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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Achieving speed at an advanced age???


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/329578

Bribak - Posted - 04/06/2017:  15:47:47


Hello all.  Just curious to hear of other's experience.  I'm 59 years old and have only been playing irish tenor for about 10 months now.  Progress is being made for sure and it is starting to feel more natural.  When I first pick it up I always feel clumsy initially. After 30 minutes or so it starts to feel more like a banjo and less like a baseball bat.  But I can't even imagine being able to play at the speeds that I see in so many of the sessions on Youtube or hear on the many irish recordings I've accumulated.  For instance:  youtube.com/watch?v=BqW3iDW8hUk



I realize this is dance music and it does sound super at these speeds.  I play along with cd recordings using an app called ANYTUNE PRO.  I find myself constantly playing at only about 65 to 75% (max) of the recording's speed  (unless it is already a slow piece).  And that is after I have somewhat  "learned" the tune.  Anything faster than that and it all starts to fall apart (especially the right hand).  Can I expect to ever get up to speed starting to learn at such an advanced, old and decrepit age?smiley  For those of you near my age who have started late - what's your experience? 



I'm enjoying this a lot...even playing at these slower speeds. The music is exciting and energizing and seeing progress being made in a new endeavor  feels good.  I go to a very small, casual session about once a week where there are other beginners and they are usually willing to slow things down.  But I wonder if I can ever expect to be able to participate in any "normal" speed jams like I see online.  I would rather play slow and clean than fast and sloppy.



For those of you who have been to workshops...what is the norm speed at which the average, non-professional enthusiast can still usually play fairly cleanly?  Anywhere near cd recorded speeds?  I'm encouraged by the fact that I do see quite a few "older" guys in videos playing up to speed.  But then again - I wonder how long they've been playing.  I'd be thankful for any opinions/ input you all might have.

ruraltradpunk - Posted - 04/06/2017:  15:58:04


Just curious, are you taking lessons at all? It might be that having an experienced set of eyes evaluate your right hand technique could help with developing speed. At 10 months in though it's still early days yet. I did notice that you mention speeds of 65-75% when you have "somewhat" learned the tune - for meself I find that if I have to pause for a nanosecond to recall what note is next, then my speed falls apart. The more I know a tune inside and out then the faster I can play it. 

Bribak - Posted - 04/06/2017:  16:39:40


No, unfortunately I'm not taking lessons.  I live in a somewhat rural area (in the USA) so I have been trying to learn from Enda's book, online websites and the many workshop videos I've watched online.  I probably started attending this session earlier than I should have - which has necessitated me spending more time on tunes than technique (my daughter is an irish dancer/piano player who really wanted me to start attending the sessions - so there I am).  But I'm sure you're right - having someone evaluate my technique is probably a very good idea.  The session I attend involves about a 110 mile roundtrip itself so I've been reluctant to commit to another probably fairly long commute for instruction.  But at some point I probably should do that before I commit bad muscle memories to habit.  I have experimented a lot with various pick grips, arm placement, etc. to try to achieve the most relaxed state I can.  I'm really aware that my best practices are those times I find myself the most relaxed in my playing.  I'm pretty happy with my progress for the time that I've been playing but I still can't ever imagine achieving full "session speed" playing.  I'm probably analyzing this more than I need to..



As for "learning" a tune - I agree with you 100%.  I'm usually semi-following tab when I play because of the many tunes I'm trying to learn for this session.  But the ones I play the best are those that I know well enough that I can just close my eyes and try to let my hands "dance" with the tunes.  Doesn't happen very often - but feels great when it does. 

