YeahSureOK
YeahSureOK
@yeahsureok
3 weeks ago
29 posts
Thanks all, for the great info. I actually learned to enjoy playing scales. I treat thrm like melodic walk ups, similar to what I do on bass guitar. I got Aaron O'Rourke's book Faster, Cleaner, Better for a Christmas gift. Looking forward to delving into it.
I also like the advice someone gave of breaking a song I want to learn into small sections, and focusing learning one section at a time, beginning with the hardest.
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
1,674 posts

Patrick --  many folks consider the traditional dulcimore (no 6+ or other added frets), as well as the noter & drone style that I play,  as "limited".  I've always considered that challenging -- how to get the most bang for your buck as it were.  I'm glad to see you on this dulcimer journey.

I wholeheartedly agree that a person's perception of reality and their limitations define their reality.  IMHO it applies to EVERY endeavor in our lives.  Only you can limit what you can achieve.

For more than 30 years (since the first time I heard them) I've wanted to learn cauld wind Border pipes, but they're so expensive... and at age 71,  I can't justify that kind of expense...   Oh well.  We can talk about pipes someplace other than here.

 

=Ken 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,188 posts

Even though most of us have no genuine ambition to become serious musicians and just want to have fun, I thought given the original question here I'd post a link to Jack Tuttle's Top Ten Ways to Become a Better Musician .  Jack was a legendary multi-instrumentalist and music teacher long before his daughter Molly became the hottest flatpicking guitarist since Tony Rice.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Mr. Woolery
Mr. Woolery
@mr-woolery
3 weeks ago
3 posts

My first pipes were Walsh Shuttle Pipes.  They are a variety of small pipe with a very compact drone arrangement.  I was a bit of a disappointment to my mom for about 25 years because she was a GHB teacher and I wasn't interested.  Then she got the first set of shuttle pipes in Fairbanks and I fell in love with the sound.  I started taking lessons after that and it is now an important part of who I am.  After I'd learned to play and saved the dough for a set of my own, I came to love the GHB perhaps even more.  

 

I have only competed with great highland pipes.  The shuttle pipes are for just plain fun.  

 

I own a set of bellows-blown border pipes, but have not ever really played them.  They were a gift.  I imagine that using a bellows wouldn't be any harder than learning to blow the pipes I'm used to.  But I haven't put in the time yet.  

 

One of the really fun things about a dulcimer is that it has so many notes!  Bagpipes have 9 notes.  One octave, plus one note below.  The dulcimer, you can play all 3 strings and get a lot of musical potential out of it.  (I also play banjo, so I am used to having more than 9 notes with my other instrument.)  One of the really great things about a limited instrument is that it is sort of a challenge to see how much music you can get from it.  

 

A friend told me once that your reality defines your potential and your limitations define your reality.  I don't know if that means anything here, but I do know that with as few as nine notes, there are thousands of tunes for the bagpipe and nobody has yet determined that we've run out of options.  If you ever start stagnating with the dulcimer, remember that more notes and more tuning options means your limits are nowhere near as confining as the pipes, so the potential is much greater.  

 

-Patrick

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
1,674 posts

Patrick -- GHB, Small Pipes, or  Cauld-Wind?

Mr. Woolery
Mr. Woolery
@mr-woolery
3 weeks ago
3 posts
This is from the perspective of a bagpiper who is only starting on the dulcimer. I really don’t know how relevant it will be here, but I hope it helps.

When I am working up a tune, either for personal challenge or competition, I warm up by playing scales with the important ornaments, then I will play the most difficult passages a couple of times slowly. Then I play.

Warming up before playing a musical instrument is really no different than warming up prior to a sport. It gets your mind and body in the zone to play the best you can.

As I learn the dulcimer, I hope to find a few basic warmups to get me going right. For now, I’m still just strumming it and hesitantly picking out melodies.

Patrick
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,738 posts

Lisa Golladay:

Another good idea (which I rarely follow myself, I must admit) is to record yourself now and listen again a few months later.  Sometimes this can be encouraging and other times it can be dis-heartening, but it's the one surefire way to see how much progress you're making.  It also tells me, with painful clarity, what I need to practice next. duck

Another good consequence from recording yourself is not only to do it in order to LISTEN to how you are sounding, but in a video (made for your own use only) it's helpful to SEE how you are playing.  It's surprising how one can see certain bad playing habits we didn't know we had.  Stuff like maybe too much arm motion, poor posture, bad finger fretting position, facial grimacing, stiff shoulders... all things we might not be aware of until we SEE ourselves doing it in a video.  blush

 




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,738 posts

@susie , I do that as well!  (try to end whenever I play or practice on a good note... or maybe even a few good notes if I can!)  giggle2




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,738 posts

(I've removed a member using a fake account with ill intentions.
Sorry for the interruption in this perfectly nice and useful thread. Carry on everyone, thanks!)  smiler




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 01/04/20 05:03:34PM
Susie
Susie
@susie
3 weeks ago
346 posts

Good advice so far, I won't expand on that. But one thing that I will add is this (something I have done for 46 years)....

always end your practice session playing some songs that you are pretty good at, that you enjoy. It allows you to end on a good note (pun intended), rather than ending your session being frustrated with something you haven't quite conquered yet. You will feel good and be ready to sit down to your next practice session, having ended in a positive way. Just a suggestion that has worked for me.

