Back to Basics 101: Listen Before You Play

Imagine the scenario: It is a great day for practice and you are sailing through a piece of music with relative ease. Then, out of nowhere, you lose intonation. You can’t seem to figure out a difficult section and you’re stumped because something sounds a little off. It is more than like that you are missing a sharp or flat here or there, but it is hard to tell.

Beginners and advanced students alike, we’ve all been there. It gets particularly frustrating if you’ve never before played in that key. Aside from practicing scales, thirds, and sixths in that key, what else can you do to help you through the difficult section?

Let’s take it back; way back to one of the first lessons I learned in Violin. Before you even pick up your bow to sight-read a new piece, what is the first thing you should do? Listen to the piece! Listen to it over and over again. Listen to it on the way to work, at night before bed, when you are brushing your teeth, and right before you practice! Having the music in your ear will not only help you through difficult stretches, but it can also help you memorize sections before you begin.

Albeit a simple idea in the scheme of things, but so many students forget this important lesson. If you can get to the point where you can sing, whistle, or hum the entire score, then you are in a good place. Give this a try before you launch into your next practice session. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.