Alec Cramsie - Posted - 04/06/2017:  17:11:32


Just a thought...how about taking lessons on line via Skype?

banjered - Posted - 04/06/2017:  17:42:50


A few years back I took up the Irish Tenor, learned 6 each of reels, hornpipes, and jigs. I too was comfortable at about 2/3 conventional speed. I COULD play up to speed on those tunes too. However, I didn't like playing that pace of playing, I don't think my nervous system would EVER enjoy that pace of playing. It was like needing to drink 4-5 cups of strong coffee and wiring myself up to get my nervous system to match just the average pace of an average session.  The old timey world is much more akin to my pace and the occasional extra fast tune just becomes fun.  Bottom line is that I think some folks are just wired up for speed whether Irish or Old Time but I much prefer the generally more relaxed pace of Old Time.  There are race horses and there are plow horses. Yes there are some in the Old Time World who enjoy playing tunes as fast as Irish, but I am not one of them. Hope this helps. By the way I have seen a few folks playing the Irish tenor style banjo for Old Time tunes for dances and I thought it really worked well for that, sounded good, even if it wasn't the 5 banger sound and it saves all those retunings. banjered

Banjo Lefty - Posted - 04/06/2017:  18:16:27


As in every genre of music, there's a normal tempo, a concert tempo, and a "show off" tempo. Most music sounds better slower. Listen to some older recordings: they're almost uniformly slower than modern ones.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/06/2017:  19:17:01


 


quote:


Originally posted by Banjo Lefty

 

As in every genre of music, there's a normal tempo, a concert tempo, and a "show off" tempo. Most music sounds better slower. Listen to some older recordings: they're almost uniformly slower than modern ones.







 



I agree that many tunes sound better at moderate speeds vs blazing. Some modern Irish recordings have such fast tempos that they become a blurring bore to my ears.



 



Wayne



 

Bribak - Posted - 04/06/2017:  19:18:38


quote:


Originally posted by Alec Cramsie

 

Just a thought...how about taking lessons on line via Skype?







Yep that is certainly and option too and I'll have to give it some thought.



 



As far as old time vs irish -  I do like them both.  I really got into clawhammer for about 5 years and I did enjoy it.  And I agree it is a more relaxed pace for the most part.  But right now I am really liking this style and have the added benefit of being involved in something my daughter really loves as well.  She can play these tunes on the piano faster than me but doesn't seem to mind slowing down when we play together.  So I'm gonna keep at it and we'll see if the speed comes.  I guess at 10 months I might be expecting too much too soon.  I've got to keep telling myself to enjoy the journey and not focus on what I can't yet do.  I hope to attend some workshops this summer and maybe get some input from some much better players as to what I can do to improve my technique.  I've never done a workshop before but my daughter went to Blackthorn (in NY) last year and is really encouraging me to go this year.  Pauline Conneely is supposed to be one of the instructors again this year.  I do love her playing.



Thanks to everyone for your comments.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/06/2017:  20:21:34


Make sure to learn the Blackthorn Jig for the workshop!



 



Wayne

robmac07 - Posted - 04/06/2017:  20:47:17


I only took up the Tenor banjo (GDAE tuning) and mostly Irish music, just over 2 years ago. I'm 70.  Even though I've played Scruggs style and clawhammer  on the 5 string banjo for many years I found flat picking on the tenor a real challenge especially at speed. I can just keep up at local sessions now. I do think that many tunes nowadays are played a bit on the fast side but often that's just folks getting excited and enjoying themselves.  :)

  The biggest help has been getting together with a friend who plays good steady guitar, regular practice each day and taking on board Enda Scahill's best suggestion - "Relax" 


Edited by - robmac07 on 04/06/2017 20:47:48

Bribak - Posted - 04/06/2017:  22:11:38


quote:


Originally posted by captbanjo

 

Make sure to learn the Blackthorn Jig for the workshop!




 




Wayne







 Wayne, I'm probably being gullible here but have you been there before and are you serious about that specific tune? I've never been to a workshop but in the videos I've seen it looks like Enda uses specific tunes to teach concepts.   I'm guessing that you're probably just kidding because of the name of the resort?



If not, is the Blackthorn jig the same as the Blackthorn Stick jig?  Also, at a workshop will I be handicapped by the fact that I can't sight read notation or ABC? I always convert ABC to tab since that's what I'm used to and it's easy to do online. 


