encouragers. But in that acid bath of negativity you learn to survive and get good by honing. However I have come to think that most people who survive it don't really learn to flourish in such an environment -- or so it seems to me. I think it is a special, small category of people who thrive on constant punishing criticism, who can integrate it, and still be free and generous with themselves when necessary -- they are out there, some of the greatest people, but it really does take something special.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 01:00 PM

Interesting point, Peter--I was only talking about self-criticism, which I can deal with, with the proviso that, for me, it isn't really "critical" or "negative", is is more or less just a process of trial and error, compare and alter, --I couldn't survive or flourish in an acid bath of negativity, and would probably misunderstand the intent of the first critical word I heard--


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 01:34 PM

I'm in much the same place with my guitar playing. I feel as though I'm mostly plunking right now, but every now and then the door opens a little and I let some actual music come in. we're in an important part of the process, learning our chops, and then the real music can come once we've learned the technical stuff. This is a discouraging part of the program, I'll certainly attest to that. But I have faith that if we keep on trudging through the mechanics, the art will appear.

It's mostly about freedom, and that is such a fascinating combination of structure and air...

Here's to prying ourselves loose a bit and letting some soaring occur.

WW


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: Banjoman_CO
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 03:17 PM

Thanks to everyone for the advise and tips. It is not that I don't feel the music, or let myself get into the music. I am playing the song exactly as Larkin plays it but still sounds beginner-ish. But thanks and pray that I will finally get IT.


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: WyoWoman
Date: 01 Nov 00 - 10:30 PM

Spirit, banjoman. It's all Spirit.

ww


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Subject: RE: Help: why do I sound soooooo amaturish?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 02 Nov 00 - 12:24 AM

One thing that I do occasionally, is to play something over and over again, well past the point when I am sick of it and bored with it--there is a point out there when it stops being boring and you start to hear it completely differently--of course, you can't do it when there is anyone else within earshot--not only won't it stop being boring to them, they will never, in a million years, want to hear it again--(sometimes being a musician is a very solitary effort)--


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