Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to Be Sure You Really Know That Song

One of my earliest performing "gigs" was as an altar boy when Catholic services were still conducted in Latin. The altar boys found we could recite our lines by following a fraction of a second behind everyone else rather than invest the long minutes of study required to learn each phrase. This worked great except for the unlucky kid called upon to do a “solo” rendition. I feel just like this when using backing tracks in my practice routine and then being called upon to do my own rendition without support of the backing track.

I am a big booster of using backing tracks in practice sessions. They are a great learning tool and fun to boot. I have found though that just because I can play my part cleanly against a backing track does not automatically mean I can do it on my own without following the cues provided by the other members of the virtual band. My solution is simple; sit down and play the entire song without accompaniment other than a metronome.

Many will read this and think "this is an advancing age issue for him, of course I have a repertoire I know front to back." Try it anyway, you may be surprised. My main issue is I do not keep track of how many verses, where the bridge is, and when the solo comes up. So, I jot down the structure of the song as a visual aid and then do the test. The best way to know if you have any challenges though is just do the test. Record yourself and play it back for some critical listening if you want to put more rigor into the exercise.

Whatever your performing gig, you want to build a repertoire of songs you can play front to back. Go ahead and test your readiness before you are the unlucky kid called upon to do a “solo” rendition of your repertoire.


Kyle said...

It really is important to be able to perform your song or part on your own and in time. Great advice, thanks

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