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  • Come to West London Folk workshop

    Laurel Swift founded this in Year 2000, and it goes from strength to strength, regularly playing concerts and ceilidhs as the West London Folk Band.
    It all starts with tunes which she teaches in West London.
    It is held upstairs at West London Trade Union Club
    33-35 High Street, Acton, London, W3 6ND. Parking in nearby streets is fairly simple, lots of buses pass the door and Acton Central Overground station is 5mins walk.
    Monday evening term-times: 7:15pm - 9:15pm.
    Cost: £7.50 per night.
    Who comes? Bedroom musicians, beginner musicians, starting-again musicians, younger musicians, late bloomers, musicians that think they can only read the dots, musicians who worry that they can’t read the dots – you are all welcome.
    Use the Contact Form or email swiftlj (At) gmail.com to find out more (copy this email address and replace the (At) with @ and remove spaces).

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Willow Tree Reel

Laurel taught this tune last Monday.  Below are the dots;  here is a link to us playing it with Laurel:

One Response

  1. I see a lot of music sheets being read in this ‘tune learning’ workshop. – but are many people also recording the tune – for later repeated listening? ‘ Active’ listening is the key to really ‘learning’ a tune -rather than just ‘praticing playing it’ — from the dots.

    Here is a recent discussion on tune learning — a ‘copy and paste’ – (with a bit of edit ) – from ‘www.thesession.org’ website :

    In a post someone mentioned the skill of ‘learning how to learn tunes’. How does everyone do it?
    # Posted on May 18th 2009 by zippydw

    Re: Learning how to learn tunes
    The more tunes you learn, the easier it becomes to learn others because you’ll recognize familiar or similar bits and phrases,
    and you’ll develop the skills needed on your given instrument to readily play those bits and phrases.
    1. Learn to learn tunes phrase by phrase.(by ‘ear’)
    2. Learn the tunes that are played by your session mates.
    3. Learn tunes that catch your ear.
    4. Play them all *a lot* (and daily) so you retain them and can launch into them at will.
    # Posted on May 18th 2009 by will harmon

    Er, obviously everything I posted above hinges on listening, listening, listening, and getting the tunes in your head.

    Re: Learning how to learn tunes
    For the last three years or so I’ve been going regularly to a weekly English session (which also has some Irish, Scottish and French played).
    I think I can fairly say that I now play virtually everything that is played in that session but it has been by listening and absorbing the tunes;
    I haven’t specifically searched out tunes to learn from the dots. Weekly repetition has obviously been the key factor.
    # Posted on May 18th 2009 by lazyhound (Trevor)

    Re: Learning how to learn tunes
    I went through the ‘phrase to phrase’ Will mentions. But now I hardly ever make the effort to learn new tunes. I’ll listen to a recording 10 or 20 times a day for a week, then pick up the fiddle and I’ll have it.
    But I also learn tunes without making any effort in the pub. I never push it.

    I prefer the tunes I learn in the pub, there’s something more natural about it. I’d never learn a tune off a recording (or the dots) if it gets a regular playing in the pub, I want the version that gets played.

    The only tunes I learn from recordings /dots are so that I can introduce them to my mates.
    # Posted on May 18th 2009 by llig leahcim

    Re: Learning how to learn tunes
    I have also spent time practicing my listening skills. When commuting – about 90 minutes a day, I would put the mp3 player on. . I would consciously work on listening to a tune the first time through, and then trying to lilt along with it the second time through.

    You’d be surprised at how well you can do with that after a while, because many tunes tend to fit within a certain framework, and you can get good at anticipating that. If I have a tune pretty well cemented in my head, I can then almost play it, with just a few minutes more work, I can usually get the bones of it on the instrument.

    So there are now times when I play a tune in a session, and then realize that I’ve never really formally learned it (just picked it up from hearing it played often)
    But practicing my listening skills really helped me along in the process. And the more I do it, the better I get at it.

    I still keep a list of everything that I’ve officially “learned”, by working at them. But an increasing amount of stuff I play in sessions isn’t on that list.
    # Posted on May 18th 2009 by Reverend

    Re: Learning how to learn tunes
    It’s also the very act of learning tunes that makes you better at learning tunes. You’ll find that it is a bit of a snowball effect after a while, because the more tunes you learn, the easier you learn them…
    And it’s also not a bad idea to go back to tunes that you learned a long time ago, and see if you still play them.
    # Posted on May 18th 2009 by Reverend

    Re: Learning how to learn tunes
    Fifteen minutes a day beats the hell out of two hours on a Saturday. Fifteen minutes of focus and attention every day will also get you further – I think – than two hours every day of just diddling around.
    # Posted on May 19th 2009 by Jon Kiparsky

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