Although playing alone can be fun an rewarding (like the Bach cello suites), sometimes it’s good to mix things up. Whether it’s for a gig you picked up or at your home, eventually you’re going to play with pre-recorded accompaniment track. This can be challenging, but if you practice playing with tracks you become good at it. Tracks provide a little variety to your practice time, and will open up a whole new world to your play sets!
Some tips to get you started:
Find a track to play along with!
This one is easy…find a piece you want to play that has accompaniment. It could be a popular YouTube song, a mp3 file of a piano, or a full symphony. Don’t get bogged down in finding a track that is missing the solo line (a minus 1 track)…you can get that later after you have learned how to work with pre-recorded tracks.
Listen to the track.
Again, pretty easy here. Listen to the track, paying attention to where your line will fit in. Check for dynamics, tempos, holds and other things that stand out about the track. Play through the track a few times to get those things locked in.
Practice with the track.
After you have a good feel for what the track is about, grab your instrument and play your part along with the track. You may find that the tuning of the track is higher or lower than A440, so you may need to adjust a little to account for that. Repeat parts that are tricky (like holds or multi measure rests) until you have the timings down. Depending on what kind of music you are working with, this could take one run or multiple runs to get everything to line up perfectly! Next up, the run through!
Full run through.
Run through the entire track and play along. Try not to stop…just make mental notes of what needs to be fixed.
Repeat Track practice and run through as needed.
Hopefully, after running through #3 you are pretty solid by full run time. Even if you are fully prepared, hitting the tricky spots one more time is good!
Try different kinds of music (classical/pop/rock/country) so you’ll be ready for any kind of request that comes in.
With enough practice, you’ll be jamming with tracks and having fun practicing & preparing for gigs!
Next time, I’ll cover some tips on how to record your instrument alongside a track!