You don’t always have to have your instrument to practice!
Playing an instrument requires the training of different skills: being able to physically produce a sound, the ability to play quickly, and the stamina to play for long periods of time, are physical skills that you develop whilst playing. These skills are important, however they are only part of being a musician.
Have you wondered why two different musicians on the same instrument can play the same piece of music but sound completely different? This is because of musicality.
What is musicality?
Musicality can be defined as “sensitivity to music” and “the quality of being musical”.
Playing notes is one thing but performing music is another.
How can we improve our musicality?
Anyone can broaden their musicality by playing, listening, and attempting to understand what we hear.
Listening is one of the most important parts of musicality but is often overlooked for technical ability; i.e. being able to play fast guitar solos like Slash, or bebop solos like Charlie Parker. Listening with purpose is a skill that can be worked on over time.
Let’s start with interval training
Intervals are the distance between two pitches. We can easily see how far apart they are when they’re written down, but can you identify it by ear? Learning to hear the space between two notes is an important skill that can be improved with interval training.
A good place to start is by listening to:
Some people will be able to identify intervals just by hearing them, but if not, there are some tricks to help!
An Octave. Whilst just the same note at a higher pitch might seem simple at first, it can be tricky to hear. If you think of the song Somewhere Over The Rainbow, the interval of an octave is the first two notes of of the song.
A Major 3rd. This can be identified as the first two notes of Oh When The Saints Go Marching In.
A Perfect 5th. This is my favourite interval as it is the opening of the fanfare from Star Wars!
There are lots of websites and apps available that help you to practice hearing intervals; here is one I found useful:
On this website you can make yourself a short quiz by adding in or removing intervals to test your skills. Remember to start with just a few intervals to get used to them, then add one or two into your practice over time.
Can you find examples of other songs that match these intervals? Write them down so you don’t forget and test yourself on them regularly!
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