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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 6:57 am 
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Thanks for a wonderful album, Tom!


Sigmund

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:34 am 
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It's worth mentioning that Tom has added the out-takes and composition section to this website. scroll to the bottom of the page if it does not appear on you screen. These have been missing for over a year now & well worth a visit.

H

http://www.box.net/shared/zz1dr5c0p9

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 6:28 am 
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It's a great one, Tom! An inspiration in many, many ways. I'm so glad you finished it.
(and I love the photography, too). Thank you EVER so much.

Yay, you, and yay for us :party: !!

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 7:29 am 
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Been waiting for this for years. Definitely going on the Christmas list.


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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:18 pm 
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Just a quick thank you for all the positive comments and feedback. I've just updated my website with a few more compositions, a few more out-takes and some background to the CD for anyone interested. I have now removed almost all flash from the website and would be keen to hear if there are any issues/bugs that I may have missed.

Hope you enjoy.

Thanks again,
Tom McElvogue


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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Sun Dec 19, 2010 10:44 am 
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OK, there were lots of problems with the previous design - mostly relating to the iPhone and also IE6. I've spent the last week correcting these and they should now be (hopefully) all working. I would really appreciate if anyone finds anything not working to let me know.

In particular anyone with an iPad ! - I don't have one and I think it should all work (including music clips etc).

Regards,
Tom McElvogue


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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Mon Dec 20, 2010 1:00 pm 
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I'm sure Tom will provide further information here but details of his album launch (Dublin) are available on his newly constructed website; www.tommcelvogue.com (which works well on my machine).

Temple Bar Trad Festival - Jan 2011
Oliver St John Gogarty's

H
http://www.box.net/shared/evf8qpuoj6 - Blackwood
http://www.box.net/shared/xsh39ddn71 - Cocobolo

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:04 am 
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Received my ordered copy Monday, with hand-written note from Tom apologising for despatch delay (very understandable!) due to weather conditions. Listened to it in the car on my way to the Monday night session in Liverpool. It's superb, every bit as good as anticipated and then some. I've a couple of other new flute CDs in for review for Taplas magazine - Steph Geremia's The Open Road and Dave Sheridan's Drivin' Leitrim Timber - both excellent and highly recommendable (and all offering different things), but IMO (and I don't view it as a competition!) Tom's tops them.
Thanks, Tom!

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:40 am 
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Location: Hammerfest, Norway
Hi Tom!

Congratulations with your new web page!

You write on your page:
Quote:
"At this stage, the flute lessons were not really about learning to play the flute but more about learning to learn (if that makes sense)."


Being a trad flute player myself, and also my own teacher (no irish trad teachers in my town), I sometimes find it hard to find ways to improve my playing, so I am curious on what your key to learning is.

Sigmund

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Hi Sigmund,
I'm not sure I have a key to learning but a number of things I did in order to improve were as follows (in no particular order)

- I'd find a way to slow down music recordings so that I could better appreciate the ornamentation being played. (I did this repeatedly on Matt Molloy's recordings - The Heathery Breeze album and the "Black" album). At the time there were no CD's, only Long Playing records (LP's) or tapes. I had a record player that would play LP's at 16 rpm's. That made it very easy to hear some of the fantastic long rolls Matt Molloy played on the B flat flute. Listening intensely to that music tuned my ears into how rolls and crans can sound. I later learned that there were many ways to play rolls and crans and Matt's are only one example of this.

- When I thought I had a technique or tune working well I would record it onto tape and listen back myself so that I could hear what it really sounded like. I found this very hard because at the time the only technology available was tape recorders and they were not very flattering in terms of the sound they recorded. Nevertheless, they were accurate and I was often disappointed at how I sounded on tape as opposed to how I thought I sounded. I still do this today as I have several musical blind spots where I think I may be playing a good setting of a tune and upon listening back objectively I often find that I get irritated at a particular phrase or the fact that I may play through a whole tune and use the same exact phrasing every time. From a players perspective I would feel I had done a good job on the tune however from a listeners perspective I would get bored or annoyed.

- If there were particular forms of ornamentation which I just could not get the way I wanted, I would experiment. I could never get my D crans to sound the way other flute players had them, I couldn't get G or C rolls at all and it would constantly frustrate me. Through experimentation, I have my own cranning technique and also ornamentation on the G's and C's which is nothing like a roll but I am happy with the sounds they produce. I realised that just because everyone else does something a certain way does not mean that I had to do the same.

- When I was too young to go out to sessions or at times there were no sessions I could get to, I would play along with records and tapes at home. It used to be so frustrating that some of the recordings were speeded up or slowed down to the point that I couldn't tune my flute with the recordings but I still remember the uplifting feeling of playing along with the Molloy, Peoples and Brady album and being able to keep up with them. The only problem I found with this was that it was hard to get my own setting of most of these tunes for a long time as I ended up playing them exactly like they were recorded. There were also a few quirky recordings at the time where you could adjust the balance either left or right and cut out different instruments - I think one of the Frankie Gavin early fiddle albums with Alec Finn was mixed in such a way that you could reduce the backing or the fiddle by adjusting the balance. This meant I could be playing with Alec Finn!

- I used to practise patterns of triplets - something along the lines of DEF, EFG, FGA, GAB, ABC, BCD....... all the way up and then all the way back down. This was to speed up my finger work. I had a number of patterns along with this which were normally taken from some tune which I was finding difficult and couldn't get. If I remember rightly, this started when I was trying to get the monstrous run Matt Molloy manages on the Moving Cloud (from The Heathery Breeze). He has another interesting series of runs on Drowsie Maggie where he cuts just about every note on the run. That was fun to get and great practise. The object of this was not to play like Matt Molloy, but rather to exercise my fingers.