Edited by - Bribak on 04/06/2017 22:31:24

AllanJ - Posted - 04/06/2017:  23:09:00


The workshops / slow sessions that I;ve been to have been primarily learning by ear with standard notation as a backup.  Ear is best of course,  but standard notation is easy to learn for tenor banjo (you only need to learn the keys of G and D in first position and that covers 90% of Irish and related trad music).



 



Allan

 

DSmoke - Posted - 04/07/2017:  04:26:57


I've been to the Catskills Irish Arts Week twice, the first time I was playing for less than a year, then 2 years after that.  First, Pauline is awesome, not only as a banjo player but also also as a teacher (she is also a school teacher).  You will have a blast in her class.  Second, get rid of the TAB, you need to start learning by ear.  She will teach you 1 - 2 tunes within your 1.5 hour session each day.  She will teach them the traditional way, by ear.  The only way you will learn them is by having the experience and ability to "hear and repeat".  I have been playing by ear most of my years, and still struggled to keep up in class.  I would record it and spend time after class working it out.  Luckily, I had Ben in class with me and would help me get the notes I was missing, or when I forgot the tune completely.  This is not meant to scare you, just passing along to help prepare you.



As for your question of speed.  I have been playing 4 years, started at age 38, first ever instrument.  My wife started fiddle at the same time.  Our goal was to be good enough to play in sessions when we are older, when we become empty nesters.  With that said, we were still in a hurry to learn as many tunes as possible because going to a session and sitting through 99% of the tunes is well, boring and disappointing.  So, I know 49 tunes now, and learned half of them last year.  This again comes with experience, the more tunes you learn and play the easier it is to learn more tunes.  I can pick up a tune pretty quickly now.  BUT, I too still don't have the speed.  I can play some tunes at session speed, but I certainly don't play them right or near as good as I do slower.  I have slowed down learning tunes this year focusing on playing the tunes I do know better.  My goal is playing relaxed and not having to think about each note.  I have felt the benefits of this. 



I have a playlist from the Comhaltas Foinn Seisiun recordings of the tunes that we play.  I can play along well at 80% of the recording speed.  Many of the sessions play the tunes too fast, faster than that of what they would dance to, but that is the nature of the beast.  It's not always showing off as sometimes the group just gets going.  I recently noticed while driving and listening to tunes from all the great banjo players, many of the tunes are recorded at a tempo slower than session speed.  So, I play at a pace I am comfortable with, and hope that it gradually gets better.  I will, when practicing, play the tune through a few times, and if it feels and sounds good, try to play it faster and faster until it falls apart.

dcolpitts - Posted - 04/07/2017:  05:42:56


I read this thread with great interest, as an "old rookie" myself.  I have sat in on my local Irish, Old Time, and Quebecois sessions for about 4 years, but most of that has been with harmonica and concertina; my strings life began last summer.  I can only play a tune or two at speed, but I can hit some correct notes in between, and no one seems to mind, so long as I don't play the wrong ones.  This seems right to me, and gets me involved, at tempo, without so much pressure.  I probably helps that a key leader of my Irish session is a rock-steady banjo player, who is very supportive and encouraging.



I also have arrived at a couple of "cheats" that help me, personally.  First, I took my late Dad's old Stella tenor and tuned  it down so low (with extra-hard tension nylon classical guitar strings) that GDAE in the proper octaves come at the fifth fret (capo) which gives really short (like 17") scale length.  That makes it faster, and sacrifices just a bit of tone quality and volume, neither of which matters yet when played "anonymously" at my sessions.  The other "cheat" is using a mandolin banjo with just four strings, and a banjo uke, both tuned with Aquila nylgut uke strings for fifths.  That really shortens and quickens, and I find the "muscle memory" from playing fast on a short scale translates surprisingly quickly to the longer scale.  So....my bottom line is play a lot, by ear, shorter scale, leave out the runs that aren't there yet, and still feel "built in" to the sessions.  I love the strings, and play my free reeds much less often, at least while I am trying to get good, fast, as it were.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/07/2017:  05:45:10


Bribak I was joking and yes, I meant 'Stick'. It is a decent jig though. Maybe I should put it on TOTM?



