[Harp-L] Memorising Tunes

Rick Hein mrrickhein@xxxxx
Mon Oct 17 20:46:53 EDT 2016

Hi Leonard and anyone on harp L,
   This tip helps me memorize songs:
Find an open floor surface with rectangular patterns, such as tile, or in my case a patterned rug.  Learn the first part of the tune while standing in the "first" square.  After you have a section down, (may take a few hours, days, etc.),  step forward one square to learn the next section.  Keep going forward on the "squares" till you reach the halfway point of the song,  move over a square or two and start back the way you came forming a "U". It is important not to move ahead too fast,  as you need to associate each part of the tune with the physical spot you are standing on.   After you memorize the song, continue to refine it thru these same steps, (squares),  and add on techniques, embellishments, etc.   Eventually you can escape  the "squares", and play the song anywhere by remembering the position where you stood when you learned it.  For example,  I'll always know the break in "Juke" shows up when I'm on the square by the coffee table.  Hope this helps, works for me!

    On Wednesday, October 12, 2016 6:46 PM, Leonard Schwartzberg <leonard1 at xxxxx> wrote:

 Aongus:  You are incredible!!!  I enjoyed your short story very much.  I
live in Miami Beach and lately, each evening, as I normally walk or jog
about 3 miles along the beach, I sing to myself the RHYTHM and also try and
practice TREMOLO's by inhaling and exhaling to a rhythm and playing "machine
gun" with my throat, on both inhale and exhale. I think this is helping.
Unlike you, however, I enjoy to do (probably wrong) everything with a book.
I read the note, then play the note.  I read the beat, then play the beat.
I read the key, then play the key.  I read the scale, then play the scale.
I'm lost without the written instructions.  I can't seem to train my tongue
to follow the instructions from my ear, but I continue to try.  I continue
to listen and  listen and I hope that it sticks in my head and eventually
forces my tongue to behave.  Thanks again.  Leonard

-----Original Message-----
From: Harp-L [mailto:harp-l-bounces at xxxxx] On Behalf Of Aongus Mac Cana
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 6:19 PM
To: Harp-L List
Subject: [Harp-L] Memorising Tunes

I am eighty years old and an indifferent harmonica player  having come back
to it after a sixty year lay off.

To tell the truth I was not even terrific at it sixty years ago.

I have discovered at this late stage that I am totally an ear player. Harp
tab is about as much use to me as Sanskrit - I find ABC tab marginally
better. I only use sheet music or tab for forensic dissection of the bar I
can't get.

I have been lucky enough to be able to attend the harmonica classes at the
Willie Clancy Summer School  given every year  by  Rick Epping and Mick

Rick Epping gave us one useful piece of advice: "If you have not got the
tune in your head you are unlikely to get it  out in your mouth."

The advice from some of you  to learn the lyrics sounds good to me. This
ties in with a belief in Irish Trad circles that you won't  play a slow air
properly unless you know the words of the associated song (if there is one).

At the Willie Clancy School Rick and Mick teach us new tunes a bar or two at
a time working through until we finally have the whole tune. I just ignore
the harmonica tab they give out as "I might as well be looking into a bush"

I used to learn tunes by listening, then whistling them until I had them in
my head. Unfortunately a bang I got on my head a few years ago left me no
longer able to whistle. Now I have to rely on my imagination to play them in
my mind. 

Life is too short to get hung up on playing a tune or a lick exactly as some
other guy does it. Hell! The take you come up with yourself might be better.


Aongus Mac Cana

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