Some tunes are hard to commit to memory

Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums What else is on your mind? Some tunes are hard to commit to memory

This topic contains 24 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by cricket cricket 3 months ago.

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  • #62372
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    I am working on Beer Barrel Polka , trying to memorizing it one line at a time , I am about Five days in of really working this tune , every time I think I have it and come back to it a few hours later I find I don’t have it , I am inching closer , to getting it , each new day , Of all the tunes I have tried to memorize , this one for now is the hardest for me , I don’t trip at the same place every time , There are five or six random places for me to trip lol , Anyway I am pulling a Great Scott and teasing you with coming soon at a undetermined time to the Lions Den [ Beer Barrel Polka ] I think I need a bigger faster better Central Processing Unit for my brain and DDR4 memory modules, lol   But , coming soon , coming soon maybe !

    #62373
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I’m sure you’ll get it, Steve…some of them are just hard to remember.  Here’s a question fer ya I was wondering about the other day:  For Steve, Fred, but also for everybody here…bumpa dumpa daaaahhhh…and now the question: How do you decide WHAT you wanna play, or what you wanna learn and work on?  Why do you play the things you play, and not other stuff? In that question I’m assuming we all pass some stuff by and figure on not spending time learning it or even playing it much, if at all.

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by cricket cricket.
    #62377
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    I found a way that seems to help me memorize tunes:

    I record my teacher playing the guitar backup chords to each new tune that I am learning.

    At the end of my practice session – I play the new notes along with my teacher’s  B/U chords.

    (Once I hear the B/U chord change – I am able to go to the next note.)   It’s cut my memory time in half).

    Maybe you could record yourself playing the B/U chords to the tune you are working on.

     

    #62378
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    There are many aids to helping out.  The biggest thing for me is to just play it.  The first day it seems like I’ll never learn it, but by the third day it’s  getting there.  I also will work on one line (phrase or section) at a time, over & over till I get it, then tackle the next one and add it on.  If there’s a difficult bar, play it a million times by itself, since it obviously needs more help than the simple bars you can easily do.

    #62379
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Cricket a lot of the tunes I wont to play are tunes I grew up with So number 1 are tunes My Dad and my mom and family members played , and number 2 are tunes My friends play at jam session’s so I fit in better , The waltz’s are my favorite to play and dance to , My true love is Country / Country and western / bluegrass and some others , But mostly I love the old standards that have survived the test of time , out of 30 tunes I am working on 10 of them are waltz’s LOL All of the lessons I paid John to make are personal past memories , some I have not gotten to yet ! My list is huge like 600 or so I used to play/ sing /with guitar , but I’m a slow learner and the first thirty fiddle tunes I am working on now are keeping me busy ! I can only dream of my future with the fiddle for now , But I am having fun with the fiddle and would love to be able to hear a tune and just play it , I guess time will tell !

    #62380
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Rodger I am doing What your saying and thanks I can play it with the tabs already , I just keep tripping in random areas lol

    #62381
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    I mostly decide what I want to play by whatever others are playing at the jam sessions I attend. If I don’t know the tune, I’ll make a note on my I-Phone and when I get a chance later on, I’ll YouTube the piece and see if I can find it. Then if necessary, I slow it down and learn it by repetition.

    I also check for sheet music and if that’s available I save a little time, not much, but some.

    Also, if a tune just peaks my interest by some unique chord arrangement, etc., I go after it. trouble is I’ve learned so many tunes that I tend to forget some if I don’t have extended practice sessions where I go down the lengthy list brushing up on them.

