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Old 05-04-2012, 09:54 AM   #1
John Bolt
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Default Practice stratagy

So I have 2.5 years in and it used to be that I would start at tune 1 and work my way up mostly because playing the easier tune I started on set me up for playing the harder tunes. My focus used to be getting tunes under my belt and that's all that mattered and I have over 40 tunes memorized and pretty much just the old favorites.

My new strategy now because I can begin anywhere is I'm working on perfecting the harder tunes, Lochanside, 79's Farewell and Bonnie Dundee to name a few. I'm not really working seriously on anything new other than I have the COP book 4 and I'd like to learn a couple Urlar's and I'll start that really soon. I took about 20 lessons but none for the last 2 years but I record my playing for my own feed back. I do the odd time play scales if thing get sloppy.

The only thing new is the local band is after me to come out and play so I may do that?

What's your practice strategy?
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:00 AM   #2
bob864
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Lately it's been

a) memorize the new band material.
b) drill the difficult bits (always working on the hardest first).
c) get it up to speed (again, working from hardest to easiest).

And I added a bit of mandolin to the mix and I need to get a couple tunes de-bugged on tin whistle.

Oh, also review any other material as necessary to be ready for band practice.
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:08 AM   #3
el gaitero
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bolt View Post
So I have 2.5 years in and it used to be that I would start at tune 1 and work my way up mostly because playing the easier tune I started on set me up for playing the harder tunes. My focus used to be getting tunes under my belt and that's all that mattered and I have over 40 tunes memorized and pretty much just the old favorites.

My new strategy now because I can begin anywhere is I'm working on perfecting the harder tunes, Lochanside, 79's Farewell and Bonnie Dundee to name a few. I'm not really working seriously on anything new other than I have the COP book 4 and I'd like to learn a couple Urlar's and I'll start that really soon. I took about 20 lessons but none for the last 2 years but I record my playing for my own feed back. I do the odd time play scales if thing get sloppy.

The only thing new is the local band is after me to come out and play so I may do that?

What's your practice strategy?
"...perfect practice makes perfect.."
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Old 05-04-2012, 10:34 AM   #4
Brian Erbe
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Mine, for good or bad, is get the tunes down on practice chanter as soon as possible then get them on pipes. I don't spend a lot of formal practice time on the practice chanter. I have an electric practice chanter that I'll play with at work. If I'm doing some other work where I'm sitting, or just watching TV I'll get out the practice chanter. Otherwise, my formal practice time is on the pipes. I find I get tunes memorized quicker when they are up on the pipes. Not sure why, maybe it's because they are harder to play on the pipes so I have to concentrate more.

Once I have the tunes on pipes I

1) work on each part at about 10-20 bpm below target focusing on timing and overall expression
2) pick apart difficult sections to work on execution
a) specific movements that are giving me trouble
b) frequent movements in the piece
c) specific phrases - usually end phrases
3) alternate the two focusing on getting the hopefully cleaner execution of the more difficult sections to flow with the rest of the part.
4) gradually work on getting the whole part and then whole tune up to speed


Another technique I learned a while ago is to start with the last part of the tune and work backwards. The theory, at least my understanding, is that by the time you hit the last part of the tune (applies to sets as well) you're mind has started to wander, blowing is going, and you generally stop focusing as well on the execution/expression/etc. You want to have the last part be the most ingrained part so when you're conscious mind starts wandering, you're instinct can take over.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:16 AM   #5
bob864
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Erbe View Post
Mine, for good or bad, is get the tunes down on practice chanter as soon as possible then get them on pipes. I don't spend a lot of formal practice time on the practice chanter.
I generally don't count the time on the practice chanter as practice. Keeps me honest.
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Old 05-04-2012, 11:25 AM   #6
Kirby Allen
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

For me it's very focused practice when I first start my practice session.

That means competition tunes right now, my 6/8 2/4 and strathspey/reels. I'll practice on other stuff, but that's more for fun and enjoyment rather than work. Mostly it's sit down, listen to someone else playing it, and imitate them.

