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Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?

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Catherine Jayne 10 Feb 02 - 08:13 PM
kendall 10 Feb 02 - 08:31 PM
Jeri 10 Feb 02 - 08:35 PM
CapriUni 10 Feb 02 - 08:46 PM
Ebbie 10 Feb 02 - 09:30 PM
John Hardly 10 Feb 02 - 09:34 PM
E.T. 10 Feb 02 - 09:38 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Feb 02 - 09:39 PM
GUEST,Pied Piper 11 Feb 02 - 10:53 AM
radriano 11 Feb 02 - 11:39 AM
Skipjack K8 11 Feb 02 - 11:45 AM
Mark Clark 11 Feb 02 - 12:10 PM
SharonA 11 Feb 02 - 03:34 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 11 Feb 02 - 04:50 PM
Roughyed 11 Feb 02 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,petr 11 Feb 02 - 05:41 PM
Sorcha 11 Feb 02 - 07:35 PM
NicoleC 11 Feb 02 - 07:52 PM
Anahootz 11 Feb 02 - 07:54 PM
Catherine Jayne 12 Feb 02 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Al 12 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM
Sorcha 12 Feb 02 - 12:45 AM
Cap't Bob 12 Feb 02 - 01:00 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 12 Feb 02 - 06:31 AM
Hrothgar 12 Feb 02 - 06:31 AM
Les from Hull 12 Feb 02 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Al 12 Feb 02 - 12:30 PM
selby 12 Feb 02 - 01:37 PM
Catherine Jayne 12 Feb 02 - 07:05 PM
The Shambles 13 Feb 02 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Maria Dillon 21 May 13 - 05:44 PM
Seamus Kennedy 21 May 13 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,Rev Bayes 22 May 13 - 02:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 22 May 13 - 05:19 AM
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Subject: Advice please!!!
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 08:13 PM

Hi there guys. I have being playing the violin now for nearly 17 years. I play classical violin and have studied at music college and have played for operas and musicals. The thing is I love folk music and enjoy going to sessions but for some bizarre reason I can not for the life of me remember tunes. I do like to sit back and listen but I want also to take part. Playing the tunes from dots is not a problem for me its the memorizing that I find difficult.Maybe I need to learn a new instrument...any suggestions will be welcomed!! I can remember mozart and Bach but why can't I remember folk tunes no matter how much I practice?? If anyone has any helpful tips on how to go about this task I would be truely greatful.

A frustrated catsPHiddle


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: kendall
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 08:31 PM

Many "classical" melodies are taken from old folk tunes. Does that help?


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: Jeri
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 08:35 PM

I use dots to learn tunes sometimes. What I do is play a few times just from the dots, then I see how far I can get without looking at them. I use them as reminders for a while - only looking when I absolutely have to. It's possible you just need to play the tunes a lot more. After all, if you've memorised Bach and Mozart, you ought to be able to be able to learn fiddle tunes. I usually learn a fiddle tune about the same time as I get sick of playing it.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: CapriUni
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 08:46 PM

CatsPhiddle: I don't play an instrument, but I'd imagine that you'd learn to remember tunes by playing them. After all, you didn't get to remembering Bach and Beethoven by simply sitting back and listening, did you?


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: Ebbie
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 09:30 PM

catsPhiddle, do you sing, hum or whistle songs and tunes as you go about your day? Try replicating them on your violin.

Did you forget your meds, Davey?

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: John Hardly
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 09:34 PM

A few things that have helped me in my memorization of fiddle tunes;

1. Many of the tunes have a set of lyrics that works for them --Eighth of January = 1814, Arkansas Traveler = an old tune I recorded off the radio about a duck named Earl, etc.

2. One at a time. I often get overwhelmed by the catalogue of fiddle tunes to memorize. When I take them one at a time and make each my own, it's slow going but surprising to look back on how little time it took to work out ten or so.

3. Fiddle tunes are often comprised of borrowed sections. As you start learning each by ear, it doesn't take long before you fit turn-arounds, tags and common passages into other tunes. In this manner you start to learn exponentially

Give yourself one year of learning one tune per week and I think you will be shocked that you not only will have given yourself a respectable repertoire (by any standard), but also will have actually taught yourself to play by ear.

Best of luck,
John


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: E.T.
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 09:38 PM

I learned an enormous lot of songs back in college days by the marvelous invention of a automatic replay on a tape deck - it kept going, reversing to the other side every time it hit a metallic sensor on the tape. So I left it on while I was studying or doing dishes or whatever and after 7-70 repetitions I could sing along with every word/whistle every tune.

I assume you can do the same with CDs and I know you can with some record players - set to "repeat" and just leave discs in/take with you on portable player. Saturate yourself with tunes you like. About time you get tired of hearing them, as noted above, it'll be because you can play/sing them all the way through.

