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10 Steps to Learning a Notated Piece of Music

Posted by on Jan 29, 2017 in Fun, Tips | 0 comments

1.         Acquaint yourself with the piece. This means listening to it, if possible, so you have an idea of what it should sound like.

2.         Practice the scale relating to the key of the piece. As a preparatory exercise, you could practice the scale relating to the key of the piece, making yourself aware of where sharps or flats occur.

3.         Co-ordinate hands as you go.  Begin with the first phrase, repeating until it is easy. If you are playing an instrument where co-ordination between hands is required, include this, although sometimes the technique of separating right hand and left hand parts before putting them together is applicable depending on the piece.

wedding band melbourne

4.         Make sure you settle on fingering that is comfortable and works well in the piece and use this fingering every time.

5.         Repeat until easy.

6.        Do not always start from the beginning of the piece. When the first phrase, as well as co-ordination, has been achieved concentrate on the second phrase.  You may find you have trouble joining the first and second phrases, so practise going from the end of one to the beginning of the other until it is easy.

7.         Work on the next phrase in the same way.  However, when you come to joining the second and third phrases, make sure you work only on this join.  Be careful not to always begin the piece from bar one.  This can waste time.

8.        Pinpoint the areas to work on.  Many times I have heard people play the first four bars of a piece brilliantly while the rest of it slowly falls apart.  This happens because whenever a mistake or difficulty has occurred, the practitioner has begun the piece from bar one, played until they hesitated or tripped up and gone back to play from bar one again.  Obviously nothing will get sorted out this way, although your first bars will be brilliant!

9.           Learning music is also about training muscle memory, so teach your fingers the ‘dance’ routine by drilling the movements. As you do this you will also be learning the sound of the piece and how it feels to play it.

10.         This method of learning can also be applied on a smaller scale.  You may, for example, find a section within a phrase is giving you trouble.  You will then need to work on this smaller section in the same way as you work on your phrases, breaking them down into individual notes and beats if need be.

Here is what one piano teacher, who has influenced a ton of wedding band in Melbourne, says about implementing this method of learning;

“We worked a bit more on “St Louis Blues”. Once again I understand the importance of breaking things down into small sections and repetition. I could tell that my student was struggling a bit with it but as soon as we broke it down and repeated it a few times she was able to get it.” – Leon Sampson

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So Much To Learn So Little Time

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Learn Music | 0 comments

Sometimes there just seems like there’s so much to learn and so little time to do it.

That can be a stressful situation.

Whether you have an impending music exam or performance, there are times when there is a lot of pressure to learn.

So, how are you going to deal with that?

Even if you have whole days in which to practice, you can only learn as fast as your brain and muscle processes allow you to learn.

So here’s a few tips which can help you get through (and hopefully succeed) in those times of high pressure.

  1. Prioritise

My situation at the moment is that I have about five new songs to learn for the Band for hire Melbourne (rehearsing tonight) and a gig on Saturday night which I need to be in top shape for.

I therefore, have to prioritise the learning for the gig because it’s important to me that every public performance I do, I do my best.  However, there is an impending gig for the Band and there’s a lot of learning to do there as well!

Your priorities may be different to mine in the same situation.  What is important is that you are honest about what is most important to you (not anybody else) and focus on preparing your work in accordance with that.

Sometimes it will be a close call but the work you do for one performance will invariably benefit the other performances too.

  1. Practice Other Skills

Yes, you need to practice the pieces you will be playing but it’s also very wise to keep up the technical work, even if you are pressed for time.

This article outlines all the other exercises that are good to practice in order to support a successful performance.

  1. Break It Down

When you look at all the activities you have to accomplish in a week, it can seem daunting.  You may even feel like you don’t even know where to start, or have the feeling that all those tasks will be impossible to get through.

But when you look at what you have to do day by day, and just try to accomplish those tasks, those tasks seem much more manageable.

The same is true for a stressful music workload.

If you can, look at what you need to accomplish by the end of the week and plan out, day-by-day, using your Practice Diary, what you are going to do to meet those tasks.

Think about how much practice time you will have and plan what you will do in those practice sessions to get the maximum benefit.

A lot of time can be wasted with unplanned and unfocused practice.  However, with knowledge and planning on how to practice, you have much more of a chance of meeting your goals.

This article on time management has a great tip in the last video which I use all the time now and it works!

  1. Simplify

If there is really too much on your plate, there are several ways you can handle it:

  1. Have a complete meltdown (not recommended!), but if you feel that is going to happen then….
  1. Be honest, get someone else to do the gig, or shorten the repertoire, or cancel the date.

In other words, try to avoid getting yourself into a situation where you are going to let yourself and/or others down.  It’s just much simpler and better to be honest and let others know where you are at.

  1. Sometimes you may be able to simplify the music and repertoire.

For example, shortening the form, or taking out some movements, or playing songs you already know.

In performance, always take the options you are most confident with.

Ok, well now I’m going to take my own advice and it’s off to the practice room!

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