Playing familiar songs to improve intonation

  • I stumbled into something yesterday that is a real check on one's intonation. It is developmental and probably only pertains to developing players, either beginners or come-back, which I consider myself. And it is simply playing recognizable songs.

    I am posting this because it might be an overlooked technique that some can use.

    One can play flexibilities like Schlossberg and Irons or other similar exercises and think you're O.K. with intonation. Maybe you play flatter as you ascend but don't really notice it, fooling yourself.

    But you can more easily hear with a song that you know. If your intonation is faulty, you know immediately that something is just not right. The intervals you can readily hear because you know how the song must go. Try it and see if it helps.

  • @Kehaulani
    You are dead on. That's why I spent a lot of my time on familiar songs during my comeback. Especially the ones I had played 50 years ago before I quit. I still balance my practice with technical stuff in the morning and songs in the afternoon...though the songs now are not always familiar and that helps my sight reading skill as well.

  • Qualified Repair Techs Credentialed Professional

    @Kehaulani Absolutely!

    I NEVER play lip flexibilities or Schlossberg. I only ever play music (tunes), And I only teach tunes. That is why I have compiled my book of tunes and am getting a second one together. Exercises only came about in the 19th century. Bach taught his students with music. Chopin's studies (etudes) are music.

  • So, nothing should progress? 😀

  • @Kehaulani

    I'm pulling your string, but I have found the West Coast guys Schlossberg routine very rewarding.

  • Qualified Repair Techs Credentialed Professional

    @Kehaulani I do not teach professional track students, I only teach recreational track students. We achieve a lot of progress using real music.

    Schlossberg, Stamp, and all the others are great for those who spend most of their day playing, but are not ideal, in fact can be counter-productive, for those with limited time. Case in point the bending exercises in Stamp - one player I know is so dedicated to these that he now has no idea where in-tune is; he does not find the resonance of his horn, he forces it into synthesizer-like submission.

    By the way, I do play and teach music like Bitsch and Charlier (and others), but, with due deference to my close friend Allan Colin, I do not play his father's Lip Flexibilities.

  • I've been hitting Schlossberg pretty heavy lately and it's doing me some noticeable good. That said, I also work some melodic and technical solo music into my practice sessions for some real world simulation. For intonation stability, I find that playing regularly with good bands/ensembles does the most good. Ensemble tuning is situational, and depends on the other instruments and the music/chords being played - you have to know your instrument, listen, and compensate while playing. I've always said that the best way to insure you're playing out of tune is to have a tuner on your stand and watch it as you play with a group. ☺

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