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Old 02-14-2019, 04:36 AM   #11
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Default Re: Over thinking the movements

Originally Posted by bob864 View Post
Haven't you ever met some pipers who learned better by listening to a tune, while others learned better from sheet music?
Oh for sure.

It's a bit odd that Highland piping stresses reading to the extent that there are very good pipers who can't pick up a tune by ear.

And also a bit odd that uilleann piping (and ITM in general) stresses ear-learning to the extent that most players can't read sheet music. Trad musicians even went to the trouble of inventing an alternative method of notation- ABC notation- in order to write down tunes while still avoiding the dreaded and hated Staff Notation.

The music pros I know, including the studio musicians I've had the privilege to work with, are excellent both at sightreading and playing by ear. I think that's the way good musicians of any genre should be.

As far as teaching goes, when people have come for ITM lessons (flute, whistle, uilleann pipes) I give them the option to have the lessons done through sheet music or by ear alone. The "classical" background players usually want to use sheet music. As we go along I do tell them that ITM is nearly always learned by ear, and I begin steering them to learning new tunes by ear.

It does strike me as odd, the disconnect in Highland piping between the way tunes are usually taught and the end task: tunes are taught through sheet music but usually performed from memory.

In contrast ITM players learn tunes by ear and perform them from memory.

And "classical" musicians learn from sheet music and perform from sheet music (in the main).

Well they don't really "learn" music; their practice, rather, is geared towards them getting better at sightreading in order to make the composer's intentions come alive.

It's why, with the Pipe Band, I don't want to see the sheet music. Our end task is to follow the Pipe Major's playing as perfectly as possible, without the sheet music, so why impose a needless step, an irrelevant modality, in between?

When new tunes are handed out we sit around the table with our practice chanters. I turn the music over and watch and listen to the PM and follow him. That's the end task, what I will need to do months from now in the competition circle, and I start on that task from the beginning. It sure saves time; I have much of the music memorised during the very first practice.
proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; Son of the Revolution and Civil War; first European settlers on the Guyandotte

Last edited by pancelticpiper; 02-14-2019 at 04:42 AM.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:49 AM   #12
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Overthinking the movements

Perhaps the student is overly concerned with playing the technique perfectly at the expense of the music. Pretty common in highland piping. Sounds like practicing the music and the technique separately would be useful. Eventually they’ll merge. Practice the music by not caring if an embellishment gets garbled (or just don’t play them) but practice technique *outside* of the music, i.e. exercises.

I’ve always experienced “learning styles” as excuses people give for not taking responsibility for their own lack of learning. Only way to learn something is to do it yourself, many times over. Make as many mistakes as you can. In order to know what something is, you have to know what it is not.
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Old 03-13-2019, 04:41 AM   #13
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Default Re: Overthinking the movements

What I do is alternate between a plain setting without the tricky ornament , them with,then without , etc to be sure the musicality is there with and without . Then of course technical practice of just the movement slowly as a separate distinct exercise .
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