December 21, 2018 at 8:48 PM #67762
Everyone does it different. Maybe your method is better than mine…
I pick a song, scour the internet for sheet music or TEF files. Often I use Fiddler’s Fakebook or Mando Hangout. I also find a good YouTube or mp3 that renders the tune how I’d like to play it. I prefer to find a mandolin tab in TEF format.
I import the TEF into TuxGuitar software (a free TablEdit alternative). Tux has a Playback Mode where you can pick a start and end measure and tempo. So I may pick measures 1 thru 8, 50% speed, repeat mode. Then I just play along with it. Tux also has an option to increase the speed on every repeat, so I often do that. When I have measures 1-8 memorized, I set it to measures 1-16, do it again. 1-32. Etc. Etc.
For practicing, I have a spreadsheet with the 200+ songs that I’ve learned over the past 5 years, in alphabetical order. My most recently-learned 5 songs I have highlighted in gold, so I hit those first. All songs that I can play “at speed” are bolded. If they’re highlighted green, I can play them note-for-note. I have have a color code for “to learn” songs yet to be mastered. I also put YouTube links in the cell comments section as needed. If I can’t play a song that I’ve tagged in green I’ll bring it back into Tux and refresh my chops.December 21, 2018 at 10:45 PM #67763
I go through phases/binges of learning or just playing.
I just pull the audio of a performance I like and do my best to figure it out by slowing it down. It seems to be the way I learn the fastest,and I believe it has helped my ear training immensely. I can read notation & TAB though and will use it when necessary.
I memorise everything I learn a measure or lick at a time, then move on.
I spend far more of my practice time slowly working on tone & intonation, lick replacement, and on mastering sections/riffs that give me problems, than I do on working out new things.
Lately I’ve been working a lot on moving doublestop backup licks I hear the pros playing to different keys.
Normally I’ll do slowly practice stuff during the day and play a number of full tune arrangements to rhythm tracks or metronome in the evening.
December 22, 2018 at 7:59 AM #67773
- This reply was modified 5 months ago by fiddlewood.
I mostly just try to keep the tune straight in my head and improvise my way through as best as I can. But, as we all know, “as best as” can be a dangerous thing.December 22, 2018 at 12:26 PM #67775
I use video instruction primarily. I watch the video, and memorize everything as I go. Although on the fiddle I actually have learned several songs completely by ear, or from a mandolin tab that I’ve heard my brother play. I am currently unable to play anything that I haven’t heard, but I think that’s normal. When I “practice” it’s almost always just playing for fun/entertainment (I don’t have tv and I live in Africa) I will occasionally take a section I have trouble with and slow it down for repetition, but that bores me quickly. If I want to practice technique, I play a song that uses that technique. I also practice about six to eight hours a day.December 22, 2018 at 12:27 PM #67776
When I’m learning something new, I’ll first try it at the speed it was recorded at and make sure I’ve got the chords figured out. Then, slow it down and take a measure or two and make sure I’ve got the notes right, then move on to the next measure or two and get those right, then go to the beginning and start over and play up to where I’ve just learned and rehearse a small section (adding a small section frequently) until I’ve got the first 8 or 16 bars. Then on to the 2nd part.
I’m having a lot of fun right now learning scales on the pedal steel guitar. I first learned a G scale in such a way that I didn’t use any open strings. This allows me to use it as a movable scale so I can make any scale by moving the starting point with the bar. Then I learned how to use the “A” pedal to incorporate that into scale building anywhere on the neck.
Now each time I sit down at the PSG I practice scales and “grips”. Grips are notes sounded together to make chords. I start with strings 10/8/6; then 8/6/5; then 6/5/4; and 5/4/3. Keeping the same grips I use the A, B and C pedals; and various knee levers ( 4 in all) and work through a ton of different chords (major, minor, diminished and augmented) until I get wore out. Then I take a break before heading right back to it again and again. In this manner, I learn quickly.
When I practice fiddle, I usually warm up on a whole bunch of tunes I already know but haven’t played in a while and then move on to newer stuff.
In a normal day, I will practice PSG, Dobro, banjo and fiddle several times each. Needless to say, I love Bluegrass, Old-Time and Old Country!December 22, 2018 at 12:51 PM #67781
I’ve never been strong at learning by ear. I’ll try to find sheet music for a song I like so I can learn the basic tune. Usually I can quickly memorize it. Then it’s time to work on timing, intonation, and having a little fun with it to embellish it. I like to listen to some different recordings or you-tube videos to hear different variations of the tune. Usually I practice with one or two new tunes but intersperse them with tunes I already know, just to keep it fun. I have a hard time focusing for a long time on a specific difficult passage. I just take it a little at a time until it’s clean. It took me awhile to learn that there are some days when it is better to put the fiddle away for awhile and come back later. Gotta keep it fun.
