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Can't seem to memorize the tunes

Posted by FireNFiddl on Sunday, January 20, 2013

I went to Camp Calvin last summer and i learned 3 songs, but since i'm such a beginner they let me use my notes.  I find that no matter how much i play i still need the sheet music! is this normal?  I'm going back to fiddle camp this year and i want to be able to jam.

Are there any tricks or tips to help me memorize the tunes? 


I'd like to skype fiddle lessons anyone know of good beginner instructor who does this?


15 comments on “Can't seem to memorize the tunes”

richdissmore Says:
Sunday, January 20, 2013 @4:02:32 PM

the best way i have found is to make notes on how the songs go after i learned 12 tunes i started to for get the songs i know many songs to play with guitar or bass guitar country and rock as long as you keep playing you can,t for get them all

boxbow Says:
Sunday, January 20, 2013 @8:00:07 PM

Listen to recordings of the tunes you've learned. If you know the tunes for next summer, listen to recordings of them, too. A lot. Play with someone else who knows or can learn the tunes. What are they, by the way?

kjk Says:
Monday, January 21, 2013 @6:11:45 AM

Ditto boxbow's advice.

Not to spoil the fun ahead, but your next annoying step in the tune-learning process will be to learn the melodies and forget the names. :)

brya31 Says:
Monday, January 21, 2013 @8:25:53 AM

I have learned by sheet music too. I listen to the tunes that I have learned and I watch others on youtube. I practice them so often that eventually they stick. I then use the oldtimejam machine to play along with, just like at a jam session.

brya31 Says:
Monday, January 21, 2013 @8:26:40 AM Heres a link to the oldtime jam machine

kjk Says:
Monday, January 21, 2013 @4:24:14 PM

Record yourself playing the notes. Then put away the notes and play along with the recording.

Andah1andah2 Says:
Monday, January 21, 2013 @4:25:03 PM

To memorize what? oh, yeah the tunes. I hate it when you know the name, you've played the tune a hundred times, but like the game show "Name that Tune" you just need the first 3-4 notes.

FiddleJammer Says:
Monday, January 21, 2013 @8:59:06 PM

Listen obsessively. And, not just to the tunes that you're learning, but other tunes in the same key. Picture yourself playing those tunes in the bits that you can recognize. Don't be too hard on yourself. I learn new tunes more over the course of a year than any shorter time span. Keep at it. Each time you feel like you haven't remembered a tune, you have found some inroad that will help you next time. Might feel discouraging, but you are learning more than you can say at this point. Also, good to associate tunes with people, places, and things. The tune that you first heard from this person or that person. The tune that you first understood the rhythm and where that was. Those sorts of associations help you to learn the tune as well as a piece of sheet music sometimes.

Good luck!


mudbug Says:
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 @3:19:10 AM

Hey, Jennifer! I notice that you've only been playing for a year. There's so much to keep track of just learning to hold the instrument, bow, and keeping both hands in the proper position. How many tunes are you trying to memorize? Don't get frustrated. Hopefully you have many years ahead of you to learn reportoire. Take it one tune at a time.

nfritzjr Says:
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 @11:52:59 AM

Hi Jenifer,
Have to agree with Mudbug.
What my instructor Bruce does in tab form is write down the first line or first 4 or 5 measures of a tune in a notebook/steno pad. You could do that w /sheet music. That way you have the beginning of the tune to work from, and the rest should come sort of like muscle memory, kinda sorta.
At least it would be a good way to practice to start memorizing .
From one newbee to another,
Good Luck and happy fiddlin!!!

robinja Says:
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 @1:03:16 PM

My advice is to try not to think of it as memorizing tunes. If you've got a favorite song on the radio that you sing along with, you don't "memorize" it, you just come to know it over time. You know it by heart, like "Happy Birthday". I personally think it is more difficult to internalize tunes that you learn from notation - something about having all of those pesky notes written out on a page, and you have to play every one just when the paper says. Really, though, unless it is a tune that someone composed, it is just one person's interpretation of how the tune should be played. I agree with the folks above that listening is crucial - even if you are learning tunes from notation, listening helps you learn the tune by heart. I so wish that one of my piano teachers had suggested that when I was a kid - I might have actually gotten more enjoyment out of playing classical music if I had learned to appreciate it by listening.

nfritzjr Says:
Thursday, January 24, 2013 @12:25:50 PM

Hi Jennifer
I just noticed your from AB Canada. So I have a question for you. Do you know of a tune that goes by the name of Alberta's Waltz, and if you do would you have the sheet music? I tried to tab it but being newer I think I probably missed some of the notes, plus the musician probably played it his/her way.
Thanks and Happy Fiddin!!!

Larry Rutledge Says:
Monday, February 11, 2013 @9:24:44 PM

Play, play, play:)

FireNFiddl Says:
Thursday, April 18, 2013 @8:42:22 AM

Thank you all very much, i've put them onto my ipod so i can listen while i drive then play when i get home. at nfritzjr. i've heard of if but don't have the sheets for it.
My songs so far are My darling Nellie gray; year of jubilo; joys of quebec; and my favorite shaguanda bay. Just working on Flop eared Mule.

JRice Says:
Saturday, July 6, 2013 @11:48:23 AM

I agree with FiddleJammer. Two years ago when I first started playing, I would listen to my seven year old granddaughter play "O Come Emanuel" and "Ode To Joy" on her recorder over, and over, and over. Needless to say they were the first two things I learned to play on the violin.

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