Nyckelharpa – May & June 2019

Yep, it´s been quite a while since I shared something about my nyckelharpa practicing at home with you. Simple reason why: I was not motivated at all, I hd no idea how to fit the playing into my schedule of work, physiotherapy and sports and once I did play, nothing worked out.

The latter one – no surprise, if you play just once a month for half an hour. So after the course in Altenmünster and some chats I had, I decided on changing my tactics in regards of practicing. Before I always tried to play once a week and then for 30-60 minutes. let´s face it, that never worked. And If I did it, then it was no fun anymore after that half an hour latest.

One more thing I did change that my back really appreciated. I changed the way how the strap is putting pressure onto back/neck area. I often had back pain and a stiff neck and painful shoulders, and now that I switched it feels much better, though getting used to the new way of holding it also did need some time and patience.

The outcome? I currently play around 2h a week, and I can see the improvements because I practice nearly every day so my fingers do remember more and I learn faster. But sure, there is still shitty days, like this weekend on Saturday. The first session was terrible as hell, the second one was better but still I wanted to throw the nyckelharpa out of the damned window. I am not good at patience with myself. Never have been, never will, I fear.

Anyways, let´s have a look at some tunes that I played in May and June – which are all pieces that I played first at the course in Altenmünster (okay, one is from last year Altenmünster)!



Fontaine la jolie (Hanter Dro)

I liked it already during the course and it also went well there already, but after not having played it for quite a while (aka a full month) my fingers did struggle her and there to remember and figure out the bowing and which notes to connect where and when not and all of that…

Amazing thing about it is: you can play it in an eternal loop, and drive yourself into some sort of trance. If you haven´t gone crazy beforehand 😉

Rosenwalzer

To be fair, I wasn´t even sure if we really had played it at the course, but seeing that I had noted down stuff next to the sheet music, yep, we have played it. I suppose. And once I started playing it, I also remembered it rather quickly. With this one I partially struggle because when changing the string, the bow is “jumping” – not really visible on this video, but usually that happens and destroys the sound and gives me an unnice feeling. No idea how to really get rid off it. I hope it´s not becoming a bad habit…

Jetlag

This tune was writen by Johannes Mayr, not only my nyckelharpa teacher in Altenmünster but also the person who gave birth to my nyckelharpa. And even though I struggled at the course because the fever made me unable to concentrate when we played this, I loved it. And that hasn´t changed, even though my fingers here and there probably have a different opinion on how great that tune is 😉

Now I only maybe need to play it a tad faster ^^

En avant blonde

Last but not least, “En avant blonde” – no, I did NOT learn it this year but last year in Altenmünster. And I hated it back then because I just couldn´t wrap my head around it and whenever I tried, it sucked. And it got worse and worse to the point I didn´t even bother to play it.

To be fair, no idea why I decided on kicking my ass and repeat it until I get it right – nd not just the first part. And I really learned to enjoy the tune, it´s not even been too hard to pick it up. I am really clueless where the problem has been back in the days.

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Nyckelharpa Trip – Part 2 (04.-06.05.2019)

04.05.2019 – Saturday

The first night was okay, but I was still somehow tired and still not feeling healthy at all. But the playing went better and better though I still struggle to play by ear and just by watching and thus had to cling to the sheet music more than I had initially wanted to.

Also the learning speed this time was so much higher than last year in the beginners course…and yes I did struggle at times to really follow but I kicked my ass and then got back on track again and learned a lot. I also learned that in order to improve my skills I really have to cut down my training and necessarily include at least 2h a week of playing Nyckelharpa. That’s gonna be easy at the start because the fire is back, but let’s see how it will commence.

But once again I am so glad that I came here because it’s not only inspiration and motivation but I can literally see how much my.playing improves and that’s simply the best thing ever!

In the evening there was the teachers concert again, and it was stunning as last time. One day I might be able to do like 10% of that hahahaha it was a nice evening full of music and chatting, and it got late – just as I expected to say the least.

05.05.2019 – bye bye Altenmünster, hello Augsburg and welcome back meals with meat

I woke up feeling even sicker than the day before and with a headache and dead tired though I had slept well – but maybe just not enough.

After breakfast followed the last hours of lessons and fixing my one stuck key on the Nyckelharpa. The wood obviously had decided to grow and thus the key didn’t go back anymore into it’s original position after having played it. It was interesting to see how to fix something like this even though I would probably die if fear to fuck up when needing to do it on my own.

