Music Practice Technique after Music Theory Application


in Methods, Music Theory

My practice session started with returning to the basics of applied music theory to learn a song. Refer to: Applied Music Theory in Practice. For the second week I’m looking at where to go after you’ve gotten through the initial learning stage.

I did well on deciding to take those few minutes each day and work at this song a chunk at a time. The most interesting thing was that I had objectives to be completed each day and it was easy to accomplish.

When I sat down to put in those few minutes, I ended up actually spending more time than I had allocated. That is because I had focused on accomplishment and not on time spent. The time flew by; I achieved results, and was able to learn what I needed to be able to improve my performance with the song.

The Next Step – Connecting Phrases

Now that I understand the structure and flow of the song I need to move into stage two and that is to connect all the pieces or my practice chunks of the song.

There are a couple of different ways to approach this and I’m going to use two that have served me well in the past.

The approach is called building by “adding on” and mixed with focused practice on rough spots.

  1. Start by playing two chunks together and notice where the uneasy or rough transitions occur.  Usually at the end of one phrase and the beginning of the next.
  2. Take one or two beats prior to one or two beats after the transition and work to smooth this out.
    1. Start very slowly at first
    2. Play 10 times and only speed up if the last play through was smooth.
  3. Add the next chuck and repeat one and two above.

Note: you may want to segregate this over two or more parts of a song to get the form parts together, then apply the method to putting you’re A and B parts together. Usually there’s a good break between parts or at least a pick up note that makes it easier in the larger picture.

The Result Outlook

You’re going to find that this seems slow at first, but all of a sudden you have played the whole song and not even realize you’ve been at it for an hour, or if you’re like me, maybe two hours or more.

I never look at the clock when I’m practicing unless I have another absolute appointment to make. The focus on achieving small goals has so many more advantages than clock watching.

Now when you figure out how to teach your teenager this technique let me know. I’m still struggling with the parent thing on this respect.

Next week I’ll move to stage 3, Polishing

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