View Full Version : Using tunes as exercises.
05-11-2005, 04:55 PM
Do you select tunes that will exercise students in certan ornaments? I have recently given a pupil The Highland Brigade at Tel-El-Kebir (Scots Guards book 1) to help tone up taorluaths. The down side of this can be that the pupil gets to hate a tune, or at least view it negatively, because it was an exercise.
Does anyone else use tunes in such a way, if so have you found pupils playing the tunes in later years or casting them aside as something they had to endure and can no longer see as music.
05-11-2005, 07:42 PM
Funny that you mention it Ian, just yesterday I have suggested to a new, younger student to learn Donald Willie and his Dog to open up his playing a little bit more. I remembered that I used to be a very tight player and playing this jig has helped me to open up my tachum grace notes and my bottom hand doublings.
Glasgow City Police Pipers is also a very good example to practice your g,d e gracings.
05-12-2005, 04:24 PM
The Piping centre tutor addresses this very concept, if you study the progression. Cork Hill is brought into play very early in the progression and it nicely deals with GDE grace notes in the round style initially.
The 1st, 3rd and 4th parts are very similar in construction and are quite easy for the learner to get on board.
If you deal with the 2nd part as the final building block it addresses the D grace notes onto C, which are always problematic with learners.
Finally, once the learner has the tune in this basic round form it is then an easy transition to introduce E doublings throughout, and the C doublings at the end of the lines going down to B with E grace notes. Then you can slightly adjust the tune from rounded to dot and cut as may be the want for Highland dancing eventually.
It also gives the student a psychological boost thinking that they can address a jig so early on. The whole tune in its round or dot and cut form can then be set to the learner to perfect marching and this will , with persistence, address their natural timekeeping.
The latter stages of the tutor deal with the dreaded TACHUM exercises on Reels and Strathspeys and the doublings down to the lower notes with the E grace note. I refer to these personally as Doubling Tachums. I also find that THESE movements need intense attention by both student and teacher or the allowance of mistakes will RUIN the students fingering and execution
05-13-2005, 07:43 AM
As long as the tunes don't replace exercises. But I can tell from your phrasing, Ian, that you're not suggesting that.
But we've both no doubt seen some who believe that a tune can be the exercise--rather than an extension or expression of the benefits derived from exercises--in which case they often simply reinforce their mistakes.
As if that just made any sense! :rolleyes:
05-13-2005, 01:28 PM
I know I have used this method to exploit weaknesses in my own technique. It doesn't replace the excercise, but sort of forces me to spend a lot of time on excercises that will help me get the tune right.
For example, C doubling to low A or B doubling to low G with the e gracenote down (doubling tachum) was a problem for me. So, I picked Lady MacKenzie of Gairloch as a competition tune. I wanted to get the tune off well, so I practiced the movements alot.
I think the best tutors give a selection of movements, note changes, embellishments to work on, and then introduce a tune that has them(COP, Russ Spaulding). it makes the practice work relevent for the student, and puts the movements in musical context. After-all, one rarely, truly, wants a hammer. What we want is a nail that is pounded in. Same with technique excercises. What is the point of perfecting technique if not to express the music mo' betta!
05-14-2005, 06:03 AM
I generally use this method in reverse. Choose a tune that should be in the repitoir and then choose excersizes to improve the wiggly bits in the tune.
The same for my students. Many times students are working on band tunes that they have to learn. Then generally the excercise work they do for one tune carries over into many more of them.
05-14-2005, 04:58 PM
I have found "The Piper of Drummond" to be the most beneficial exercise for those darned heavy throws on D.
When I was first introduced to this tune, my d throws were still somewhat lacking, and with as much as two throws in every bar, the "Piper" proved to be quite the challenge...
But where numerous exercises failed, the desire to bring out the musicality of the tune and get this "reel-feeling" did the trick.
My throws on D have significantly improved - even my teacher is impressed...
05-15-2005, 07:53 AM
Piper of Drummond can be a very helpful tune when working on heavy Throws and light Throws. I'll have a student work on it with either light Throws or heavy Throws. Then, when they have that accomplished, I have them alternate each Throw on D in the same tune.
I find that tunes can be very helpful for students, but the instructor has to keep it interesting and varied. Whether tune or exercise, you can only beat a dead horse so long. I have found this little variation keeps their interest in a remartkable way.