We also repeated all played pieces again and worked on the last one we had played the day before and I am happy it went better than yesterday. Still I noticed that due to feeling sick my concentration wasn’t the best.

Then only lunch followed and the course was over and my aunt picked me up again and we went to Augsburg and had some of her amazing strawberry cake – sooo good. Then a power nap, some laundry and packing and some tea and the we went to a great Croatian-German restaurant close by. And that food was SO good and I was so stuffed…after all if the vegetarian stuff at the course I really did enjoy my meat.

And then I dropped into bed dead tired and exhausted. Just to have a night full of weird dreams…

06.05.2019 – Bye bye Augsburg

It’s been one of those nights where proper sleep is just not possible though you are dead tired and your body is craving for a good and long night of sleep. So both of that didn’t happen and I really felt sick and weak on top, so the perfect conditions for travelling back home for 8h. That´s been how long it initially should have taken. But it came all differently.

Ttravelling with my Nyckelharpa flightcase is a handle because of lacking space for it on the trains and if you sit in the bike department, you are being told to go and sit somewhere else because you don’t have a bike. Had to suggest to the lady to feel free and put the case up into the luggage shelf. Well, she couldn’t have failed more and thus left me alone afterwards at least.

It was all good until bremen and when some contruction vehicle had fallen onto the tracks and the tracks qwere blocked and that damned vehicle even killed some necessary wires which then led to a damned 2h delay in the end. I was so dead, there is no words for it because I felt terribly sick and all I wanted was go and see the doctor.

But those two trainrides really made me decide on taking the car for the next times when traveling with my instrument because it’s too annoying and just exhausting. That would also eliminate needing to change trains and carry around that heavy luggage all the time…

Nyckelharpa Trip – Part 1 (02/03.05.2019)

Hello Augsburg (02./03.05.2019)

It’s been 8h of travelling for me on Thursday to get to Augsburg from Wilhelmshaven and as usual with Deutsche Bahn it’s not come without hassle and running and sweat. When I had to change in Bremen my regional train had a delay of 15min and my initial change over time was 15min.

So with my suitcase, backpack and Nyckelharpa flightcase I was flying down stairs, pushing people aside and flying up stairs again. And man the train conductor if the ICE waited for all of us desperate souls even though the regional train info was “it’s not gonna wait”. My hero if the day, really.

The trainride then was okay, it was quiet and I had noone sitting next to me, so all laid back. At the station in Augsburg my aunt then picked me up and we went to her place and relaxed, my mum came around and then afterwards I went to bed pretty early because I felt sick like a dog after I had figured in the morning already that I had a fever.

The time on Friday I spent with a little walk that was cut short due to the weather and then spent the day in the warmth: hot tea, warm blanket. Mostly sleepy, and feeling sick. But no chance to now ditch the course.

Hello, Altenmünster (03.05.2019)

the headline could be “same as last year” – why? Because I have been here last year when I started Nyckelharpa, and also had Johannes Mayr as a teacher. Back then it was the total beginners course, this time the advanced beginners course.
But that’s not all yet – we are in the same course room, I am sitting at exactly the same spot as last year. Enough? No. I have my bed in the same room as last year and even the same bed as last year (just the bedlinen is a different style I guess). And last but not least – I struggle the same way as I did last time.

I know I haven’t been practicing Nyckelharpa for like 1.5-2 months now, but I was confident. But you know, I still tend to be playing with sheet music in front of my face and not by ear and looking and that’s still how he is teaching. and again I am getting frustrated by easy things because they feel so tough and I feel like I am the dumbest person in the room. At least I came here knowing I might face these struggles, still hoping they wouldn’t pop up though. it cracks my ego and I wonder if it’s the right course though I am certain it is. Somehow. Sounds totally weird, I know.

And at the same time it feels so good to have a teacher there and other players, it’s like you aren’t fighting alone anymore and that’s a good feeling. And it’s like I need that more often to keep that spark of love alive that I lately lost and that resulted in rather hanging on the couch when not training instead of playing Nyckelharpa.

Whilst I am writing this I guess most (except for few that were also tired) are still sitting in the food court room thingy having a beer, but my joints hurt, my head hurts and I feel like the fever is returning. Maybe it hadn’t even left since the morning, I don’t know. I just feel terribly weak.

