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Sep 25, 2023 - 5:38:44 PM
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4 posts since 1/17/2011

I often find myself losing myself when I'm playing a tune. For example, skipping over a repeat, or playing multiple repeats. Not a particular problem when playing in the privacy of my own home. Somewhat embarrassing in a jam setting. Any tips or tricks you use to remember where you are at in a tune?

Sep 25, 2023 - 5:45:39 PM
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3223 posts since 3/30/2008

I don't know if there are any "tips or tricks", other than sheer memorization & lots of quality practice time. ( I suspect you're not really practicing as much as you need to).

Sep 25, 2023 - 6:52:49 PM
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61292 posts since 12/14/2005

I have forgotten where I was, when singing songs that I WROTE!
Anybody got tips and tricks, do let me know.

Sep 25, 2023 - 7:01:25 PM
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2255 posts since 2/9/2007

Play a whole lot of dances.

Sep 25, 2023 - 7:29:23 PM
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1410 posts since 11/26/2012
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The only thing I can think of is to know a song well enough, before you learn it on the banjo, that you can hum it (or sing it if there are words). It's easy to loose your place when you don't even know where you are in the first place.

I had this exact problem when I was trying to learn cajun tunes on the fiddle. Even though I enjoy listening to that kind of music from time to time, I was having the devil of a time remembering the songs when I was trying to play them. It was then that I realized that I didn't even know those tunes well enough to hum them, let alone play them.

Sep 26, 2023 - 2:36:51 AM

banjo roo


213 posts since 5/12/2010

I like try and find some lyrics for the tune. Almost all tunes have lyrics attached to them, either historically or recently. Even if you don't sing them, knowing the lyrics helps give a reference to the melody and tune structure.

Sep 26, 2023 - 4:04:01 AM

73 posts since 11/28/2017

Continued from last post, which was accidentally posted too soon. With tunes that have a clear structure, mainly contra dance and old time tunes, at the start of each section I say to myself - and sometimes to the whole group - A1, and then A2, as emphatically as I can, whether to myself or everyone. I seem to be able to keep track of my place long enough to move to A2, or B1, or whatever is appropriate for the tune. That emphatic, and even out loud, statement of where I am in the tune, has seemed to be helpful in my time of ever-increasing short-term memory loss. In informal jams other players have expressed appreciation for the regular reminders, since most of my music cohorts deal with the same issues.

With songs, irregular tunes, and airs, I have no idea how to keep track. I just hope for the best, and try not to crash and burn too often.

Sep 26, 2023 - 4:29:43 AM
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3811 posts since 10/17/2009

I usually imagine the sound of the melody playing in my mind. Listening to the chord progression can help remind.

Rather than note by note sequence; mostly I listen for the phraseology, how the tune makes sense, and/or tells a story. Many tunes follow one af a few different forms. Like with many song verses, most common os each part is a Quatrain, four stanzas/phrases; each typically 4 beats; with a call and response like character, or question/answer; unresolved, then resolved. Of course there are other forms than 4 stanzas, 2 is pretty common; but are still often 4 beats phrases. Sometimes 3 phrases; and might be 4 or 8 beats (like blues).

As far as repeats; the most common is each part twice; like AABB form. That even symmetry is so common, like hearing 4 beats, and phrases above; that after while it kind of becomes a bit hard wired expectation that sounds right (and might sound odd when doesn't). 

As far as it being embarrassing at a jam... it's a jam, these things happen, at one time or another to everyone, even experienced players; mostly not a big deal. If not solid on a tune, good idea to follow others lead. This includes looking up from your own absorbed focus on your instrument (or trying to remember notes); relax/breathe, listening closer to what the others are playing, go along for the ride. As above, listening to chord progression, and phraseology; perhaps especially to what happens at the end of parts; they can give clue, or have pickup notes to telegraph the next part. If at any point unsure of part/repeat, just look up, maybe back off, and let them guide to next part.

Edited by - banjoak on 09/26/2023 04:31:26

Sep 26, 2023 - 4:44:31 AM

3811 posts since 10/17/2009

Originally posted by Dan Gellert

Play a whole lot of dances.

yes As well, dance. Contra dancing especially kind of engrained even binary symmetry, from AABB, to most moves are 4/8 beat (some 8/16); lots of Yin/yang... forward/back; to left, back by right; across hall and back; or down hall and back. 

Edited by - banjoak on 09/26/2023 04:48:03

Sep 26, 2023 - 7:50:54 AM
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2731 posts since 8/30/2012

Try playing songs that don't all sound the same, or play songs that have some actual variety within themselves.

This is a difficult proposal if you're playing in the typical "old time fiddle tune" circles.

What song is this? Where are we at in the song? Who knows, who cares, just keep playing an A chord and be quiet.

Edited by - KCJones on 09/26/2023 07:51:07

Sep 26, 2023 - 7:54:21 PM

3347 posts since 4/19/2008
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When I played in a big band setting with maybe 4 pages laid across the the music stand I would pencil in an arrow pointing at the angle were my eye should look for the left repeat. I also made an asterisk if the the first ending was along distance away from that repeat sign.

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