Forgive me if this title and post sounds like a phD thesis in mathematics! Don’t be put off. This is just a simple, systematic way for you to practice that will help you to work through hard parts of tunes. Here is a worksheet you can print and use to help you learn and utilize this practice strategy:
- Find out what’s really hard and practice that. It might just be one or two notes that you need to practice. Systematically take apart hard parts until you get to a very small difficult thing.
- Create exercises from difficult parts. In this way, fiddle tunes will teach you everything you need to know about playing.
- Slow practice with focus on mechanics.
- Practice awareness of body, breath and movement while playing.
- Make it through the whole tune. Even if you have to start and stop, even if it doesn’t sound that good, JUST KEEP GOING.
- Accept mistakes. When in macro-practice mode, let go of the desire to fix your mistakes. Just keep playing.
- Record yourself. When you’ve played the tune a few times in a row, use the recording to find out what’s hard, what you need to practice. Try not to worry about your performance. Assume you will get better (if your practice)!
- Listen to the tune. Try to hear it in your head, or whistle, sing or hum it.
- Play along track practice. Use backing tracks as a fun way to play the whole tune. In order to do this, you have to know the tune well. A fun alternative to play-along tracks: play with a friend.
Here is a systematic approach. Use the worksheet to help you.
- Play through the tune and record yourself. (macro-practice)
- Listen back and ask yourself, “What was hard for me?” Write down the specific hard parts (micro-practice).
- Breakdown hard parts further to find out what’s really hard. Create exercises by adding rhythms, transposing and/or changing note order.
- Play the whole hard part a few times. Loop it.
- Re-integrate into tune.
Here is an example of how to use the worksheet:
What did you discover? What new questions do you have?