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Thread: How to woodshed

  1. #1
    Registered User Ed McGarrigle's Avatar
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    Default How to woodshed

    In September I turn 68.
    Im going to work (psychologist) for 2 more years but Im going to be cutting back. Im taking a little sabbatical September 15 to October 15(last day of trout season) Im fly fishing in the Driftless area ofWisconsin and playing the mandolin. My wife and kids (adults) will come up on weekends as they are available and Ill have some limited visits from others but with the caveat that Im there to play the mandolin, fish and reflect . Im giving my introvert leanings full permission to pursue my self. So, my question is how would you approach the wood shedding ?
    Ive been playing since COVID hit. I play only Irish Trad. Without making it a chore how would you approach maximizing learning for a month?i. Ill have internet so I can keep my lessons going.I really want to come out of it with a sense of having made some real progress

    Ed

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    This may sound trite but to me it's the old saying....How do you get to Carnegie Hall? PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Good luck and happy fishin' and pickin'.

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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Choose a list of a dozen songs. Start with something that encourages you. Add a new tune every couple of days while reviewing what you have already learned. Play in the morning when you are fresh . Trying to learn when you are worn out won’t work well. Take a recording device and use it to track your progress. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  5. #4

    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed McGarrigle View Post
    (H)ow would you approach the wood shedding ?

    I play only Irish Trad.

    Without making it a chore how would you approach maximizing learning for a month?
    Well...

    When I want to learn anything, first I figure out what I actually want to learn. Otherwise, how do you know *what* you'll be working on?

    So, what is your wish list on the other side of this?

    Do you want to know more tunes?

    Do you want to learn ornamentation?

    Do you want to build speed?

    Once you've identified every area you want to improve, then you can ask for resources and ideas to pursue each.
    ----

    Playing a funky oval-hole scroll-body mandolin, several mandolins retuned to CGDA, three CGDA-tuned Flatiron mandolas, two Flatiron mandolas tuned as octave mandolins,and a six-course 25.5" scale CGDAEB-tuned Ovation Mandophone.

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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    I'm not the most 'intentional' learner, but I often fancy what I'd do if I have all the time in the world. I would try to learn one Irish tune a day (or every couple days): first by listening to different versions of the same tune play on different instruments, then slow one of them down and try to learn it by ear, and lastly spend some time to really get it under my fingertips through repetitive practice. I may even read a little bit about where the tune came from, and how it got into the popular repertoire. Then the next day, on to the next tune on my list and start the process all over.

    Hope you enjoy your sabbatical. It sounds like it's going to be splendid.

  8. #6
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Always enjoyed your posts, Ed.
    So as a psychologist, couldn’t you just tell yourself that you’ve made progress?

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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    “Woodshedding” is just a slang term for solitary practicing. You [figuratively] go out to the woodshed to practice because you can be alone to concentrate and your practice routine won’t annoy others.
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  10. #8
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Look at the list of most popular tunes on The Session, by doing a search in the "tunes" section without putting anything in the search box.

    They will come up in order of most-requested, or most-added or something.

    Pick out the ones in the top 10 or 20 or 30 or whatever that you don't know, or don't know too well, and find a recorded source you can play along with.
    Maybe on YT where you can slow it down.


    Today's top 20 list on the session:

    Drowsy Maggie reel
    The Kesh jig
    Cooley’s reel
    The Butterfly slip jig
    Morrison’s jig
    The Silver Spear reel
    The Maid Behind The Bar reel
    The Banshee reel
    Banish Misfortune jig
    Out On The Ocean jig
    The Wind That Shakes The Barley reel
    Tam Lin reel
    The Musical Priest reel
    The Connaughtman’s Rambles jig
    The Rights Of Man hornpipe
    The Blarney Pilgrim jig
    King Of The Fairies hornpipe
    The Harvest Home hornpipe
    The Kid On The Mountain slip jig
    The Gravel Walks reel
    Bren

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  12. #9
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    And as waltzes are so great on mandolin, but seldom cone up in the top list, be sure to add a few of those by searching waltzes without specifying anything else.

