This is an exciting step in your development as a harper. We’re going to take 4 weeks to learn a proper Irish jig. It was written in the early 1700’s by Turlough O’Carolan, a blind harper considered by many to be Ireland’s national composer-he was part of the inspiration behind Morwenna and I travelling around Europe living off our music. He traveled with a horse and a guide and wrote music for his patrons. So Planxty George Brabazon was written in honour of George Brabazon. Here is Morwenna telling you a bit about it:
This week we’ll be learning the first half of the melody. As always, take it slowly at first-the more you play it, the easier it’ll get.
Here is Morwenna playing the whole song through at a measured pace:
You’ll learn the second section next week, and the accompaniment after that. Practice hard, the more you play it the better it’ll sound!
Planxty George Brabazon MP3
I hope you are enjoying learning a proper jig. The second half of this song is about as complicated as the first. It will take a decent amount of time to learn the whole thing, but I promise you that if you persevere with it then you’ll be very proud when you’ve learned it.
Section 2 Part 1:
Parts 1-3 together (you’d play this again after playing 1-4):
To play it through you play the parts in this order:
Learn it well and try to slowly play it a little faster if you can. Don’t worry if it takes a while to get the hang of, it’s quite a tricky piece! Next week we’ll look at the second hand accompaniment-the accompaniment is a lot more simple than the melody, but make sure you learn it as well as you can before you start putting the two together
Planxty George MP3
I hope you’ve been getting on well with your first jig so far. Remember-if you’re finding it difficult, that’s just because it’s difficult! But if you break each section down and give it enough attention, every individual section is possible for you to learn, and if you do that then you will be able to persevere. The accompaniment that you’ll learn for this song is really simple-here is the video of Morwenna playing the whole piece, notice how simple the left hand part is?
So, before you tackle this, have another practice of the melody, really try and make yourself as comfortable with it as you can. When you’re ready, here’s the accompaniment:
Which fits in with the melody like this:
Which goes with the melody like this:
Which starts the same as part 2:
But then goes like this:
So keep on practicing, start slowly and take regular breaks. Over time you may be able to build the speed up and hopefully play it like this!:
Next week will be a practice week for you to spend a bit more time on this song, so don’t worry if you feel a long way away from being able to play it like this. It may take years for your fingers to move as quickly as Morwenna’s do in this video-you’ve only been learning the harp for less than a year! But I hope you can reach a point with this song where you feel proud to be able to play it.
Planxty George MP3
I hope you found the practice tips that I shared in week 20 useful. Here are some more ideas that will hopefully be beneficial to you.
The first is called outcome based practicing. When I started learning to play the guitar, I used to set myself a certain number of minutes to practice each day. Indeed, we advocate 3 hours of practice each week. But it’s easy to set this target and then stare at a clock, tune and re-tune your instrument waiting to have “done your time”. But it’s not very efficient, or enjoyable. A much better way to practice is to set yourself goals-either for the week or just for the session. As i write this I’m in the middle of trying to learn “Duelling Banjos” on the banjo-a very complicated piece but one that I know I will play with pride once I can master it. I’ve set myself a goal for today to play through the bit that I’ve learnt through accurately (albeit it very slowly at the moment) 10 times, and add a certain amount to it. I know that if I can do this 2 or 3 times a week then slowly but surely I’ll learn the whole song. Tangible goals make practice time more interesting, and can allow you to put your instrument down at the end feeling satisfied. If you’re that way inclined you could even write a practice plan for the week-what you’ll achieve in each practice session.
Similar to this is to keep a practice log-just a few words about what you’ve achieved in each session. At the end of a week it may surprise you to look back at how much you’ve come on if you’ve managed to practice regularly.
If you’re really struggling with a specific section you may want to try the two minute technique. Have a look here for a good discussion of this idea: http://thetalentcode.com/2011/10/10/forget-10000-hours-try-hanss-2-minute-method/ It’s all about focus-if you can really focus on that specific part, even for just 2 minutes, and do that every day, then in a very small number of practice minutes you can really achieve quite a lot.
Of course whether you practice in relaxed 1 hour sessions or intensely for 2 minutes at a time, the main thing is to find a way that works for you-that you really can motivate yourself with, over time, and stick with. Because however you practice, if you enjoy it and and can see progress, then over time you will improve. My personal favourite way to practice is in ten minute bursts between household chores.
One more thing to add about Planxty George. I hope you’ve been enjoying learning this song. Here is another example of what you can do with it-you’ll get to learn techniques like this later on in the course.