Listen - practice - play
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Good Style Can Be Learned

active listening

The most importance with making music, from the beginning stage on, is on the fastest use of the fingers, and also on the biggest repertoire and similar things. The most important thing is listening. Active listening. To find out:

How does a good musician play?
Where does he play staccato ? And where does he play tenuto?
Where did he play, soft, hard, loud, quiet?
With single notes or with chords?
With 3rds, or with 6th?
How does he form the notes?
Why does his tune sound so good?
How does a not-so-good musician play?
Where is the difference in a good performance?
What should he change? Why?
What is even OK with a not-so-good musician?
Which of his mistakes can be seen in my way of playing too?

And then the big question arises: How is my own playing? And how do I want to play? It is difficult to listen to one’s self, in the beginning it is very hard, to listen to one’s self actively. It is better to train the active listening with hearing others play. But the target should be to find out: 

How is my own performance?

You should not only be happy the fingers finding the keys fast, listen to yourself. Like your own playing.

Where are parts that have to be practiced?

Start your practicing very slowly, speed up if you feel comfortable and safe with the tune.

Where is the rhythm not correct?

Practicing means playing until difficult passages can be repeated blind and rhythmically correct.

And where and why can’t I keep to the tempo?

To tap the rhythm with the leg is not enough. I know some foot tapers, and they still speed up.

If I test different version of the tune which one sounds better?

It is not Important what is liked by others, only what is really liked by you.

Where and how can I implement, what I learned by hearing? 

I think, if a tune is already sounding in my head, in my feelings, in my belly then I can get this tune into my fingers at some point too, and usually quite fast. But if I don’t have any clue how it should sound, then it won’t sound good, even if I had the best fingering technique.


A music group should practice at least once a week. This is especially important if you (still) play with notes. Without practice, there will be speed and volume difference. And when practicing one could even do things one would not do in front of the audience yet – for instance, play without the notes.

Practice events are used to work on the things not found in the notes, or on things one don’t like in the written notes. For example one could use different endings (last measures, phrases). And then use them – so not every tune ends with the same “Ritardando”. One could bring more changes into some tunes, for instance one could play one with Wechselbass and another with normal fundamental bass. One could think about how long some instruments pause, not every musician needs to play along with the others all the time. 

Are there different views of how the tune has to be performed? This has to be discussed during these practice times. Especially if one is not firm – in front of the audience one should always appear confident. It will help the swing. And if one acts confident for long enough then one will become confident in the end.

This sounds like work and it is work. But practice times have to be more, a sort of community that builds up and strengthens. For this not only music is needed, though naturally that too. More than anything the socialization, wit and fun, belong to it as well. And if you manage to carry this good mood on to the stage and let it spill into the audience and the dancers – then nothing can go wrong any more.

Performing in front of an Audience

Making music is much more than producing nice sounding notes and melodies. It is interaction between audience, dancers, and musicians, for instance the passing on of a bubbling-over love of life, or the communication of feelings and moods.

The musician belongs in front of the people and dancers, like a fish belongs in the water. How can you learn to swim if you don’t want to get wet? How will you ever play with swing, as long as you play and practice in your own closed little room?

Practice should not be done for practice alone. If it doesn’t serve for the preparation of performances, the result is inbreeding. Routine can’t be practiced, this must be gained by playing in front of people, for example at “Musikantenstammtisch” (the regular musician’s table at the club or pub).

Only in front of the audience can one learn the way a musician behaves, can one get rid of the nervousness of a beginner, can one practice to get over a fingering mistake, so that none really notices it.

University professor Dr. Franz Eibner did say some time ago: “The public house is the University of folk music“ There one can get the practical experience and the routine that is needed for every musician to gain a minimum of professionalism. Have a look at the pages Stammtischmusi Klosterneuburg. May be something like this can be found near you too. Ask about it at "Volksliedwerk" (folk song works) or look into VolXmusik-Kalender (folk music calendar).

Nach oben ] Good style can be learned ] [ Listen - practice - play ] Rhythm in Folk music ] Rhythm differences ] Rhythm examples ] Phrases ] Tempo ] Sing along with music and the like ] A swinging finish ]
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