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Thread: How many tunes is too much to start with?

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    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Hiya guys and gals.
    I am bout one month into my mandolin learning, i have about 5 tunes that i am trying to learn, and about three strum patterns that i am trying to perfect, what your views, should i just concentrate on one tune at at a time, or learn as much as i can, or will it just overload my ageing brain..

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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Two is ideal in my experience.
    Those two should be as different from each other as possible. That way, there is refreshing change in the practice routine, and they'll not tend to cancel each other out in their struggle for the same storage space in the brain, so to speak.
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    Mangler of Tunes OneChordTrick's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    I'd limit it to 1 or 2 tunes; get them right then learn a few more

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    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    yeah, thanks guys, i think thats what i will do, cut it down a little, but you know what its like when you are first starting, you want to play everything lol

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    Registered User ABrown's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Make a list. Whether it's pen and paper or a note on your phone, a list of the tunes you're working on as well as any other types of playing lessons will help you organize your practice time. As you learn and become proficient with more songs the list is even more important so you don't forget what songs you've learned (it happens) and give them equal practice time. It's also nice to be able to go to a jam and know exactly what songs you feel confident about so when it's your turn to call a tune you know what you're playing. I still keep an ongoing list because I've found that the more new songs I learn the less attention I give to songs that I've already become comfortable with.
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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Learn as many as you can - but REALLY concentrate on one or two at a time . . . .

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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Agreed. Focus on one or two. But learn as many as you can. You will eventually be able to spot patterns and use them to your advantage. And don't give up if something seems too tough. Remember. The object here is to have fun.
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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Learning tunes is a great way to learn to play. If you have friends who also play this music at your level it would be great to play with them on a regular basis. Are there any regular jams or parties where you live? Go to those and try to play along. Even if you play a note per measure it will help to get the tunes in your head.
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Sounds like good progress to me!

    Having goals and a regimen is good as long as you're flexible about them. You'll figure out pretty quickly what's right for you. It's good to be able to play a song beginning-to-end without speeding up, slowing down, or forgetting anything important.

    We're all different. I have a friend who can learn three tunes a day. But he doesn't sing much. I can write three a day, but it takes me weeks or months to learn a song.

    When Dylan was playing coffee houses, he used to write a song in the morning and perform it that night. How anyone can do that utterly baffles me.

    I have another friend who wrote a song ten or fifteen years ago and is still learning it - trying to get it just right. When he's done, he says he'll write another one. Power to him.

    Another guy I know very slightly, a keyboardist, got invited to go on tour with the Allman Brothers Band. The manager handed him thirty CDs and said "Learn these." He had two weeks.

    I've been gigging lately more than I used to - about twice a month, mostly pubs - and want to include more of my almost-200 originals. So last night I wrote out three lists: Songs I already know well enough to perform, songs almost there, and songs not there that I'd like to get there.

    Turns out there are about twenty of each. So I'll just chip away at the forty to-learn tunes and not worry about how long it's taking. Speaking strictly for myself, the discipline isn't about numbers, it's about setting time aside each day to make some progress.

    The thing is, I never play anything perfectly. Gave up on trying. So I don't aim at good-enough-for-Carnegie-Hall. I aim at good-enough-for-pubs-open-mics-and-festivals.

    But again, that's how I set benchmarks. It works for me. You'll find out what works for you.

    So learning your five songs and three patterns is reasonable. Just stick with it and see how it goes. Maybe you'll find you can learn faster than that. Only way to find out is to experiment - and not measure your progress against other people's.

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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Keep in mind some things:

    1. You can have the music sheet in front of you. Don't worry about pure memorization right now. It'll come in time as you practice.
    2. What you REALLY want are songs that allow you to get used to different fingerings and chords, and transitioning between them cleanly. If you're having trouble moving from C to F quickly enough to keep up with a song? That's the song to hammer on. Once you have those transitions learned, in most cases, they will work in any song.
    3. Expand your songs as quickly as possible, so your loved ones don't come for you in the night and try to smother you for "Playing ONE SONG EVERY &^#@$^&*( DAY FOREVVVVVVVEEEERRRRRR!!!!!111!11"

    Seriously. Variety keeps a peaceful home.

