Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums

Bob Dunsire Bagpipe Forums (http://forums.bobdunsire.com/forums/index.php)
-   Adult Pipers (http://forums.bobdunsire.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=349)
-   -   Peaks and valleys of the learning process (http://forums.bobdunsire.com/forums/showthread.php?t=168437)

Nerdypiper42 06-14-2019 09:06 PM

Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
I donít know if this is something that is unique to adult learners, or if those who start when they are younger experience it as well, but sometimes I swear I take so many steps back in my learning process that itís hard to remember where Iíve gotten to. I mean, recording my playing (as painful as that is sometimes) helps to provide a gauge, but the unpredictability of the peaks and valleys can be overwhelming.

Iím not the type to get so discouraged as to want to not play any more. I mean really, how effing cool is it that we get to play such a powerful and beautiful instrument? But doing a little toddler dance of frustration on occasion is also part of the process for me 🤣🤣.

Anyone else have the occasional (private) temper tantrum?

Steve Law 06-15-2019 02:33 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nerdypiper42 (Post 1338119)

Anyone else have the occasional (private) temper tantrum?

Oh Yeah.... and I started 53 years ago when I was 12. As a kid I had the benefit of a couple of great teachers but they both passed away many years ago and my memories of their urgings and encouragements (as well as their frequent exasperations and criticisms) have served me well for decades since.... I know when Iím getting it wrong and have them sitting on my shoulder nudging me to try again, and again, and again.

But what Iíve learned is that ranting at my own failings has to be moderated... a level of dissatisfaction with what Iím doing now helps spur me to keep trying, and none of us will ever improve without trying.

Iíll never be a Stuart Liddell, but I CAN be better than I am now; knowing both those things works for me and having folks like SL and a few dozen others gives me music to admire and strive towards, even though I know Iím unlikely to match them.... they show me whatís possible, even if we canít all be champions.

But overdoing the ranting is counterproductive and can quickly build into destruction of the self-belief that I think we need to stick at it (whatever IT is), so accept that progress isnít always in the desired direction but every setback has a purpose, even if itís only to keep at it until you re-master something you somehow forgot.

The end result of perseverance is improvement and thatís a good thing to achieve....aim for the chimney, hit the roof.

Good luck with your journey; may it bring you as much joy as mine has to me :)

thevoidboy 06-15-2019 02:45 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Given enough time, energy and effort: you could be a Stu Liddell.

It sounds naive, but you would be surprised how malleable brain, nerves, muscles and tendons are to suggestion.

[emoji106]


Gesendet von iPhone mit Tapatalk

EquusRacer 06-15-2019 04:51 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thevoidboy (Post 1338130)
Given enough time, energy and effort: you could be a Stu Liddell.

It sounds naive, but you would be surprised how malleable brain, nerves, muscles and tendons are to suggestion.

I've been 'suggesting' to neurons, muscles, tendons and more for 40 years. :shrug:

bob864 06-15-2019 07:40 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nerdypiper42 (Post 1338119)

Anyone else have the occasional (private) temper tantrum?

No. That's just wasted energy.

It's hard, and it's supposed to be hard. The only thing we can do is methodically work towards our goals. I usually work on something three or four times, and then move on to working on something else. Whatever I was working on will usually be better after sleep.

Pppiper 06-16-2019 01:24 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by thevoidboy (Post 1338130)
Given enough time, energy and effort: you could be a Stu Liddell.

It sounds naive, but you would be surprised how malleable brain, nerves, muscles and tendons are to suggestion.

[emoji106]


Gesendet von iPhone mit Tapatalk



Precisely. Telling oneself ďI canít be as good as (((whatever))) is essentially blocking and limiting yourself.

I have no idea how developed I might become, but I continually remind myself not to make any assumptions. None. Iím working on my playing, and that work will continue until Im physically unable to carry on. Even then, I can tell you, Iíll be trying to find a solution that gets me going again.

Dont label yourself an ďadult learnerĒ either. Thereís near always a negative association people apply with it, and itís completely invalid. People do this all the time, and it makes me see red.

Youíre not an adult learner .... your a learner. Period. Your age has nothing to do with anything aside from when you can collect social security (good luck with that) and get a senior discount at Dennyís.

Get back to work; and enjoy yourself ... now. =]

Cheers,
~Nate

Steve Law 06-16-2019 02:27 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Nate, I admire your aim of never setting limits.... thatís great, and I wish you well with it. :thumb:

But. Since I now qualify for my pension and any number of discounts due to age I donít think admitting Iím never likely to win gold at Inverness is particularly limiting, just realistic :).