What feels good though is that I turned off my mobile data – and as there is no wifi, it’s sort of a digital detox until Sunday lunchtime, more or less at least. And that was really necessary and I mean, I don’t have much time anyways for my phone xD

I usually am really social but today I prefer my sleep – tomorrow night I will be social. And not get much sleep because breakfast is at 8am. And then we’re playing until 12:30 lunchtime and then again until 6pm… And again there will be a little concert of our teachers, which is always so lovely! I really can’t wait and that’s also why I don’t wanna be dead tired tomorrow.

Nyckelharpa – February 2019

Well, to be fair, February wasn´t the most music-focussed month that I´ve had in my life. I was more focussing on sports and work and everything else than picking up my nyckelharpa in a quiet moment in order to really make progress.

That´s why I´ve played mostly the tunes from January, as well as I did a lot of finger exercises that I did not (yet) record – I might do so later on depending on how much March is filled with more (or less) interesting proper tunes 😉

As you already know the “old” stuff and it´s not making sense to just report, I am just gonna share two little easy tunes that I newly played in February – also taken from the book that Jule Bauer published.

And to be fair, just too late I noticed how little you can see of my playing from this perspective…next time it´s gonna be better again, promised!

Nyckelharpa – January 2019

 

It´s been a bit of a re-start for me, and I am starting to really work on basics because I got a nyckelharpa book for Christmas. And this means that I am working on little melodies, a lot of finger exercises, basics as I mentioned. Less fancy tunes, but more work that I need for the future. But of course there is soon gonna be more normal tunes again, too. But also those little ones that I did this month.

Even though they´re not too fancy, I decided to share those anyways – because they´re part of my nyckelharpa process- and I am not ashamed to show these basics because everyone starts small!

Nevermind my face, it´s just terrible hahahaha and I cannot change it somehow, it´s a hopeless case xD

But on the positive side – I like the sound in my new apartment, it´s beautiful and so much better than in my Hamburg apartment! It seems to sound clearer, brighter and less…squeaky. Or something.

Nyckelharpa – September 2018

Days: 8/30
Total time: 230  min


Perry the Partridge

I started to go new ways, I needed fresh thoughts and not having a teacher made me go and search YouTube for inspiration and useful tunes. And so I stumbled across this page and I will be taking a lot of tunes from there from now on.

This tune came kinda easy – sure it ain´t too difficult, but it felt rather good from the start on, and it was fun playing. So when I recorded this. I had rather planned it for private purpose but I think it turned out nice enough to share it on here. I loved the melody and the finger playing, amazing!


A little own melody

It´s funny how this happened – I was actually trying out some finger play exercises, and couldn´t exactly get them right and somehow it started to annoy the hell out of me and I more and more drifted away from the initial melody and started playing what felt like it could be working…

And within half an hour or something like this I had this little 30 seconds piece on the d-string. nothing top notch or difficult, but I like it anways an the play is to either continue this one or do these freestyle things every month from now on to really feel the music and the playing instead of just playing what´s written in the sheet music.


Flagpole Tree – Melody

Well, I struggle with the speed of the original tune and that one damned part of the tune, because my finger does not want to obey. Usually you play each part twice. But after having tried a zillion of times, I cut it short and decided to play each part just once for this month´s video.

I will continue practicing it in October, becaused there is plenty of work still to be done to get me at least a tad satisified – including a harmony line that I still wanna learn playing and then add it all together. Long road to go, and one day it works like a charme and the other it doesn´t…

Nyckelharpa – August 2018

Okay, I don´t know how to tell you because some of you might´ve been waiting…as quite some days passed by since August ended…

I´ll make it short: There won´t be videos for August.

But breathe, I haven´t given up. I simply didn´t really practice enough to really see any improvement. It´s been a busy month for me where I focussed a lot on anything but not on playing Nyckelharpa and I am really feeling guilty for that.

Especially since everyone keeps asking me how it goes, and I am like “well, let´s change the topic”. When coming home from work I had the problem I was simply too tired and not able to focus or concentrate properly anymore.

But for September I really want to work hard again, so that I get two new songs played to an extend that I can present it to you. One will be a Christmas song, and the other one a song I found online with a tutorial video.

So I won´t be playing “Ode to joy” and “Friarvisan” anymore and continue with it – surely for warm up purposes, but not for video purpose. And at some point I will also be continuing with “En avant blonde”.

Nyckelharpa – July 2018

So, I had around less than three weeks in July because I was on vacation in the first week of July.

