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Thread: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

  1. #26
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve 2E View Post
    I don't know how the ADHD mind works . . . .
    ADDs and ADHDs are both highly distrac — uh — what was the question?
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  2. #27
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Best way NOT to learn mandolin with ADHD: “Practice something until you can play it x number of times without a mistake before moving on”

    Best way to learn mandolin with ADHD: Think of three or more things you need to practice, and practice each thing in turn for three minutes.

    Example:
    1. A scale
    2. A chord change
    3. A musical phrase that gives you trouble

    Set a timer, maybe the one on your phone, for three minutes.

    Practice #1 for 3 minutes, then #2 for 3 minutes, then #3 for 3 minutes . . . .
    Yup, that's pretty much what I do. I don't time it, but three minutes sounds about right.

    It's slow, but I learn the songs. And forget them. So before a gig, to refresh my memory, such as it is, I always run through the song list a few times, if there is one.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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  4. #28

    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Adhd here - Every time I've tried overly structuring my practice, it always just gets exhausting and I'm not motivated to do it. Instead, I try to pick tunes that I can use to practice certain techniques - Lonesome Moonlight Waltz for double stop tremolo, for example, and practice those tunes instead.

  5. #29
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by milli857 View Post
    Adhd here - Every time I've tried overly structuring my practice, it always just gets exhausting and I'm not motivated to do it. Instead, I try to pick tunes that I can use to practice certain techniques - Lonesome Moonlight Waltz for double stop tremolo, for example, and practice those tunes instead.
    Yup, and I have songs dedicated to working on different scales and keys.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  6. #30

    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Rather than playing scales and exercises improvise along with recordings. Branch out from what you are comfortable with to new stuff. Close your eyes and play by ear. Make it hand/ear coordination rather than hand/eye.

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  8. #31
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    More tips:

    - Keep your mandolin out in a place where it's near at hand and you can grab it. You'll find it lets you do a lot of drive-by playing, even if it's just in five- and ten-minute chunks.

    - Allow yourself to be distracted. If the fridge is calling your name or you just remembered you wanted to run a wash or there's an article you wanted to read or you want a cup of joe, just go do it. The mando will be waiting when you come back. Being distracted is not being bad.

    - Turn off your phone.

    - Let time take care of itself. No need to think about how long you have or haven't been playing. Just think about playing. The idea that ADHD/ADD folks have an attention deficit isn't true. If something has our attention, we can stick with it for hours. But that's a big if, because it only happens with things that grab our interest: Whether its video games or Stephen King novels or shooting hoops or bird watching or playing an instrument, if we're into it, we can fall in deep. If you really enjoy playing mando, you'll discover that a couple of hours can zip past in a flash. It's called being in the zone.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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  10. #32
    Registered User Cheryl Watson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    The first step for anyone learning mandolin is to have a decent sounding one that has as good a setup for easy playability. I am no actual expert on ADHD but I did teach elementary, middle school, and high school students over a span of many years with ADD and ADHD. If you have a good ear, you can try humming a simple tune you are very familiar with and try finding those notes on the fretboard. If you can read for five minutes and keep your focus, then you can most likely play mandolin for 5 minutes and keep your focus. The chunking method pretty much works for all humans. You learn in small chunks and then synthesize (put together) those small chunks into passages until you have learned the entire piece (which must be a short, simple tune you already know well).

    Learning to read tablature notation may or may not help. How successful you are at learning with tablature (tab) would partly depend just how much focus you can conjure up. Standard notation works best for some because there are a lot of numbers with tablature and that can get confusing because numbers are also used for the strings and your fingers. Notes, instead of numbers dictating what fret to play might work better for you– or they might not.

    Rule out the times of day or night to learn and practice when you have the least focus. Learning correct pickstrokes, how to hold the pick correctly, walking around a room while playing instead of sitting all the time might help. Set up goals for yourself, but don't be too hard on yourself if you have a hard time reaching those goals, just make them a bit easier with modifications that make you more comfortable. People with ADD, especially ADHD can get very frustrated and give up easily if they are too hard on themselves, but everyone is like that, more or less. Anything that causes discouragement and frustration causes humans to avoid it. Therefore, you stop picking up your instrument and practicing because playing it causes internal stress.