Best of luck. Elaine.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Feb 02 - 09:39 PM

There's knowing tunes so you can play them when they are going, and knowing them in your head before you play them. And there is knowing what their names are.And those arte three different things. The last is by far the least important. (There's a saying "the man who knew the names of all the tunes didn't know the tunes".)

When you know tunes to play when they are going, all you really need is a couple of notes to start you off - and you could write those down. A single bar could probably do the trick, once you are into the way of playing them with other people.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: GUEST,Pied Piper
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 10:53 AM

I find learning tunes prity hard, thats to say it takes me a long time.I use a similer technique to ET, entering the tune into Cubase on my old Atari and then recording it on to casette for playing back on a walkman.After listening for a couple of days on and off I'm ready to start playing the tune from the dots.The next stage is to ween myself of the written music and practice till the tune becomes natural and alive. I also play scale and patern exercises, but being a classical player you've probably had enough of all that.

Good luck Pied piper


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: radriano
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 11:39 AM

CatsPHiddle,

You just need to learn a new skill. You've been playing from dots so long that that is all you know. But you know the saying "practice makes perfect." So start practicing playing by ear. And memorizing? Start with a couple of bars, then move on to one eight bar part. Once you've got that down the next eight bars are a repeat of the last eight, most likely. If you're looking for a magic fix from somebody you are wasting your time.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 11:45 AM

I about the exact opposite CatsPee, in that I ain't got a classical bone in me body, and learned folk tunes on the piano accordion, by ear.

I then tried to learn to read music, and found that I'd ear-learnt harmonies, and concentrated in replicating the exact tune from the tadpoles.

I then tried out the fiddle about 9 months ago, which turned into a turrible addiction. The strange thing is that I found translating tunes from the keyboard to the fiddle was remarkably easy, so I don't think that a different instrument will cure your current problem.

I suggest collecting the names of tunes in their sets, as performed in the sessions, and pasting the dots of every tune in the set on one piece of paper, and playing from that until you're over this hump.

Don't give up, whatever you do. You have made the greatest of cross-overs. Good luck

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!!
From: Mark Clark
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 12:10 PM

catsPHiddle, You undoubtedly learned some fiddle tunes long ago as a beginning violin student. One of the tunes beginning students are often given as an exercise is —The Irish Washerwoman.” You may still rembember it. A tune my daughter had to learn as a beginning piano student was called “The Happy Farmer;” really just a fiddle tune called “Redwing.”

Take a tune—such as those above—and learn to whistle it. Once you can reliably whistle the tune, you'll be able to fiddle it as well. If you can't whistle a tune while driving or walking down the street, you haven't learned it. If you can't whistle then hum it or sing dah-dahs, whatever works for you but you must be able to vocalize the tune.

You can whistle or hum from a recording, a live performance or even from a score; but it's the best way to internalize a tune before trying to play it on your fiddle.

Good luck,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: SharonA
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 03:34 PM

I use the same technique that ET and Pied Piper do: If the tune is on a CD, I set the CD player on "repeat" and listen to the same song ad nauseum while also recording that repeat-play onto a cassette tape to take along with me in the car. If I only have a recording on LP or tape, there's a bit more manual labor involved in recording a "repeat" tape (pause the repeat tape, reposition the LP needle or rewind the original tape, replay the song while de-pausing the repeat tape... over and over and over...) but it's worth the effort!


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 04:50 PM

CatsPhiddle, I agree. It's the same for singing. I read from the paper a few times. After that, I TRY to remember as much as I can without looking at the words.

It DOES take practice, and that is what you have to do. It's learning a new skill.

Friends of mine who are in the fiddle camp say that when they go to a workshop, they can easily tell who has been trained classically. Those are the ones who have the hardest time picking up the tune from the ear. You will need to practice listening with the aim to memorizing the tune.

Repetitive listening is my favourite way to learn a song. Do it over, and over and over. Somepeople at the office get right down cranky at me since I listen to a CD, the same CD ALL day or week long. IF I am working on a specific song, I listen to one track continuously, all day, or week long.

It DOES work.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Roughyed
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 05:32 PM

How about getting the dots to the tunes and learning them phrase by phrase. Playing each one until it's your fingers that remember them, not your mind. I ususally learn, say, four bars then four bars more then play the first eight, then four bars more and play the first twelve. You'll soon pick them up. As for playing by ear, classical musicians often find this difficult. Have you tried imagining the sounds as notes and then playing them?

