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Thread: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

  1. #1
    Eternal Beginner Seamus B's Avatar
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    Default A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Do what I did and try playing J.S. Bach Cello Suite 1 Prelude for an hour, with all of its unusual timings, and movements across strings in short sections, and (for me) completely counter-intuitive chord changes. I failed hard but I tried and tried and tried....

    ...THEN....revert back immediately to the normal tunes that you play. In my case Traditional Irish Music. I am learning Off to California this week and have found it slightly tricky, but I absolutely nailed it first go!

    Playing your tunes after trying Bach just seemed to transform my playing - it seemed so much easier and comfortable.

    In all seriousness, I am using the Daniel Sellman J.S. Bach The Cello Suites for Mandolin book which is great to dip into, especially if you love Bach like I do. It really challenged me, and going back to the comforting arms of my ITM made me wonder why I was struggling with Off to California so much!

    Anyone else had a go at the big man Bach?
    Eastman MD305 - set-up by Simon Mayor.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I can see that working out that way

    I sometimes play to backing tracks that are 15-20 bpm faster than what I'm comfortable playing and when I go back to my regular speed it seems ridiculously slow. But the next morning I'm back to normal speed feels normal.

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  5. #3

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    This Hal Galper masterclass is just over 20 min..

    Hal describes using Bach phrasing and dynamics as a kind of "flat setting" - a "baseline" that represents maximum control (smoothness, evenness, emotionless), and integrating into playing your normal repertoire..

    So here's some theory to validate your findings - aimed at jazz, but principles apply -

    https://youtu.be/JJRjEpjd9S4

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  7. #4

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus B View Post
    Do what I did and try playing J.S. Bach Cello Suite 1 Prelude for an hour, with all of its unusual timings, and movements across strings in short sections, and (for me) completely counter-intuitive chord changes. I failed hard but I tried and tried and tried....

    ...THEN....revert back immediately to the normal tunes that you play. In my case Traditional Irish Music. I am learning Off to California this week and have found it slightly tricky, but I absolutely nailed it first go!

    Playing your tunes after trying Bach just seemed to transform my playing - it seemed so much easier and comfortable.

    In all seriousness, I am using the Daniel Sellman J.S. Bach The Cello Suites for Mandolin book which is great to dip into, especially if you love Bach like I do. It really challenged me, and going back to the comforting arms of my ITM made me wonder why I was struggling with Off to California so much!

    Anyone else had a go at the big man Bach?
    Seamus:

    Bach is pretty much all I'm playing these days. Cello Suite #1 Prelude done, and then several menuets, as well as Violin Partita #1 in E Maj., the Bourre I & II from the 3rd Cello Suites. I'm currently getting the Fuga Allegro from the Sonata I up to speed.

    Tough? Yes, but I find it a lot more satisfying than standard bluegrass repertoire. Being able to experience Bach as a musician is mind-expanding.

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  11. #6

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I have both of Daniel Sellman's Bach for Mandolin books. Lots of enjoyment for a small investment in money and a lot of investment in practicing. Well worth it!

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  13. #7
    Eternal Beginner Seamus B's Avatar
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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I am so happy that people here are also playing Bach! It is extremely rewarding, but also demanding to a level I had not experienced before. It relies on consistent rhythm to make sure that those one-off G and D string notes act as a kind of rhythmic anchor, otherwise if you pause it just sounds like a weird bum note (sorry, I have no music theory at all).

    As well as the benefit of playing and learning beautiful songs, it is also clearly going to improve my accuracy and muscle memory, as it relies on using all 8-strings in short spaces which I can already tell is improving my playing. I'll come back in a year or so when I feel comfortable that I have actually nailed the first prelude!
    Eastman MD305 - set-up by Simon Mayor.

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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I've been dipping in to the classical music I used to be able to play on the violin, many years ago. The Bach concerto for two violins was a favorite - but I cannot get anywhere near that atm on the Mandolin (nor the violin - it's bee a long time). Vivalid is a bit easier.

    But thanks for the great reference to the books(s). I've just had a hunt for a copy of the prelude, and I found https://musescore.com/isaacweiss/bac...jor-for-violin on Musescore - so I'll be printing that off later and trying it.
    And for those that don't know - once you've got the musescore notation version it's very easy to add TAB as a seperate Stave.

    And a question about the books - are they just simple transposition - or is there some other "magic" which makes them better for Mandolin rather than transposing the existing notation??