I find that careful analysis and trying to work out note durations are a bit too detail-oriented for me right now, as I'm much more interested in mimicry of a better player to do well at competition rather than start the arduous task of learning precise note duration.
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Old 05-04-2012, 12:57 PM   #7
John Bolt
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob864 View Post
Lately it's been

a) memorize the new band material.
b) drill the difficult bits (always working on the hardest first).
c) get it up to speed (again, working from hardest to easiest).

And I added a bit of mandolin to the mix and I need to get a couple tunes de-bugged on tin whistle.

Oh, also review any other material as necessary to be ready for band practice.
You know next to the bagpipes's. . . . . would it be silly to ask if your into bluegrass?
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:52 AM   #8
bob864
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Bolt View Post
You know next to the bagpipes's. . . . . would it be silly to ask if your into bluegrass?
I listen occasionally but I'm not Particularly "into" bluegrass. I'm learning Irish tunes on the mando.
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Old 05-05-2012, 12:46 PM   #9
MelodyPipes
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Default Re: Practice stratagy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Erbe View Post
Once I have the tunes on pipes I

1) work on each part at about 10-20 bpm below target focusing on timing and overall expression
2) pick apart difficult sections to work on execution
a) specific movements that are giving me trouble
b) frequent movements in the piece
c) specific phrases - usually end phrases
3) alternate the two focusing on getting the hopefully cleaner execution of the more difficult sections to flow with the rest of the part.
4) gradually work on getting the whole part and then whole tune up to speed

Another technique I learned a while ago is to start with the last part of the tune and work backwards. The theory, at least my understanding, is that by the time you hit the last part of the tune (applies to sets as well) you're mind has started to wander, blowing is going, and you generally stop focusing as well on the execution/expression/etc. You want to have the last part be the most ingrained part so when you're conscious mind starts wandering, you're instinct can take over.
Thanks for sharing your practice strategy, especially working backwards -- makes sense, and I'm going to incorporate that to see how it works for me -- thanks!

I'm about 2.5 years in, most has been on the PC. I got my pipes at 1 year and began working with them a bit, but due to "life circumstances," I stopped working with my pipes for about 8 months. I was able to continue on my PC during that time, however, practice was sporadic at best. I am now just getting back up on my pipes and I find I am progressing pretty well and able to transfer most of the tunes I play on the PC to the pipes, albeit the more difficult tunes are not up to speed nor the fingerings as clean as they are on the PC. I know I need a lot more time on my pipes, and I am working on that. Currently, I'm blowing the chanter and two drones, and seem to be keeping everything steady. I have been interspersing PC with pipes during my daily practice, increasing time on the pipes a little each practice.

Practice which seems to be working for me:
  1. Ryhthmic Fingerwork always, even if it's only 5-10 minutes -- I go back and forth in my book to mix up the exercises and work to improve them and increase the bpms
    • I listen to the exercise from the CD uploaded to my iTunes while I finger it on my PC
    • I play the exercise, concentrating on being as clean as I can
    • Sometimes I slow it down to the extreme, almost slow motion to play close attention to my fingers
  2. Moving on to tunes
    • I fire up my pipes
      • I blow just drones, keeping them steady, for 5-10 min
      • Warm up the chanter and put it all together
    • I start with whatever tunes I feel like, again, mixing it up
    • I practice pretty much as Brian describes in his post 1 thru 4 (above)
    • I almost always tackle something new to stretch myself
    • I always end on a favorite tune that I play well -- to end on a "good note."
  3. Memorizing -- any method I can think of
    • I play with music until I feel I have a pretty good handle on the tune
    • I play whole tune beginning to end
    • I break it down into parts
    • I play with my eyes closed in front of the music and stop when I make a mistake and look at the music again
    • I close the music and play, again with my eyes closed, if I make a mistake, I replay until my fingers find it
    • I play with eyes open and with distractions (turn the TV on), walk around the house or yard...
    • I play in front of a mirror watching my fingers
    • I listen to the tune over and over
    • I play the tune over and over
For me, fingerwork exercises are extremely important for a productive practice. Warm up the fingers and connect everything to the brain... Also, for stamina, I find doing some cardio work at the gym is really helpful for my breathing. Paying attention to my breathing while I do 30 minutes on the elliptical (all the while listening to pipe music, of course) has really improved my blowing in a short period of time.
Melody
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