I thought I would ask for help concerning best and most effective use of practice time.

Many days I batter away for hours on end and seem to get no benefit from it. On other occassions I can have the odd day "off" and I seem to have improved when I start again.

How do you balance going over old tunes with learning new ones?

Come on, lets have your secrets!! - how do you make the best use of your available practice time?

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Thanks Danny.  I have wanted a set of uilleann pipes for 35 years, before I finally felt like I could afford a decent set.  I have liked the sound of the bouzouki ever since I heard Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine playing them in Planxty, about 1975. 

Cheers Mike.  I almost feel guilty for neglecting my whistles so much now; I have always enjoyed playing them but I've been concentrating on learning the closed or tight style of pipe fingering and I didn't want to confuse by fingers by going back to whistles too soon.  I think that eventually my piping will make me a better whistle player.  I'm self-taught on the whistle and I picked up quite a few bad habits early on.  I feel fortunate that I have found a good pipe teacher only 60 miles away, so that I can learn good habits there from the get-go.  I can already see that many things I'm learning on the pipes will translate back to better whistle playing too. 

You know, it's funny because the sympton of not playing for a few days and then playing better when you start again is very familiar for me. Sometimes you just need some time for the muscle memory to kick in I guess, and practicing more and more doesn't help you. 

As for practice tips, I got some songs that include the most important scales that I usually start with. Then I try to play as much of my repetoire as possible, I stop when I make a mistake and continue with a certain part untill I get it right enough times. 

When I practice for a session I aim to play a song three times in a row flawlessly and don't stop till I got till that point. 

I spend more time listening to tunes than actually playing them - in the car, at work, random stuff in my head, as well as under my fingers. When I started playing a cd in the car and listening to the same one for a week or two, I found that my playing got better by magnitudes, even others started noticing significant differences. For me, immersion is the best practice, like learning any other language. Once you know your goal, as in what you want to sound like,  and you'll know it when you hear it or at least when you're getting closer, your fingers and brain can work with you to get there. :)

Hey Mike,
This is a great post with a good deal of perspective shared from various players. I try to make sure I always have at least one whistle available for those impromptu moments to squeeze in some more practice. I include as part of my total practice daily, listening to as much TRAD as I can and making note of tunes and techniques I want to incorporate into my own playing.

I try and spend time on my whistles every day.


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