JoeDecember 22, 2018 at 3:24 PM #67787
wow, Fred. That sounds VERY complicated. I’ve found that playing multiple instruments is very helpful, cuz when I get tired of one I go play another for a while.December 22, 2018 at 7:45 PM #67799
Yes, Gunnar. And having a running knowledge of music theory is also very helpful when learning instruments.December 23, 2018 at 12:36 AM #67808
I’ve never thought about theory, don’t think about it while playing or learning, and don’t think of myself as knowing much about it. But I’ve noticed I actually know and subconsciously use a lot more than I realize. I read forum topics about it and go “hey, I know that already!” I just picked it up from learning other stuff, and kind of take it for grantedDecember 23, 2018 at 8:53 PM #67815
read up on the circle of fifths and you pretty much get a lot of theory, at least as to how different keys and chords are related to one another. Of course as Gunnar says, if you play or have played for a while, you probably already know this stuff, but when you see it parsed out in writing, you might realize what all you do know and learn a little bit more to boot.December 23, 2018 at 11:49 PM #67824
I’m currently using John’s videos – Shameless plug for John and Bluegrass Daddy.com
Study note by note – measure by measure method
Then I carefully watch John’s slowest metronome video paying close attention to his left hand for finger placement noting how little he moves each finger or if he doesn’t move one at all
I’ve found by listening and watching the metronome videos without actually playing with them right away to be very beneficial.
Then I record the audio from the video into mp3 format
and edit into partial clips or sections using a program called “Audacity”
Then I go to another program called “Amazing Slow Downer” to reduce speed for any hard sections. I find this program easier to use than Audacity for slowing down and changing to another key.
Then I go back and try to play it with John in the measure by measure video version using the tablature. Then I try to play with tablature alone.
Then I try the metronome videos.
Then I give up and put the fiddle away!
Then I start over with tabs again tomorrow.
Note: For beginning level songs I don’t need all these steps. For the double stops, fast eighth notes and 3rd position, I may use all the above.
Last step if I learn a song is to clean up tonation and listen to what I’m actually playing.
KennyDecember 24, 2018 at 12:04 AM #67825
I love ASD. Great tool that I use a lot.
December 24, 2018 at 1:35 AM #67827
- This reply was modified 4 months ago by fiddlewood.
Kenny I owe all my progress to Blue Grass Daddy all the videos and tabs are useful to me !December 24, 2018 at 1:55 AM #67828
Steve, you’ve put in a lot of your own dedication into your progress too…and it shows!
Hat’s off to you my friend.
December 24, 2018 at 8:02 AM #67830
- This reply was modified 4 months ago by fiddlewood.
I have utilized the BGD videos quite a bit. At first I was painstakingly learning them, note by note, but then things changed to where I didn’t have time to do that anymore. Got busy and frustrated and didn’t play at all much during those months and then when I did have the chance to start picking up the fiddle again, I wasn’t a member here any longer, but found myself just fiddling stuff from just remembering the gist of it. Joined back up here again, and learn some skeletal thing or other from the lessons now…sometimes what I learn in one tune’s lesson I apply to something else entirely different. I never did quite get Candy Girl down that good, but I did learn to feel at ease with rocking the bow, and have never stopped…lol. Anyway, yep…John’s lessons are helpful in all kinds of ways. I watched them on youtube before this site was born, during my lunchbreaks at work. Well but anyway, great site…I’m addicted, for sure.December 24, 2018 at 3:47 PM #67839
Thanks Dave , Cricket I think we are all addicted ! Ha !December 25, 2018 at 8:25 PM #67861
yes, i think so, Steve!December 26, 2018 at 11:42 PM #67890
Wow, it’s kind of amazing to see the diversity of practice styles here!
When learning a new tune, I’ll listen to the tune until I can hum it and imagine myself playing it, then get my fiddle down and work out the bowing.
