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Thread: 'Playing along with videos or cds' - bad or good practice?

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Default 'Playing along with videos or cds' - bad or good practice?

    I feel so lucky to have taken up my fiddle again in this electronic age. I am basically interested in 'fiddle' not 'violin', but did spend the first three years of my six-year trek (so far) on classical and especially baroque music.

    I have found it very helpful to learn new pieces from YouTube, from cds that I own, or from mp3s that my fiddle teacher has recorded for me of his own playing.
    I find it great fun to play along, so that's a good motive for practice, but it's also improved my timing, pace and dynamics on particular pieces.

    But I realise there's a downside. One traditional Scottish air that I learned from a cd, for example, confirmed me in timing mistakes because the expert player on the cd himself doesn't get it quite right. Also, my ability to read the time of a piece from the notes on sheet music is rather weak, which is why I need the video/cd help - but using this aid does mean that my weakness is still there and not really improving.

    And though I hope I can make each folk piece I learn 'my own', I can see that slavishly following someone else's dynamics, for example, or even being unduly influenced, would not be good for an aspiring player of classical music.

    I remember reading a Facebook post by a member of Norwich Baroque where she owned up to practising for the coming concert by doing 'karaoke' with a cd, and was shame-faced about it (in a jokey way) because she knew it wasn't a good idea for a professional musician.

    So what do you think, TC strings-players?
    Is it a good idea to practise 'along with' a cd or video in the early stages of learning a piece of music?
    Or is it anathema?
    My fiddle my joy.

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    I guess it depends on the person, but for me, getting a new piece of music and slowly (I'm also still learning) finding the music in it is the most thrilling part of playing. I'm now busy with a Telemann piece and I'm enjoying myself a lot "discovering" the music in it, the timing, the fingering, etc. Then I discuss it with my teacher and he corrects the things I do wrong.

    I wouldn't let anybody spoil that fun!

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    Senior Member senza sordino's Avatar
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    I don't think there is anything wrong with practicing along with a video or CD. It's not uncommon in lessons to play along with the instructor. What's the difference? As for mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. It shows you're learning if you found a mistake in the video.

    But it wouldn't hurt if you tried the piece on your own without the video or cd, but instead played with a metronome. For the trickier rhythms try clapping or singing la la la in the correct rhythm along with the metronome or video, no violin. Working on rhythm separate from the technical aspects of the violin can help.

    I have an app on my iPad from the ABRSM that will slow the accompaniment without changing pitch. I haven't used it. There are many other software programmes out there that will do this. Ideally, what I'd like to do is the following: download the piano accompaniment of a variety of pieces, there's a website for this, and then play it through my speed shifter programme. But alas I don't have the equipment at home to do all of this. But that's where we are with technology in the 21st Century, a violinist doesn't need to hire an accompanist anymore.

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    you can play along with a recording, but the recording doesn't react to you. That is the difference between playing with metronomes, drum machines, sequencers, recordings, ...and playing with an actual musician.

    and as an accompanist, I'd like to think that my being able to stay with you when you want to let the phrase breathe is worth having me around.

    but if you want to practice with a recording instead of a metronome, there's nothing terribly wrong with that

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nate Miller View Post
    you can play along with a recording, but the recording doesn't react to you. That is the difference between playing with metronomes, drum machines, sequencers, recordings, ...and playing with an actual musician.

    and as an accompanist, I'd like to think that my being able to stay with you when you want to let the phrase breathe is worth having me around.

    but if you want to practice with a recording instead of a metronome, there's nothing terribly wrong with that
    You are so right! I've just come back from Folkworks, a music festival in Durham, where I had a wonderful time playing my fiddle with Taggart (on concertina) and with other musicians in a band playing dance music for French dances. Nothing can beat that experience, and videos are a pale imitation, but they can help.

    If only, if only, I could find some local musicians to play with and start our own ceilidh band....
    Last edited by Ingélou; Jul-28-2018 at 18:48.
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member dogen's Avatar
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    Is there no folk circuit in Norwich? Pubs quite often had little groups that burst into tune on a regular basis. Maybe that's too far away or it's changed?

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dogen View Post
    Is there no folk circuit in Norwich? Pubs quite often had little groups that burst into tune on a regular basis. Maybe that's too far away or it's changed?
    Norwich is twenty miles away, too far to drive in the winter, and not easy to make acquaintances there. I do go to two pub sessions a bit nearer, but it's not the same as playing regularly with friends in a group who can work towards a specific aim, like playing for dancing.

    I'm hoping that I'll be nearer to the action if and when we move to York.
    Last edited by Ingélou; Jul-28-2018 at 19:35.
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member dogen's Avatar
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    Ah yes, the return of the native.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    So I learned a new word: anathema! No, I don't think so. Isn't folk music mostly learned by copying others?

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Actually my fiddle tutor on the Folkworks course - Sarah Matthews - said it is a good thing to do to practise playing chords and harmonies against a video or cd melody. I'm not much cop at chords and harmonies, so I'm hoping to get better using this tip.

    Sarah Matthews was a really inspiring but also practical teacher. I hope to be in one of her classes in the future too.
    https://sarahmatthewsmusic.wordpress.com/
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingélou View Post
    If only, if only, I could find some local musicians to play with and start our own ceilidh band....
    this, I think, is actually one of the more underappreciated challenges that an independent musician faces. A lot of people, even young musicians, don't understand how important this is, and how challenging it can be.

    You really never find even one other person with the exact same musical interests as yourself, so you have to find common ground. So every person that joins in on whatever it is you are doing has their own perspective, and so you have to sort all that out. that's actually the easy part. A baseball bat, I have found, is a very effective tool in finding common ground with rock musicians.

    Then you have to hope the people are reliable enough to show up. Musicians are prone to drug and alcohol problems, and a lot of the good ones are crazy as a loon.

    then you have to hope that life keeps you together long enough for any of the good stuff to happen. It takes some time together playing around town to get to the stage where the work is looking for you and you are working pretty steady.

    But God help you all if somebody loses a job, or moves to another town, or gets arrested for running a human trafficking ring

    but the real kicker is that you have to depend on other people to make music, and so finding the musicians and keeping it all afloat is harder than people realize, and in the end, it all is out of your control

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    Back in the day (High School Band) I had the devil of a time sight-reading (still do) and very few pieces ever *dinged* until I actually heard it being played. Once I heard it everything seemed to fall into place, but straight off the paper I was hopeless. I wore out more than a few cassette tapes during concert season getting it right!

    Fast forward to today, when I'm considering picking music up again as an adult (mid-50's. ish), and I have no doubt I'll fall right back into that old trap soon enough. The thing is, with my work schedule and lack of connections in the local music scene (for now), I'm sure I'll be more or less on my own for a while so having a play-along CD on hand will be a great help.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John S View Post
    Back in the day (High School Band) I had the devil of a time sight-reading (still do) and very few pieces ever *dinged* until I actually heard it being played. Once I heard it everything seemed to fall into place, but straight off the paper I was hopeless. I wore out more than a few cassette tapes during concert season getting it right!

    Fast forward to today, when I'm considering picking music up again as an adult (mid-50's. ish), and I have no doubt I'll fall right back into that old trap soon enough. The thing is, with my work schedule and lack of connections in the local music scene (for now), I'm sure I'll be more or less on my own for a while so having a play-along CD on hand will be a great help.
    I'm much the same. I need to have the tune in my head before the sheet music makes sense to me.
    My fiddle my joy.

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