There are four stages to learning something. Unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence and finally unconscious competence. You are at stage 2. If you use the dots as a prop you are moving to stage 3 and you can easily step up to stage 4. It's just like classical music, 90+% practice. Good luck and don't forget to enjoy it.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 05:41 PM

catsphiddle I went through the same thing, I had 'classical music training' so when I went back to the violin at age 34 I had no experience in learning and memorizing tunes. I found it hard at first, but its as it the neural pathways open after more and more practice. I would definitely use recordings, or tapes of sessions to familiarize myself with the melody and the written music if I could find it to get the details but then I would practice either in my kitchen or bathroom where the sound was best. Since I tended to be lazy about having the music with me I tried to do without the dots (as much as possible) and lo and behold my memory developed. I probably play 150-200 tunes (although ones I learned early on, that havent been played lately are being forgotten).

Really, the best practice is at a session, when you dont have music with you (nor should you be playing from music at a session) you would be surprised at how much that helps as there are usually others who know the tune that play along. (You also dont want to start a lot of tunes noone else knows) but thats left for another discussion.

One of my favorite fiddle players (Randall Bays) used to go to sessions and not play but listen, and wrote down the tunes (which according to him at least is not as hard as one would think). He would practice them later at home.

Also many (Canadian east coast) fiddle players in the past (who all pretty much learned by ear, would 'jig' the tunes. ie. sing the tune to themselves after hearing it at a dance and thereby pick it up. have fun. Petr


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Sorcha
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 07:35 PM

Lots of good advice there, catsPhiddle. Let's boil it down

Listen, listen and listen some more.
When you have listened enough that you can whistle or "dum-ditty" the tune in your head,
Go find sheet music/dots.
Play the dots while you "hear" the tune in your head.
With the music in front of you, play the tune over and over and over and over.
Fiddle tunes are usually divided into 2 parts--just play one part (the A part) at a time.
Then, go on to the B part.

When you have done this a few hundred times, place the sheet music in front of you and
Close your eyes. Play as far as you can without opening your eyes.
With any luck, your brain will recognize exactly where you are in the tune when you glance at the music. (Almost all fiddle tunes are available as sheet music somewhere)
Keep doing this until your fingers (NOT your brain) know and recognize the pattern of the tune.

Start with simple tunes that have an easy pattern. Irish Washerwoman, SwallowTail Jig, etc. Stuff that goes where you EXPECT it to go......I don't think stuff like Mouse in the Cupboard or Merrily Kiss the Quaker qualify.

Yes, it's tedious, but with time, the process will be come easier and faster. This method also trains the ear to hear what the next note is going to be, especially if you can already hear that note in your head, and recognized if it is wrong when you play it.

Choose only 1 or 2 tunes to begin with, then take what you have to a session and play along as much as you can. When you lose the fingers, just stop and listen. Eventually, the tune will come around to what you know and you can play that again. With any luck, you can add a few notes each time around.

(This Classical player fought the Ear Stuff for almost 15 years before figuring it out.......)


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: NicoleC
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 07:52 PM

I'm with you Cat. I don't have the excuse of classical training though. I'm happy at this point to memorize the tune I'm working on... at about a 50% success rate so far. However, I consider myself just shy of a complete newbie.

But the more I memorize, the easier this gets. It's also easier to work on the feel of the piece when you aren't looking at the paper and give it some of your own "spin."


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Anahootz
Date: 11 Feb 02 - 07:54 PM

If you are serious about the changing instruments part, then consider a mandolin. Think of it as a fiddle with frets and extra strings.

A point that I didn't see made about fiddle tunes is most are just ascending and descending scales, with little "hitches" and "hooks" thrown in. If you know the key, just noodle around until you find a progression that fits both the tune and the scale...I will assume that after 17 years you know your scales fairly well, hmmm?


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 12:03 AM

Yes I know my scales rather well and quickly learned to hate them as most children do. Now I am an adult and have almost come to the end of my classical training as far as grades are concerned (I have my diploma!) I tend not to practice scales.........hmmmmmm maybe I should start again!!!

Thanx so much for your advice. I honestly thought there was something wrong with me because I find this difficult. A good friend of mine (Jez) told me I am making it difficult for myself and to relax and it will come. We often sit in our front room amd play tunes which we will carry on doing so as it is one of our favourite pass times.......it beats watching tv!!!

I will let you all know how I get on.

A very grateful catsPHiddle x


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: GUEST,Al
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM

The following is my opinion only, and I hope I don't offend any violinists. However, it is my belief that previous classical violin training is a detriment to playing good folk fiddle. You actually have to unlearn a bunch of stuff. One of those things you must change is how you acquire tunes. IMHO, there is no such thing as a good musical score for a fiddle tune. If you play it by score, it will always sound stilted. Learning by ear is an entirely different skill, and I think it uses a different side of the brain. I recommend that you not engage in the practice of learning by dots and then try to memorize it. Rather, listen to a tune you like, get the feel of it, get so you can sort of hum or whistle it, feel free to interpret it, and only then sit down and try to figure it out on the fiddle. If you can find somebody to hang out with who learns tunes that way, then by all means do it. The knack will rub off on you a little. It will, however, seem really bizarre to you at first. Good luck, and keep at it!


