Saturday, October 17, 2009

New Tunes and Review

Teaching a New Tune

Once the student has a tune pretty well into their head, you can start by teaching the tune in “chunks”. Fiddle tunes generally break up well into one and two bar chunks. It’s great to teach a few tunes with repetitive A and B parts first before you teach one that is through composed. I play a chunk of music (4-12 notes or so) and have the student play it back with me. Repeat as necessary, and move on to the next chunk, pointing out a pattern or relationship between the two if applicable.

Each student will have their own pace for this, some wanting to stop and make sure they’ve got it, others wanting to play it with you again and again. It’s good to adjust to what the student needs, within reason. The hardest part of this is knowing the tune well enough to pick out the chunks and not get lost. The first time you teach a tune is always an adventure, no matter how many times you’ve played it before, but after that you’ve mastered the tune to a higher level and can teach it again and again. Beginners can generally learn half an A part to an A part each week and intermediate players can often learn a tune a week.

Reviewing Old Tunes

The best way to review old tunes that a student knows well is with the teacher accompanying, preferable on another instrument like the guitar or piano, but possible on the fiddle playing back up or harmony. The best way to review tunes that a student doesn’t remember well enough to play alone is to just jam together at the end of a lesson on a few things and try to play something that’s rusty more than once. The beginning and end of a year are a great time to go through a student’s tune list and see what’s there and what they can still play.

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