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Learning Tunes and Finding Time

Posted by KatieHendersonFiddle on Friday, March 16, 2012

So I've been working on this New Tune a Day project ( since July 2011. My goal is to learn a new tune "pretty much" everyday (a.k.a. 4-5 a week). It has been a mind-blowingly awesome experience. Through NTAD I've met lots of cool folks all over the world through Fiddle Hangout, TradConnect, Youtube, blogger, and other online venues. I have exchanged music and tunes with fiddlers from Colombia, Sweden, France, Norway, Canada, and the UK, as well as some folks in Kuwait. It has been super fun, and such a cool escape from my normal life.

My normal life is as a full-time graduate student studying western water law in the United States, and I'm preparing my masters thesis now and getting ready to defend in April and graduate. It has been really, really, exhaustingly busy, but learning new tunes didn't seem like another cost on my time. It was like therapy.

So how to find time? I haven't quite mastered this but I like to learn a new tune in the evening after eating dinner. It's a nice way for me to clear my mind of all the worries I acquire throughout the day. I think if I were more ambitious, I'd get up early and practice and learn tunes in the morning, but realistically, that's never going to happen.

How do you find time? What do you do in real life when you're not fiddling?

8 comments on “Learning Tunes and Finding Time”

boxbow Says:
Friday, March 16, 2012 @2:09:46 PM

No matter what, I try for at least five minutes of fiddle time before I head out the door for the day. I've been doing it for the last five years, as well as a regular, "proper" practice session. It's not a skill builder, it's a tune-up for my head. Listening is hugely important for musicians. That 5 minute tune-up changes the way I hear and think all day, and when I do practice, I'm ready.

Cyndy Says:
Friday, March 16, 2012 @2:39:53 PM

I don't have a full-time, have-to-be-somewhere job (I do family history research and my husband and I have an online genealogy startup on the side) and so I just leave the fiddle out and play on and off all day long when I need a break from other things. I also carry a beater fiddle with me when I go out and I'm surprised how much I can get done waiting for a bus with no one else around. And then I listen to new tunes quite a bit while riding public transportation and just after I wake up (when I don't want to get out of bed!) or just before going to sleep.That seems to make it more efficient when I go to learn them.

I admire your tune-a-day endeavor. Wonderful thing!

bsed55 Says:
Saturday, March 17, 2012 @9:42:34 PM

Learning a NTAD is one thing (and very doable). "Keeping" those tunes is quite another. Keep playing the 'old' ones as you add the new ones.

bsed55 Says:
Saturday, March 17, 2012 @9:43:00 PM

Learning a NTAD is one thing (and very doable). "Keeping" those tunes is quite another. Keep playing the 'old' ones as you add the new ones.

bsed55 Says:
Saturday, March 17, 2012 @9:43:44 PM


Faire Fiddler Maid Says:
Sunday, March 18, 2012 @4:30:06 PM

Music is also my therapy.
I had to leave work (20+ years as a research scientist) to be around for my children. I was so ready to do this because they (twins) really needed me around. I started playing fiddle at this time and have found the playing and the listening to music a real blessing. I'm fortunate to work at home taking care of my kids (now 11) and housework, laundry, finances, cooking, shopping ect....and fiddling I'll play once- several times a day for 10 min - 40 min. I go back and forth (a few weeks at a time) working on technique or learning new tunes. I spend a lot of time listening to the tunes I want to learn before I try them. That is a great escape for me.

I have found that I like a focus or goal for my playing. It used to be lessons. Now it's putting together ~200 tunes for Renaissance Fairs. I'm sure whatever lies ahead, you'll adapt your playing routine to fit your lifestyle...

So how many new tunes did you learn from NTAD over what time period? I'm sure I'll be amazed... It's nice to have a log of them here on fiddlehangout

Faire Fiddler Maid Says:
Sunday, March 18, 2012 @4:35:09 PM

Oops.. I saw you started July 2011. That would be about 8 months +/- a week or 2 :)

nickc Says:
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 @7:26:44 AM

What a great undertaking! I manage a tune a month a i'm just starting. With a busy job, commute and 2 kids and a banjo habit to maintain it's tough to find the time. I do try to play every day, usually at around 10pm at night. I forgo TV and beauty sleep but it's worth it!

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