Friends, Colleagues, and Students! You know by now that I’m a big advocate for playing tunes by ear, in all keys, to help develop sound, phrasing, musicality, intonation, range, technical ability, dynamic contrasts, theory skills, composition and analysis– jeez, is there anything tunes CAN’T do for your musical progress?
Well, oftentimes I come up at a lack for a tune to do or I’ve done the same few for several weeks and need something new. Or, a student might need a new tune and wants something up a level, or in a different meter, you name it. Yesterday morning I started making a list of simple tunes.
By afternoon I’d created a whole spreadsheet detailing each tune’s level of difficulty, range, meter, tempo, style, and basic technical considerations. And then I shared it as a collaborative link.
How to use the document:
1. Decide what level of tune you want to try (easy- basic intervals and key; medium- some altered tones, bigger range; difficult- modulations, technical passages, long phrases) and what technical considerations you might want to involve (range, dynamics, articulation, etc), and pick a tune accordingly.
2. Decide what key is easiest for you to start in. If you are looking to work on higher register tones, start in a key where the tune’s highest note is in your comfort range, then transpose the tune upward by half steps until you reach the range you want to improve. This can be done in the opposite direction for low range. You can move around the circle of fifths, also.
3. Find a good tempo for you to learn at, and set your metronome.
4. Put a drone track (free mp3 download) to your first key. Headphones are best for this, unless you have a quality sound system. Make sure you can hear both the drone and your own sound.
5. Play that tune!
How to add to this document:
1. Open it.
2. Make sure the tune you want to add isn’t already on it.
3. Add your tune and all the relevant details. Feel free to add comments about why you like it or how it helps you.
4. Repeat with another tune!