And generally, I am somehow not really pleased with the progress – simply because it sucks that whenever I press the “record”-button o record the progress, I fuck it all up. It´s terrible. It can have worked a zillion of times before, but once the camera is rolling, it sounds…like I am a 100% noob and just a 99% noob.

But generally – I know I´ve been making progress, the high notes feel at least better though they still need to sound better, but I guess that´s really a bowing issue that I need to continue working on. The bowing is THE issue still, still trying to figure it out how to fully use it and how to tilt it and everything.

Long way to the top and practice just makes perfect – and with the heat and sweat therefore, practice wasn´t my best friend. No need to deny that – it´s obvious unfortunately. But now I am really fully back with it, and with a schedule arranging sports and music, it will get better. I promise.

And don´t be surprised – August will be the month where I will start working more and more on…Christmas songs! So I will be ready once Christmas will come, as always, very suddenly.

Oh and: nevermind my facial circus whilst playing ;))


Friarvisan (July version / month 3)

Still not happy with it, and I know the recording isn´t too amazing – but I was just fed up recording it again and again. It´s that pehomena of the “record” button – once pressed, I feel insecure again. Though it worked many times before just perfectly well…

Usually I am playing this as my start into the practice, because it´s the tune I know best so my fingers get a bit warm and I feel good with everything. Usually that works, sometimes it doesn´t when everything goes wrong already with this so well known song.


Ode to Joy (July version / month 2)

I still don´t like playing it, somehow it cannot stick to my mind. But it´s gettng better, baby steps. The switch from A to D string works better and better, and I more and more feel safe with it. Though playing faster and doing it still feels a bit like playing russion roulette to be honest.

And somehow, opposite to Friarvisan, I alread got sick and tired of the tune itself. I cannot hear it anymore, it´s been enough. but not until it sounds really good and I can playing it a couple of times one afte rthe other without mistakes and without hesitation and without insecurities.


En avant blonde (July version / Month 1)

Ultimate battle. I didn´t like it during the course already, and I mean playing, not how it sounds. I don´t know why I struggle so hard with that, because it´s not too difficult I would say. Part 2 will be more difficult than the first part that you´re hearing here. But atm it still sounds too terrible to present it to anyone.

I sort of kept postponing the start of practice for this one again and again so basically I played this for maybe…a week or so, so don´t be surprised if it still sounds like a hafbuilt house looks like…

August will hopefully bring more motivation to play it and to also play it all together…
let´s see…

Nyckelharpa – May & June 2018

Since everything went really quick and from one week to the other I had a nyckelharpa. Whilst on one evening in May I was still complaining to someone about it, the next morning I had the offer for the instrument and in the evening had decided on buying it.

And one week later I already went to Bremen to pick it up – it still feels surreal, as I had already gotten used to the thought of needing to wait quite a while and then everything was like a miracle and went so fast…

Anyways: so far I haven´t really learned playing an instrument pretty much on my own, and that´s a challenge for me – with flute and cello I always had lessons once a week, here I have Youtube and…myself. And then hope that I will manage somehow.

With this little monthly series I wanna track my progress and share it with you! But keep in mind for this one: neither my phone is a good recorder (have to find a solution for that), nor am I skilled yet as my focus was still on my half marathon and not on playing nyckelharpa.

I kinda feel guilty that I didn´t get to play as much as I had imagined I could´ve been playing but from July on, I will rock this!


“Friarvisan” (played in May and June)

“Friarvisan” is a tune that I already played at the course back in Altenmünster, and already back then I actually enjoyed it. It´s been now the first tune that I started going back to being at home and having my nyckelharpa with me.

And to be honest – I was surprised how well it went, though of course there is a lot to still improve with this tune. The high notes and me are still not best friends, and I really have to work on my bowing technique.

Unfortunately I didn´t get to record it in June anymore, so you get the May version of my playing ^^


“Ode to Joy” (played in June)

Actually I had planned on playing the second tune from the course but I disliked it already back then so I ditched that plan for now and ended up playing “Ode to Joy” which actually started off as an “Ode to Hate” because somehow I didn´t want to get it working. No idea why, as it actually isn´t that difficult, but it was a struggle.

I am not feeling confident with switching strings during playing yet – I know it sounds hilarious, but keep in mind I am not playing for that long yet.

Nyckelharpa course – Altenmünster (13.04.-15.04.2018)


It kinda sucks when you have written this entry already for quite a while and then forgot to really set a date to have it published. Ah well, but now!

