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21 Tunes in 21 Weeks Challenge, 2021

Tom

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I thought about this last night. While I would love to jump in and learn 21 new tunes, I am hesitant to commit. I am enjoying the stuff that I am working on, and I am thinking that it would take about 3 weeks to have a new tune performance ready. This is a more realistic goal for me. I will 'play along at home' and make the commitment to myself to learn 7 tunes in 21 weeks.

Right now, I am really interested in the music of Massimo Budriesi, Ruggero Passarini, Carlo Venturi, etc. All of this is all above my playing level, but I am really enjoying the process.
Nothing wrong with that, Nick! 7 tunes in 21 weeks is perfect, if that is the way you are learning. Great tune choice!
 

JeffJetton

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How about the "learn 21 new songs in 21 weeks" challenge?

I love this idea! Although I'm in the camp that probably needs to re-learn songs that are supposedly already in my memorized repertoire but have leaked out over this past year. So maybe I'll do a mix of a few new tunes and some "booster shots" for the old ones.

I'm also thinking I might try to evenly distribute them across German, Italian, and French gig tunes. Seven each!
 

Tom

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I love this idea! Although I'm in the camp that probably needs to re-learn songs that are supposedly already in my memorized repertoire but have leaked out over this past year. So maybe I'll do a mix of a few new tunes and some "booster shots" for the old ones.

I'm also thinking I might try to evenly distribute them across German, Italian, and French gig tunes. Seven each!
Thanks Jeff! I'm in the same boat, many of the 21 that I will fo will be ones I have let lapse.....
 

debra

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When I saw this "challenge" my first thought was that for me this would certainly not be feasible...
But then I looked at my recent YouTube uploads and found that I did 5 in March and 4 in April, so it's not all that impossible.
It's not the same challenge because for every piece I first make an arrangement (some of the recent recordings were of older arrangements) and then play and record it, and as I make arrangements for ensembles I have to do the "mixing" of the tracks. Doing all that for a new "tune" in one week is sometimes just not possible, but sometimes it is. What I do know is that I won't be able to sustain this for 21 weeks (as I do have other things on my agenda besides arranging, playing, recording and mixing).
 

Tom

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When I saw this "challenge" my first thought was that for me this would certainly not be feasible...
But then I looked at my recent YouTube uploads and found that I did 5 in March and 4 in April, so it's not all that impossible.
It's not the same challenge because for every piece I first make an arrangement (some of the recent recordings were of older arrangements) and then play and record it, and as I make arrangements for ensembles I have to do the "mixing" of the tracks. Doing all that for a new "tune" in one week is sometimes just not possible, but sometimes it is. What I do know is that I won't be able to sustain this for 21 weeks (as I do have other things on my agenda besides arranging, playing, recording and mixing).
Thanks Paul! Again, the purpose of this challenge is repertoire building, for those who need it, based on tunes which are at a level they can learn in a week.
 

Jeremyh

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Here's my first attempt, Maggie in the Wood
I find making videos makes my playing even worse than making an mp3, so you are denied my good looks :whistle:

It ought to go quite a bit faster, and should have a repeat, but there's only so much time I want to spend plugged into Audacity. I probably could have played it a bit quicker from the dots, but having got it in the head I should try and keep it there.

I will probably keep this in my repertoire, it goes with the Rattling Bog as a set.
 

Tom

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Here's my first attempt, Maggie in the Wood
I find making videos makes my playing even worse than making an mp3, so you are denied my good looks :whistle:

It ought to go quite a bit faster, and should have a repeat, but there's only so much time I want to spend plugged into Audacity. I probably could have played it a bit quicker from the dots, but having got it in the head I should try and keep it there.

I will probably keep this in my repertoire, it goes with the Rattling Bog as a set.
Sounds good, Jeremy, congrats! For week 1, I decided Always Happy Polka was above my level for learning this week, as it somehow filled up. I'm picking an easier tune, and now have 10 backing tracks set up to firm up my repertoire. Good luck everyone!
 

Valski

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Problem with learning a new tune every week is that, at my age, by the 2nd week, I've forgotten the first tune!!.
As a piper, I'm often asked to play tunes I don't know at funerals etc. sometimes with only a couple of days notice, so I find them on you tube or whatever, and listen through a few times and that suffices, but the day after, I've usually forgotten it :rolleyes:
I suffer from the same problem which I call the Goldfish Syndrome. Apparently Goldfish never get bored swimming around in a circle because their brain's capacity is such that when they come back to the starting point it's all brand new to them. Used to be able to learn a new song in a couple days. Now after a repeat the same phrase seems to be new to me.
 

