Learning licks from someone on an instrument different from yours is a great idea, because is exposes limitations of your instrument, but also exposes patterns on your instrument that can be changed or broken, in a good way. Say, learn Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday melodies on your instrument, or check out these short licks…
Category: Software Practice Aids
Sweet New Metronome You Feel Instead of Hear
Check this one out! What a great idea, especially the ability to synchronize the beat across a group. How about 75 of them for a concert band? Or 20 for a jazz band? Maybe they would cut a deal for large orders like that. I’d ask them, if you’ve got the money. Or even four…
Calling All Wind Musicians: Do This NOW (Please)
Without intonation, music doesn’t resonate, and if things are really out of tune, it can be a painful experience. Jazz trumpeter Ingrid Jensen gives an excellent example of how to play in tune. Here’s Ingrid in a video from JALC’s Jazz Academy to tell you more about playing with drones:
Chromatik: An Online Music-Learning Resource
Below is the video on playing thirds that Chromatik chose to include on the site, and what’s really cool (you have to click through to see it), is that on Chromatik, the issues I talk about are illustrated with music theory and written notes. Super-cool! Much more useful and informative than my original video, which is great! I love the internet. When information is free, everybody benefits.
Heard: A Practice Recording App with a 5-minute Buffer
It can be tough to know exactly what to record beyond a specific performance of a song or section. Sometimes, when I’ve been improvising or goofing around during the warm-up, or making a “creative error” while transcribing a solo, I really like the results. When I stumble across a neat musical idea, if I don’t stop to capture it by repeating it or writing it down, it’s gone, usually never to return. Now there’s an app for that.
SoundSlice: YouTube Learning Goodness
If you’re like me, you get a lot of learning done on YouTube, but isolating a passage and repeating it, let alone notating it in some way, is difficult if not impossible. Not any more! Check out SoundSlice.
SoundSlice is a fantastically useful tool geared towards guitarists, but it’s useful for anybody who learns by watching video. Adrian’s done many cool things as a programmer (check his site), and has an album out of his most popular fingerstyle tunes here, most of which you can also find on SoundSlice, like the Beatles tune, Yesterday. Check out the link to Yesterday for a good example of how the site works.
A Killer App for Practice With a Rhythm Section
iRealB is one of the best practice tools I’ve come across in many years. Absolutely brilliant! If you need to practice with a rhythm section in just about any style (jazz, bluegrass, pop, rock, etc.), you’ve got to get this app. It’s available for both iOS, MacOS, and Android devices). Here’s a comprehensive video walkthrough of most of its features:
Drone Your Way to Excellence
Several months ago I spoke with the fantastic jazz trumpeter Ingrid Jensen about practice. She mentioned that one thing she liked to do was practice with drones, using an Indian instrument called a tanpura (also tampura). She said that playing against a drone was a great way to train your ear/horn coordination. Practicing with a drone allows you to really feel how it sounds to play every note against the tonic, throughout your range. It’s meditative.
When I hear a great practice idea, I try it, and I’ve been using this one for a while and absolutely love it. I almost immediately noticed a greater ability to match pitch (my fellow musicians mentioned it in rehearsal), and a deeper awareness of sound in general. Part of the reason for this is that playing with the drone makes me aware of where the horn is naturally out of tune, whether because of the way a horn is made or because of the quirks of the harmonic series.
7 Gifts to Make a Musician Rejoice
Here are some gift ideas for the musician or music-lovers in your life. I either have these, or have looked into these items and have chosen what I believe to be the highest quality gear at the most reasonable prices. Hope these help you out! Happy holidays!
The 300 Pound Gorilla in the Practice Room: Inattention
Throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note and every word I sing – I respect the song. If I cannot project this to a listener, I fail. ~Frank Sinatra Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the…
Getting Loopy: More Practice Tools/Toys
I like to use electronics to make practice more fun and I think, more demanding. In this quick post I’ll show you the Boss Loop Station. It allows me to layer recordings. It can be used with a microphone (that’s how I record trumpet and various percussion), electronics (you can input beats or any other digital media), and/or guitar. Mine is set up with a microphone and guitar input. I won’t get into the details of how the loop station works, but here’s how such a device helps with practice.
Huge Chunk of Awesomeness
A wii remote, percussion, a bunch of servos and solenoids, some 12-tone set theory algorhythms (that word’s a joke, not a typo :-), looping functions, machine improvising and you get this huge chunk of awesomeness. First a performance and then how it’s done. This is so cool and amazing I simply don’t know what to say. Watch Patrick and his “band” Jazari and be inspired and flabbergasted. I wonder how he practices…..