Practicing for me is mostly playing a tune until I can play it up to speed, and also working out a few alternate breaks in case I get a chance to play it twice!December 27, 2018 at 9:04 AM #67893
Well guys I just got my dishes washed (always a major event every day of my life…lol…success…woo-hoo!) and ready to start my daily cooking messes. It occurred to me that I fiddle the same exact way I cook. One of the best examples is cole slaw…yes, cole slaw…it ain’t yer granny’s cole slaw neither (well, it could be, but I felt inspired to say that). I can’t ever be satisfied…a long time ago I used mayonnaise…like rudimentary cole slaw…then, I got this little lightbulb in my head of inspiration. Everytime I make it…I’m like, this is the best stuff…but the next time, or maybe a week later, I’ll go to making it again, and think…oh, why do we need apple and walnut, or pomegrante, or whatever in there? Today…pineapple! It hit me…what an interesting idea! I believe this was a tough thing for me the one and only short stint I had in a little amateur, bluegrass band…it was kinda tough for me to do the same thing more than a week or two…I mean, not the same songs…I’m perfectly happy with the same songs…but the same way of playing them. I could play one tune for hours, days, weeks, and be happy trying different “flavor” arrangements by whim and fancy. Some good, some not so good, but fun and interesting. So, today it will be pineapple cole slaw! Tomorrow, yet another rendition of Bile ’em Cabbage Down, possibly…lol. But whatever, cabbage seems to be the ultimate inspiration here, doesn’t it?December 27, 2018 at 10:33 PM #67910
Well to my surprise, I had no pineapple left in the kitchen…lol. Oh gosh, how did I let that happen? I usually keep several cans of it to make my grandson’s “sunshine salad,” just grated carrot and coconut and apple, with chopped walnuts, raisins, oranges and pineapples. I guess I’ve been making more of that than I remembered. So I switched to a cranberry/orange coleslaw today. Basically just shredded green cabbage, carrots, chopped celery and onion, a little orange juice and chopped up cranberries, plus olive oil, maple syrup, salt and celery seed. It was good…I had my heart set on pineapple though…lol.December 27, 2018 at 10:34 PM #67911
Oh gosh…I think I’m drifting off topic!December 27, 2018 at 10:38 PM #67912
LOL Cricket. That’s kind of the way I fiddle too! I think the best chefs are the ones who can improvise. 🙂December 28, 2018 at 12:27 PM #67930
🙄 unfortunately, the eye roll emojis haven’t been working, cuz I want to post about fifteen of them. (I started with one at the start of this post to test)January 5, 2019 at 11:20 PM #68331
If Heifetz had 6 hours to practice, he would spend 2 hours on technique & 4 hours on pieces. If he had 4 hours to practice he would spend 2 hours on technique & 2 hours on pieces. If he only had 2 hours to practice, he would spend the whole time on technique.
Us mere mortals would have a motivation issue with that, but maybe not if playing was our bread & butter.January 5, 2019 at 11:54 PM #68332
I find technique & foundational study more interesting than running through a piece. Pulling a great note, really in tune, or just the right tone gives me my biggest pleasure.
maybe I’m weird…or it might be the lack of pressure to learn anything specific to play with others.
January 6, 2019 at 9:18 AM #68336
- This reply was modified 4 months ago by fiddlewood.
Yes, a very good point here might be that we learn differently in different circumstances. If you are in a band, or have a gig, or bunches of gigs…you might approach practicing and learning way different than otherwise. Then, the question becomes, what motivates you? By the time I took up the fiddle, I had almost come to the point of barely playing my other instruments…busy in life, no gigs or contacts or hope of future gigs…retirement coming up. I guess it was the idea of retirement that set my mind on fire…thinking I would have the time to begin fiddling, which I just never could get to at any other time in my life…not enough money for instruments, no time, etc. Well retirement turned out to be a lot different than I was imagining…I was thinking…time well spent on my many neglected hobbies and interests, and taking up the fiddle…etc. But anyway, now I see retiring like winning the lottery…everybody wants some…well in the case of retirement it sure ain’t money they want, but it is your time. They all figure you are sittin’ around twiddling your thumbs and bored…so little by little, everybody wants a bunch of your time. So…well, but anyway, the question I’ve gotten away from here is what motivates those of us who have no place to play? I’m not sure what my answer is…it’s that I’m just driven…and all the things I do that are not fiddling, during those things, I’m usually thinking about fiddling. I dream about fiddling. It just somehow overtook my mind even though I have no real objectives or goals…I just wanna play…back porch, recording machine, wherever or whatever…I just wanna play any chance I can get.January 7, 2019 at 11:57 AM #68363
@goettjp I was reading your response to this and noticed your very methodical approach to cataloging and color coding your learned songs and I thought “lol, they must be an engineer too.” Looked at your profile and it appears I was correct 😉
Also, I’m borrowing your approach 😉
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