Tom

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I suffer from the same problem which I call the Goldfish Syndrome. Apparently Goldfish never get bored swimming around in a circle because their brain's capacity is such that when they come back to the starting point it's all brand new to them. Used to be able to learn a new song in a couple days. Now after a repeat the same phrase seems to be new to me.
Yeah, if nothing else, it's an exercise to either keep our minds (as) sharp, or to build up enough muscle and brain memory to carry on when our minds truly start to slip. When I played with my Alzheimer's band, my mates could make it through a tune very well (perhaps not as well as in their prime), both professional musicians for 40-50+ years, but don't ask them what song we just played, of if we just played, for that matter.
 

Valski

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I was only joking about the Goldfish Syndrome, however it's true that the more songs in your repertoire the harder that it is to commit more to memory. I've always preferred to have sheet music in front of me when playing because it's a method which keeps you true to the music and when we play entirely from memory we tend to change the song, sometimes quite a lot.

There are songs learned 40 or 50 years ago that we know very well because they were committed to memory when our brains were filled with less fluff. Those songs it seems that I can't forget.

I would like to think that 21 songs in 21 weeks would be attainable if they were at my level of proficiency. I do however like to broaden my repertoire by learning songs outside of my comfort zone and this would be more challenging. During these Covid lockdowns I have pulled out various and sundry songbooks and worked at them with varying levels of success, however there's nothing like focusing your learning more than an upcoming performance.
 

Pipemajor

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I was only joking about the Goldfish Syndrome, however it's true that the more songs in your repertoire the harder that it is to commit more to memory. I've always preferred to have sheet music in front of me when playing because it's a method which keeps you true to the music and when we play entirely from memory we tend to change the song, sometimes quite a lot.

There are songs learned 40 or 50 years ago that we know very well because they were committed to memory when our brains were filled with less fluff. Those songs it seems that I can't forget.

I would like to think that 21 songs in 21 weeks would be attainable if they were at my level of proficiency. I do however like to broaden my repertoire by learning songs outside of my comfort zone and this would be more challenging. During these Covid lockdowns I have pulled out various and sundry songbooks and worked at them with varying levels of success, however there's nothing like focusing your learning more than an upcoming performance.
I find that, if I like a tune, I have no difficulty in memorising it, but if I'm not keen, it seems so difficult and I can forget it in an instant.
I have hundreds of tunes but the main difficulty is linking a tune to it's title.
A very frequent question in the band is "how does it start?" :unsure:
 
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Valski

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I find that, if I like a tune, I have no difficulty in memorising it, but if I'm not keen, it seems so difficult and I can forget it in an instant.
I have hundreds of tunes but the main difficulty is linking a tune to it's title.
A very frequent question in the band is "how does it start?" :unsure:
I agree with you. A song must be likeable and it becomes easier to learn. I used to take a songbook and learn straight from the pages, however I now will pre-screen a song by listening to it on YouTube. Previously I might spend several hours getting the essence of a tune only to decide that it wasn't worth investing more time into it.

I save a lot of time this way and sometimes even decide that it is worth the effort when there are a number of different versions of the piece. Often the original might not be inspiring and a subsequent version is very catchy.
 

NickC

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I spent last week working on a tune that I've been struggling with. I'm not counting it because it was only the B section that I couldn't get through. But, it was a good exercise. I've already started working on my first tune. Amore Bello-Carlo Venturi. I am posting here so that it will give me a nudge to follow through. I'm still thinking it might take longer than a week, but I will do what I can in that time.
 
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dan

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Success will be a new repertoire of tunes to give you 45 minutes to an hour of showtime. How cool is that? Who's in?
I’m in! After the past year there’s almost nothing I can play without faltering. All my repertoire is half forgotten, half learned to begin with, learned on piano accordion, and/or missing half the necessary musicians. Easy songs practiced with a metronome or backing track would be good for me.
 

Tom

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I’m in! After the past year there’s almost nothing I can play without faltering. All my repertoire is half forgotten, half learned to begin with, learned on piano accordion, and/or missing half the necessary musicians. Easy songs practiced with a metronome or backing track would be good for me.
Good Dan! I am coming to realize this is kind of common, especially among people who started later, like myself.
 

Valski

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Yes, exactly. Not necessary to post vids, only if you feel so inclined, don't want to scare anyone off. Yes, first song week of May 2 - 8, hopefully with discussion at the zoom meetup May 8. Basically the goal is to determine your repertoire: those songs you would be confident enough to play in front of someone, with or without music. For some on here it would probably be hundreds, for some of us probably less than 10. It's like AA (accordion anonymous), "Good evening everyone, my name is #####, I have been playing accordion for 12 years and I can play 23 tunes."

The main thing about this challenge is that to be successful, you have to pick songs that you can learn in a week at your level of practice, in order to add them to your repertoire. It may be Twinkle Twinkle, it may be Bumblebee, it's YOUR level, not your accordion hero's!

Success will be a new repertoire of tunes to give you 45 minutes to an hour of showtime. How cool is that? Who's in?
Hi Tom, your aim is quite commendable and I can see that you have a methodology in your approach. There are a couple of points that I would like to make.

