Lessons Learned – Setting Benchmarks & Goals

WOW – where did 6 months go!!! As in anything we do (chose to do, have to do, or must do or even don’t wanna do!!!) – we should step back at least every 6 months and do an evaluation of “where we are at”!

It might sound FUNNY – but I remember many lessons – where me and my teacher JUST SAT AND TALKED. This is going to be one of those lessons…….PLEASE MAKE NOTES. – Here is a link to this PAGE – so you can print it – Lessons Learned – Setting Benchmarks

ALSO – see link at the bottom for an example of HOW TO PRACTICE the CENTER OF TONALITY.

In the project management business – it is call doing a “Lessons learned“. This is a list of questions to determine how the project is rolling, what were/are the good and bad spots, what caused them to be good or bad and how could this be improved. Has the project reached any benchmarks?, were there any BRICK WALLS?, and how can these be improved and sped up in the future.

Sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo? Well – let’s consider this Accordion Blog as a PROJECT – which it is. Let’s also consider your learning the accordion – is a PROJECT – which in all honesty – it really IS! Like that “hobby project” sitting in the garage UNFINISHED – this is your HOBBY PROJECT – and to keep it OUT OF THE GARAGE – we have to:

  • Set goals for your project with smaller short-term benchmarks,
  • Create a clear and detailed attainable PATH to each benchmark,
  • Re-evaluate periodically to discard what doesn’t work and incorporate what does work
  • Get back on track – sometimes a “BACKUP & TRY AGAIN” IS – progression forward or even a major acceleration within the path to a benchmark,
  • Reset Benchmarks – evaluate path – add or subtract elements – NOW – Back on track

This is called LESSONS LEARNED! What works for US, what doesn’t work for us, and what do we need to do to implement what does work!

UP until now – I have started you on some chord accompaniment work, I have shown you how to HEAR those chord changes within a song – then we moved to right hand technique building – ending with a NEEDED counting exercise – so you could learn the Jigs & Reels & Hornpipes for the Irish Music. AND you saw there are many POP songs that use the Compound Meter.

  • Lesson #1 – Sept 2014 – Introduction to Play Chords ONLY!
  • Lesson #2 – Oct. 2014 – Chords – Modulating, & Progressions
  • Lesson #3 – Nov. 2014 – Intro to Ear Training – Chord Progressions Intro
  • Lesson #4 – Dec. 2014 – Dexterity & Finger Articulation (someone else)
  • Lesson #5 – Jan. 2015 – Dexterity & Finger Articulation (mine)
  • Lesson #6 – Feb. 2015 – Counting – 6/8 (Compound Meter)
  • Lesson #7 – March 2015 – Setting Benchmarks and Goals

NOW – how do you tailor these monthly lessons to YOUR GOAL PATH??

  1. If you had difficulty with any of the first 6 lessons – there are exercises in the exercise link – to give you MORE WORK on that element.
  2. If you DID NOT have difficulty with any of the first 6 lessons – still add one element from each to your weekly list of “NEED TO PRACTICE”.
  3. No matter what level you are playing at – EVEN THE MOST ACCOMPLISHED MUSICIANS – DAILY – spend at least HALF of their practice time on DRILLS!
  4. Drills – improves:
    1. Your technique,
    2. Your scale knowledge (which improves your chord knowledge),
    3. Finger Memory (remember your brain doesn’t work fast enough!) & proper Fingering
    4. Sight reading skills (note reading & !Confidence!)
    5. Ear Training skills
    6. Music theory in general
    7. Note counting skill (tempo & rhythm)
    8. Dynamics and Bellow Control
  5. Song Preparation
    1. Center of Tonality – never start a song without knowing how to PLAY EVERY scale, arpeggio on the scales and chords – represented in the song (so for every chord change – do the scale on that chord key) (EXAMPLE LINK BELOW)
    2. Tackle hard sections and THE END FIRST – before ever running the song – those are the parts you will either succeed or fail – so give them MORE TIME!
    3. Write in fingering in the hard parts, highlight unique basses, circle repeats and D.S. (your music should look like a MESS!) NEXT MONTH – I will teach HOW to figure your fingering!
    4. Label the counts – especially the dotted 8th and 16th notes. AND SPEAK THE COUNTS when you practice.
    5. Set metronome WAY – WAY – WAY under tempo and DO NOT speed it up until every note, every count, every run. every EXPRESSION – is perfect. (www.metronomeonline.com) If you don’t own one!
    6. Hard passages – after you have mastered them (slowly!) – practice getting into them and out of them! Play the easy parts – only as fast as you can play the hard parts – or else you will “MEMORIZE” the tempo change into your BRAIN and guess what will happen when you perform it!!!
      1. tear a hard run into two count sections
      2. tear a hard run into sections that start and end with an over or under fingering (Never more than 6 to 8 notes)
      3. RUN these mini sections – until the COWS COME HOME! You are Programming your fingers – there is no way you read EVERY NOTE when performing!
      4. Now put two sections together, etc.
    7. Finally – never play a song that is NOT been listened to by you – on You Tube 100 times!!! Different arrangements, different instruments, even the accordion. Sure the arrangements won’t match – BUT NOW – it will be in YOUR EARS not your fingers – that will be performing the song!
      1. This will add feeling, expression, maybe even a little note counting changes from the written arrangement (GOOD).
      2. You might hear a different chord change being used and you can add it.
      3. You might hear a little run at the end of a phrase and you can add it.
      4. You might hear a dramatic change in tempo in a section and you can add it.
    8. BENCHMARK – you have hit a GOAL!

NOW – to learn what I mean by CENTER of TONALITY – play all the scales and chords in a song – let’s use this song and this example

Link – Black Velvet Band

Exercise Link – Block Scales & Chords for Solos (Key of D)