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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Ok, a couple of days later and it’s definitely a challenging piece. But fun, and also interesting trying to get the phrasing similar to the cello. Glad to have the fingering from the muscore notation I linked to above as well!

  17. #10

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I have to say, this is highly effective for me. I was actually just realizing this earlier this week.

    The attention to dynamics, tone, emphasis, etc required to play classical (maybe I should just say what I mean: Bach) immediately makes my fiddle tune playing leaps and bounds better. More than anything, for me, it is the looseness in my hand (pick grip), forearm arm, and motion that I need to play Bach that, applied to my fiddles tunes, helps everything - speed, accuracy and general tone.

    And I love that there is overlap here because these happen to be my two favorite things to play on mandolin.

    EDIT: Forgot to mention that I've been working on the first Bourrée from suite 3. I love it. It's such a pretty, fun little piece.
    Last edited by MoreThanQuinn; Feb-26-2018 at 10:28pm.

  18. #11

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    MoreThan Quinn,

    I too have been playing the 1st & 2nd Bourrees from the 3rd Cello suite (a lot easier than the Violin Partita in E Maj)

    Lots of YouTube videos of musicians playing the Bourree's together, going from the 1st to the 2nd and back to the 1st without repeats. It makes for a very nice recital piece.

  19. #12

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Thanks for the comment billykatzz.

    So I first came across the Bourrée as a pdf in the official thread about Cello Suites transposed for mandolin book. The author posted the Bourree #1 as an example of what the book looked like. I figured I'd download it and give it a go. Well, as you can tell from my comment, I love playing it. I think I'll probably end up with the whole book because I'm enjoying it so much. In other words, I'll be joining you on the second Bourrée sometime soon

  20. #13
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I have been taking classical mandolin lessons, and I have to say there is nothing that i have learned that has not contributed to every other type of playing that I do. The etudes and position exercises that I throw myself into has benefits in my playing fiddle tunes and jamming and everything else.
    Indulge responsibly!

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  22. #14
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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Shamelessly copied from jazzmando.com, I wrote this one out with the tab -so even for beginnings there's no excuse.
    Start this v. slow and then build up, stop for a while if you have any pain at all. Careful though, one hour of this WILL change your life!
    https://musescore.com/user/8910851/scores/1980706
    Have fun.

  23. #15
    Registered User Louise NM's Avatar
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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    I've always felt that Bach, as opposed to Vivaldi, Handel, and some others, had no consideration for the human hand. He wrote the notes he wanted, threw in twists and surprises, and couldn't have cared less whether or not it fits well under the hand or is intuitive to play. Any time spent working on Bach is an exercise in rhythm, intervals, accidentals, and modulations you won't find anywhere else. After an hour spent wrangling with J.S., a Handel violin sonata is a walk in the park!
    1988 Reno mandolin, Trinity College mandola, Kentucky KM 272 oval hole mandolin, a few bowed string instruments and some stray woodwinds

  24. #16
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    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    My copy of the Sonatas and Partitas for Mandolin transcription arrived yesterday so I spent some time last night picking over the first few pages. I was pleasantly surprised by just how achievable it was, even for someone of my middling talents. I'm not saying I'd be able to play them well, but just being able to play them is a nice thought and I can already feel how much benefit there would be to the rest of my playing.

    I've also been going over some of the exercises in the Jazz Mando book again this week and feel they have a similar effect of pushing you fingers so far out of the comfort zone that it makes going back to picking some trad reels feel a lot easier on the digits!

  25. #17

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Something else I have found that produces immediate improvement is practicing a run through of a song with my eyes closed. I find that I am far more aware of my tone when I'm actively listening to myself, which I am forced to do when I can't watch my hands in action.

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  27. #18

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Jazzmando.com......FFcP exercises. Best way I have spent a hour, well that or the book.

    My pinky finger is now much more useful, iI swear it works.
    Last edited by B381; Mar-22-2018 at 9:01pm. Reason: Keyboard misspell

  28. #19

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Quote Originally Posted by MoreThanQuinn View Post
    Something else I have found that produces immediate improvement is practicing a run through of a song with my eyes closed. I find that I am far more aware of my tone when I'm actively listening to myself, which I am forced to do when I can't watch my hands in action.
    +1. (I agree)

  29. #20

    Default Re: A tip for improving your playing in one hour...

    Playing any challenging music for an hour will improve your playing.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

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