Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 34

Thread: Losing Your Place

  1. #1
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    891

    Default Losing Your Place

    I'm trying to become less dependent on written music, my current project being crosspicking Home Sweet Home. Crosspicking isn't the problem, but remembering which measures start with C vs D vs B vs A is killing me. I try to visualize the notation, but I'll bet most musicians don't learn specific tunes that way. Suggestions?

    I kind of digressed from the title of this post. One of my challenges is what I've already written. But another is remembering if I've already played that first ending, etc.

    I might add I'd never heard or heard of this tune before trying to learn it.
    Last edited by Sherry Cadenhead; May-17-2021 at 5:25pm. Reason: Keep thinking of stuff!

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Ms
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    you can hum it can't you...walk into C starting on open G A B C

  3. #3

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Listen a lot to the arrangement you are trying to learn to play away from the page. Practice it looking away from the page for a measure or two and see if you can gradually increase the amount of the tune you can pick without looking. When learning a tune from written music I find I have to play the tune many times before I can remember all of it. It really helps to be able to hear the tune in your head and the way I get the tune there is repeated listening. Memorizing tunes does get easier with experience.

    Cross picking is a somewhat advanced technique and, as Jack Tottle said in his bluegrass mandolin book, when learning a crosspicking arrangement at a slow tempo it may be hard to hear the melody in it. His recommendation was to take it slow and concentrate on playing the whole piece correctly slowly before trying to speed up.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    This actually ties in to your other thread about learning the notes in the chord and the chord changes. Those all correspond to the melody and they inform each other about timing and "where you are" in the song. This may seem hard at first, but being able to hum the actual melody and hear where those changes are will provide you with guide posts for knowing where to go. It also just takes time for your brain to travel the synapses and learn how to memorize these things.

    Did you learn the basic melody and chords BEFORE learning to crosspick it? To me Crosspicking is an ending destination on how to embellish a song, but if you aren't sure how those notes apply to the actual melody you are may just learning them off a sheet of paper without context. Then if you lose your spot its hard to know how to piece it all back together. (That can be hard for beginners losing their spot on any song playing just a basic melody (no crosspicking), so adding crosspicking on top would make it even harder for the executive functioning. I'm not a psychologist I just play one on TV.

  5. #5
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Alvarado/Mansfield, Texas
    Posts
    4,010

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Got to really know the tune, the melody & the chord changes - and even then, you can lose your place sometimes, if you're me

    But without internalizing the melody and rhythm well, I don't see how I could possibly not lose my place while in the learning stages. The problems you're having here, Sherry, are nothing more than just that: Problems to overcome. And you can do it, you just have to keep on until you're familiar with the tune and the timing. The more you practice it, the easier it will become over time. There will be that light bulb moment when you start to pull it together.
    WWW.MARKGUNTER.NET
    ----------------------------------
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN

    ----------------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Blues Mando
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  6. The following members say thank you to Mark Gunter for this post:


  7. #6
    Registered User Brian560's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    112

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Here is a link that has a section on memorization:

    https://www.musiciansway.com/practice/

    It is something that I am not very good at. I know it takes as much practice to memorize a tune as it does to learn how to play the tune, and it does take a good strategy to do so.

  8. The following members say thank you to Brian560 for this post:


  9. #7
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland
    Posts
    1,864

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I think a big part of the memorising process is tied into learning tunes you really like and want to learn, Sherry. As a very regular poster over on the SAW group I know that there are lots of tunes I have recorded and posted there that I would need the notation in front of me were I to play those tunes again. The tunes are generally ones that have been voted as Song-of-the Week Official Tune and I have a go at them if they seem interesting, but otherwise they are tunes I do not otherwise play. The tunes I post, under Other Tunes, are ones I already know and can play from memory. They are generally ones I already play in sessions here at home and with other players and have a particular liking for. I have played them so often that they have become embedded in my memory, I think. Derek, my late and much-missed accordion buddy, used to say, while pointing at his head when we were playing dance sets, "The tunes are all in here, but sometimes it just needs defragmented!"

