Driving to the Tunes

by adminKFS on · 4 comments

When I lived in Boston, I never once drove a vehicle. Since moving back to Cape Breton, I’ve been doing a lot more driving – it’s a must in Cape Breton to have a car – and I’ve realized how much I’ve missed cruising to the tunes- and how much practice time I’ve been missing out on. I always tell my students that listening time is just as valuable as hands on practice time. But without driving, I wasn’t making much time myself for listening. I’m not much for walking while listening to an iPod, or working in the house while listening to music unless I’m by myself, but these days, I’ve been doing a lot of solo driving and accomplishing a lot!

I’ve had one particular album in the car for over three months – just that one album because I love it that much- and one day last week I finally decided to take a crack at the new tunes I’ve been hearing on it. I pretty much had them exactly upon the first try. When you drive you probably do a combination of subconscious and conscious listening. Have you ever had a song or tune that you’ve been listening to a lot randomly pop into your head without trying to recall it? This is the first step to learning by ear- having the tunes firmly in your head so they just flow out of you.

So the next time you feel you don’t have time to practice, pop some of your favourite tunes in the car. Perhaps try and find some good recordings of the tunes you are learning if you don’t have any already. You don’t have to keep listening to the same recordings for 3 months (!)- but let them seep in for a good while. You’ll be surprised at how much you can’t get them out of your head!

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April 3, 2013 at 6:47 am, Blaine Jessome said...

For some reason I’ve been listening to a lot of slow stuff. Hector the Hero, Ashokan Farewell. I still have trouble playing without the sheet music. I’ve only been playing for 10 months but I picked up reading music really fast and I’m fifty years old. I now believe anyone can do this if they put their mind to it.

April 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm, Kimberley Fraser said...

Thanks for this, Blaine. Great that you’re picking the tunes up quickly. Learning by music is great- it gives you access to lots of repertoire. The thing to do is get off the page as quickly as possible, though, and you will see your ear and retention of tunes develop.

September 14, 2013 at 8:49 am, Blaine Jessome said...

Hi Kimberly. I’m in my second year of playing but I’m in a rut I’m learning tunes in the keys of D, A, and G. I’m still having trouble learning the tunes from memory. I’m learning a lot of slow airs and marches but sometimes my bow seems to have a mind of it’s own. It feels like I should be playing faster.My brain wants to play faster, like reels. I’ve just been diagnosed with OCD and ADHD. Do you have any advice about my dilemma? It’s really frustrating! I only practice for 15-20 minutes at a time because I seem to learn faster. I’ve tried using a metronome but I concentrate too much on the beat. I’ve recently purchased an old Strad copy violin that was built I am told in the early 1900’s. I’ve had it repaired. It has the sweetest sound. I normally use Helicore and Dominant strings. Could you recommend a string. I’m using Pirastro Chromcor right now and the violin just booms. It projects very nicely. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    September 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm, Kimberley Fraser said...

    Hi Blaine,
    Thanks for your comment.
    So sorry for a delayed reply here! Keep up the listening and perhaps try and be able to sing the tunes accurately before trying to play them. That way you will know they are in your head. Try not to memorize fingerings,etc but use the tune as your guide. The metronome is a great tool but perhaps get a handle on the melodies first before trying to work them up to speed so the metronome won’t seem so intrusive. As for strings, I also use Chromcor and always have. They seem to suit my fiddle best!
    Hope that helps! All the best!
    Kimberley

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