Thursday, 14 February 2013

Review of Progress

It's about 3 or 4 weeks since I last reviewed where I had got to, so time to review progress. Which is not as much as I had hoped, it is always the case with learning anything, you do hit plateaux. 

I remember when my son was learning to read, at one point he could read well over a hundred individual words, but didn't seem to be able to string them together. He loved books, was always looking at them, and talking about them, asking about any words he didn't recognise. However, it was "What is this word, David?" "Can you read the next one?" all the way through the book. This seemed to go on for ages. Then one day I was tidying the room, David was sitting on the sofa, with a book on his lap, as usual. He picked it up, and read it aloud, cover to cover, no prompting. It seems like you have to go through an awful lot of learning to be able to put all the things together and do something new. 

So, I don't beat myself up if I haven't made the progress I'd like, I remind myself that this 'invisible learning' is going on, and is a necessary part of the process. It is also true that where I can't see progress from day to day, someone else might be able to see it if they were only looking at my progress every month, say. I did intend to video myself early on, as a reminder to how much progress I had made, but it just didn't happen.

The 'folkie' and nursery tunes have been fairly easy to get the melody for, they are easy to practice, I just rattle them off, one after the other, once through only. I probably should run through several times, but I get bored with nursery rhymes.

I do understand the music theory a bit better, I wouldn't be so daft as to say that I 'understand music', but some things are starting to make a bit of sense. One of my colleagues in the music department spent some time explaining the 'circle of fifths' in a different way, and it really did make sense (I show her how to use the computers, she explains music, works well really). I've also been following Howard Goodall's TV programme on music.

I also asked on about sessions locally. My plan is to lurk in the corner and watch what other people are doing, learn some tunes, and maybe at some time in the future join in with some easy bits. I went to my first session last Sunday night. It was snowing heavily, so many regulars cried off. At first I found myself in the pub with just my husband, and two other people, one of whom was only there as the husband of the woman, Sue, who was organising it. Other people did arrive later, and the group were very welcoming, but there were no melodeons, and they were largely playing Irish tunes - none of which I recognised - except the tune which Simple Minds used for 'Belfast Child' about the Enniskillen bombing. Clearly I need to work on my repetoire. The only thing I tried to play, when virtually everyone had gone, was Bear Dance, and I completely messed it up.

Short term I need to have just one or two tunes that I can completely rely on getting right every time, whether I am performing in front of others, or not. Probably Bear Dance. I've already decided that I need to not just run once through a tune to remind myself of the sequence of notes, which I've got into the habit of doing in a rather lazy way. I've got to stick to a vey limited set of tunes, and play the whole tune, A and B music, as many times as they need to be played in session - then I won't launch into the B music when I should be playing the A music.

I am also trying to make progress with the left hand, but it's very slow. 

Today, walking through the main school hall at work, there was a group of 6th formers sitting around drinking coffee. One of my A level students was playing 'Clocks' on the grand piano - so I talked to him about how he gets right and left hand coordinated. He says he learns each hand completely separately, and doesn't attempt to put them together until he is completely fluent on each hand. He then slows right down and puts them together, slowly building up the speed. He says it can easily take a month to get it so that he can play a tune to his satisfaction. I think maybe I need to try that. It might not be the recognised way of doing it, but I think I need to at least see if it helps me. Work out the left hand end and learn it separately to the right, then put them together.

Still continuing to love squeezing.