    A patient and non-judgemental teacher may be what you will need or you might feel more comfortable learning on your own in private.

    A few more things off the top of my head are: Learn two-finger chords first and keep graphics of the chords for reference always in place, until you determine you no longer need them. Practice the "look" and "don't look" method that I use with all students: Look at what you are doing with your picking hand or the fingerboard and your fretting hand and then look away or close your eyes and play the same passage or chord without looking. Yeah, you will make mistakes. That is why you play it looking again and allow to make corrections. For all of my beginner music students (I have taught private music lessons for 15 years) I teach them that small gains are big gains for at least the first 6 months.

    Well, that is my 2˘ I've read a lot of good suggestions on here.

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  12. #33

    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    ADDs and ADHDs are both highly distrac — uh — what was the question?
    Good call Charlie, the title of one of my professional presentations is "Adult ADHD: What was the question?"

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  14. #34
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    A lot of great information and ideas in this thread. Cheryl Watson always has awesome, levelheaded advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christine Robins View Post
    Mark, that's the procedure I've been doing for several months. I love it., and it's supported by a huge amount of research on optimum learning. I use 5-min. intervals instead of 3-min.

    Another advantage of pre-set intervals is that I'm not distracted any more by wondering how much time I've put in for this round, and whether to stop or continue. Now I don't think about the time; the timer decides for me.
    I’m happy to hear how this has been working for you, Christine! The example I gave was just that, an example - not a rule. The idea is to keep your mind from becoming bored or losing focus. The idea is to pick a few or a couple of different things, and rotate through them in short sessions. Each time you move between items, your brain is engaged in recalibrating to do that item. It’s a proven fact that practicing that way improves long-term retention of your progress.

    This even works by taking breaks if you’re just learning one thing. Practice a bit, then go do something else a while, and return to practice again for a short session. Rinse, repeat. The object is not to play a thing over and over til you can play it perfectly x times in a row. For me, as an amateur performer, I don’t want to have to play something over and over until I get it right before an audience (that won’t work), rather to be able to just get up and play and sing without thinking too much, and be comfortable doing it, and confident that I can play it.

    Above all, though, is to have fun and enjoy yourself. In practicing, enjoy your progress, no matter how small or large. It is no big chore to do things you enjoy!
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  16. #35

    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    That is really how I learn.... listening and playing... I just would like to understand the theory better to get more proficient... but I can get absorbed for long periods just playing along or practicing something that catches my ear....

  17. #36

    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    That is right on the mark good advice!! Many thanks....

  18. #37
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atte...ivity_disorder

    They say the frequency is 0.8-1.5% though it possibly occurs more in musicians?

    This thread has been viewed 1369 times so that would be around 14 sufferers of the syndrome.

    The good news I guess is that there are a lot of other health factors in people's lives that can be relatively easily improved in order to play mandolin.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Feb-11-2024 at 2:22am.

  19. #38
    Economandolinist Amanda Gregg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    This is a great case for "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Especially if you work and have a family, you only have so much bandwidth. Practicing is a little is much better than practicing never. Practicing a little every day is even better. Practicing something serious from time to time is fantastic.
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  20. #39
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    . . . Above all, though, is to have fun and enjoy yourself. In practicing, enjoy your progress, no matter how small or large. It is no big chore to do things you enjoy!
    The flip side of ADD and ADHD is that while we're too-easily distracted, we can also fall into things for hours, like we're hypnotized.* Yesterday I started practicing C major on my new squareneck,** just noodling over a simple I/IV/V progression, and by the time I was done, the scale was starting to stick. I'm sure I'll do it again today. (But I won't force myself. That's the bane of us short-attention folks.)

    ---------

    * Tom Wolfe once wrote about an ADHD nephew. He said the label was ridiculous. The kid did eight-hour stretches on video games. The way Wolfe saw it, whatever was wrong witht the kid, it wasn't an attention problem.

