Through the Woods Lady

Learning Through the Woods Lady

(attributed here to Tildesley MSS, Swindon, Lancashire, 1860) From Dave Shepherd and Becky Price’s 2001 album, Ashburnham.

Day One – about an hour with a short break in the middle    AUDIO HERE, if you are interested

  1. Figuring out what tune to learn (1 min)
    • I had already found an album (Dave Shepherd & Becky Price – Ashburnham) that I hadn’t listened to but one sample track sounded nice and like it might work on accordion, though too short a tune for this exercise.
    • First track on the album – two tunes, neither of which really grabbed me
    • Second track tune sounded too hard for me
    • Third track (Through the Woods Lady) had immediate appeal and didn’t sound too hard. Nice and slow. Luckily turned out to be in an ok key.
  2. Listening to whole track (5 min)
    • starting to sing along when I can find out where it might be going
    • also listening to see which parts of the track are going to be most useful for learning from (turns out it gets all loose and different in the middle, but beginning and end are good).
  3. Listening to whole tune, singing along (2.5 min)
    • Listened twice
  4. Playing first half-phrase (1 min)
    • tried to play, found start but not whole thing
    • listened, was able to play first time once I found starting note, though not correctly every time
    • played several times (also trying to figure out best fingering)
  5. Playing second half of first phrase (1.5 min)
    • listened, couldn’t play correctly (tried several times)
    • listened, ditto
    • sang, sort of, and ditto
    • listened, sang along, then got the second or third time
    • listened, played along at the end, got it
  6. Connecting whole first phrase (1 min)
    • trying over and over, partly to remember the pieces, partly how to connect them. Finally get it more or less.
  7. Playing second phrase (1 min)
    • Listen again from the beginning
    • Try to play just second phrase, can’t, go back to beginning and try and I find it this time.
    • Repeat from the beginning
  8. Finishing A part (4 min)
    • Try to play through from beginning
    • First half of third phrase is the same as the first, but I can’t remember how/where it changes. I go back and listen from the beginning, playing bits along as much as I can.
    • I find the new bit of the third phrase, sort of.
    • Listen, sing along, to whole A part.
    • Try to play from beginning (I use the new bit in the first phrase by mistake, then can’t remember it… get bogged down)
    • Listen again, try to play again. Lots of starts, stops, and repeats. Finally get most of it.
    • Listen again to 3rd and 4th phrases. Play again long sort of. I’m pretty satisfied that I have most of the A part pretty well.
  9. Working on A part – fingering, solidifying  (11 min)
    • Play from beginning, again substitute new bit from 3rd phrase in 1st phrase but catch myself. Can’t remember how it was supposed to go.
    • Listen, remember 1st phrase.
    • Doubt myself on 2nd phrase, listen and find I was right. Finish listening to A part.
    • Play from beginning, get a little lost in the middle. Somewhere in here I think I started reworking the fingering since the tune is in F (I’d originally thought it was maybe in C, until I hit the Bb in the 3rd phrase).
    • Spend quite a while working on the quick notes in 3rd phrase/ending, again often putting them in the 1st phrase.
    • Play just the 3rd and 4th phrases several times since they are newer and not as solid.
    • Remember 1st phrase and play whole A part with several re-starts to beginnings of phrases or slightly earlier notes.
    • Play again, 2x. Second time spend lots of time working on the fast notes in the 3rd/4th phrases, repeating them over and over, putting them in context and repeating that part of the phrase over and over, then trying them in the whole phrase lots of times.
    • Play again from beginning a couple times
  10. Listen once more to A part to make sure I’ve got it (.5 min)
    • Get about 30 seconds in
    • (interrupted by a phone call)
  11. Remembering tune after interruption (3 min)
    • Play through from beginning, with stops/starts/repeats. Repeat ending several times for practice.
    • Repeat from beginning 2x.
  12. Listen to confirm, work on B part which is mostly the A part an octave up – handy, on the accordion! (3.5 min)
    • Second time listening, try to play along with B
    • Pause recording and try first phrase of B (similar to first phrase of A, octave up) get first phrase and second phrase (though I don’t yet notice that the second phrase of B part isn’t quite the same as in A part)
    • Try to play 3rd phrase, which has a hard fast bit, laugh at myself, skip it for the moment
    • Figure out that the ending is the same as in the A
  13. Figuring out fast bit in 3rd phrase (10.5 min)
    • Try to play. Can get the first bit of the three bits.
    • Listen again.
    • Try to sing.
    • Try to play several times.
    • Listen again.
    • Play to find where it ends so I know where I need to get to.
    • Play to try to figure out how I can get from the beginning to the end. Not having much success, trying again and again.
    • Listen again.
    • Stumble on it, I think! Play lots and lots and lots of times, trying to figure out where to put my fingers and how to play it quickly.
    • Try to play it with the ending
    • Listen again to confirm.
    • Try to play, stumble getting from fast bit into ending so practice that (and the fast bit itself) some more. And some more.
  14. Playing whole B (5.5 min)
    • Play twice.
    • Listen from beginning to find out if B repeats. (It doesn’t). Discover 2nd phrase of B is very slightly different. Second time through try to play along for little bits of it.
    • Listen/play again from B part second phrase to confirm that I have the slight change correctly.
    • Play from beginning of B, get lost, get found again after spending some more time on the fast bit.
    • Play from beginning of B
  15. “I think I should take a break but I really want to get that little fast bit better”… so I work on those 12 notes for (13.5 minutes)
    • Play the fast bit lots of times slowly, try to see if there’s a better fingering (there isn’t, as far as I can find).
    • Repeat fast bit with metronome to try to play it with a steady rhythm. Start at 52 bpm. Play for a while than see if I can do it 3x in a row perfectly before I move up a notch (this takes a couple of tries). Move up notch by notch in this manner. Get to 80 bpm in this way before I decide to stop.
    • Find approximate tempo I was at for the rest of the tune (though with lots of starting, restarting, etc.) which was 138 bpm (whine: “God, I’m so far away!”
  16. Last 2 play throughs from the beginning, not too great but hey, I’ve kind of got a new tune, sort of! (3 min)

Day 2 (7 min)

  1. Remembering, playing a couple of times
    • Listen to first phrase to get tune back in my head
    • Play 4x, stopping and going back as needed (frequently!), sometimes repeating parts extra times for more practice.

Day 3 (25 min)

  1. Play whole tune (8 min)
    • Struggled to find starting notes, but remembered tune in my head. Pretty rough – lots of repeating bits of it – but still there!
    • Played 2x. Found a new, better fingering for the fast bit in the 3rd phrase/ending of A (Day 1 #9)
  2. Playing slowly (4 min)
    • started with B, then played whole tune slowly so I could get B part all at a consistent tempo.
  3. Speeding up B part fast bit with metronome (11 min)
    • Started at 80 bpm, set goal of 96 bpm, got to 100 bpm.
    • Part way through I decided to up the correct repetitions in a row standard from 3x to 5x.
  4. Playing whole tune with metronome (2 min)
    • 1x @ 100 bpm