- I used to have a couple of tunes which I felt were indicative of where I was with my flute playing. These were tunes which I had learned from recordings of Matt Molloy and Seamus Tansey. I would keep recording myself playing them every now and again and see how they had improved (or not as was sometimes the case). It's not a bulletproof way of measuring progression but I needed that feedback for my own sanity so that I could see that I was improving. It was a really positive experience because I didn't always hear the difference in my playing over a couple of months of practise but it was definitely noticeable when listening back to earlier tapes.

- For a flute player, breath control has a huge impact on playing. I was able to be use breathing exercises on my way to school and back to exercise my diaphragm. I'm not sure where you live but in Newcastle where I'm from, we would have street lights every 10/15 metres or so apart. I would try and breath out between the first and second, breath in between the second and third and so on. It wasn't really about taking the biggest breath in the world rather controlling the way in which air was coming in and going out. This way I was practising releasing and controlling my breathing which is a very useful skill for a flute player.

- I have already said elsewhere that I would be playing at every opportunity I got. Playing as often as you can (within reason) is so important during all stages of learning. It gave me the confidence to know that when I had to play in sessions or concerts, I knew what I was going to get from the flute (most of the time!).

- I used to also spend a lot of time just playing long notes to practise tone. The notes I used to concentrate on were bottom D's as I felt at the time they were important to get right - especially on the older flutes where you have to really work hard to get a clear, in-tune bottom D. When I was learning, I had (by modern standards) really poor flutes. I had to work so much harder to make the flute sound good. I wouldn't advise anyone to go out and buy a bad flute but I do think that in a strange way, this probably didn't do me any harm.

- If you need a second opinion on your playing to give you some objective feedback, pick someone whose opinion you trust. It always helps to get a second opinion sometimes and since there is so much technology to allow this to be done relatively quickly and inexpensively it may be an option.

- Set yourself objectives that you want to achieve and try to stick to them. I used to aim to learn at least one tune per week. I almost always beat that and some weeks I could digest and learn four or five tunes. Unfortunately when I was learning, my key metric was how many tunes I knew. This was partly because I liked attending sessions and did not like being left out! After a while I focused more on improving the quality of playing on the tunes I knew and really liked. I accepted that I wasn't going to get every tune as well as I wanted and decided that I would be better working on the tunes I liked playing rather than the ones I only learned so that I could play in sessions. What this provided me with was a core set of tunes I felt absolutely confident with. Over time, the standard of my overall repertoire improved accordingly. This discipline was partly instilled from competition playing but it was also something I valued immensely. The thoughts behind this for me were to get the best out of a tune for my playing at that time. I have listened back to some of these now and cringe but at the time I know that it was a good effort on my part and I learned something from the process.

- Listening to other players - not just flute players - was also critically important. For me, there is a natural path or flow to any particular tune. I found it easier to get this by listening to fiddle and accordion players and then trying to emulate their phrasing of tunes on the flute. I would try to find the natural "flow" of a tune and work out how to fit that with my own playing. Sometimes that involved simplifying what I am naturally trying to do with a tune, after all, a fiddle player or box player doesn't need to take breaths between phrases so there are always notes that need to be dropped/shortened in order to take breaths - the tricky thing is deciding which notes can be omitted and which ones you need to leave in so that the tunes melody is preserved.

- Something I only learned recently is how I navigate through a tune in terms of phrasing. It can often leave me gasping for breath just when I need it and I hate that more than anything. For this reason, I try to find a few different phrasings which allow me to get through the tune relatively comfortably without turning blue through lack of air at the end. It doesn't always work and for me it requires a lot of concentration and effort but it's definitely worth it when it works.

I'm going to stop now... I've vented enough. I hope some of this helps, not sure if it helped me!

Regards,
Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 6:36 pm 
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Really wonderful thoughts.

This will help me too.

Thanks so much Tom!

:)

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:10 pm 
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That was really great to read. The time you put into typing that out is, I'm sure, very much appreciated by every member of this board.

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Fri Dec 24, 2010 1:00 pm 
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tom, what a great post, really very inspiring. thanks for taking the time to write it. a must read for all us fluting enthusiasts.

just got my copy of the cd, and i'll jump on the band wagon too, what a gem, it's a masterpiece!

edit: (and kudos to Norman Holmes, the sound engineer too!)


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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 11:40 am 
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Location: Hammerfest, Norway
Hi Tom,
thank you so much for your post! It was really inspiring!

mcelvogue wrote:
From a players perspective I would feel I had done a good job on the tune however from a listeners perspective I would get bored or annoyed.

How true!
I didn't go into a depression, but it was painful to listen to a recording of myself the first time. I guess all fluteplayers have to go through that. Now, I record myself daily. When doing so, I feel I concentrate more on the tune and the music, and it keeps my thoughts from flying away.

mcelvogue wrote:
I used to practise patterns of triplets - something along the lines of DEF, EFG, FGA, GAB, ABC, BCD....... all the way up and then all the way back down.


I will definitely try this!

One thing you I didn't see described was use of a metronome. I use it frequently myself, and believe it helps me much. When I learn tunes, I will first learn it by playing along with recordings. Afterwards I use the metronome, and slowly build up speed.

Again, thanks Tom for you tips!

Cheers,
Sigmund

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 Post subject: Re: Tom McElvogue
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:46 am 
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As Tom hasn't posted any details here, I'll be presumptuous and remind you of his album launch in Dublin this month, Tom says on his website;
I am happy to announce that the Dublin launch event is happening on Sunday 30th January 2011 at 4pm upstairs in the Oliver St John Gogarty's pub, Temple Bar. The event will be featured as part of the Temple Bar Trad Festival 2011.

H
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H&Mc Blackwood prototype D, Reel in D http://www.box.net/shared/evf8qpuoj6

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