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  19. #11
    Registered User Dean Campbell's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Learning tunes is a great way to learn to play. If you have friends who also play this music at your level it would be great to play with them on a regular basis. Are there any regular jams or parties where you live? Go to those and try to play along. Even if you play a note per measure it will help to get the tunes in your head.
    Yeah, I have started going to an open mic night once a month, gonna have a bash at Maggie May with my cousin on guitar, we need a couple of meet ups before the big night tho, he is about the same level as me but can easily change his chords better than me, hopefully we can bounce off each other if you know what I mean..thanks for your input everyone

  20. #12
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Well … we all have our own learning style and rate of consumption. A days practice for me may be divided into ear training, sight reading, memorization and noodling. On memorization I try to categorize it into new, mostly learned and retaining information. I usually have a couple of tunes or songs going in the new category and half a dozen in the mostly learned category..... that being where I solidify fingering picking and bowing changes into smoother approaches to the tune. The retention category is where I keep several sets of tunes and songs that have accumulated over the years. Keep in mind that about fifteen minutes at a time will yield a solid benefit in learning something new. Yes you can pound out longer periods and succeed but as I said we all have our own learning style... Patience and perseverance. R/
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  22. #13

    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    I like to have three in the pipeline, one that I know and am bringing up to speed, one that I've figured out, but I have to think about while I'm playing it, and one I'm just starting on. I just keep the line moving. My last practice of the day, I play everything I can think of, trying not to let anything slide by. I'm starting to group fiddle tunes by type and key so I can string them together.

    Earlier in the day it's scales and scale exercises, adding new ones as I go. Arpeggios and double stops and how to use them in song context is part of this. Playing all my mandolins so I can switch between my teens Gibson and modern instruments is part of this session.
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Iíd say whatever doesnít start to overwhelm you and make you discouraged, only you can know that.

    When I was just starting Iíd generally have 2-3 at a time in various stages. You can add scales, arpeggios, double stops, etc to your practice session as well. I found that the more tunes I learned the easier it got for me to learn them quickly because over time Iíd notice similarities in the fiddle tunes. My todo list of tunes to learn seems endless but because Iíve worked on so many - over 100 at this point - learning new ones is not difficult for me.

    I generally have a list of about 10 tunes I work on for about a week/10 days, a couple Iím learning, a few I know just working on speed getting them smoothed out and under my fingers, some I knew at some point that Iím working back into the rotation and maybe a fav or two that I just like to play but Iím trying out new things like double stops or different position/octave or even a different key just to change things up.
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    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    How I approach it...

    Find a bunch of tunes you like... say between 5 and 10.

    Start with one or two as everyone is saying. but rotate through the others as sight reading. (not really sight reading after the first few times)

    the point is to not actually "work" on the other 3 - 8 or so. Just something to inspire and motivate.

    as you are comfortable with the first two, save them as warm up tunes (play through a few times) then on the the next 2 "active" tunes. I like to keep at least 4 or 5 "sightreading" tunes in rotation.

    I also try to keep the list down to about an hours worth of work (5-10 on warm up, 30 or so on tunes, 15 ish for sight reading or trying out new tunes)

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  28. #16

    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    As it has been suggested, focus on two. Separate your practice with other exercises, and a few other tunes you like. Once you get one down, swap one of the other ones in. I wouldn't have more than 4 or 5 in the works like this. Make sure you learn the melodies along with the chords. Keep the tunes you have learned in your rotation, and do not worry about speed, the goal should be accuracy and clarity rather than speed.

    Use this time to practice your reading of standard notation, it only gets easier the more you do it. Tab might help a lot to help you figure out the fingerboard, but try not to rely on it.
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    Registered User Doug Brock's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    The answer is 42.
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  32. #18
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Learning tunes is a great way to learn to play
    Agree. New tunes/techniques are great for keeping practice fresh.

    Something I did early on that I wouldn't recommend is spending too much time trying to learn material that was too advanced for me at the time. Simple versions learned quickly will allow you to play well with others much sooner imo.

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    Doc Ivory Doc Ivory's Avatar
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    Default Re: How many tunes is too much to start with?

    In my experience, no more than three.
    It keeps thing fresh to rotate between them but it's not so many that you lose interest or begin forgetting which verse goes with which piece.
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