Monday, August 08, 2016

If you can sing it you can play it

This short video of Isaac Stern giving a masterclass in 1979 should be food for thought for any kind of musician.

If you can sing it you can play it.  - Then if this is the case why not learn to sing?

Well, I couldn't agree more. Though I'm not talking about singing per-say as your chosen instrument of study.

As an improviser, singing (however bad and untrained) should be your most valuable tool. If you can sing a particular line then it's a question of then transferring it to your instrument as is being described here. But if you can't sing the line you trying to play? How can you expect to allow it to come through your instrument? If you can not transmit something through the body's most natural instrument, then it won't come through when you add the extra difficulty of having an instrument to play..

This is why everything you learn you should learn to sing first. Rhythms, melodies, harmonies. Everything. Once you can sing something properly, feel it through your body, you can play it.

What about transcribing? Writing down solos on paper serves good technical purposes, but if you really want to internalise music and gain the maximum benefit, learn to sing it. Not only will you feel the music better and gain valuable vocabulary but it will also aid enormously your listening and memory skills.

If this doesn't make sense then experiment. Try learning a new song in two different ways. The first in a traditional way. Read it and learn to play from paper. The second, learn to sing it first and then transfer it to your instrument once you have grasped it. Which one will help you learn the song better and to be able to have the confidence that you know it well enough in any kind of musical situation? Which one will help you remember the song longer?

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