    #62384
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Gosh, Steve…you’ve got some big goals.  You’re booming along pretty doggone good too, so, I’d say your list of 600 will go down pretty fast.  i feel like I’m a slow learner too…lol…I’m slow to process anything, musical or otherwise…it has to cook for a while before i make sense of anything.  Anyway, ok…I suspected I was weird…but most tunes I pass up.  THey might be nice, somebody might play them really well…but, if it dont jump out and grab my soul…I let it pass by.  This was one of my problems the one and only time I was in a band…I’d played alone, as far as playing for people, all my life…jammed with friends plenty…but up here involved in a Bluegrass band and their jams for a while.  Well, in the band, I never could remember the names of the songs…they were like…”yeah, you know, so and so did that one,” and i’m like…’Well where I came from we never paid much attention to so ad so…so i don’t know.”  Then i’d have to take notes, write chords, etc., because the songs weren’t jumping out to me and I just wasn’t in the right vibes for playing them…my mind wouldn’t get into it.  I still don’t kno the names of any of the songs we did, hundreds of times i played them but cant tell you what they were. Once we did the song, Steel Rails…they had me singing that one…i had to have a cheat sheet on the floor because I just oulnd’t rremember the words…anyway, one time we did that one at a big place with a buncha people, and someone called me over on a break to compliment that I sang it just like ?????, whoever it was who did that one.  I still don’t know who did it and have never heard it, just sang it with the band like I was supposed to do.  I’m like, “Who’s she?”  lol…not kidding…people think I’m nuts. I might appreciate others playing it, but if it don’t jump out at me, I’m just not really ever gonna do much with it…it just won’t ever sink in right.  But…I know i’m weird…yes, just weird.  For a while, back in 76, I had a job singing in a restaurant our state representative had built along the interstate for tourist traffice…anyhow…I played and sang old ballads, mostly…but sometimes he’d walk by and request that i do Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water…lol…oh gosh…that was so hard for me to do…it just isn’t me.  I mean, I did it…I had my cheat sheet close by in case, you know…but how I dreaded him asking for that one…lol.

     

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by cricket cricket.
    #62386
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Cricket on the guitar I am just talking playing simple rhythm of basic four chord with a few 7th chords thrown in , I have never picked the tunes because I was always contented with just singing and playing rhythm ! I have not learned anything on playing rhythm on the violin all the lessons for the violin are for lead ! LOL

    #62388

    Fayew3
    Participant

    This is such a good question and one I struggle with as well. I agree with so many answers here. Some are just really hard and I have found the more I practice, the more muscle memory kicks in when I play in public. They less I practice, the more likely I am to lose my way as my mind is a wanderer. Alas,  I have to reign it in all the time.

    #62392
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Steve, your comment on ‘tripping’ is actually a different issue than learning a tune, as you brought out, and needs to be recognized as a different issue.  I think I’m capable of ‘tripping’ up on well, practically anything, anywhere no matter how well I know it.  This is something I have sought the answer for from day one.  So I think I’m seeing that the main reason is the habit of ‘thinking’ to much on the mechanics of what I’m doing, or at other times it’s shear stage fright that forces me to try to prevent it by consciously thinking on the mechanics to force my way through it.  What I need to be able to do is relax and let my brain do it without overthinking it.  My memory can do it without focused thought, and when trusted will do so.  The need with me is to focus my thinking on the sound of the music, not where my fingers need to go.

    #62393
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Yes I think maybe , trying to hard is defiantly a tripper  , I agree with you Rodger trusting oneself is hard to do under certain circumstances , It is hard to explain ! If I know, I know a tune inside and out , and I trip I can pick it up and continue and most people don’t even know it happened , I simply don’t trust myself with the Beer Barrel Polka yet , maybe another week with it , I try to never stop once I start and keep going till I finish , Then on the next play through I try getting past where I tripped ! I was always taught to push through to the end and get it right the next time around ! That gives you the ability to finish even if you trip !

    #62396
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    I think the double stops (as Bobby Hicks plays them) in the Gardenia Waltz have been the most difficult for me to remember and to execute. I can’t think of any piece right now that has given me such fits. lol

    #62401
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    I have heard lots of people say the Gardenia Waltz is a bear , I am years away from that tune ! But its ok cause John has lots of stuff right here to keep me busy for a long time including Gardenia Waltz which is at the bottom of my list ! For fun I went through the Chord list for Gardenia – A A7 Am Am7 – B B7 Bm – C  C# Cm – D D7 Dm – Em – F#- G Gm that’s 17 chords for one tune ! Heck I am happy with four main chords and a few 7ths and sometimes a sharp ! LOL

    #62403
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Learning the Gardenia Waltz would be one of those songs no one in my circle would ever be able to play , most of them can’t even do four chord progression . LOL

    #62405
    Icebike
    Icebike
    Participant

    I’m not sure why, but some tunes I can memorize right away and others I really struggle with.  Usually it’s the “B” part of a tune that’s my problem.  Often, I’ll try to find the sheet music to get a challenging tune down, but until I memorize it, I don’t really start to play the tune well or dress it up.  Often, after playing a tune many times, it suddenly is just memorized, then  I can’t get it out of my head when I should be sleeping. The other issue is mixing tunes together.  Many times I’ve started ‘Off to California’ and gone into the ‘Ookpik Waltz’ or vice-versa.