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Sorcha
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 12:45 AM

Actually, I agree with you, Al. It took me almost 15 years to stop sounding like a violinst playing fiddle tunes. I still can't really say what the difference is, except that it is a matter of technique and ear.......and the "ear" is the hard part. I have part of it (ear) but not all of it by any means. Still takes me a really long time to learn a tune by ear only. Paper dots help, but they are definitely not the last word. Listen, listen and listen more is.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 01:00 AM

I have no problem learning tunes or songs by listening or by music. The big problem I have takes place when I start thinking about words or how a tune goes. Too much worrying about or a tune will actually make me forget. The other problem is knowing tunes but not knowing their names. Anyone else have this problem?

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 06:31 AM

Hi CatPhiddle!

A helpful hint from Planet Morris.

Lots of Morris musicians tag the opening phrase of a tune with a set of nonsense words that happen to fit the metre. If the tune eludes them for a moment, the words bring back the opening phrase, and then the rest follows. For example, it's traditional to recall the opening phrase of "Trunkles" by singing:

"Ev -rey morning, havva cuppa coffee ... br> Ev-rey morning, havva cuppa tea!"

The downside is that ever after, those words will spring to mind whenever you hear that tune.

By the way, don't orchestral musisians have sets of words (sometimes quite rude) which they tag on to the opening bars of certain familiar classical pieces? Could this be a memory - training device too? - like those ribald rhymes that medical students have to help them memorise the names of obscure parts of the body.

Anyone out there got more information on this?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 06:31 AM

If it makes you feel better - I knew someone who learned to play the piano with the dots, and could never learn to play the piano without dots.

She later learned to play the fiddle by ear, and could never read music to play the fiddle.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 09:48 AM

All good advice this. I might add that there are plenty of sessions around where you get to play with different musicians, different sets of tunes. With tunes you don't know so well you can play 'in the background' and your memory for tunes will increase. I can join in with many more tunes than I could start, but once I'm going, I remember the tune.

So we might see you at the Kingston sometime, or any of the other sessions in the Hull area. And when the festival season really starts...


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: GUEST,Al
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 12:30 PM

A couple more tips not related to memory of tunes, but rather geared toward sounding more like a fiddler and less like a violinist. First, consider eliminating or drastically reducing the use of vibrato. Second, learn to put some rhythm in your bowing. Violinists never do this, but fiddlers do it naturally. And to Cap't Bob, I would rather remember the tune and not the name than remember the name but not the tune. You can always make up another name. And by the way, I am a mudcat member, but I generally browse the internet with cookies disabled, therefore I show up as "guest" unless I reset my cookie. Is this, in fact, an issue to mudcatters? Al


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: selby
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 01:37 PM

At you local session take your fiddle out of its case, if melodians are playing it's genrally in G or D and try to get the occasional note. RELAX nobody is looking at you, listening to you, and above all your contribution however small will enhance the overall sound, the following week do it again and before long you will leave us all behind. When you find a tune you are desperate to play, record it continually hum it, use the dots and hey presto before you know where you are you WILL know it. See you tomorrow night Keith


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 12 Feb 02 - 07:05 PM

Thanks Keith..........but unfortunately I cant make it to the jug tomorrow due to work commitments and due to the fact we may be cut off from the rest of the world coz the river I noticed coming home today has just burst its banks!!


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: The Shambles
Date: 13 Feb 02 - 05:09 PM

Change to the big bass fiddle, float it on the river and paddle with the fiddle.............

All good advice above (execpt the paddling), but the key is where you are coming from. The best advice I would think is that which says to unlearn first.

Probably easier said than done though. I tend to group the tunes in some way. By type (jig/reel) or key or mode by the number of parts in my head. When you learn you tune, by playing along and repeating it, just try and remember the (small) differences between them.

The more tunes you have, the easier it will be to see where they differ and eventually you will have a large repertoire, which leads us back to the bass fiddle...


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: GUEST,Maria Dillon
Date: 21 May 13 - 05:44 PM

Just read with interest the above posts as I too am looking to memorise fiddle tunes. All really really useful. Thanks. Even though the posts are about 11 years old!!


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 21 May 13 - 07:17 PM

I periodically learn a new fiddle tune on the mandolin or guitar. Most fiddle tunes are 2-parters - A & B.
I find it helps me to learn the A part first by memorization and repetition.
Then I move on to the B part. Repetition and practice.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: GUEST,Rev Bayes
Date: 22 May 13 - 02:52 AM

I dare say Catherine has either learnt some tunes by now or given up, but the advice I would have given holds good. Sit down and learn then bloody things, one at a time, until you know them inside out. That's what everyone else did until they got to the point where you think they're doing no work at all.


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Subject: RE: Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 22 May 13 - 05:19 AM

One at a time? Two at a time , three?


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