    In sessions we will sometimes find a tune coming up we have not played in a while and then it is a case of watching and listening to the other players and picking it up from them. Just last Thursday evening, playing live in a bar for the first time in about a year and with four of us, there were moments of doubt and the odd playing of part 4 of a pipe march when the others were playing part 3. You just play through it and usually it will all flow back and sort itself out, but then again we have been playing those tunes and sets for very many years so they have become inbuilt.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  10. The following members say thank you to John Kelly for this post:


  11. #8
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    South of France
    Posts
    1,372

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I Play with the song a week group too. My standard technique at the moment seems to be to print out the tab for a tune, and then play it while reading at a very slow tempo using the metronome. Any time I get to a part where my fingers don't flow smoothly, then I write a circle around the measure. I hardly ever play in a session at all so I have to adapt my learning process to accommodate.

    One thing that really helps is to listen to a tune that is being played, Usually on YouTube, and then I try to jump in and play it at odd moments. I basically Play a scale of the key of the tune so I can feel on the fretboard where I will begin to play, for example Measure three. In this way I'm using my ears to memorised pitches as the tune is played through the first time. Baron on Mandolessons.com has some great Play along videos and audio tracks.

    Concerning my tunes from the song a week group here on MandolinCafe. I have a big folder printed out and I go through that folder playing every single tune maybe once a month. It usually takes me the whole day to get through it, but I really feel the difference in my Music literacy and comprehension in the days and weeks afterwards, especially if I force myself to play each tune the last time through WITHOUT looking at the notation. Not easy!

    Another practice method could be to concentrate on the harmony of each tune by simply playing major or swapping with their relative minor arpeggios for each measure (by ear).
    And yet another method would be to write out alternative measures to swap, and learn those as complete riffs.

    And yet another one which helps me at least is using ear training apps combined with humming and guessing fretboard interval distances.

  12. #9
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Nacogdoches Texas
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I'm trying to become less dependent on written music, my current project being crosspicking Home Sweet Home. Crosspicking isn't the problem, but remembering which measures start with C vs D vs B vs A is killing me. I try to visualize the notation, but I'll bet most musicians don't learn specific tunes that way. Suggestions?

    I kind of digressed from the title of this post. One of my challenges is what I've already written. But another is remembering if I've already played that first ending, etc.

    I might add I'd never heard or heard of this tune before trying to learn it.
    Memorizing from notation is the easiest way for me. When I was younger, I memorized by ear. I can read tab but Iím unable to memorize from it.

  13. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jon Hall For This Useful Post:


  14. #10

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    If you are trying to get away from having to read the notation the best thing I found was to immerse myself in the song by listening to recordings of it over and over past the point of reason or good sense. I try to get the tune to the place it becomes an ear worm for me if I can. If I have the tune in my head so I can hum or scat sing it perfectly a lot of those problems go away. However you never get completely away from it. I still find myself losing track of whether I have played the A or B part once or twice in fiddle tunes. Tunes like Angelina Baker or Goldrush without a strong chord progression are easy to lose track of where you are at against a rhythm track.

    What is even worse and I do not believe you can ever completely get away from is mixing up A and B parts of different tunes or the tunes themselves. I have heard some of the best, most experienced fiddlers I know play things like Salt Haired Boy or Red Headed Creek as they unintentionally mashed two tunes together. Everyone laughed and moved on. I have been on stage where a person called one tune and played another. We covered for one another. Or I have forgotten lyrics on stage and improvised, faked or mumbled them. Part of becoming a good musician is learning to play through the mistakes and keep the song or tune moving forward. Kind of like missing a basketball shot then getting the rebound or falling back on defense rather than freezing or falling apart.

  15. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to CarlM For This Useful Post:


  16. #11
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Rochester NY 14610
    Posts
    16,885

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I think, Sherry, that cross-picking really may be the problem. In order to use a more intricate picking style, it's necessary, IMHO, to have fully assimilated the tune you desire to play. I could say, "Who the heck doesn't know Home Sweet Home?" -- but that's unfair.