I have gone to workshops and have been aware of the workshop you are looking at but it is one I have not attended. I have heard good things.



 



Wayne

brewerpaul - Posted - 04/07/2017:  06:23:35


The OP mentioned the fact that most ITM tunes are dance music as a reason for why many people play them so fast. From what I've seen, when those tunes are played for people to actually dance to, they're usually at a pace slower than session speed which is too fast for dancing.



Speed will come with time at any age. Don't worry about speed if you're new to the game. Rather, play the tunes well at a pace you can handle, gradually speeding up.



Since moving to our new home in Maryland, I've found a couple of terrific sessions with some excellent players. Playing with them has really upped my playing by stretching myself a bit outside of my comfort zone.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/07/2017:  08:55:40


"Since moving to our new home in Maryland, I've found a couple of terrific sessions with some excellent players. Playing with them has really upped my playing by stretching myself a bit outside of my comfort zone."



And  that is a key component in trying to improve; playing outside of our comfort zones. Another technique you can attempt to increase speed is to play the tune at a normal pace with a metronome (or a tune slowing app) and then set the metronome at the fastest pace you can play. I would suggest going to the point where it starts falling apart and then go back to a comfortable pace and repeat the process back and forth, over and over. 



 



Wayne

Bribak - Posted - 04/07/2017:  08:56:29


Lots of good encouraging advice. Much appreciated.

I do want to become an ear learner and less reliant on tab/notation. For those of you who learn by ear - when you go to learn a brand new tune - do you initially use notation/tab/abc at all or do you make yourself figure it out note by note by ear and then rely totally on memory to retain it. At the slow session I attend, we probably usually select from around 30 to 40 different tunes and I use tab on an ipad for about 2/3 of those as I play. I notice in online videos that notation being used in sessions is very rare. Maybe even frowned upon? My sense is that the attitude is you learn it at home and play it in session. It seems every week at our session a new tune or two is introduced and I spend the following week trying to learn it/them well enough to play the following week...at the same time becoming "rusty" with my previously learned tunes. I know I'm in the early stages of learning but I can't imagine retaining how to play all these different tunes without occasionally using the notation crutch. I'm probably trying to learn too many tunes too fast - trying to catch up to the others at this slow session. One thing I do notice about learning something new as I get older is that it takes more "warm up" time to get comfortable again each time I sit down to play.



DSmoke - Posted - 04/07/2017:  10:00:07


I make myself figure it out note by note by ear.  I start by figuring out the first notes, anywhere from 1 - 8 depending on the tune and how I hear it.  I make sure they sound right and continue on breaking the tune down, pick out the next part (a couple notes), then put it together with what I previously learned and play that a bit.  Then onto the next couple notes and repeat.  I will usually get all of A and play that for a bit, take a 5 minute break, come back and make sure I retained it and play it until it feels good.  Depending on how that goes I will take a 20 to 30 minute break from it and come back or move on to the B part.  Some tunes I can get the tune easily, others I might just get A one day, and B the next day.



The best practice is to try to pick out a tune you can already hum, something simple you've know most of your life, Yankee Doodle for example.  Try to pick it out.  Don't get frustrated it comes easier to some people than others.  It's learning a new skill, and it is hard!  My wife has been working hard at it for 3 years, she is doing great and can play almost anything she hears in her head now, and I mean anything doesn't have to be Irish, can be a pop song on the radio.  I am not able to do that yet, but I will be able to some day.



You should also check out irishtune.info/ .  There is a feature on the site called the Practice Machine.  It will help you retain the tunes you know how to play.  Read about it on the site and set it up, log in everyday and play the tunes it tells you to play.  This is a very important part of our practice and has been very beneficial for us.