There are many songs that I can play from memory and even so prefer to have sheet music in front of me because there are too many songs and therefore also many opportunities to make a mistake. I don't need to stare at the page but the notation helps my confidence and I highly recommend using this method. For strolling you need to know the songs front to back as you don't have any other option. Finger memory all the way.

However you don't have to be able to have those songs fully committed to memory, that will come with time. I know some professionals who busk for 4 to 5 hours daily, then they go to a paid gig and play for another 3 to 4. That's a pretty good practice schedule. If we were able to practice for 40 hours each week we'd also be able to play a huge repertoire from memory.

Next point, 21 songs should give you quite a lot more than 45 minutes to 60 minutes. Play the song for all it's worth with plenty of repeats as this extends the length of the piece to something danceable. Estimating 3.5 minutes per song would give you closer 75 minutes. When I was a teenager and jamming with friends our mentor asked us if we wanted to be a garage band or if we were interested in playing paid gigs and he told us to learn 30 standards because according to him you would play around 15 songs in 50 minutes. That was all well and good but what about the other 2 hours... well you start all over again and no one will notice. That's how I started playing in various bands at weddings and other parties.

Life intervened and playing in bands is a thing of the past but the same truths still apply, use the tools that are available to you and don't expect to be perfect when you perform but you have to appreciate that most of your audience will not know the difference. I often get asked to play a song again because audience members forgot that I played it 15 minutes earlier.

By no means am I an expert nor a pro and many of you undoubtedly play better than I do, but just sharing some good tips learned over time.
 

Tom

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Hi Tom, your aim is quite commendable and I can see that you have a methodology in your approach. There are a couple of points that I would like to make.

There are many songs that I can play from memory and even so prefer to have sheet music in front of me because there are too many songs and therefore also many opportunities to make a mistake. I don't need to stare at the page but the notation helps my confidence and I highly recommend using this method. For strolling you need to know the songs front to back as you don't have any other option. Finger memory all the way.

However you don't have to be able to have those songs fully committed to memory, that will come with time. I know some professionals who busk for 4 to 5 hours daily, then they go to a paid gig and play for another 3 to 4. That's a pretty good practice schedule. If we were able to practice for 40 hours each week we'd also be able to play a huge repertoire from memory.

Next point, 21 songs should give you quite a lot more than 45 minutes to 60 minutes. Play the song for all it's worth with plenty of repeats as this extends the length of the piece to something danceable. Estimating 3.5 minutes per song would give you closer 75 minutes. When I was a teenager and jamming with friends our mentor asked us if we wanted to be a garage band or if we were interested in playing paid gigs and he told us to learn 30 standards because according to him you would play around 15 songs in 50 minutes. That was all well and good but what about the other 2 hours... well you start all over again and no one will notice. That's how I started playing in various bands at weddings and other parties.

Life intervened and playing in bands is a thing of the past but the same truths still apply, use the tools that are available to you and don't expect to be perfect when you perform but you have to appreciate that most of your audience will not know the difference. I often get asked to play a song again because audience members forgot that I played it 15 minutes earlier.

By no means am I an expert nor a pro and many of you undoubtedly play better than I do, but just sharing some good tips learned over time.
Wow, great tips, Valski, thanks for the advice!
 

losthobos

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Good tips Valski.... The other thing i may do is 'chunk' songs together.. Ie play 3 piaf tunes, 3 mid tempo swings (all same key) 3 blues, etc then 3 mid swings in another key..... That way you dont have to remember a whole set list but just hit auto pilot each time you start a section. ..
 

Valski

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Good tips Valski.... The other thing i may do is 'chunk' songs together.. Ie play 3 piaf tunes, 3 mid tempo swings (all same key) 3 blues, etc then 3 mid swings in another key..... That way you dont have to remember a whole set list but just hit auto pilot each time you start a section. ..
I was taught something similar many years ago. We were told that songs should be grouped in threes. This way you wouldn't confuse party guests who wanted to dance a foxtrot by playing a waltz the next song. I hate it when song types and tempos are jumbled together, it confuses everyone and adds stress for the musicians.
 

JeffJetton

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Another tip, especially for people who (like me!) tend to have brain farts when it comes to certain spots in a song: Notice how often the different "parts" of a song come up, and adjust how you practice it so that you don't unduly neglect certain parts (like bridges, intros, interludes, and so on).

For example, Satin Doll has an AABA form. If all you did to practice the song was just play it from top to bottom, you'd wind up practicing the B section only one-third as much as the A sections. This is like going to the gym and doing three sets of dumbbell curls with your right arm, but then only one set with your left!

Lots of ways to fix this. You can run the B section a few times by itself. Or practice the song starting with the B section. Or play it ABABAB...
 

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