Saturday, October 31, 2009

Memorization and pitch

Here's an interesting experience from lessons this week...

I had a student memorize the beginning of a standard solo. He devoted a fair amount of time to it and returned with it (mostly) memorized. Here's the interesting part..

His intonation was better.

So let's think this through:
  • Learning from memory means listening to determine if you're playing the right notes.
  • Your focus of attention turns away from the print on the page to the sound in your head.
  • Boom, instead of focusing on the mechanics, perhaps you are now focusing on sound.

What if I sent each incoming freshman a simple recording (mp3) with accompaniment and asked them to learn it by ear to play in that first lesson?

In other words: Give lessons on a piece where no printed music is involved.

Might be an interesting start to the semester.


jnmbailey said...

As in a previous post, it would be interesting to find if the student found altered positions by ear in this exercise.

Hoyt said...

The accompaniment software Smartmusic has an entire category called Play by Ear. It starts out very simple and progresses to fairly difficult exercises. It's great to get students thinking "off the page".

Brad Edwards said...

Wow, Hoyt, thanks. I have that software sitting right here on my computer and I didn't even know that feature was available.
Thanks for pointing it out.

Greg Campbell said...

I have noticed this in my own practicing. I also think that if you are playing from memory you have nothing else to look at but the slide. I practice most of my excerpts this way now, I have music on the stand but I find that I do not look at it very much.

Double the Reeder, Double the Fun said...

Memorizing particularly difficult passages really helps me to play them—I stop focusing on fingerings and the difficulty of the passage and instead on the notes themselves and how they ought to fall together regardless of technical challenges.

Double the Reeder, Double the Fun said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brad Edwards said...

I only deleted it because it was a duplicate posting. No censorship..

Alaina said...

Thats a really great idea. I don't memorize my music very often, but i find it very liberating when I do. It free me up to concentrate on so many aspects of my playing. I have heard of the smartmusic program and would love to start using the play by ear part with young students.