I am a study in inconsistancy

Leo Kretzner
Leo Kretzner
@leo-kretzner
2 weeks ago
9 posts

What a great title for a thread! (poem, article, etcetera) I feel that way about many things, certainly wrt consistency of practicing - frequency and time spent. I was more disciplined when younger, for sure. Maybe some folks get better at that but I can't say I have! 

I do try to be consistent with 'default' fingerings for chords and the overall fingerings I arrive at for any given piece - though they may need to deviate in other places/tunes. Eg, my 1st position G in DAD tuning, 3-1-0, or the flip of that, 0-1-3, I always do with index on 3 and ring on 1 of the middle string, which is probably a common fingering for that one. Main point w consistency of fingering is having set patterns that become automatic and therefore smoother. I want to try to avoid micro-second slow-downs while my brain is deciding 'which finger??' 

As to warm-ups - good question/topic! Running through the scales is always good, and I second Dusty's suggestion of arpeggio's: the notes of a scale that make  specific chords, like the d-arpeggio, 0 - 2 - 4 - 7- 4 - 2 - 0, on either bass or melody d-strings; d-arpeg on the middle is 0 - 3 - 5 - 7 - 10 and back again (important!). [Chord tonics/names highlighted.] One G-arpeggio in DAD could be 0 - 3 - 5 - 7 - 10 and back down again on melody or bass d string. Here too, develop a consistent fingering choice/pattern. Can you find an arpeggio going across the strings - first on bass, then middle, then melody, and back?? They are there! 

I have a chord-melody warm up I do, especially when rusty. I have tab for it somewhere, but it's this, w scale highlighted: 

0-0-0 (D), 1-0-1 (A), 0-0-2 (D), 0-1-3 (G), 0-0-4 or 2-3-4 (D), 3-3-5 (G), 4-4-6+ (A), 0-5-7 (D) and back again. Invert to bass.

Lastly, doing a couple familiar pieces, always. Perhaps choose one or two 'touchstone' pieces you play every time you sit down. (Prediction: You'll get really good at these and they will become 'fallback' or 'in the bag to pull out' pieces.)

I suggest slower-than-performing speed - you are warming up. It's "just" warm up but I say do it well, not sloppy! 

More important than people may realize: Since they're familiar - as the patterns above will become - play without tab as much as possible - so you can watch your fingers! This is how to improve technique.

Make sure your fingers are doing what you want them to! (think of them like kids!) You need to make an eye-finger connection for your brain, that it will use when you inevitably need to look elsewhere (sing, etc) while you're playing. Get away from the tab as soon as you can, even if you make more mistakes initially. It's one step back, two steps forward, I guarantee!  

O course that doesn't apply strictly to beginners who need more visual reminders, but as you play more, don't remain stuck on 'the paper.'  Even for beginners, very simple patterns 0-1-2-3-2-1-0 shouldn't need to be read after the first time or two.

I see there's overlap here between warm-up and practice, but I guess that's the point: Stuff you can consistently do to get you going!

Sorry, I tend to be wordy, but all of the above ends up actually being just 3 or 4 to 10 minutes, max! You can do it! 


updated by @leo-kretzner: 10/05/20 09:49:06PM
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 weeks ago
1,062 posts

This posting's title tickles my funny bone because it applies to me!  The most consistent thing about me when it comes to playing an instrument is my inconsistency.  :)

If I happen to be working on making up a tune, it is usually the thing with which I begin.  Otherwise, it's just whatever comes to mind and can be played in a tuning (or a near tuning) of whatever dulcimer is at hand.  Though playing mountain dulcimer is often one of the first things I do in a day, I have no regular habit regarding what to play to begin.  




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,302 posts

I usually default to playing scales and arpeggios when I first pick up the dulcimer, especially if I haven't played in a while.  I try to end any playing session doing a couple of tunes that I know really well, so the final emotion I leave with is satisfaction and competence rather than the frustration that comes when you learn new stuff.




--
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
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
3 weeks ago
125 posts

My warmups are: Kumbaya, and This Land is My Land....  :)  They put me in a good mood.


updated by @kusani: 10/01/20 08:00:03PM
adulcinate
@adulcinate
3 weeks ago
1 posts

I'm not consistent, but if my hand feels tight, I will play scales. Fist in single notes & then in chords.

Lisa Golladay
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
3 weeks ago
105 posts

Sorry, I can't claim to be an "organized" player!  My warmup is simple.  I play a song or two that I know well.  The first one fairly easy (like "Corinna, Corinna") and the next more challenging ("Si Bheag, Si Mhor" -- which is a challenge to spell, too).  It's enough to get my fingers moving.  I don't often play scales or chord progressions unless there's a particular tricky bit in the tune I'm working on. 

There is value in playing the same warmup every day.  It helps to get your mind focused.  Not unlike meditation or prayer.  As an actor, I still use the same vocal warmups I learned in college (in a year I prefer not to mention) and I can feel my mind snap to attention the moment I start.  That would be a good discipline for me to develop on dulcimer, I am looking forward to reading other peoples' responses on this thread.

The song that snaps me into shape on dulcimer is the song I play at the end of a session, especially when I'm frustrated.  "Simple Gifts," drone style.  Reminds me I like this instrument and it is not an implement of torture. sun

Don Grundy
Don Grundy
@don-grundy
3 weeks ago
167 posts

I'm making an attempt to organize my practice.  Primarily playing chords; is there a warm up to get you started?