How I Learn and Practice New Tunes

How I Learn and Practice New Tunes

I wanted to look more closely at the things I do and the amounts of time I spend on different activities when I am learning a new tune, for the purpose of demystifying this process for my students (and for myself). To put myself as much in the shoes of my students as possible, I decided to use the accordion, which I’ve been playing for just over a year, and to use unfamiliar music. I recorded myself using the program Audacity and then listened back to describe what I was doing at each stage.

From the outset, I have the advantages of being a musician by trade:

  • I already see myself as able to do this
  • I have large amounts of time to devote to playing and practicing and learning
  • I already know lots of tunes in my head, so I have some of the patterns they tend to make in my head. I don’t have so many of those in my fingers when playing the accordion.
  • I have lots of practice practicing and learning new music, so the steps of learning are more automatic for me and I’ve found some things that work for me (flip-side to that is I probably am stuck in some ruts and could use some new ideas!)

As you will see, this doesn’t keep me from getting frustrated!

First tune! Learning “Through the Woods Lady” (by ear, from a recording)