Learning music in different ways

27 09 2009

This new show I’m rehearsing for is challenging my ear for music. I realise that the way I see music in my head is as if it’s laid out on a piano keyboard or written stave. If I’m singing in a chord with other people I visualise where I am on the keyboard in relation to them. Our musical director plays the guitar, and the way he gets us to build up our harmonies is by playing a chord on his guitar then getting us to pick our notes out. So sometimes I’ll be doing the first, sometimes the third, sometimes the minor third, sometimes the fifth…well you get the picture…depending on how high the key is. We also have no music, just pages of lyrics, and I need some way to record what we are learning!

Also he tends to change the key depending on how we are coping, and as I don’t have perfect pitch, I sometimes have no clue where we are in my ‘keyboard vision’.  The trick is not picking a harmony, that’s easy,  it’s consistently picking the right harmony!

So my page tends to be a scribble of circles around words that the soloist is singing with notes like -‘ Starting note here! ‘ ‘OOOhoohooh a third above this one’!

I think it’s good for me, definitely needing to trust my ear more which can only be a good thing. I do tend to rely on the piano and sheet music when I’m learning, and this is giving me different music pictures in my head.

How do other people learn music? Is it based on the first instrument you played? I must admit when I play guitar I tend to still see it as a keyboard, but layed out in five layers, which probably isn’t how guitar players see it. I guess I don’t think in chords so much as melody.

Chords are like vegetables, very good for you 😉




3 responses

28 09 2009

I’d find this frustrating too. Means you can’t learn ahead at all. I’d probably take a dictophone/mp3 recorder along to rehearsal.

5 10 2009

I played recorder 1st (at primary school)… but think in terms of piano which I only started learning @12… actually if I have to try and read music to sing (which I struggle with) I map everything back to middle C…

5 10 2009

Ahhh good old Middle C, my best friend! If I have to guess at a pitch, I also use middle C as my basis 🙂 Sadly, my piano is about a semitone flat, so the middle C that lives in my head is also a bit flat!

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