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 Post subject: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:59 pm 
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I came late in life to the tin whistle having gone through adult life wishing I had learned a musical instrument but being too busy with work and family to get around to it. I then retired and thought I needed to learn an instrument. I thought to mself “the tin whistle sounds good and I like Irish music and hey I have even been to Ireland for a visit”. I soon learned I was wrong about the easy bit but by then I was hooked.
A year or so on I am well and truely hooked and I practise often and hard. So much so that my wife wil from time to time say in a plaintive voice “have you been playing your tin whistle again” when I actually have been out mowing the lawn or haven’t been home at all.
My tin whistle journey has confirmed to me my long held understanding that I have no natural musical ability. Any limited progress I make will be from hard work.
That brings me to the point of my post - how can someone with very limited natural music talent teach themselves to play by ear? I read on the web people saying, “ oh anybody can learn to play by ear”. That to me is like Usain Bolt telling me that because he can run the 100 in under 10 seconds I should be able to do the same.
However on the chance that I am wrong and I can actually play by ear where do I start? Bear in mind that I cannot even pick up the whistle and play May Had a Little Lamb by ear. Fortunately I have taught myself to read music and I can manage that at a reasonable speed but if I ever wanted to join a session I’d be in trouble.
So long story short what is the very very first thing I have to do to trigger the switch in my head that will enable me to play by ear?


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:30 am 
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I am not an expert, but there should be one along soon. I struggle with this too.

Can you hear any melody in your head? Twinkle, twinkle would do. Can you find it on the whistle? Yes? well there is your first step. Now it is all a matter of degree. I can manage simple melodies, and I am slowly getting better - but not good enough to pick up traditional dance music (though that could be my low motivation).

'Internalising' the tune seems to be the first stage for me. Then I need to find the right whistle to play along (my current stumbling block).

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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:07 am 
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Disclaimer: I'm no expert and I'm not a "natural" musician - I'm struggling, too.

But I don't think there is a "magical switch". Only hard work and small improvements over time. Have you had a look at YouTube? There are six beginner lessons from the OAIM (Online Academy for Irish Music) where the teacher not only plays the piece but also shows very clearly which fingers move and she even says the names of the notes. Playing with her seems good preparation (I hope!) to picking music up by ear alone (now if only I could remember what I played yesterday...). Also on YouTube is Ryan G. Duns ("a jesuit's tin whistle lessons").

And of course, as DrPhill said, if you can hear the melody in your head, half the work is done. I find that much easier with songs (as opposed to tunes) - I can more easily remember a melody that's "tied" to a text (like Duns's "Roddy McCorley" - a new lesson 1 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlQYpnLILPc)

Does anybody here have a source (YouTube link...) for tunes played slowly and without ornamentation, but without necessarily breaking them up in sections and especially without lots of talking in between? I'm ashamed to say that by the time I've finally played part 2, I've sometimes forgotten how the first part went :(


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:06 am 
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Listen a lot, then listen some more.
Learn to whistle a simple tune (with your lips, not the instrument).When that's in your head it should be easier to get it into the whistle once you figure out which note to start it on. Since you can read music, learn one of the very simple tunes that you have sheet music for and that way you'll know where to start.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:21 am 
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Kade1301 wrote:
Does anybody here have a source (YouTube link...) for tunes played slowly and without ornamentation, but without necessarily breaking them up in sections and especially without lots of talking in between? I'm ashamed to say that by the time I've finally played part 2, I've sometimes forgotten how the first part went :(

Mentioned this in another thread recently, but just a bit of info... If you click that little gear-like thingy at the lower right of a YouTube tune video, you can slow down the speed to 75% or 50% without changing the pitch. Allows you both to hear the tune played slowly (the ornamentation will still be there, but that's not necessarily a bad thing) and watch the fingering.

Best wishes.

Steve

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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:45 am 
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It has become a sort of internet dogma that (traditional) music should at all time be learned by ear. While I agree in principle, perhaps it should be emphasised that originally it was meant in the sense that the idiom, the language, the form, the aesthetic or whatever you want to call it is what should be learned and internalised in oral/aural fashion. Music in it's broadest sense, in other words. I don't think the trad police (if there is such a thing at all) will come calling when you use a printed source to help pick out the notes you can't get otherwise.

In, yet, other words, it's the little inflections and turns of phrase the traditional musician has that the advice originally pointed to. Immersion, lots of listening to good players (a problem in itself, to pick your sources, especially if you learn your music from youtube) is key.

Learning an instrument and music at the same time is hard work. And it's always hard work, in the words of a welknown musician I often quote here in this context: 'it's dark and lonesome work'. Picking up tunes by ear and putting them on the whistle, it takes time and experience. It gets easier once you get more familiar with both the music you're playing and learn your way around the instrument. Dedication, patience and baby steps at first. Start with what is simple and what you know well.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:10 am 
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Steve Bliven wrote:
... If you click that little gear-like thingy at the lower right of a YouTube tune video, you can slow down the speed to 75% or 50% without changing the pitch. ...


