learning to play the accordion by ear



Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby george garside » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:38 pm

Just an idea - how about setting a little challenge ? monthly, ? every now and then, to help focus ' by ear' learning and provide a practice sort of exercise?

perhaps a couple of simple 'rules' would be useful but you don't have to ''report yourself'' if you cheat !

1. If you can read and have the written music put it away and don't be tempted to take a peek at it

2. Treble only until you can play it - then having a go at the bass optional but don't try to remember so called ''correct'' chords

3. Repeated listening to you tube clips or other sources allowed and indeed encouraged


I would suggest we start with the very well known tune ''Amazing Grace'' . Start on the note D and don't worry about what key you are playing in

I believe there is a way of slowing down youtube vids but I don't know how its done.

Feel free to record your efforts and put on youtube or soundcould if you want to share your efforts!!!! This is totally optional of course

This challenge is totally optional and should not be treated too seriously, better to enjoy it so please no agonising over detail or correctness of anything!

george {} :ch NOT :hb !!!

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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby smdc66 » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:33 pm

george garside wrote:Just an idea - how about setting a little challenge ? monthly, ? every now and then, to help focus ' by ear' learning and provide a practice sort of exercise?

I would suggest we start with the very well known tune ''Amazing Grace'' . Start on the note D and don't worry about what key you are playing in

Feel free to record your efforts and put on youtube or soundcould if you want to share your efforts!



i think this idea is quite a good one

funny you should suggest this tune, as this is what i practiced a week or so ago when i thought about practicing by ear skills

i wonder if one might suggest one of maybe 3 assorted tunes sometimes should one have a deep dislike of a particular tune

we dont need to worry about key then , but what about rhythm - what thought/worry patterns should be applied here?!

it would be nice if when recordings are made we could give constructive criticism too :)
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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby george garside » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:29 pm

I think the idea of pick one out of 3 is a good idea as long as just one is picked and worked on rather than dabbling about with all 3. We could make it something like democratic by asking individuals to suggest tunes. If only 3 are suggested then they will form the list for lets say January. If more than 3 are suggested I would be happy to pick out the 3 that I think would provide the best learning experience

As to rhythm that is up to the individual to decide and work on. listening to different renditions of the tune will help you to decide how you want it to sound.

Amazing grace is a 3/4 tune but that may not be meaningful to all by ear players. It simply means the underlying rhythm is um pa pa, um pa pa, etc. (foot down for UM and foot up for PA PA). However whilst it can be played as a waltz it is often played more on the lines of a slow air i.e quite smoothly and without a prominent or dominant rhythm - the choice is yours!

So suggestions please for the January practice tune(s)

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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby Pippa » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:32 pm

Good idea, George. I just had a go and I found it relatively easy to figure out the melody and pretty quickly got some chords to fit to it, but every time I would make similar mistakes and correct them, rather than intuitively going for the right note. E.g. I was constantly misjudging an interval and correcting it downwards each time. I had to really resist the temptation to write it down. I have figured out a lot of music by ear in the past just when music hasn't been available, but I've always written it down then learnt it properly from what I wrote. Any tips to get over that?
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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby george garside » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:01 pm

Pippa, To really get the hang of playing by ear keep well away from the pen and paper! Part of the learning process is learning how to swiftly correcting misjudgements without pausing so that getting the right next note or chord gradually becomes more intuitive. Not only that but also speed of correcting an error i.e diving for the correct note after just a glancing blow on the incorrect one becomes so quick that the punters won't hear the wrong notet

Good readers often find it more difficult to play by ear than do non readers. I think this has something to do with playing from the dots being by definition highly prescriptive and therefore naturally providing the player with a sort of safety barrier to work within. Playing by ear removes the 'safety barrier' and puts total responsibility for everything on the individual player which can result in worries about 'correctness'.

The same in reverse often apples to a by ear players learning to play from the dots as they can find prescriptive playing a overpowering to begin with.

Either way its just down to doing more of it until it becomes natural

george ;)
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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby smdc66 » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:41 pm

george garside wrote:

Amazing grace is a 3/4 tune but that may not be meaningful to all by ear players. It simply means the underlying rhythm is um pa pa, um pa pa, etc. (foot down for UM and foot up for PA PA).


should much thought be given to which parts of the um pa pa you play individual treble notes to or just try and keep a steady um pa pa and play the tune along to that and play with feeling and hope it all fits together well
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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby george garside » Wed Dec 17, 2014 10:15 pm

It will work to a steady um pah for learning purposes but will sound more like a waltz than a hymn or air. You could play some um pa's and just hold the major chord in places doing the um pa a with the foot to keep the timing steady ( um = foot down pa pa =foot up- foot up) that way its easy to change from um pa pa to holding chord and back to um pa pa where desired.

A different approach would be to have a copy of the words (?off t'internet) and sing them ( just in the head if you are not a singer) aand then play the melody so it fits with the words. This can help to develop 'phrasing' skills ( phrasing = little pauses or gaps which singers have to do to breath in as they cant sing on the 'suck' )

Phrasing is an art not a science and listening to what is coming out of your box is crucial . The phrasing 'gaps' are created by shortening the note before or the note after or a tiny bit off both, this being done intuitively rather than by trying to calculate the length of the gap or trying to play eg .8 of a quaver!

Phrasing is the musical equivelant of punctuation when reading the written word and gives expression and character to the proceedings.

In other words first get the bare bones of a tune sorted then experiment and work on it to make it sound musical

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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby smdc66 » Sat Dec 20, 2014 5:33 pm

george garside wrote:Just an idea - how about setting a little challenge ? monthly, ? every now and then, to help focus ' by ear' learning and provide a practice sort of exercise?

perhaps a couple of simple 'rules' would be useful but you don't have to ''report yourself'' if you cheat !

I would suggest we start with the very well known tune ''Amazing Grace'' . Start on the note D and don't worry about what key you are playing in

Feel free to record your efforts and put on youtube or soundcould if you want to share your efforts!!!! This is totally optional of course

This challenge is totally optional and should not be treated too seriously, better to enjoy it so please no agonising over detail or correctness of anything!

george {} :ch NOT :hb !!!

george


well 'hear' :) goes https://soundcloud.com/smdcloud66/audio ... saturday-5


was unsure whether to post or not but spent about half hour to hour trying to pull this off - so here it is - i figured as it is the season of peace and goodwill you wouldnt be too hard on me :)


seriously constructive criticism
welcomed
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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby BobM » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:12 pm

Checking out your Soundcloud files, it sounds to me like you're doing fine. If you compare your Silent Night to Amazing Grace, on SN you've played it in a slow 3 in a bar, but AG has a different "stretched out" time and some (sorry) misplaced chords. You could try as an exercise play SN and AG back to back at the same tempo and rhythm. I could be wrong about about how you're trying to play it though..

I think the "playing by ear" answer for you is to get a good lead sheet of AG, learn it from sight, and memorise it, then re-learn it by ear in different keys.

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Re: learning to play the accordion by ear

Postby george garside » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:36 pm

SMD, I agree with Bob that you are doing fine! Furthur work on the tune could include just playing a long chord here and there to break up the um pa pa rhythm which while ok for a waltz is a bit heavy to be played throughout a hymn or song. just use the major chord that would have been part of the um pa pa and hold it for the same length of time as the um pa pa - a sort of long PA-----------.

Singing the words ( or thinking them in the head) and making the tune fit the words can aslo help you to give the tune the right 'character'

Learning it from the dots in one key and then transposing it int0 other keys by ear is somewhat at odds with the notion of learning to play the accordion by ear!

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