Learning Lots of Music in a Short Period of Time

Krantz.Linda-Bells Final (85 of 96) smallI never seem to have enough time to learn all the music I have to learn.  This is especially true when I’m attending events such as Bay View or Distinctly Bronze.  These are high level ringing events with difficult music, generally 13 pieces of it.  I’m lucky to have 2 to 3 weeks in which to learn these pieces, so I’ve devised a system that works for me.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about my process!


Rehearsal Strategies for Learning Lots of Music in a Little Time

    1. Once the music is received, make all score markings.
      1. Red boxes for ritards,
      2. Written in crescendos where only words appear and
      3. Any other score markings that might be helpful (such as highlighting repeat bars).
    2. Input Problem Solvers received from director as they relate to position being played.
    3. Sight-read through all the music, no stopping, with recordings if available, to see what you are up against.
      1. Prioritize music by difficulty for your position.
    4. A second reading through (no recordings), this time meticulously identifying measures that will require serious work (fast triplets, different rhythms in each hand, fast bell changes).
      1. Write these down (make a list).
      2. Make markings in music where necessary (i.e., bell changes)
      3. Communicate with standmates where help is needed
      4. This assumes that the rest of the music is easily played, which is often the case, but sometimes the entire piece is difficult and needs work in its entirety.
    5. The key to my process is this step – there is great value in spending serious time working parts of music at a very slow tempo. Practice that is perfect (i.e., slow and accurate) will translate to solid muscle memory, and will speed up the ability to gain tempo quickly.
      1. Work all the measures (and only the measures) that have been identified, slowly with metronome until well in muscle memory. Start as slowly as you need to in order to maintain accuracy (this may mean at less than half the marked tempo).
      2. Do not attempt any practice with recordings until these areas are at least to the slowest recording you have available. (See footnote)
      3. Do not play entire pieces.
      4. Once the measure(s) is mastered, work transition in and out.
      5. Plan to spend the bulk of time in this phase.
    6. Once those measures are mastered (or close to it), begin practicing the entire piece with slowest recording, working your way up to 85% of tempo.
      1. Work music from highest priority (most difficult) to lowest.
    7. Five days before leaving for event (Bay View/DB), rehearse with tempo recordings. If you have done the above work, ability to play at tempo will happen quickly and effortlessly (hopefully!).
      1. Make notes of measures that still require work, and
      2. Practice those with metronome between practices with recording.
    8. Practice each piece (or at least the ones with most difficulty) with recording at tempo at least once every day.


    Footnote – At Bay View we are lucky to have someone who provides a variety of recordings at various tempos for our use. Also, I keep every single demo CD I’ve ever received (yes, they are cataloged!), so I have at-tempo recordings of lots and lots of music. Buy or download as much of the music as you can. Buy the DB rehearsal CD if you are rehearsing DB music. And then download Amazing Slow Downer, an app that will slow the music down for you! http://www.ronimusic.com/amsldox.htm



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