The Key to Music Practice

As we are all well aware, while they’re useful, practicing scales, arpeggios, dominant, major and minor sevenths, inversions thereof and so on is not terribly interesting.  It’s the musical equivalent of grammar study – devoid of context.

Personally I find it much more fun if there’s a backing track playing.  Youtube helpfully has many such tracks, meaning that wherever you are, you can have something to jam to.

For example:

E flat minor was a key with which I was hitherto not well acquainted. But, 15 minutes of going up and down the relevant scales and chords in various combinations has meant that now I’m a lot more familiar with it. Plus, my “scales practice” is now (more) tolerable for people around me.

This is also good practice for transposing music and general improvisation. As mentioned previously, I’ve been playing pop songs I’m familiar with by ear and improvising over them when I’ve got the melody nailed. But, I can take that learnt melody and try to slot it in to the E flat minor track above. Everything can be changed, from the rhythm to the harmonisation that underlies the melody; this is great start for improvisation. The transposed melody to Under the Bridge and the Star Wars theme slotted quite nicely into the track.

And whilst we’re on the topic of improvisation: it’s not really something that can be taught, so anything goes. Making stuff up… is making stuff up. Sure, you can offer suggestions to an aspiring jazz musician (“hey, have you thought of this rhythm? Why don’t you quote the theme again here in a different key?”) but beyond that, it’s pretty much all up to you.


2 thoughts on “The Key to Music Practice

    • Heh, I suspect a lot of people (especially kids) suffer from extreme boredom, which is why so many of them don’t get far. But, there’s nothing to stop you getting back into it if you felt like it 😉

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