Pauline will  not have any sheet music in the Catskills, honestly she might not even know the name of the tune, but someone will know it.  Record every tune she teaches and you can learn them on your own time if you don't pick it all up in class.  I was so mentally exhausted last year that by the last class I basically told her I can learn another tune, 6 or 7 in 4 days, is overload for me and they started to become a jumbled mess.  But I came home playing 4 tunes well and worked the others out from recordings.  I am a big fan of CIAW and Pauline, and we try to go every other year.



I will also mention that I also "play" with an ear training app on my phone.



I hope this helps.



 

ruraltradpunk - Posted - 04/07/2017:  10:35:02


The first workshop I ever went to was given by Kieran Hanrahan at the Feakle Festival in 2007. I'd only been playing tenor banjo about 6 weeks at that stage, but  was a very good guitar player with a very good ear so was able to keep up learning the tunes via ear alone as I didn't read notation or ABC's at that stage. Nonetheless my number one priority right after the workshop was to get up to speed with ABC's as between them and learning by ear I had me bases covered. Personally I have no time for tab as it reminds me of taking the Tube when you're in London - you get from A to B but you have no real clear idea of how you got there. ABC notation is quite straightforward to learn and will help you learn the notes on the fretboard and commit them to memory. Not sure if you've seen this link for the website of Wellington Session in NZ. There are loads of tunes and a function to slow them down or speed them up: wellington.session.nz



 


Edited by - ruraltradpunk on 04/07/2017 10:35:36

Bribak - Posted - 04/07/2017:  11:13:43


Great resources and info.  Thanks.  I will check both those links out.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/07/2017:  11:58:33


Dan, what ear training app do you use?



Jill, I took a class with Karen Hanrahan years ago. Quite the player and quite the character! 



IMO, tab  works best with instruments that are tuned oddly such as five string banjo or a guitar. I say this because tab offers a visual roadmap of the fretboard and that can be useful for those types of tunings. Because of its logical tuning sequence, like it's cousins the fiddle and mandolin, the GDAE tuned tenor banjo does not need this. 



 



Wayne



 

mikeyes - Posted - 04/07/2017:  15:37:14


If you are going to take a lesson from Pauline, ask her that question. I think she will give you some good answers and help you with your technique. She will be in Texas at the O'Flaherty Retreat this October and if you do things right, you can catch her at several places. (Of course, she may think you are stalking her so be careful (grin).). A face to face teacher is the best way to get feedback that will be personal and have the most value. There are no shortcuts, by the way, you still have to have good technique and tone no matter what.

Mike Keyes

DSmoke - Posted - 04/07/2017:  16:36:15


quote:

Originally posted by captbanjo

 

Dan, what ear training app do you use?




Wayne




 







The app is called Functional Ear Trainer.  I had thought about recording all the notes on the banjo, saving them as individual sound files, and loading them into a play list and playing them on random, for a play and repeat practice exercise.  I just never made the time to do it.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/07/2017:  17:06:50


Jill, I took a class with Karen Hanrahan years ago. Quite the player and quite the character! 



 



Man, would Kieran be mad my post auto-corrected him into Karen!



 



Wayne

Picking Dick - Posted - 04/08/2017:  07:52:03


Well, I've only been playing Irish banjo for about a year. I'm 80 though, and I don't do anything fast, so my progress has been slow. I play clawhammer much better, and I'm beginning to pick up a little speed with it. I play lots of instruments, and i've played in three different clefs. I can also read tab, but i don't like it.





I started out trying to play Irish with regular music because i have a lot of it. But I seem to have some kinda "hand-eye coordination problem". I can read the music, and i know where the notes are on the banjo (or mando-banjo), but, when i start to play, i become all fumble fingered and hafta think about how to finger 'em.      