    In my experience, a lot of the "secret" to moving a melody into a more intricate arrangement, is having the melody stone cold in my head before I begin. Might make sense to try learning Home Sweet Home in "straight" picking, then moving it into cross-picking.

    Or, alternatively, try to cross-pick a melody that you have already stuck in your head -- In A Gadda Da Vida, maybe, or Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring... Just kiddin'...
    Allen Hopkins
    Gibsn: '54 F5 3pt F2 A-N Custm K1 m'cello
    Natl Triolian Dobro mando
    Victoria b-back Merrill alumnm b-back
    H-O mandolinetto
    Stradolin Vega banjolin
    Sobell'dola Washburn b-back'dola
    Eastmn: 615'dola 805 m'cello
    Flatiron 3K OM

  17. #12
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    891

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I've been reading all the comments and will respond as I am able. Thanks to everyone.

  18. #13

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Memorizing a tune is difficult if you don't have the count down well.

    Count it out, or at least the trouble spots several times.

  19. The following members say thank you to steve in tampa for this post:


  20. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    477

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I'd suggest that, despite the many advantages that come from reading the dots, trying the imagine the score of a tune in your head is probably a more difficult and longer process than learning music 'by hearing it in your head'. I started playing Classical style music from the page, and when I started playing with some 'folkies' (UK), I did that - tried to imagine the score of tunes in my head. I suspect learning 'by ear' directs what your brain hears straight to the fretboard, so you learn to associate sound directly with fretboard position rather than translating dot position with named pitch then finding it on the instrument. Trying to read an imaginary score appears to add several mechanical processes to that which all add time.Something like:

    1 - Imaginary score:
    'Run' the score fragment in your head>Look at correct note on page>identify pitch and length>translate pitch to fretboard>place finger/s>pick note. - rather than:

    2 - hear the tune then play:

    Hear note in head>place finger>pick note.

    This is assuming you don't look at the fretboard to find the note, which you might need to add to either.

    Has anyone identified and contrasted the processes involved ? This is just my first go at describing them.

  21. The following members say thank you to maxr for this post:


  22. #15
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Upstate New York
    Posts
    23,835
    Blog Entries
    55

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    I'm trying to become less dependent on written music,
    Why on earth do that?

    I mean the trying part. Just keep reading it from the music, and eventually you will find that you are not actually seeing the music, it is just a mental jog, an anxiety reducer if you are performing, and you will find that actually you can remember the music just fine without having to try and memorize it. Its just something that happens.

    In fact, my experience is that the hardy I try, the worser I get, but if I just relax it eventually happens. I discovered this in highschool marching band. We had these music holders attached to our instruments, once I left mine in the clarinet case on the bus, and I just went without. It turned out just fine. I knew all the music, but i didn't know I knew it. I just remembered it.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

    The entire staff
    funny....

  23. The following members say thank you to JeffD for this post:


  24. #16
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2020
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    878

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I remember those music holders, and the flip chart type folios with the music in them. How freeing to not need those!

  25. #17
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Co. Mayo, Ireland
    Posts
    3,253

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Why on earth do that?

    I mean the trying part. Just keep reading it from the music, and eventually you will find that you are not actually seeing the music, it is just a mental jog, an anxiety reducer if you are performing, and you will find that actually you can remember the music just fine without having to try and memorize it. Its just something that happens.

    In fact, my experience is that the hardy I try, the worser I get, but if I just relax it eventually happens. I discovered this in highschool marching band. We had these music holders attached to our instruments, once I left mine in the clarinet case on the bus, and I just went without. It turned out just fine. I knew all the music, but i didn't know I knew it. I just remembered it.
    I think it can go both ways - I've heard of stories similar to yours happening Jeff, but also know that contextual cues can play a huge part in whether our behaviour occurs or not - for some folks the sight of the sheet music in front of them will have become such a strong contextual cue that it's absence affects their ability to play the tune from memory. Things that can break the hold of strong contextual cues if they're impeding our progress:

    - Change the position of the sheet music from time to time, meaning don't always have it on the stand in front of you in the same spot where you always practice. Move it around via practicing in different locations, or moving the sheet music from the stand to leaning it against something on a table etc. Might sound like a small thing but it means that you won't develop a strong association around one specific contextual cue resulting in you relying on it to cue your playing behaviour.