    Top Waltzes:
    S Beag S Mr waltz
    Inisheer waltz
    Tabhair Dom Do Lmh waltz
    Ashokan Farewell waltz
    Fanny Power waltz
    The South Wind waltz
    Crested Hens waltz
    Planxty Irwin waltz
    Hector The Hero waltz
    Josefin’s waltz
    Carolan’s Welcome waltz
    The Dark Island waltz
    Niel Gow’s Lament For His Second Wife waltz
    The Arran Boat Song waltz
    Midnight On The Water waltz
    Far Away waltz
    Margaret’s waltz
    The Skye Boat Song waltz
    Eleanor Plunkett waltz
    Planxty Hewlett waltz
    Bren

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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    I’d pick out a handful of songs then spend the time understanding why they work the way they do and experimenting with the physical aspects of playing and tone projection until I was able to perfectly produce the sounds I am after without thought. Remember, don’t practice until you get right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong. Have fun
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Thanks Bren, Morrison’s is a new one for me.

  15. #12
    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon DS View Post
    Thanks Bren, Morrison’s is a new one for me.
    Well, there you go.
    Out of all those, it's probably the most common one up here.
    Bren

  16. #13
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    If it was me I'd take advantage of the time to focus on quality rather than quantity. I'd put together some sets of tunes and spend the month really honing in on them, being able to play them fluently, adding some ornaments and variations, working on speed. Set aside time as well to just play through the tunes you already know for enjoyment's sake too. If there are any aspects of your playing that you've been wanting to focus on improving it can be easier to do that sometimes if you use newly learnt tunes as vehicles for that, rather than ones you've had in your repertoire for awhile since with the newly learnt tunes there wouldn't be already embedded habits/mechanics in place to fall back into.
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

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  19. #15
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    The advice above is great, the only thing I can think of to add is that you might want to experiment with putting together your own sets of tunes that fit together well, instead of following tune sets on recordings or a local session.

    Building tune sets is a separate skill in Irish trad; figuring out how to keep the flow going, avoiding big jumps in pitch between tunes (although that does work sometimes), and finding whether a change of key/mode between tunes works or not.

    Assembling your own tune sets is one of the most fun things about this music for me. More often than not, I'll come up with an idea for a set and it doesn't work, but it's a real kick when I try something and it feels like two tunes just naturally want to be played together.

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  21. #16

    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Consider putting together a day-by-day and week-by-week practice plan along with clear goals, something that you know you can stick to. That will ensure that you make the most of your limited time and make progress every day.
    It's not that life is short, but that we waste so much of it.

    --Seneca (paraphrased)

  22. #17

    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Don't have a whole lot to add on the woodshedding as I'm also not the most organized practice person and don't play Irish Trad.

    I have done a fair amount of fly fishing for trout in that area of Wisconsin, back when I lived in Iowa. I always most especially enjoyed fishing the Kickapoo at Avalanche, great with dry flies. I used to go as part of a group when I was in grad school out that way. Also fished Spring Creek a bit (lots of fish, not much size), and fished a little bit on the Blue, which I think we did because it was a stopping place on the way to better waters.

  23. #18
    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Sound like a very fine birthday present to yourself, Ed. I almost feel more relaxed just hearing about it.

    Have fun!
    "To be obsessed with the destination is to remove the focus from where you are." Philip Toshio Sudo, Zen Guitar

  24. #19

    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Woodshedding is a fiddlers term. Novice fiddlers, before gaining good intonation, produce sounds that can be unpleasant. The mandolin with it's frets, save the novice from such things.
    This being said, one still needs a quiet place to build things like muscle memory, for scales, chords, tunes, and songs. If you know where the Doe, Ray, Mee is, the rest will follow. Enjoy!

