It’s Sunday morning and I have just returned from a 5km walk pondering many things, mostly about how I was going to proceed with my tutorials on my website. I would like to talk a little this morning about how I use accompaniments in my studio.
I would like to take a few moments to discuss the use of MP3 audio accompaniments in my studio. In order to present that, I need to step back in time to when I began teaching.
Way back in the sixties, one listened to cassette tapes and when I began teaching, I thought that this would be ideal for student practise at home. The only problem with that approach was that the student had to play the piece at the tempo at which it was recorded. With the old cassettes one couldn’t change the speed as that, in turn, would change the pitch.
As a result of this rather large stumbling block, I resorted to having my student go up to my wife’s studio upstairs in order to run through a piece at the tempo which was comfortable for that student. You can imagine my wife’s consternation at having to stop teaching her own lesson in order to assist me. You can appreciate that this approach didn’t last long.
About 20 years ago, I invested in a notation software program called “Sibelius”, and in that program, a teacher could compose a piece, then have the student play it with the recorded accompaniment on the computer. In this case, I was able to vary the tempo for the student concerned. This was the answer to my concerns in my studio. Once the student was able to add the piano accompaniment to the piece, we could start at exactly the ideal speed that was comfortable for the student. In turn, I could increase the tempo when I felt the student was ready for that next challenge. As an aside, it is important for the student to be able to hear the accompaniment; one therefore needs to connect the “Audio” output on the computer to a sound system or a pair of portable USB speakers. Such speakers are available at any electronic retail store,
Over the past five or six years I have scanned the piano parts for my students pieces. All pieces are located on an external hard drive and I can access each piece as needed, again using “Sibelius”. For “The Scampering Scarecrow” Violin Book, I can use my own computerized rendition or the MP3’s which are available on the website.
In 2014, I have my students arrive with a USB drive in their case which I can immediately put into my computer and transfer their piece (at their speed) onto their “thumb drive”.
Sky’s the limit for how many times you can add new tempi.
When it comes to “The Scampering Scarecrow” violin book, I have advised people on my website that when they download the book, they will also be downloading the MP3’s for free. Once they are downloaded I would advise any teacher or parent who has purchased the book, to find an MP3 player App which is capable of varying the speed of the piece. This makes practising so much more fun.
This has been a rather long explanation but I hope that some of you might find similar uses for it in your own field of endeavour.