////Well, I've lost the second half of my post somehow - sorry.  I'll be back.///////


Edited by - Picking Dick on 04/08/2017 08:09:27

Picking Dick - Posted - 04/08/2017:  08:04:21


Picking Dick - Posted - 04/08/2017:  08:32:07


Well, feeling stupid but continuing doggedly on . . . So now, i'm playing tunes from memory and learning new ones by playing them first with a flute or tinwhistle. It works fine, but I don't understand why i can't play, reading music. I'm feeling very good that so many of the above posters say that playing by ear is best, because that's how i like to play. Now if i could only pick up a little speed.



I also have problems with concentration and remembering what i've learned. Any help here?                               



////////////I guess I had another "senior moment" and don't know how to erase the empty post above.  I guess today just ain't my day./////////



 


Edited by - Picking Dick on 04/08/2017 08:43:36

brewerpaul - Posted - 04/08/2017:  10:19:47


quote:

Originally posted by captbanjo

And  that is a key component in trying to improve; playing outside of our comfort zones. Another technique you can attempt to increase speed is to play the tune at a normal pace with a metronome (or a tune slowing app) and then set the metronome at the fastest pace you can play. I would suggest going to the point where it starts falling apart and then go back to a comfortable pace and repeat the process back and forth, over and over. 




 




Wayne







Good point about not trying to play too fast. If you're trying to play so fast that you are making tons of mistakes, what you're practicing is mistakes, not the real tune. I don't care for a metronome, but when I've used one I started at a pace I could play easily, then notched it up bit by bit until it started to fall apart.

benhockenberry - Posted - 04/08/2017:  14:08:03



quote


Originally posted by brewerpaul

If you're trying to play so fast that you are making tons of mistakes, what you're practicing is mistakes, not the real tune.




Good advice! Go slow with the metronome increases, or you end up causing more problems than you solve.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/08/2017:  14:18:04


Going slow and increasing the metronome gradually is one approach. But the slow/fast back and forth is used by many pros. At the point the tune falls apart, restart slower and then fast and then slow and fast and then scream.



 



Wayne

AllanJ - Posted - 04/09/2017:  13:34:57


Lot of great advice and encouragement in this thread - here's approach!



# Forget speed - aim for beauty and speed will come when it's ready



#  Don't try to learn a tune that you don't know - until I can whistle / hum a tune I don't try to play it.



I don't always manage to follow them though

DSmoke - Posted - 04/09/2017:  18:03:18


quote:



#  Don't try to learn a tune that you don't know - until I can whistle / hum a tune I don't try to play it.







I agree.  This is my main problem with a "camp" environment.  I have a very difficult time learning a tune that I don't know, meaning can't hum it.  When at home I listen to the tune while I drive or in the office as long as possible before I learn it, and I select my next tunes based on tunes that I like.  The TOTM here sometimes forces me to learn a tune I am not as familiar with, like Julia Delaney last month.  But, at least I have the opportunity to listen to it and decide when to finally try to pick it out.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/09/2017:  20:14:29


Good point Dan. I've come to view camps as more of a 'soak up the experience' sort of thing. Good for picking up tips and ideas but any real work for me is home with the banjo on my knee.



 



Wayne



 

pjgent - Posted - 04/15/2017:  19:50:20


Bribak, looks like you got a couple of pages of good advice so I will keep this short. I started two years ago at age 82. I didn't expect much at my age and wasn't disappointed. But while I will never be very good I enjoy it a lot. The thing that helped me the most was using Pete Wernick's jam DVDs and going to local jams. I found that my speed and accuracy increased a lot.

KiwiGrass - Posted - 04/15/2017:  21:35:53


Hi Bribak, Great question, and lots of good advice. You might be interested in how my speed improved drastically.
I'm 72 and been playing 3-finger (scruggs) style for a couple of years, and making slow progress. I recently had some lessons, and went back to some fairly basic exercises. I started out at my 'best' speed as I learned each routine (or etude). Then I went to a metronome to ensure that I wasn't galloping and uneven. I wasn't trying for speed, but I found that I was slowly getting faster without realizing it, so I just adjusted the Metronome to suit my new speed. Just kept on playing the piece over and over (and changing to a different exercise when I got fed up with it).