  25. #20
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Sounds like an idyllic time. Any day you can get in some picking and some fishing is, by definition, a great day.

    I don't know about the reflection part. Don't bring a mirror.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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  26. #21

    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    Woodshedding is a fiddlers term.
    I believe it actually originated as a jazz term.

    From Louis Armstrong's 1936 book Swing That Music: "We used to practice together, 'wood-shed' as we say (from the old-time way of going out into the wood-shed to practice a new song)."

    There are other references to jazz players who disappeared for a time, and then came back on the scene with monster chops, improved improv, and new concepts.

    ----

    I hope the OP got what was wanted out of this topic. I don't think he's been back.
    ----

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  28. #22
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Quote Originally Posted by farmerjones View Post
    Woodshedding is a fiddlers term.
    Also maybe an American term? I was at a fiddle camp workshop years ago where Irish trad fiddler Liz Carroll (American-born) and Irish trad guitarist John Doyle (Irish-born) were instructors. I happened to sit down to lunch one day with John Doyle, and mentioned the term "woodshed" at some point in the conversation. He asked me what it meant, wasn't familiar with the term.

  29. #23
    Registered User lowtone2's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    You want to shed in the most productive manner? A teacher can look and listen and direct you to the practice session you need. Marla Fibish has a great Peghead nation course and also teaches privately via internet. She can help you out.

  30. #24
    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    No matter the genre, good practice is the same. No practice can really start without a goal or a reason for you to be practicing. If you don't have a goal, that's just playing music - which is great and you may get better just playing, but practicing is a focused thing. Unfortunately, sometimes practice is a chore and involves repeating the same thing over and over. No real way around that if you want to get better - but hopefully it's an enjoyable chore

    The first question I would ask is Why are you practicing? Do you want to just be able to sit in more sessions, be stronger on leading, have more chord voicing options etc. What's the point? Once you have the BIG goal, the steps needed to get there often reveal themselves.

    For example - assume your big goal is to sit in on more sessions and be confident when you play along. So, break down that goal - what does "being confident" mean here? IMO, it means you can lead / call tunes and follow tunes others call.

    The medium term goals are the larger practice buckets you need to review to meet the long term goal. In this case, a good medium goal would be to learn 10 songs (chords and melody) played commonly at sessions you attend or want to attend. Since Irish Trad tunes often become a medley, learning those tunes first can help. To find this, you'll need to listen to a LOT of trad tunes. When I'm learning a tune, I'll go for a walk with headphones and listen to as many variations of a song that I can. Once you find the recording you like best, just listen to those a lot.

    From the medium goal, you can derive the short term steps to get there. Short term steps are what you do when you sit down to practice. So in this example, for each of the 10 tunes, I would do this for my practice
    1. Listen to that song during the day prior to practicing and just before beginning to practice. Ideally a specific recording or two so there's not a lot of variables.
    2. Practice the chords common to that tune.
    3. Practice the scales and arpeggios common to that tune.
    4. Practice the bare bone melody - the most simple version you can play
    5. To a metronome at about 50% to 70% normal speed, play the bare bones melody and chords though until you can play it perfectly. If you mess up anywhere, stop immediately, go back a measure, and play the passage again correctly multiple times.

    The goals I have above could be divided even further if you wanted even smaller steps to tackle.
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  32. #25
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    Default Re: How to woodshed

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Also maybe an American term? I was at a fiddle camp workshop years ago where Irish trad fiddler Liz Carroll (American-born) and Irish trad guitarist John Doyle (Irish-born) were instructors. I happened to sit down to lunch one day with John Doyle, and mentioned the term "woodshed" at some point in the conversation. He asked me what it meant, wasn't familiar with the term.
    I picked up the term at an Irish session. This was about 25 years ago when I was still a little fresh on the fiddle and it was gently suggested that I might woodshed a little bit. I had to ask what it meant. 🙄

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