Even though we're not playing together, we can still practice listening for who has the melody in our ensemble music. Plus, how to turn this into a 5-minute score study activity.
This post is part of the #rehearsalhomealone series for
One of our greatest challenges during COVID-19 is continuing the growth of ensemble skills while we are separated. As we wait for technology to catch up to allow simultaneous playing, how can we help students practice ensemble listening?
Though we don't have the whole ensemble live in the same room, we can still practice listening activities using recordings.
This video takes students step-by-step through:
- Following a recording along with their part
- Marking who has the melody in each major section
- Knowing this is where they will listen next time they play the work
The demonstration piece in the video is the Prelude from the Carmen Suite No. 1 by Bizet. Students can download parts and a recording from IMSLP to follow along the activity.
Ideally, students should use parts and recordings from music you're already working on.
If you've got down time and want to brush up on your aural skills you can do the exact same thing!
- Use the Carmen example above to work on your critical listening in general.
- Use a piece you're working on or studying to deepen your knowledge of the piece.
To really feel what the experience is like IN your ensemble, do the exact activity above with an instrumental part (not the score).
This will give you great insight and recall into what it's like to not have all the information at your fingertips (the score!). It's good for us to remember what it's like sitting in the students' chair!
If you want to go even further:
- Get a blank piece of paper
- Put on a recording of a piece you're working on
- List who has the melody as you hear it in real time
- Transfer these notes onto your score (in case you heard something new!)
This is a great alternative score study method to get you approaching knowing the music from a different angle, and really pushes our aural rather than visual skills.
A simple approach to instantly approach every piece with more musicianship, storytelling and emotion - for us, and our ensembles!
Being told to play louder or softer is okay. Being told why is better.
The path to musical nirvana starts with a single question. And the path to musical hell starts with telling the ensemble what to do.