by Mike Mindel. This article was originally published on HVmusic around the year 2000.
One of the most practical skills a musician can develop is the ability to learn tunes as efficiently as possible. This is a skill that will make your musical life less frustrating regardless of what instrument you play or what style you play. These skills apply whether you play keyboards in a rock band or auto harp in your garage (no pun intended).
As with most anything else in life, things are learned most easily if they are broken down into logical steps, kind of a mental outline. First off, if your objective is to learn your instruments part on a recorded tune, break down the process into steps, and follow them. As a keyboard player, it is so easy to get sidetracked from learning your part by getting lost in sounds. There you are with pencil and paper in hand, ready to dive into your part, and the next thing you know, it's two hours later and you're still trying to figure out how to program your synth to get that cool sound in the intro. Don't do eet mon! At least not yet. It can be tedious enough to learn parts, so let's do it efficiently. The sooner you feel a sense of accomplishment in learning a tune, the less likely you'll become distracted and frustrated. The steps to efficiently learning a song are, in this order:
To underscore the logic of the above steps, think of the process of learning a song like the process of building a house. First you need the blueprint, which in music is the form of the song.
Next month, I'll detail step two, learning the notes and chords. I'll give you some good tricks to hear and recognize intervals and chords, as well as how to tune into your part on the record.
How do you get a guitar player to play softer?
Give him a chart to read.
How do you make a trombone player's car more aerodynamic?
Remove the Domino's Pizza sign from the roof.
Mike Mindel has been a professional musician for over 40 years and is currently a member of The Bills Toupee Band.