    ** And woo-hoo! I found a Red Line Econoline at a donut-dropping price at one of the reso forums. Sounds great, looks great. I might forget my birthday, but I always know when I'm having fun.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; Feb-11-2024 at 10:58am.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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  22. #40
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by Cheryl Watson View Post
    The first step for anyone learning mandolin is to have a decent sounding one that has as good a setup for easy playability. I am no actual expert on ADHD but I did teach elementary, middle school, and high school students over a span of many years with ADD and ADHD. . . .
    If that doesn't make you an expert, words have no meaning.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

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  24. #41
    Registered User T.D.Nydn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Well,you can do what I do.I practice for 10 minutes or so,and then put it away to go do other stuff,then I pick it back up later and practice for like another 10 minutes or so,then I put it away to go do other stuff.then I pick it back up later for another 10 minutes to practice and then put it away.I get to practice about 30 minutes a day,but it takes me from morning through to night to do it..

  25. #42
    Registered User Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Quote Originally Posted by T.D.Nydn View Post
    Well,you can do what I do.I practice for 10 minutes or so,and then put it away to go do other stuff,then I pick it back up later and practice for like another 10 minutes or so,then I put it away to go do other stuff.then I pick it back up later for another 10 minutes to practice and then put it away.I get to practice about 30 minutes a day,but it takes me from morning through to night to do it..
    Yup. I usually do it in little bites, too.
    Gibson A-Junior snakehead (Keep on pluckin'!)

  26. #43

    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    This is 100% just my personal/anecdotal experience… But, I also have ADHD and find Bradley Laird’s Materials from mandolincompass.com to be very helpful. He goes very slow and just has a calm and relaxed vibe about him. I did the exploring double stops instructional and have also used his mandolin songbook. He is a great teacher and breaks things down into the simplest possible level, which works well for me.

    One thing I’ve noticed for myself, is that if I just go to YouTube or browse through Patreon videos, it is a bit overwhelming as there are too many things to choose from. Too many songs, too many techniques, etc. etc. it makes me just jump and flitter around from one thing to the other, spinning my wheels, and not really getting anywhere. What is helpful for me is picking one thing and sticking to it. It may be very hard to do with ADHD, but having the structure of sticking to one good course or book is super helpful. So the book I’ve been working my way through is mandolin primer by Bert Casey. I’m almost done and then I’ll start working through The mandolin picker’s guide to bluegrass improvisation book.

    One of the major traits of ADHD is jumping around from thing to thing, and having a hard time finishing a project that you start. So for me, I have found it very useful to have a more set book/curriculum to follow that kind of forces me to stick to one thing. This is coming from a person who has bought guitars, ALL sorts of ukuleles, mandolins, banjos, a dulcimer, a seagull Merlin, harmonicas, drums, and every possible instructional guide for all of these, and jumped around a lot. It’s nice to pick one thing and stick to it for a while… Lol

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  28. #44
    small instrument, big fun Dan in NH's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    The way it was explained to me was it was a problem with executive function. The ADD brain has trouble telling itself to ignore distractions and stay on task when necessary, AND trouble identifying when it’s time to change tasks.

    With me mandolin practice is literally five strums of 12 bar blues in G, followed by five hours on Xbox, then dragging myself to bed at 1:00 AM.
    Eastman MD-514 (F body, Sitka & maple, oval hole)
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    And still saving my nickels & dimes & bottle caps & breakfast cereal box tops for my lifetime mandolin.

  29. #45
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best way to learn Mandolin with ADHD

    Posting a vid of yourself can sometimes help to focus. There's a final objective, and you don't even have to record twice through.
    Just A and B part once would be fine:

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...=67&styleid=15

    Tunes to choose from, most with TAB:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...413&do=discuss

    More to sample:
    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...856&do=discuss


    Lots of tunes to choose from, but you can only choose one.
    Just one.

    -congratulate yourself each and every step of the way, every measure learned, all the way to the final posting of the vid.

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