    - If you're working on memorising tunes, trying playing a few notes or the first line of a tune from memory, with your eyes closed - this will prevent other visuals in the environment from becoming contextual cues.

    Another thing to keep in mind re: remembering whether the second time around the A or B part starts with this note or the other note - if a pro was playing Home Sweet Home and played a note we didn't expect we'd think it demonstrated their fantastic creativity and artistry, making the tune their own so to speak. Yet when we're starting out playing we might stress if we hit an open A instead of a B note etc. Maybe it's just me or maybe it's the fact that in irish trad music we have a history of tunes having different "settings", and of players introducing subtle variations into a tune, but I think that when we learn tunes by ear we're a little free-er to change a note here or there, sometimes we do it because we just can't figure out a particular note being played so substitute something close that works, or sometimes it's because we prefer that note we've substituted because it lifts the tune or adds some extra colour to it.

    I recently learnt a new tune (by ear) and there were a couple of notes in at the start of the last line of the B part that I couldn't quite get, so I just played an approximation of them, played the tune in my repertoire for about a week, then went back and listened to the recording I'd learnt it from again, tried the part and nailed it. I still play my approximation as a variation when I play the B part the second time though, just for a subtle change.
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel

  26. The following members say thank you to Jill McAuley for this post:


  27. #18
    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Ardnadam, Argyll, Scotland
    Posts
    1,864

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Jill, Your advice and observations on variations in tunes, especially in the traditional/aural-learning world is really spot-on for me.

    I was playing in a real, LIVE session on Thusday evening in a local hostelry for the first time in about a year. Restrictions in our part of Scotland have been eased, allowing indoors music again (but not at present singing as it can spread the virus, we are told) and five of us were invited in by the landlord and landlady to provide some music. We are all very familiar with each other and our individual playing but after a year of not being together we had several moments in some of the sets where our personall variations came to the fore, demonstrating our "fantastic creativity and artistry" as you put it in your post. We just played through them and carried on. On one set of Gaelic waltzes the accordonist and I played our two versions together (only a few bars were at variance) and someone remarked on the lovely harmony we had introduced! Winners all round.
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheOldBores

  28. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to John Kelly For This Useful Post:


  29. #19

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    The guitar player in my band is terrific, and knows many many songs and lyrics from memory... but there are a handful of songs in our set list that he needs the chord sheet for because he didnít get around to memorizing it right away, and now has grown dependent on having the music sheet. It makes me crazy because we almost always include them in the set list, but if weíre just jamming around somewhere without his musician binder he canít play them. He said he gets sort of a mental block on those songs and gets lost without the music sheet. So I decided from the start that any song I learn gets memorized within a few days. Iíve noticed I use a different mental process if Iím looking at sheet music while playing vs. playing by memory. I can look at a sheet and play and sing just fine, but if I donít consciously try to memorize the chord progressions they donít stick with me- I think I could play it from a sheet a hundred times and not have it memorized if I didnít consciously try to focus on memorization. But a few hours of focused work (and repeated listening to the song if itís one Iím not familiar with) and it seems to imprint fine.

    Iím an absolute beginner so this is probably old hat to most of you but itís new to me and Iím having a blast. Iím up to a little over thirty memorized songs now but Iím hoping to get up to a hundred in the next year and a half.

