Practice sessions

This topic contains 13 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  John Cockman 6 months ago.

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  • #57291
    RMClift1115
    RMClift1115
    Participant

    Hello online fiddle community! Can you share some perspective on your practice sessions? What works for you? And what doesn’t work for you? I usually start with scales than move on to other exercises like shifting to 3rd position, then move on to playing some songs. However, I probably work on intonation the most. Please share.

    #57294

    Angela
    Participant

    Great question.  One of the best things I picked up from BGD a few years ago was to always leave my fiddle out, instead of putting it away in the case.  That way, you can have short 5-10 minute practice sessions as you walk by, take a work break or just need something to do.  That has helped me a lot, because I tend to practice more during the day.

    My practice usually revolves around tunes at this point.  I’m usually learning something or trying to get better at songs for gigs.  So,I will usually do lots of things revolving around those songs.  I might play the scale of the song; play the pentatonic scale of the song; play the blues scale of the song….etc….just getting all of that in my ear and looking for ideas.  I’ll usually listen to a bunch of fiddle breaks of that song on Youtube.  If I find one or two I like, I’ll capture them, put them in Anytune and slow them down and try to learn what they’re doing.  Then, I’ll jam with a track if I can find one….if I can’t I’ll jam along with another band on Youtube.

    Non-tune practice is usually some double stop practice…making sure things are in tune.  Scales in 6ths or 3rds.  I do some shifting too.  I try to really check my intonation.  I also work on my bowing…making sure my bow is straight.

    I don’t have a really tight routine.  I basically do what is fun!  :^)

     

    #57297
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    Depends on the plan. I have different kinds of “practices”.

    Most often I start with “finding the notes”…this can involve holding unison, octave, double stops, scales, position slides, whatever…just kind of noodling, but slowly with attention to good pitch and tone. (sort of a free-for-all session that lasts until I feel I’ve ‘found’ the instrument and am playing in tune.)

    Next, I’ll most often go through several licks that I know need worked on from different tunes, or that I’m trying to incorporate more into my playing. (I have about 5-10 specific licks I’m regularly working on…I might work on just one or might do all I can think of off the top of my head)

    Next most often is working on the newest tune or tunes. This could either be more lick-work, or going through the entire thing repeatedly trying to smooth it out, or just become more familiar with it. All depends on how far along I am on having it memorized.

    Least often is I’ll jam along with rhythm tracks to all my tunes…I have them set in a sort of order of difficulty with several of the same key in a row, so I’m warming my way up do the more difficult/faster stuff.

    The first three are usually all included in varying amounts of time in each session.

    The jamming usually is a session by itself, but I may stop and work on a particular passage that is giving me trouble at any time.

    By far the most amount of time I spend on the instrument is slowing down and figuring out what other fiddlers are playing. I also think this is the practice that i have gained the most from in the long run.

    I agree with Angela…mostly what I’m doing is fun…my practice habits follow my mood…Keeps it more enjoyable for me that way…

     

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #57324
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Hi Robert,  well, by coincidence I’ve just discovered a little gem that I am excited about.  Carol Wheeler is one of the top instructors who has herself won awards (her house has 200 fiddle contest trophies) but more importantly her students have also won the highest national contests also, at Weiser & others.  Other words, she knows how to do this, very well.  She has compiled a book, the e-version is only $10.00, which is called warm ups, but the title is misleading in that the exercises are well thought out to develop and advance the fiddler up the ladder to advanced playing.  When I got this I thought it would just be a variation of scales & such for warm-ups, but when I got into it, I realized it is just what the doctor ordered to advance a student.  There’s not really anything else like this out there, in that it’s not a curriculum based on learning songs & teaching basics, but instead it is exercises to develop the ear & muscles to play the recurring types of fingering & bowing to actually play fiddle tunes, and it is well proven how well it works.

    This link is for the e-version which can be printed out & you can download the audio from the Mel-Bay site, so you can actually hear how they go and play along with them.  So this isn’t something I just did a search for, but I’m using it and know what it is and highly recommend it, because if a person uses this as prescribed it has to really help.  I put the sheets in plastic sleeves in a binder and it’s much easier to use than fighting with making a book stay open.

    https://www.melbay.com/Products/98676BCDEB/warm-ups-for-the-violinist.aspx

    I should also mention that each exercise has 3 levels or speed, for beginner on up, and more casual players can pick & choose which exercises they want…serious students can do them all.  I also have a needle type, fast response tuner I use as a reference for intonation.

    #57326
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Right on, Rodger 😋

    I second your recommendation to check out Carol Wheeler’s “Warm-Ups” book.

    #57330

    Bruce
    Participant

    Thanks for the tip on the e-book.

    I was thinking this morning about how I practice and how I could do better in this new year.  I tend to play stuff depending on my mood. Some days is it old time, some days it will be waltz’s, some days  Monroe stuff, one day gospel.  I know I need to focus a little more.  Depending on the style of music de jour I will work on weak areas for each type or trouble spots on each tune.   I am always working  for better intonation.  Finally at least one day a week I’ll just start down the line on the fiddle lesson list here on BGD and play with the backup tracks until I get tired or run out of time.

    #57336
    RMClift1115
    RMClift1115
    Participant

    Fiddle Friends…..thank you for responding and sharing your views on practicing, I appreciate it! Thanks for the suggestion on Carol Wheelers warm ups ebook as well, I’ll check into that.

    #57339
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Are you using the book Nancy…just wanted your take on it….?

    #57340
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I Need a regular practice routine so bad…but…I don’t even have a regular breathing routine at the moment…

    #57341
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    ha, if it’s any consolation, I have no schedule whatsoever… never know when sleep when tired, eat when hungry, etc..

     

    #57347
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Do you like it that way, Dave?  It makes me crazy…I need, well not a tight schedule, but I like to know a little about what to expect from one day to another…I used to ge5 up every morning and write a to-do list…even if I didn’t get 100% done, it just gave me a sense of direction, etc.  These days, just as soon as 8 begin on a list the phone rings…somebody need# this or tha5 real bad and it can’t wait and I’m the only one tha5 could possibly d9 it…etc.  or I find myself waiting between one thing and another…not enough time to play an 8nstrument, or in some place where I can’t play, but just wait…wait for this or that…then move on to the next thing…it about drives me crazy.  Things slowed down for a while but they always get crazy again…my time bel8ngs to everybody but me.

    #57350
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    I’m fine with it. Back in the day, I always had lists and schedules. I used to get up at 4:30 and work  really physically hard 10-14hr days  6-7 days/wk then drop dead when i came home…did that for many years…always pushing for more production.

    I remember once for about two years I was running a roofing crew 6 days/wk and playing 7 nights in a band 2+ hours away…I used to play the guitar player 100$ a day to drive my van back and forth while I slept…then he slept while I worked on the roofs.

    I have all the time in the world now..only work usually three 4/hr days per week in the summer and have winters off. Have one regular visitor who stops by for coffee & visit about 2 out of three Fridays. Pretty much just hang out at home with the dog & play fiddle.

    • This reply was modified 6 months ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #57355
    Rock
    Rock
    Participant

    I don’t want to talk about my practice or the lack thereof.   I am going to do better tho now that I bought a new fiddle.

    #57412

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Rock, that’s awesome! A new instrument will always inspire you. You all have great practice routines. It is good to change it up every now and again, just to keep your practice fresh and interesting. I always have two parts to my practice; playing tunes I already know, with variations, then learning something new.

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