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Thread: Developing Finger Independence

  1. #26
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Developing Finger Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I've studied under and observed a few music teachers in my day, and find that many aren't as sophisticated as they think. Although people learn in many different ways, a considerable number of teachers mainly imitate the way that they are taught; after all it worked for them, and works well for some of their students. Other teachers believe that the academy's method is the only standard, although mandolin is played in many styles. Finally, a great many teachers seem to have no concept that adults don't have the flexibility that children do. I've learned to tell teachers that I have physical limitations that affect how I can use my hands. As well, I tell young teachers that seniors like me generally aren't as mouldable as young folks. That's what they have to deal with, and I have to remind them now and then. If a teacher can't accept that, I'm gone. I'd suggest discussing your issues with your teacher. If you can't come to an understanding, you'd be better off with a teacher who understands your needs, goals, and limitations better. But keep exercising those fingers -- gaining finger coordination is a slow process.
    +1

    There is some music that you love to listen to. You might use what you’ve already learned to try to figure out a way to play a song you really love. No matter what the ‘genre’ of music. Start trying to find ways to learn some song you love deeply. Figure out the challenges that face you in playing that song and tackle them one by one. No time table, a personal quest.
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  3. #27
    Registered User Sherry Cadenhead's Avatar
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    Default Re: Developing Finger Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    +1

    There is some music that you love to listen to. You might use what you’ve already learned to try to figure out a way to play a song you really love. No matter what the ‘genre’ of music. Start trying to find ways to learn some song you love deeply. Figure out the challenges that face you in playing that song and tackle them one by one. No time table, a personal quest.
    Thanks to Ranald and Mark for their comments. I was trying to give context to the video I posted. In the process I seemed to have made the post about my teacher, which was not intended. I'm hopeful there will be a mandolin orchestra in my area soon; if so, what she has taught me will serve me well. In the meantime, I'm also doing what you suggested, Mark, and started a thread a few days ago on that subject.

    I hope someone sees value in the video, which was the point of my posting it.

  4. #28
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Developing Finger Independence

    One of the wonderful things about learning good technique is that it can be practiced on any tunes in any genre. The mandolin's contribution to different genres of music don't require different techniques. Everything you learn and everything you practice regularly improves everything you play. Its kind of magical that way. All of a sudden looking down and noticing a smoothness and fluidity in playing a tune you hadn't deliberately gone about practicing.
    Having something to say is highly over rated.

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  6. #29
    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Developing Finger Independence

    Danilo Brito is a brilliant player of choro and other music. We can all aspire to his ability but I have long given up that aspiration for me.
    Jim

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  7. #30
    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Developing Finger Independence

    Quote Originally Posted by Sherry Cadenhead View Post
    Thanks to Ranald and Mark for their comments. I was trying to give context to the video I posted. In the process I seemed to have made the post about my teacher, which was not intended. I'm hopeful there will be a mandolin orchestra in my area soon; if so, what she has taught me will serve me well. In the meantime, I'm also doing what you suggested, Mark, and started a thread a few days ago on that subject.

    I hope someone sees value in the video, which was the point of my posting it.
    Sherry, I enjoyed the Danilo Brito video very much, and did absorb the point you were making about his playing. I certainly can't play like him, but after years of fiddling, my problems tend to be more with chording -- stretching fingers and having them land on the right place at once -- than with picking....I know, I'm working on it.

    I agree with the others that anything you learn helps your playing. However, repeatedly attempting to do what your hands may never be able to is frustrating. It teaches you your limitations, but not how to deal with what you can accomplish. If you haven't talked with your teacher about your physical problems, I'd still suggest that you do. If your teacher is a young person, though she may be excellent in many ways, she might not understand the physical issues that many older people deal with. Teachers often talk about how much they learn from their students. Let's do our part to help them. Good luck with your learning process.
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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  9. #31
    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Developing Finger Independence

    Sherry -- I'm delighted to learn that you like your instructor, who is a classically trained, professional violinist. It's great to have a teacher with whom you have a good rapport. But you need to keep firmly in mind that a mandolin is not merely "a violin with frets." Quite a number of playing techniques and hand positions differ significantly between the two instruments. Also, even within in the mandolin world, there are significant differences between the way that most classical mandolinists approach learning musical pieces and the way that most folk mandolinists do. They are as different as the playing styles of, say, Caterina Lichtenberg and Mike Marshall -- who, of course, are married to one another, thus proving that these different styles are not entirely irreconcilable!

    All kidding aside, the "best" exercises for improving your playing may depend very much on the type of music you intend to play. There is no one-size-fits-all method! For example, good ear training is absolutely indispensable for folk music, with its aural tradition, but reading musical notation is not much of a requisite. Conversely, classical training often involves learning to play a series of etudes, and also learning how to sight read. Classical training tends to emphasize "proper" playing form; folk music is more tolerant of different (and possibly idiosyncratic) methods.

    Anyway, unless you are pursuing the strict classical route with your mandolin playing, you might benefit by exposing yourself to more mandolin players, in addition to your violin-centric instructor. But of course, that's just my jaded opinion, which you are free to ignore! (I mean well.) Anyway, learning is a lifelong, joyous activity.
    Last edited by sblock; Sep-13-2020 at 12:31am.

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