Some advice from Mally
A friend once said to me "You're lucky, you can play a musical instrument."
"Luck" I mused, "There's no luck involved at all; it's all down to hard work and long hours of practice." The only bit of luck I've ever had in my musical career was, when I was nine, my teacher asked, "Who would like to learn to play the recorder?" I put my hand up.
The only luck you can have in music is to be introduced to it at an early age. The rest is all down to hard work and long hours of practice. This site is dedicated to providing books to help you along the road but they have no value without practice. Their value is directly proportionate to the number of hours a day you practise. Apologies for over use of the word practice but it can't be stressed enough.
A session at Sidmouth with Tim Edey
When selecting a book it may be useful to bear in mind these pointers:
I consider it unwise to learn a traditional tune from a single source, this is particular true of printed sources. Tunes are available from three sources; books, recordings and live performances (stage or session). Try for a minimum of three when creating your setting. For instance, two books and a session, two CDs and a book etc. It is also good practice to vary pieces on subsequent repetitions. Traditional music books differ from those of a more mainstream nature in that transcriptions of duplicated tunes will vary from book to book. My advice is don't be put off buying a book because it contains tunes you already have. I would consider it far wiser to select a book containing tunes already in your collection. From several versions you can select the phrases you like best, or perhaps they favour your instrument, and blend them into a final version unique to yourself. A big danger to be encountered when learning a tune from a single book is that the version could possible be wildly out, rendering it useless when playing with other musicians. This can be particularly true of the older books such as O'Neill's. Don't let this put you of this book, it's one of my Must Haves.
Don't be put off by book titles. Fiddler's Tune-Book is a good example. This book is not just applicable to the fiddle it is for all instruments. Music books don't relate to instruments, they relate to genre. Select music according to your interest, morris, Irish, Scottish etc., not the type of instrument you play.
Tuition books are often a good source of repertoire. Some have large tune sections. The Irish Fiddle Book by Matt Cranitch and Geraldine Cotter's Traditional Irish Tin Whistle Tutor are good examples.
Books will only help you to learn the notes of a tune. To pick up the rhythm of traditional music you must devote a large amount of time listening to both recordings and live musicians.