I had started at about 80 notes/min (npm) and after about a week, I was up to 260 npm. That was as fast as the metronome would go, so I had to change to 130 beats/min and play 2 notes per beat. That speed transferred nearly directly into the songs that I play. Now I can play them at almost any speed I want.

I appreciate that you play a different style to me, but the essence of the message is; take something reasonable simple that is easy to remember - no more than a couple of measures, but at least one. Then play it a lot, over and over to a metronome set to a comfortable speed where you can play it accurately. Keep playing it until you feel that the metronome is too slow. Then increase the speed by 5, and keep playing until it is too slow again. You can play around with the speed, going a bit too fast for you, but that only seemed to make me break up and go ragged, so I slowed back down to where it was clean.

Try it, I was amazed at how fast I improved without really pushing myself to go faster. I suppose if you take away the desire to go faster, and replace it with the desire to be accurate, then the more you play you just get faster naturally - like osmosis!

All the best, ...David

Bribak - Posted - 04/16/2017:  05:40:24


I haven't messed with a metronome hardly at all as I have been slowing down recordings and playing along. I will have to give the metronome a try. More good device from everyone. Thanks again.

captbanjo - Posted - 04/16/2017:  06:15:12


Regarding the five string comparison, I find it much easier to play 5 string Scruggs style bluegrass faster than Irish tenor. This is for two reason IMO: three picks vs one and in bluegrass banjo, the melody is often implied and can be improvised. In Irish music, you can not significantly deviate from the melody.



I can play Foggy Mountain Banjo about as fast as Earl Scruggs did. I cannot play The Cup of Tea as fast as Kieran Hanrahan can.



 



Wayne

Bribak - Posted - 04/16/2017:  10:28:08


Oops... "advice"


Bribak - Posted - 04/16/2017:  10:40:47


quote:


Originally posted by captbanjo

 

Regarding the five string comparison, I find it much easier to play 5 string Scruggs style bluegrass faster than Irish tenor. This is for two reason IMO: three picks vs one and in bluegrass banjo, the melody is often implied and can be improvised. In Irish music, you can not significantly deviate from the melody.




I can play Foggy Mountain Banjo about as fast as Earl Scruggs did. I cannot play The Cup of Tea as fast as Kieran Hanrahan can.




 



 



I'm with you on that Wayne. It has been hard to come from bluegrass banjo where I could set a pretty swift pace to having the brakes slammed on in this new style.   Even with the left-hand there's a lot more same string work here rather than rolling like in bluegrass style. In the tune John Ryan's polka, which seems to be considered somewhat of a beginner tune, there is like four swift notes in a row on the second string. That is a  left and right hand killer for me to play cleanly.




 


DSmoke - Posted - 04/16/2017:  17:47:11


When I was starting I read so many things about not using a metronome when learning to play Irish music, so I didn't.  After a few years, I started working with the metronome and it was definitely worth the struggle!  I had a horrible time (pun intended) getting in sync with it.  I will now sit down and try to play tunes to the metronome at a slower pace than I normally play them.  It's great practice, you will quickly identify parts you rush, at least I did.  And, you might want to search here for playing with the metronome.  I use it for the down beat, to match my foot tap.

KiwiGrass - Posted - 04/17/2017:  18:35:39


quote:

Originally posted by captbanjo

 

Regarding the five string comparison, I find it much easier to play 5 string Scruggs style bluegrass faster than Irish tenor. This is for two reason IMO: three picks vs one and in bluegrass banjo, the melody is often implied and can be improvised. In Irish music, you can not significantly deviate from the melody.




I can play Foggy Mountain Banjo about as fast as Earl Scruggs did. I cannot play The Cup of Tea as fast as Kieran Hanrahan can.