Thanks a lot - I must have overlooked that tip in the other thread! I just tried it out and am surprised how well it works.

Now I only need to find videos of people worth listening to (I find there's often just audio for the "stars") - my search for The Rattling Bog wasn't very successful...


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 10:15 am 
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Learning the whistle by ear is only one of the various ways to learn. You have to discover what works best for your individual learning curve, whether by ear, staff notation, fingering tabs, ABCs, or even the number system. Maybe all can be of help but it does take work. Yes, YouTube is a great source but as mentioned, be careful who and what you're viewing as there are many poorly done videos that may sound ok and actually are not that good. One reliable YouTube source that I've found helpful are the Michael Eskin videos played at tempo and then slowed down while showing fingering.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... e+tutorial

Learning to search here on the Chiff Whistle Forum you can find most of your questions already having been answered.

Well here you go... enjoy!


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 11:17 am 
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ytliek wrote:
....One reliable YouTube source that I've found helpful are the Michael Eskin videos played at tempo and then slowed down while showing fingering.
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... e+tutorial

....


Thanks a lot, that what what I was looking for!

(Btw., I'm trying to learn tunes by ear because firstly, it's something I've always wanted to be able to do, and secondly, because I have a fairly automatized eye-finger connection for notes on the staff to baroque recorder fingerings, which I don't want to unlearn.)


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 12:46 pm 
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Kade1301 wrote:
because I have a fairly automatized eye-finger connection for notes on the staff to baroque recorder fingerings, which I don't want to unlearn.

Making new connections doesn't mean unlearning old ones. And, speaking as someone who reads multiple woodwinds from staff notation, I'd say you (sooner or later) just intuitively know which one you're playing and fingering for. You might go through brief periods of confusion along the way, but you're not going to unlearn what's properly ingrained.

Learning to play by ear is a hugely satisfying and useful skill, but protecting your recorder fingerings seems the strangest motivation.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 1:54 pm 
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Kade1301 wrote:
Steve Bliven wrote:
... If you click that little gear-like thingy at the lower right of a YouTube tune video, you can slow down the speed to 75% or 50% without changing the pitch. ...


Thanks a lot - I must have overlooked that tip in the other thread! I just tried it out and am surprised how well it works.

Now I only need to find videos of people worth listening to (I find there's often just audio for the "stars") - my search for The Rattling Bog wasn't very successful...


Our gal Kirsten at the OAIM covers this tune and it's one of the free classes. https://www.oaim.ie/course/1/tin_whistle_basics


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:51 pm 
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It really is just a time, exposure, and dedication thing. It speeds things up immensely if you have a good teacher to show you the ropes. For the average guy like me, self-teaching with videos and such gives underwhelming results.

FWIW, there are a lot of common phrases and snippets in tunes. Learning these and how they fit into the context of the music is a huge help when trying to learn by ear......it takes a long time to teach yourself these things when you haven't learned them yet. Also learning broken thirds/arpeggios will give you even more building blocks....not exactly the most enjoyable practice, but repetition = recognition.


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 5:56 am 
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Polara Pat wrote:
Kade1301 wrote:
... - my search for The Rattling Bog wasn't very successful...


Our gal Kirsten at the OAIM covers this tune and it's one of the free classes. https://www.oaim.ie/course/1/tin_whistle_basics


That's who I learned it from, but I wanted to listen to another performance. Because the one thing I dislike about the OAIM lessons is that wheras they are brilliant for learning a tune, they are less ideal for just a quick reminder.


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 6:05 am 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Kade1301 wrote:
because I have a fairly automatized eye-finger connection for notes on the staff to baroque recorder fingerings, which I don't want to unlearn.

Making new connections doesn't mean unlearning old ones. And, speaking as someone who reads multiple woodwinds from staff notation, I'd say you (sooner or later) just intuitively know which one you're playing and fingering for. ....


I'm happy for you - you are obviously a better musician than I am. I'm having enough trouble with keeping C- and F-fingerings apart, and bass and treble clefs, and the odd note on the odd instrument that needs special fingering - so much so that I have deleted Renaissance and Ganassi recorders from my mental wishlist.

Maybe it wouldn't hurt my recorder playing to learn to play tin whistle from paper (though I don't want to take the risk) but it's most definitely easier for me to play tin whistle without looking at staff notation - I've tried both!


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 Post subject: Re: Learning By Ear
PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 1:01 pm 
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Kade1301 wrote:
I'm happy for you - you are obviously a better musician than I am.

I was offering advice based on experience, not bragging!

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