pitch

Playing the Blues“Can I hear your progress on that song we were working on last week please?”

He just shrugged his shoulders and looked at me sheepishly!

“Oh okay then. How about those exercises we were doing? Can I hear how you got on with them?”

He just looked at his feet!

“Oh dear! What HAVE you been practicing?”

Suddenly a mischievous grin appeared on his face.

“I’ve been playing the blues ALL week!!! It’s been driving my mum crazy. I play it before and after school. I can’t stop!”

It never ceases to amaze me how much fun students have at learning to improvise the blues. And not forgetting the kudos it earns them when they can use it to entertain friends and family. Best of all, it’s just so easy to learn!

So this month, here are some free resources to get you started or to add to the ones you use already. I’ve tried to make the sheet music universal to whatever instrument you play or teach (treble & bass clef/guitar & bass tab). I’ve also recorded a slow blues backing track (in G) that you and your students can “jam” with.

Introducing the coolest scale on the planet! Whatever instrument your student plays, they will love learning the  [···]

Read More
NoteWorks in Action!

Click to enlarge

Isn’t it frustrating watching a new student struggling to work out the pitch of the notes on their sheet music. Is it a C or an A? You can hear them muttering “every good boy…” under their breathe whilst their parent waits anxiously on the edge of their seat to see if they might finally “hear a tune.”

Or what about a more advanced student? Surely by now they should be able to recognise that note on the ledger lines? Why can’t they remember to play a G sharp when playing in the key of A major? If only they would play that note in the correct octave?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried everything under the sun over the years to try and help my pupils quickly recognise pitch; flash cards, all manner of computer software and other miscellaneous methods in an effort to help them become better music readers. After all, faster pitch recognition equals more fluent sight reading. New pieces then get learnt quicker and everybody, pupil, parent and music teacher are much happier!

 

This could be it!

And then the light bulb moment! One of my students introduced me to  [···]

Read More

Photo: cliff1066

Growing up with perfect (or absolute) pitch, I experienced high levels of success in musicianship tests in school and college. Being able to sight-sing and to write down melodies and chord sequences accurately was a breeze, and I could quote passages from set pieces in exams without having to study them. I felt a lot of sympathy for the other students who struggled to write down what they were hearing, or to sing what they were reading, and I witnessed the challenges of teachers trying to help them.

It was when I began to teach that I realized that my perfect pitch was also a handicap. All I had were the tools my teachers had used—for example, matching well-known tunes with intervals (e.g. “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” for a perfect 5th) so that the student, presuming that they read the interval correctly, would be able to pitch it. But were they supposed to do that for each interval in the whole piece? That was hardly feasible.

 [···]

Read More