My own aims remain to get as close as I can to my best, some 40-odd years ago, before the inevitable effects of time start to bite... setting unrealistic goals can be as destructive as none at all.... itís a question of finding the best balance of spur and encouragement and that varies with every individual.

I honestly think that itís unhelpful to tell every kid (or adult) that one day they can be President if they just work hard enough....only a few have a real chance at that, so I prefer suggesting that everyone does the best they can and keeps at it until they canít improve any further, thatís all :)

Good luck to anyone striving, at whatever their aim might be....

CalumII 06-17-2019 02:25 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Sort of. For most people their ceiling is motivation, not competence. And that's fine: I'm certainly not going to be winning any Gold Medals, because I can't be bothered to do the amount of work involved. Could I get myself to that level? Yes, I probably could, and so could most people. All you have to do is keep on addressing your weak points, and none of them are fixed. But that last little step from merely competent to great is a hell of a lot of work.

Pip01 06-18-2019 12:13 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 






Greetings, Nerdypiper, and to All,

Well... Hmm... and... Ah, Yes!! :)

'Twas ever thus... and... "So say we one... so say we all."... :)
(A judicial phrase used by juries... having passed sentence. :)

With we poor sods... in The Piping Game... and as with all
else... wrapped 'round as we are... in this... our Mortal Coil...
this proves to be.. The Rule... rather than... The Exception.

And again... " 'Twas ever thus"... and not much way around it.

An examplary bit of poetry... from an old Danish gruk... and we
should substitute... Good Piping... in place of the poem's word...
which is... "Wisdom."

"The road to human Wisdom
Is easy to express.
It is to err, and err, and err again,
But less, and less, and less."

And so... on those... quite difficult days... when all of it is seemingly
a terribly up-hill slog... if not just a bloody-well and downright never-
to-be grasped... "Will 'o the-wisp" treasure... that has lured us on...
and on... and on... then... oh, then... is the time... to relax... and to
take a deep breath (if you're not already blue... and have fallen to
the floor :)... and to remember how it was... when trying to learn...
how to ride something... as simple... as a bicycle!! :)

And then... having returned to a calm... and reasonable state... to
again shoulder The Great Beast... or lay hand to that sometimes
quite difficult practice chanter... and then to ease... back into the
playing... and the learning... and the great joy of it all... while still
understanding that you... we... all... shall... "err, and err, and err
again... but less, and less, and less." :)

As I have said here before, just keep after it. It will come!! Promise!!

Regards, and All the Best!!,

Pip01




Mac an t-Sealgair 06-18-2019 07:58 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nerdypiper42 (Post 1338119)

Anyone else have the occasional (private) temper tantrum?

:willy: yes :grin:

Mostly when I'm trying to record something, and continually fluff it!

Dan Bell 06-21-2019 09:50 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
It IS very definitely possible to listen too critically to yourself. Don't squeeze all the fun out. It's also possible to over-practice. Muscles get fatigued, even if you do everything you should to reduce tension. If you play better after a day off, that's why.

I love the comment about how it's supposed to be hard. Most non-musicians have NO IDEA how hard it is to play any instrument well. It IS hard, and that's ok. It's part of the process. Just remind yourself that it IS a process; the very best in the world still practice and work on stuff.

johnsog 06-24-2019 12:14 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Practice is a mysterious thing and it's a wise person who understands how to practice well. I think most good pipers have found a strategy that works for them. It can be helpful sometimes, on those days when the octopus on our shoulder seems totally foreign, to aim at a smaller practice target. There have been times when a piece just isn't working out; that's when I need to focus on just a single measure or even two or three notes to get the flow down well. That provides a smaller, more attainable target for me to aim toward. I'm relearning this as I have taken up the Celtic harp; I thought learning the pipes was hard!! We do need to remember that we do have competency in other areas and can attain competency with the pipes as well. As mentioned previously, a day off can be a good thing, too. Good luck and keep at it!!

Nerdypiper42 06-25-2019 10:16 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
It has been really interesting to read othersí thoughts on this. I donít think my original post portrayed what I was actually thinking about very well...

FYI...Iím *well* aware that learning an instrument is hard. The pipes arenít my first and Iím no stranger to hard work and take pride in doing a job well even if it takes longer that way.