Friday – 13.04.2018

Early mornings are not my cup of tea, never have been and never will be – but it´s the necessary evil when you have a long travel day ahead.

My route had been home to Hamburg mainstation (train), Hamburg mainstation to Frankfurt mainstation (train), Frankfurt mainstation to Augsburg station (train) and then from Augsburg to Altenmünster by car thanks to my aunt.

Anyways, the trainrides were bloody hell because even though I had booked quiet departments on the train, it again just was not quiet at all. Screaming children, people with too much parfume and and and…without my headphones on I would have never been able to fall asleep again. But somehow I was too excited and nervous to fully fall asleep. Plus, I started my trip when it was 4°C – and arrived in Augsburg in sunny weather and what felt like 20°C – wrongly dressed and that didn´t help my mood.

But the planned lunch with my aunt made it all better – and has a surprise to offer, as my mum came by and joined and both had not told me about this plan. And that was amazing! It was a great time relaxing, having some good food and chatting before going to Altenmünster. Or: going to the place somewhere around nothing.

I was welcomed warmly and was the first one to arrive and choose a bed in my three people room – to be honest, I am not used to sleeping together with strangers anymore. Next time it will be a single room – not because the people and I did not get along, that was all good. I just need privacy, I noticed.

So yeah, the evening then started with the dinner and a surprise – due to two vegans, it was gonna be an all vegan weekend, and not just vegetarian. That vegan thing was to become a running gag for the whole stay there – it was funny, and many great and different people from many backgrounds.

And what surprised me was…we started practicing already tonight! I had been up for like 16h by the time I touched the nyckelharpa first, and my concentration was nowhere close to being any good for starting to play a new instrument. And that already describes my start – I couldn´t focus, and as we were playing by hearing and seeing and not with music sheets, I had not only a new insturment to master but also this new way of learning. And that was too much – I was frustrated, upset and annoyed with myself. I had come to the course with the expectation that it will be pretty easy because I am playing cello and have some skills already . but I was really grounded after this evening, and my mood was low. I would have loved to take a bus back to Augsburg and just quit. But I couldn´t.

Saturday – 14.04.2018

New day, new chances – and it was gonna be a good day. I had been grounded, I had dropped the expectations I had on myself and was free to just try. And that´s what really went well all of a sudden, and went so much better than on Friday. It´s been worlds between yesterday and today, and I felt much more confident because things worked AND started to sound well! Not always, but most times, and I even was able to close my eyes whilst playing here and there and not stare at what and where my fingers were.

We learned a second piece of music and that piece of music was what really made me happy – I liked the melody, I just liked the whole thing. It felt better than the first one, so it all played together.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner were okay, I probably haven´t been eating as much bread lately as I have been until now on this weekend but somehow…I would´ve wished for a different kind of food, but well, shit happens. I am not here for the food anyways 😉

But yeah, we had several sessions of learning, and then also were able to play on our own on our rooms, because it´s been really difficult to hear yourself and figure out how you sound when you have 4 other poeple also playing. But I was satisfied in the evening, and so the little concert the two teachers (plus two students) played then was something I was totally able to enjoy. It was simply beautiful, and showed me once more where I could be if I worked hard enough – and had an insturment, but that´s yet another story 😉

It´s been another longer evening and a shorter night that then followed – I am not used to only sleeping 7 hours a night when it is weekend – not my style at all…

Sunday – 15.04.2018

The last morning. And it felt weird, waking up and packing my stuff already in the morning before breakfast because quickly after lunch my aunt was gonna pick me up and bring me to the trainstation.

But first breakfast, another session with palying both pieces of music again and sorting some questions on how to rent a nyckelharpa, how long ordering one takes and all of those questions that just come up when you are getting hooked on playing the instrument. It´s simply not as easy as with an average insturment – I wish it was…

But yeah, the last sessions and practicing went well again, and so I was able to leave with a satisfied feeling and positive thoughts when my aunt picked me up and also gave a ride to a course colleague as we both had to go to Augsburg station. There I then enjoyed some silence without music, as I had a headache from all the noise all weekend long.

On the train it´s been over though with the silence, because it´s been so noisy again – without music I would have not been able to fall asleep once again. And of course in hannover where I had to change trains, my train had a delay and so I came home even later than initially planned and was pretty dead when I dropped into bed. But happy.