 




Wayne







I thought that might be the case, which is why I was specific about my style.



However, the same principle should apply - playing something over and over and letting your body dictate the speed. 

KiwiGrass - Posted - 04/17/2017:  18:42:03


quote:

Originally posted by DSmoke

 

When I was starting I read so many things about not using a metronome when learning to play Irish music, so I didn't.  After a few years, I started working with the metronome and it was definitely worth the struggle!  I had a horrible time (pun intended) getting in sync with it.  I will now sit down and try to play tunes to the metronome at a slower pace than I normally play them.  It's great practice, you will quickly identify parts you rush, at least I did.  And, you might want to search here for playing with the metronome.  I use it for the down beat, to match my foot tap.







One thing about using a metronome is - it seems to take more brain-power.  And for some of us, we are right up near our limit, and paying attention to the clicks taxes beyond our capacity, so we have to slow down some, just to keep playing.   Or is that just a symptom of not knowing a piece well enough  to let the muscle memory take over?



 



David

DSmoke - Posted - 04/18/2017:  04:42:21


quote:

Originally posted by KiwiGrass

 
quote:


Originally posted by DSmoke

 


When I was starting I read so many things about not using a metronome when learning to play Irish music, so I didn't.  After a few years, I started working with the metronome and it was definitely worth the struggle!  I had a horrible time (pun intended) getting in sync with it.  I will now sit down and try to play tunes to the metronome at a slower pace than I normally play them.  It's great practice, you will quickly identify parts you rush, at least I did.  And, you might want to search here for playing with the metronome.  I use it for the down beat, to match my foot tap.








One thing about using a metronome is - it seems to take more brain-power.  And for some of us, we are right up near our limit, and paying attention to the clicks taxes beyond our capacity, so we have to slow down some, just to keep playing.   Or is that just a symptom of not knowing a piece well enough  to let the muscle memory take over?




 




David







David it takes practice, lots of practice with the metronome to subconsciously hear the clicks.  I would suggest if you are going to try with the metronome play the tune you know and play best until you hear the clicks but don't have to struggle to hear them.  I had a lot of help with it from Rob (Robobanjo) and I really felt the benefits.

brewerpaul - Posted - 04/18/2017:  06:31:39


Regarding speed in music, the great pianist Artur Rubenstein said in his autobiography (paraphrased) "Most people play fast pieces too fast, and slow pieces too slow". Something to consider.

colonel46 - Posted - 04/18/2017:  12:32:31


Started playing the banjo at age 91 - (last year). Don't have much speed due to some arthritis in both hands, but it's good exercise and lost of fun.

Colonel Jim

captbanjo - Posted - 04/18/2017:  13:10:10


quote:

Originally posted by colonel46

 

Started playing the banjo at age 91 - (last year). Don't have much speed due to some arthritis in both hands, but it's good exercise and lost of fun.



Colonel Jim







 



Ummm....wow!!



 



Wayne

brewerpaul - Posted - 04/18/2017:  18:00:31


quote:

Originally posted by colonel46

 

Started playing the banjo at age 91 - (last year). Don't have much speed due to some arthritis in both hands, but it's good exercise and lost of fun.



Colonel Jim







You go,Colonel! You've obviously discovered that learning new things and taking on new challenges helps keep you young.

KiwiGrass - Posted - 04/19/2017:  00:19:15


quote:

Originally posted by DSmoke

David it takes practice, lots of practice with the metronome to subconsciously hear the clicks.  I would suggest if you are going to try with the metronome play the tune you know and play best until you hear the clicks but don't have to struggle to hear them.  I had a lot of help with it from Rob (Robobanjo) and I really felt the benefits.




Hi Dan, Thanks for that.  I think that happened to me the other day.  I suddenly realized that I had stopped hearing the clicks, but also that I was still following them.  Thought I was going nuts!  Hasn't happened since, but something to look forward to...

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