As for the frustration, I think a lot of it comes from having not yet figured out a way to convince my ear (which is good, Iíve been told) and my thought processes that I sound JUST FINE for where Iím at. Iím very much an auditory learner, and I wonder if itís because I have had little exposure to playing with or hearing other pipers that are at similar skill levels (the next newest Piper in the band Iíve been working to play with has been playing for 6 or 7 years, I think). Not really sure if thatís something that can be addressed or not :shrug:

And in case it wasnít clear....I enjoy the hell out of playing most of the time. And as for ďtantrumsĒ I find that some active expression of frustration feels gets them out of the fucking way so I can get back to business.

And another thing...a person can be being patient, accept the ups and downs of a process, and still get frustrated. IMO, thereís nothing wrong with expressing a small amount of frustration once in a while and not to excess. Itís part of being a musician. Itís a part of any skilled process that a person is working at to become better. And for there to be (seeming) stigma around experiencing it could potentially be detrimental to the learning process. Confusing (or conflating) small amounts of frustration with impatience is counter productive.

PiperGirl00 07-07-2019 07:46 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Nerdy -
I hear and feel your pain! I too go through fits and starts. And sometimes tantrums... In some cases it is due to lack of time (work gets in the way, darn it all!) and thus almost feels like starting from the very beginning. Even taking a week off sets me back significantly. Not having a full time teacher or being in a band makes it even more difficult (a situation I am working on). Listening to excellent musicians helps but is a far cry from correcting the ever so slight "drift" in performance/skills to execute the tune correctly. Well, that's just me!

But I agree this instrument calls to me and all I think about is wanting to play, like a kid in school looking at the clock, when is it time to go practice :-)
I'm looking forward to retirement where I can play each day on "my time" not squeezed in between a thousand other things...well lets hope my hands/fingers still work if and when I ever get to retirement!! LOL

super8mm 07-07-2019 08:13 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by PiperGirl00 (Post 1338671)
Nerdy -
I'm looking forward to retirement where I can play each day on "my time" not squeezed in between a thousand other things...well lets hope my hands/fingers still work if and when I ever get to retirement!! LOL

The one thing about retirement is I still have not figured out how I ever found time to go to work.:shrug:

Pppiper 07-07-2019 09:26 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nerdypiper42 (Post 1338281)
It has been really interesting to read othersí thoughts on this. I donít think my original post portrayed what I was actually thinking about very well...Iím *well* aware that learning an instrument is hard. The pipes arenít my first and Iím no stranger to hard work ... not yet figured out a way to convince my ear (which is good, Iíve been told) and my thought processes that I sound JUST FINE for where Iím at. ... in case it wasnít clear....I enjoy the hell out of playing most of the time. And as for ďtantrumsĒ I find that some active expression of frustration feels gets them out of the fucking way so I can get back to business. ...And another thing...a person can be being patient, accept the ups and downs of a process, and still get frustrated.

Hi Nerdy,

Well stated, and it's good that you chimed back in with some further clarity on your outlook and thought process.

I'm very much an auditory-learner as well, and I can tell you, the pipes are among the toughest for being able to like the sound you're producing early (and even mid-way) on. Though personally, I find the fiddle and similar such instruments to be even worse .... just less-loud.

Finding and getting a sound I'm happy with ... this really took quite a long time for me (5 or 6 years sounds about right). I do, now, tend to feel quite pleased with the sound I can produce, but the result is that I'm borderline fanatical in regard to my sound .. particularly the tuning of individual chanter notes.

Or at least, it appears fanatical to some others. I'm constantly listening and adjusting, whereas I feel many others will have simply carried on with their practicing. So it's a bit of a back-and-forth ... I like working toward having a good sound, and am not content to "let it go" when it comes to individual notes sounding out, or my drones needing another touch up.

Truth-be-told though, I spend at least 20-25 minutes out of an hour "tuning" to some degree ... especially when I'm practicing on my own. Might I benefit from practice time more by simply "getting to the tunes," letting some things slide in order to do so?

Maybe ... but that simply won't do for me. There are different philosophies in this, but mine is that a good sound/tuning is the basis upon everything else rests. And I think one could rightly argue that my fastidiousness with tuning and sound is MY internal form of a temper tantrum ... and as you had put it so well:

"thereís nothing wrong with expressing a small amount of frustration once in a while and not to excess. Itís part of being a musician"

Hear hear. It's all part of the process.

For me, I get lost in the sound ... it's almost meditative. A false-sounding note breaks the feeling of peace and serenity, so that's all that I'm doing ... getting things back to my "happy place."