  30. #20
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Westchester, NY
    Posts
    28,626

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    I have always learned by ear but in the last few years my reading has gotten much better so i also have been learning from notated music. I do find that I play with it in front of me until I have pretty much get it in muscle memory. Then, to work on the brain memory, I put the paper aside and continue to play multiple times. Sometimes I have to do that over and over again. I also try to start playing without the sheet music to see how much the process has progressed. Usually I still have to consult the sheet music for at least the first few notes. Eventually, I don't need the notation.
    Jim

    My Stream on Soundcloud
    Facebook
    19th Century Tunes
    Playing lately:
    2018 Campanella A-5 -- 2007 Brentrup A4C -- 1915 Frank Merwin Ashley violin -- Huss & Dalton DS -- 1923 Gibson A2 black snakehead -- '83 Flatiron A5-2 -- 1939 Gibson L-00 -- 1936 Epiphone Deluxe -- 1928 Gibson L-5 -- ca. 1890s Fairbanks Senator Banjo -- ca. 1923 Vega Style M tenor banjo -- ca. 1920 Weymann Style 25 Mandolin-Banjo -- National RM-1

  31. #21
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lower alabama
    Posts
    560

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    A lot of great tips here.

    Speaking for myself, I am a very good reader, but no matter how many times I play through a piece just reading from the page, it does not store in my memory. I play in a big band and there are charts that we have been playing literally weekly for 30 years that I probably couldn't play from memory.

    To memorize I have to play a section, whether from memory or reading, and then look away from the page if reading and repeat it, doing this as many times as necessary to memorize it. It is doable, one section at a time, the length of the section is up to you.

    Katie is very methodical and gets it done. I could never adhere strictly to this method, but I do use a modified (slacker's) version, and it works. I think I've posted before, but Katie is a delight, and her method works.


  32. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to lowtone2 For This Useful Post:


  33. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Guildford + Falmouth England
    Posts
    477

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Once you've learned the tune, Sherry, and played it a bunch with other people, you'll sometime get to the stage where you're so relaxed with it that you start thinking about other things while you play (maybe tomorrow's agenda), then come out of the daydream and realise you don't know whether you've played the repeat of this section or not and whether you take the next solo. It feels a bit like you've had 'a senior moment', but many of us have done this at all ages. At that stage, there are useful posts here on 'faking it'

  34. The following members say thank you to maxr for this post:


  35. #23
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    891

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy B View Post
    Listen a lot to the arrangement you are trying to learn to play away from the page. Practice it looking away from the page for a measure or two and see if you can gradually increase the amount of the tune you can pick without looking. When learning a tune from written music I find I have to play the tune many times before I can remember all of it. It really helps to be able to hear the tune in your head and the way I get the tune there is repeated listening. Memorizing tunes does get easier with experience.

    Cross picking is a somewhat advanced technique and, as Jack Tottle said in his bluegrass mandolin book, when learning a crosspicking arrangement at a slow tempo it may be hard to hear the melody in it. His recommendation was to take it slow and concentrate on playing the whole piece correctly slowly before trying to speed up.
    I can remember how to play Home Sweet Home much better now. The crosspicking is not real smooth where I'm shifting, but I'm getting there.

    And Jack Tottle is exactly right in my case! I thought I didn't know the tune, but I can tell now it's due to the slow speed.

  36. #24
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    891

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Levine View Post
    Did you learn the basic melody and chords BEFORE learning to crosspick it? To me Crosspicking is an ending destination on how to embellish a song, but if you aren't sure how those notes apply to the actual melody you are may just learning them off a sheet of paper without context. Then if you lose your spot its hard to know how to piece it all back together. (That can be hard for beginners losing their spot on any song playing just a basic melody (no crosspicking), so adding crosspicking on top would make it even harder for the executive functioning. I'm not a psychologist I just play one on TV.
    No, I did not learn the melody and chords first. At this point I don't feel I need to go back to the basic melody and chords. I now have a copy of the melody and have played it a few times. It's a very simple double stops arrangment of mostly whole and half notes.

    I loved the crosspicking sound and wanted to jump right in to it.

  37. #25
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Irving, TX
    Posts
    891

    Default Re: Losing Your Place

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    I Play with the song a week group too. My standard technique at the moment seems to be to print out the tab for a tune, and then play it while reading at a very slow tempo using the metronome. Any time I get to a part where my fingers don't flow smoothly, then I write a circle around the measure. I hardly ever play in a session at all so I have to adapt my learning process to accommodate.
    Simon and/or John Kelly (or anyone else), must the music for the SAW group always be played from memory as opposed to playing from the written music?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •