View Full Version : Bringing a tune up to "speed"
Eric R. Jeppesen
07-01-2002, 11:20 AM
Just curious if anyone has trouble bringing
a tune up to "band" speed and how you have
corrected it. I have been playing for about 2 1/2 years, 1 year of that on the pipes. :thumb:
High Road is the one that is giving me fits.
I've been able to bring about six other tunes
up to band speed but not this one.
I've been working on High Road for about four months now. It's getting really frustrating :mad:
07-01-2002, 11:34 AM
Sing it. Sing it lots.
07-01-2002, 12:14 PM
Yes .... also listen to any recordings ....
One thing that some beginners do is to play all their tunes at a "comfortable" speed .... where they don't feel pushed or anything. If you don't push yourself it can take you just this side of forever to get some tunes "up to speed" (depending on your aptitude and so forth, but you get the picture). So that's the danger of never pushing your tempos ... but of course the danger of going too far the other way is sloppy playing.
What you need to do is to play the tune at a tempo where you feel a bit pushed but can still keep control - find the fastest tempo that allows you to play the tune with all the notes and embellishments correct and practice it there. You can find that tempo by trying to go a little bit beyond it; if your execution starts to get messy then back off a little bit until you can control it. If the tempo feels completely comfortable then you've probably backed off too much. Here is where a tape recorder and a metronome can be a great help - the metronome will tell you if you're keeping the tempo at your current "target" and the tape recorder will tell you how you're doing.
You should find that after a few days or a week you find the new tempo a little more comfortable .... once you get there, you can pick the tempo up a little more yet. Repeat as necessary until you've reached the band's target tempo. Depending on the tune and where you're starting from, that may take more or less time.
The important thing is not to give up. One teacher I had (not in piping, but the principle applies) used to say that "If you're not winning, you're losing" -- by which he meant that if you don't have an attitude that you can overcome whatever obstacles are in front of you, then you have already ensured that you never will overcome them. In fact that single attitude problem is what causes the most problems with progressing on the pipes -- not aptitude, important as that is.
07-01-2002, 10:00 PM
I agree with Bruce's approach...
suggest you use a metronome to "keep score"
ok at a speed for a couple of days, goose it 2-4 bpm...
make sure you are objectively right about your playing it correctly though... verify with your instructor and/or taper recorder
Best of luck
Learning from your own mistakes is great, but learning from others, both their successes and their mistakes is faster. Peking Piper's observation
Richard Mao, The Peking Piper ( PekingPiper@mao.org )
07-02-2002, 06:22 AM
If certain select passages stand in your way, I learned a new technique for increasing speed and smoothness in technically challenging phrases.
I always used to just bump up the metronome bit by bit, regardless of whether I was working on one measure or 32. This year, my teacher suggested a different approach for smaller segments. Say I'm at 76 bpm and I'd like to be at 82, but can't because of a few select, pesky movements. I'll set my metronome at my goal (82), play the troublesome passage half-tempo, and then at full-tempo (with no break in between). Then I take a breath and do it again.
I don't know why this works, but I suspect it has something to do with the deliberation and precision of the half-tempo part transferring well because of the strong, natural 1:2 relationship with the full-tempo part.
Eric R. Jeppesen
07-02-2002, 07:16 AM
Thanks for the great suggestions :D
I too have had this problem. I use a tune notation program to slow the tune,cut and paste the pesky part on a new page and then loop it until I can play it at speed. Then I go back and play the whole tune at acomfortable but slightly pushed speed increasing as I get it down better and better. Just like using the met, but you know you are playing right because if the sounds , of you and the program, doesn't sound the same you are doing it wrong. This approach goes along with your tutor or band practice except it is just you and the program one on one, without the PM saying it was wrong doing it again and you wondering if he or she is right or not. Prefect practice make perfect.
The programs seem expensive but this is a way to justify it.
This may sound stupid, but if you drive, one of the best ways to get up to speed is practice the finger movements on your steering wheel.
07-29-2002, 01:59 PM
Eventually, you want to play the entire tune, play it correctly, and play it up to speed. (This is from Kenny Werner's _Effortless Mastery_). If you cannot do all three at once, do them one at a time, then two at a time, and eventually all will come together. Can you play two notes up to speed correctly? I bet you can. Three notes? Go from there.
One of the big mistakes we make in learning a tune is getting bogged down in playing the entire tune, with mistakes, and slowly.
Regarding playing the steering wheel, it doesn't give you feedback about clear embellishments, correct fingerings, and crossing noises. Singing along works wonders, though.
07-30-2002, 10:48 PM
what I do...is bring a video camera to a lesson with my teacher. Then I bring the tape home, get my practice chanter, and watch the tape, trying to keep speed. Then when I feel I'm comfortable with the speed, I break out the pipes.
Hope this will help in some way or another :)
08-06-2002, 01:25 PM
My pipe major suggests that when you first start to learn/play a tune that you start learning it while beating it in 8. meaning that you tap your foot or have the metronome sound on every 8th note than every quarter note. Later you can start to beat it on every beat instead of in 8. it will "automatically" speed up.
:woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :woohoo: :hatoff:
08-06-2002, 01:49 PM
Originally posted by ILM Piper:
My pipe major suggests that when you first start to learn/play a tune that you start learning it while beating it in 8. [...] I'm assuming from the rest of this discussion that you were talking about beating a 4/4 tune in 8. That can be a very useful technique for learning the basic rhythmic structure of a melody; change as appropriate for the type of tune (ie, in 6 for 6/8's or 3/4's, in 4 for 2/4's, etc). I've seen it used by a number of very good instructors. It does have some limitations: it can get a bit cumbersome if you start out beating a 2/4 in 8, for example.
I like Calum's suggestion of singing the melody; if you're self-conscious about that, try clapping the rhythm instead - one clap on each melody note, preferably while beating time with your foot or listening to a metronome. These both get you away from technical issues with playing the notes on the chanter, and allows you to concentrate on what the tune ought to sound like. Then your problem becomes how to do that on the chanter, rather than trying to figure out the tune at the same time.
08-08-2002, 06:16 AM
He did specifically say 2/4. Trust me when I first heard him say that was when he was helping my dad with The High Road to Gairloch. This helped my dad significantly. As soon as he started beating it in 4 he "automatically" sped up. :thumb:
08-21-2002, 10:44 AM
Sing it is right. I thought our PM was nuts when she had us STAND up and sing Mull of Kintyre and Grand Old Flag, as well as part of Steamboat.
It really works. My late instructor told me that if you can't sing it, you can't play it.