Anyway ... I remember not really liking how my pipes sounded, and feeling a little lost in where/how to "fix it." Then one day, I was listening to the CD from the Gaelic College Pipe Band ... released the year that they went over and won Grade 3 at the Worlds'. The very first track featured a slow air (Hasten and Come with Me) being played solo by one of my favorite instructors from the college, Ryan MacDonald. Her pipes (and notes in particular) grabbed me in a very real way ... and for some reason, the high G sounded REALLY cool.

https://gaeliccollege.edu/shop/gaeli...h-revelations/

The next time that I was practicing, I had "her 'G'" on my mind, and I was really curious as to how/why hers sounded so much nicer, and mine didn't. I wondered if pitch could have been it, so for the first time, I curled my finger into the hole a bit to flatten it out ... and there it was ... the nice "buzz" of the note, sounding against the drone.

I put some tape on the hole, and carried on ... I was VERY content. Next thing I knew, I was curiously "testing" all of the notes on my chanter on-the-spot with my finger ... listening to how they sounded against the drone ...

... and there you had itóthe birth of a crazy guy.

Anyway ... again, as you'd said ... it's a process, and that process WILL have a "tantrum" from time to time. But I'll tell yah, in conquering each little tantrum you will inevitably emerge into a wondrous feeling of accomplishment ... which is precisely what had occurred for me, the day I learned how to tune my high G ... and countless times in the years since.

Cheers,
~Nate

Dan Bell 07-08-2019 10:49 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Nate: I'm totally a "sound fanatic," too. I don't have spectacular hands... but I can blow, and I really, really don't like listening to out-of-tune bagpipes. The tough part is figuring out how to get your instrument to produce a sound you're happy with consistently, and without having to wrangle it much :). If this was easy, i'm sure everyone would do it...

SquintingPatrick 07-16-2019 11:04 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
My goal at any point is to raise my standard of play just a little. That's all I want: a little crisper in my articulation, a little more tuneful in my expression, a little closer in my tuning, maybe just the F for this afternoon and I'll sort out the D later. The elements are all inter-related, of course, but I don't worry about playing like Stuart Liddell, I want to just sort out that second bar in the third part for now. That does not frustrate me. It invigorates. There is always, always, going to be something that is a stumbling block in this journey, each of them an invigorating challenge.

One thing that guides me, is identifying what it is that I am doing that leads to actual, tangible improvements. Repetitions in themselves do not necessarily do that. The trick is finding out what kind of repetitions - repetitions with a metronome? repetitions while playing along with a recording of a good player slowed down? A feed back loop listening to myself? Perhaps some exercises to work off the ticks in the hand that prevents certain kinds of execution. I am sure it is different for each of us. It's introspective detective work.

Stop when it seems to be getting worse. Do something different, then come back to it later. Consult the teacher, of course. I try to take away, and latch onto one insight per lesson. If I am made aware of just one thing from a lesson and I understand it - "your first cut note in the dot cut cut dot in that phrase is held too long. Make it a 'Question and Answer with the previous phrase'" - that's well worth the time and money.

The peaks and valleys will never end, but the discoveries along the way make up for the frustration. The valleys are the brief respites so that you can recover from the highs of scaling the peaks.

salmunmousavi 07-21-2019 07:42 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nerdypiper42 (Post 1338119)

Anyone else have the occasional (private) temper tantrum?


In the middle of one right now! [emoji482]

Piping Potential 07-22-2019 02:47 AM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
I was chatting with someone today about piping frustrations and his advice was to just let go. Stop trying to be in control. Even with diligent practice, fingers and brains will progress at their own pace. We can't force it.

Good advice but easier said than done. I'll let you know if and when I reach piping zen.

Garry 08-02-2019 10:55 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
All this talk about sweet G spot and peaks and valleys had my mind wandering along the wrong path. However once you reach a certain age, the greatest reward from your bagpiping comes when you are told at a relevant ceremony (eg a funeral) that your lament brought goosebumps and people you don't know want to have their picture taken with you. Makes all that practice worthwhile! Keep at it.

Chris C. 08-05-2019 05:58 PM

Re: Peaks and valleys of the learning process
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SquintingPatrick (Post 1338869)
One thing that guides me, is identifying what it is that I am doing that leads to actual, tangible improvements. Repetitions in themselves do not necessarily do that. The trick is finding out what kind of repetitions - repetitions with a metronome? repetitions while playing along with a recording of a good player slowed down?

I've found that for fingering issues, more time with the PC seems to help, where I can slow down the movements, work on phrases, etc.

It also helps if you like the sound of the PC you're playing...

When on the pipes themselves, I concentrate less on the fingering and more on the overall sound, getting into the tune.


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:22 PM.