Maree, The issues you raise in your posting above are exactly the ones that someone that IS going about things in the right way is always asking about. You’re on the right path. First off, you would do well to search YouTube for the title of any new song that haven’t heard of. I cannot get over how many songs that appear in lessons have been posted on YouTube. I teach my Zoom students using the Sweet Pipes books. They are full of songs most people have never encountered. Yes hearing a recording of a song is helpful in the beginning.
I also work with my students on approaching new music like doing a puzzle or breaking a code. There are three steps to learning a song you do not know. 1, READ the puzzle, meaning count outloud the beats of the notes for a few measures while tapping your leg. Any words will do. “Bum Bump-a Bum tid-y Tid-l-tid-l.” If you do that you’re already inside the song.
2. S-l-o-w W-a-y D-o-w-n and play only one or two measures. Get them right. Try to identify the end of the first phrase. Sometimes there’s a long note or a rest or some kind of ‘landing.’ Add one measure at a time slowly till you get the phrase.
3. In that slow pace play just that first phrase. Yes, it will have lots of mistakes still. You aren’t getting ready for Carnagie, you’re trying to get the
sound and feel of the piece into your body. At this point you should have had enough for today or this hour or whatever, and you should leave the piece for a bit or a day. Just MAKE SURE you come back to it and pick up where you left off.
I’m 73-years old and learning Bach’s second Brandenburg Concerto. Difficult piece. I’ve been at it about a month… maybe two. I’ve been listening to the piece since I was a teen. I just have arrived to where I can play the piece along with a recording. Me! One of the Brandenburgs at speed! Hoo-Hah! I can’t get over that my wife hasn’t moved out, I played it over and over so many times. Repetition and avoidance of frustration. That’s all I can tell you.
All of us find diving into a new piece is daunting. I perform pieces I’ve never known before, and I don’t mention too often that there have been a few I had to walk away from… usually cause I wasn’t there yet as a player. I still cannot play the Bach Chaconne on guitar. I hate it, but I respect it. I have yet to see a method book or teaching that gives students pieces too hard for a beginner. But… your words make sense. Starting a piece up from nothing? Cold! A cold, cold world at times, but part of the learning. You are saying the right things. You asked of the right questions and issues in your posting. You ARE on the path. If you weren’t I wouldn’t take the time I just did to support you here. I for one would love to hear how you’re doing and/or answer anything you want to ask about. Oh, and switching to Alto was a great idea. Just don’t try to learn both C and F instruments at the same time. Pick one and stay with it.
Energy, Energy, Energy!