Steven Berger
Steven Berger
@steven-berger
3 weeks ago
120 posts

Ken Hulme:

I never practice, I just play.  Practice is work! Dull and boring repetition without context.  Playing is fun, challenging, and interesting.  I'd rather have fun.

I'm with Ken on this subject...To me, playing is a form of practice. And it's fun. 

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 weeks ago
1,028 posts

@lisa-golladay I also find recording helpful, a useful tool which gives meaningful feedback; I can hear relative weaknesses and strengths in what I'm doing.  




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Lisa Golladay
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
3 weeks ago
101 posts

As Albert Einstein never said (although this quote has often been attributed to him) "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

If you're happy "just playing" that's fine.  For me, I never make progress without spending some serious time focused on the tune or technique I want to learn.  I call that "practice" but I do not consider it evil drudgery.  It is how I accomplish what I want to accomplish and that is a good thing!

I agree with Dusty that it's good to target specific areas where you want to improve.  It's hard to "become a better player" all at once, but you can break it down into smaller goals.  This is a good time of year for making resolutions! 

Another good idea (which I rarely follow myself, I must admit) is to record yourself now and listen again a few months later.  Sometimes this can be encouraging and other times it can be dis-heartening, but it's the one surefire way to see how much progress you're making.  It also tells me, with painful clarity, what I need to practice next. duck

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 weeks ago
1,028 posts

Though I don't do scales or "practice" in any disciplined way, I am always working on skills.  Even though I've been playing noter style for a long time now, my noter skills can always improve-- long slides smoothly, using slides to bring emotion to a tune, hammer-ons and pull-offs, and on. . . 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,188 posts

Yeah, I spent many lackluster years strumming guitar with no direction at all. My playing wasn't horrible, but it wasn't very good either, and I knew it, so it gave me little pleasure.  Then when I did get motivated to improve (what motivated me is a story for another time) the first thing I did was start to play scales, and my technique got better so fast I was totally energized and started enjoying playing again.  For me, part of the enjoyment of playing music is the continuous improvement, even if it is often so slow as to be imperceptible.  Learning new tunes or adding new techniques or new ideas to a song I've been playing for years is immensely enjoyable.

From time to time my playing stagnates, and I feel as though I'm not learning anything new.  Then I make a conscious effort to work on a technique that had been too hard in the past, or a song I had never managed to figure out. That new direction gives me a boost and I start enjoying my playing again. Woo hoo!

 




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,738 posts

That's cool, Ken.  But some folks find their playing improves when they 'practice' in some manner. And if they're struggling with their playing and don't practice to improve it, then that's no fun either... it's more just frustrating.  Maybe their playing is not 'fun' to them in that case. Some types of practice just are fun for people, or at least interesting and challenging.

I don't do formal practice either- I tend to think of my playing as practice. But for many people, their normal playing can repeat poor techniques or playing habits, whereas a structured practice or exercise can help them correct poor playing habits and improve techniques. If your playing does not improve on its own over time and doesn't make you happy just as it is, then practice or exercises can help!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 weeks ago
1,674 posts

I never practice, I just play.  Practice is work! Dull and boring repetition without context.  Playing is fun, challenging, and interesting.  I'd rather have fun.

dulcinina
@dulcinina
3 weeks ago
64 posts

I use Dusty's four finger scale exercise and 2 and 3 finger scale exercise to warm up.  I play a song I like and can play pretty well.  Then I go on to a piece I'm learning.  I take it a section at a time.  If I get frustrated, I stop and play something else for a while.  I keep it fun.  Sometimes I just play songs and don't actually "practice."  I mix it up.  But mostly, I don't think of it as practice.  I also keep my dulcimer out and handy.  I play something every day just because I like to.  Nina

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,188 posts

Hi @YeahSureOK.  The first thing I'd say is that whatever you do, you have to enjoy it. If you start thinking of practicing as a chore, then you'll not play as much and just won't have much fun.  Personally, I play scales a fair amount, both up the neck and across the fretboard.  Scales help for both right- and left-hand technique, and one reason I enjoy them is that you see progress really fast.  When you practice a song, you get better at that song, but when you practice scales, arpeggios, and other exercises, you get better at all the songs you play. And you also make it easier to learn new songs, too.

If you don't know how to get started on scales, let me know. I'll point you to some exercises that I developed for my students.  I think I also developed some flatpicking exercises.  I'll see what I can dig out.

I would also recommend arpeggio exercises.  There are a couple that I do that I got out of Aaron O'Rourke's book Faster, Cleaner, Better: A Collection of Exercises and Etudes for Mountain Dulcimer.  I would also recommend Mike Casey's book Hands-On Dulcimer, which has a ton of exercises for both hands.

Once you examine the exercises that others have designed, you'll see that you could design your own as well.  I would start with a question: What technique or techniques do you want to work on? Then you can find or develop an exercise for that precise purpose. 




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
YeahSureOK
YeahSureOK
@yeahsureok
3 weeks ago
29 posts

I'm trying to commit myself to a more faithful and effective practice regimen for this year. Out of curiosity,  I would love to hear about other people's favorite warmup and skillls/technique building exercises, or any other favorite practice tips.


updated by @yeahsureok: 01/04/20 04:36:52PM