How much practise?



Home    |     Venue +    |     Tunes    |     Projects    |     Recordings    |     Céilidhs    |     Contact    |    

Whatever you need to do.
The big questions to ask yourself are:   how good do I want to be?   Where do I want to go with it?   How do I see myself as a player?     Everything has a price !

In a documentary I watched some years ago, the team was looking at Vanessa Mae's life to determine whether it was 'nature' or 'nurture' that made her a world class violonist. What they found was that it was the 'nature' bit that gave her the determination to battle her way through the 17,000 hours of mind numbing practise.

An hour a day
An hour a day gives 365 hours a year, 3,650 in 10 years and 10,950 in 30 years.
That's enough to make you a very good player indeed. (Providing you are practising the right things)

You can shorten that.
There are always shortcuts which won't jeopardise your playing, and one of those is is to practise the hard bits.
If you can be disciplined enough to work on the hard bits of your playing and not do the easy bits that you really like, your playing will jump forward. But it's not that easy to do.

Another shortcut is to play along with musicians that are playing the style you want to learn, even if you have a struggle keeping up. It gives you an adrenalin and endorphin kick which not only gets you steaming along, but makes you feel good at the same time, so you play in overdrive.

Socialising with other musicians has the effect of making you feel closer to a higher level too. It also gives you insight into how they work and play and you'll get quick fix tips from them. A bit of practise each day is worth more than one big lump of practise.

    Music policy 
 Join the band 
 Can I teach?  _________________________________
 Fiddle & mandolin 
 Whistle & flute 
 Guitar 
 Other instruments 
 Practise 
 Jargon 
 Links        
Follow us on    






Practise needn't be boring.
The reason for so much practise is to train your brain to remember your finger positions and movements as well as your bow patterns.
It's terribly repetetive, and providng you aren't too fussed about tonal quality at that time, you can watch a film with a mute on and simply go over and over the difficult bits that your brain needs to assimilate.
I am sure this will cause a furore, so choose for yourself.
Once your fingers know the piece, it's a different matter. You get your endorohin kick by playing it to yourself and with others, but then, that's the upside and what you need to get back to in the end are the hard bits of the next tune.

Do I need to learn scales?
Fiddlers, free reed and mandolin players mostly play in D, G and A and if you play tunes in those keys you will soon know what the scales are. Whistle players can have whistles in any key, but can often play in two keys on the same whistle. Flutes can have keys to facilitate changeing key.
You may find that some play in other keys such as C - so that's worth knowing. Any other keys are a little pointless unless you want to learn some of the obsure English tunes which were played on brass instruments along with serpents, shawms, rebecs and early reed instruments in Bb etc.

On the whole and personally, I wouldn't bother with scales, after all, this is roots playing.

Does it get easier?
The short answer is 'yes'. For example, once you have learnt a 'cut' on fiddle, whistle, flute, guitar you will never have to learn it again, and your fingers will start to find the right place for it automatically and your ear will hear it and know what it is when others play it.

Decoration goes a long way to developing your 'style', and by all means copy other's playing so that you can assimilate it and move on. The long answer is 'no' since you can never learn everything you want to learn, and if like me, you love the challenge of music, you will forever be finding things you want to have a go at, even if it's another instrument, so the practise never stops.
But you get to like it!

I'm an older person, is it worth it?
"Playing a musical instrument is a multisensory and motor experience that creates emotions and motions — from finger tapping to dancing — and engages pleasure and reward systems in the brain. It has the potential to change brain function and structure when done over a long period of time," Gottfried Schlaug, MD, PhD, from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston, Massachusetts), an expert on music, neuroimaging, and brain plasticity, said this in a conference statement.

A short time ago I met a delightful lady who only started playing fiddle when she was 80. At 84 she was playing really well in a céilidh band.

It boils down to Mark Knopflers definitive remark:     "You have to want to play".