    I’m playing with a group now where I play more background and breaks, rather than fiddle lead.  It’s good because it is really challenging me to get away from melody and learn to play with chords and try to improvise.  You never stop learning, which is good.

    Joe

    #62406
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Fred, that brings up an interesting psychological aspect with me.  I took piano lessons in College, but couldn’t get very far because from day one I was trying to concentrate on playing each note mentally, consciously, instead on just playing it naturally (hard to explain).  So I sort of learned the fiddle the same way & it has really been hard to just do it by feel.  ‘However’…somehow with double stops it was just too hard to do them that way & I learned some tunes with double stops all the way through & I just do it totally by feel somehow and I don’t really consciously have an idea what notes I’m playing, but I can do it all the way through.

    #62407
    Icebike
    Icebike
    Participant

    The comments on ‘tripping up’ hit home.  Usually when I trip up, it’s because I start thinking about the notes or what is coming next, rather than simply playing and enjoying the tune.  Last night, playing at a senior’s home, I tripped up on the B part of Sailors Hornpipe – a tune I’ve played countless times.  Why? – because I started thinking about what notes come next, even though I know them well.  I need to stop thinking so much and just go with the flow – my wife fully agrees.

    Joe

    #62416
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Steve, trust me when I say that you will get there!  Your determination, your love of music and fiddle, and your tenacity will pull you over the finish line to win the gold medal.   🙂

    To address both the issues of memorizing tunes and tripping up, may I suggest the following:

    1) Hasten slowly.

    2) Learn the tunes very VERY SLOWLY at first.  This will not only build your muscle memory; it will also create good practice for confident and accurate string crossings. Then gradually speed up the tune over each practice session.

    3) Break the tunes that you want to learn into short passages and play each of them SLOWLY over and over and over until that particular passage is fixed in your mind.  Then move on to the next short passage of the same tune and do the same with that.  Learning a tune this way will allow you to easily stop and start at any given part of the tune should you trip up; which will save you having to go back to the start of the tune (or particular verse, or Part A  / B) just to get it going again.  Being able to quickly return to a ‘tripped up’ part of a tune in a jam session or when performing can be a real lifesaver.

    4)  Listen over and over to the particular tune played by someone else.  Listen, not only to someone fiddling the tune, but also listen to the tune played on a piano accordion or Penny Whistle, Irish flute. Listen to the tune over and over to the point where you can whistle it, or sing it or hum it note – -perfect from start to finish.  This will allow you to memorize it.

    5)  Choose around THREE or FIVE of your absolute most favorite tunes and learn each on inside out.  There is an old Chinese saying that says, “It is wiser to eat a small bowl of rice than to eat the whole paddy.”

    6)  Keep loving what you do.

    7)  Keep it fun.  🙂

    Hope this helps.

    #62420
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    All good advice everyone from everyone ! Great Scott the first year I had the whole patty of rice about 40 tunes this year it’s just one small bowl of rice at a time and I am committing each one to memory , So far about 15 of them down out of 40 LOL ! By the way I can play all 40 of them and then some , but not to perfection and not without tablature .

    #62501

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    What an awesome thread! Thanks, Steve, for starting it. I have enjoyed everyone’s comments. So much good advice and wisdom here! You guys may not believe it but I learn new things from you all almost every day.

    Does anyone else do any “virtual” practicing without the instrument? I find myself doing this subconsciously throughout the day. While hearing the tune in my head, I tap the notes on my left leg, with my palm down as if the fiddle is upside down. On my right leg, I scratch a small bowing pattern with my thumb and first finger. It doesn’t draw a lot of attention, but it actually feels like I’m practicing the song.

    When I finally do get back to the fiddle, I’m much farther along than the previous practice, mainly because my virtual practice helped me memorize the song and work out some of the bowing.

    I don’t know when I started doing this, but I think it was fairly early on. It does require a good imagination, lol. I think it’s helpful. Does anyone else do this?

    #62502
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    No, but I think my puppy dog does it all day long…

    #62503
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Yes, doggies do a lot of scratching out bow patterns…lol.  I do that too, John…I have to because nobody will leave me alone enough to actually practice…I think of tunes and fidget around with pencils, spatulas, whatever…kinda playing them inside my head as I do whatever.  It’s probably helpful…lol…better than nothing!

    #62506
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Yes I do in my head I can visualize it , and given time to sleep on a problem I sometimes solve it or have a better way , working in my sleep , LOL

    #62512
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Me too…I dream about playing music all the time.

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