Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

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Victor2016
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Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Victor2016 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:23 pm

I regularly play my guitar along with my favorite recordings – classical guitar or other – for practice purposes. For instance, I practice BWV1004 Sarabande by playing it along with a recording by Yehudi Menuhin. I enjoy his interpretation and his tempo is quite moderate. I make sure the music's volume is sufficiently low so I could hear well my own guitar playing. The recording serves as a guide by setting tempo, dynamics, phrasing, etc, which is quite different from playing with a metronome. Is that a helpful approach to mastering a piece? Is it commonly used? Is it recommended? What do CG teachers think?
Last edited by Victor2016 on Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Luuttuaja
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Luuttuaja » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:31 pm

I've done that when I played rock drums. I think it improved my playing. But the recordings need to be of high quality and stylistically similar to what you're aiming for. I would love to hear some teachers' opinion about this.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:38 pm

I am not a teacher, but if you play along with someone else's recording, you copy their phrasing as well. Bach's music gives room for different phrasing, so why not discover your own?
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by rojarosguitar » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:46 pm

Probably anything that helps you to develop what you want to develop is good.
The greatest problem I can detect with playing along with a recording is that it is a one way process in which you have to fully fit into a ruthlessly rigid situation - there is no exchange whatsoever, no mutual adoptation... It could possibly degrade you to a puppet...
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Victor2016
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Victor2016 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:07 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:I am not a teacher, but if you play along with someone else's recording, you copy their phrasing as well. Bach's music gives room for different phrasing, so why not discover your own?
It seems to me, it is not a bad idea for a beginner to learn good phrasing by imitating some great examples.
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Salvador » Sat Mar 11, 2017 3:47 am

Yes i always do that before, i'm not sure for everybody because we are different. I always play along with John WIlliams' Allegro Solemne and Recuerdos de Alhambra. Since i don't have a metronome, that's how i practice speed. Like Etude 2 Villa-lobos played by Julian Bream and Manuel Barrueco, i play along with them. It's for speed purpose only. So i don't really imitate them because i want to make my own style of playing.

That's how i practice speed, aside from playing scales. For me it's effective, i started in pop music, i play along a lot with The Beatles, Metallica, James Tayor, Paul Simon, etc.. and it also improves my rhythm.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by lagartija » Sat Mar 11, 2017 4:12 am

My teacher has recommended that I do that on occasion. One time, the purpose was to take an interpretation I liked of the piece I was working on and as I played along, notice where the player moved the music forward and where he took some time. This gave me a better understanding of what he was doing that drew me to the interpretation. If there was something I really liked, I might incorporate it into my own interpretation...but what I played was still my own interpretation.
Another time, not playing along, but conducting by counting to different people playing the Sarabande of Bach's 1st Cello Suite, both guitar and Cello, and noting the time they were taking in their phrasing. All of the players were scholars of Bach's music, some recordings were 25 years older than other recordings, so the way they played also showed how the understanding of his music had changed over time.
In all cases, I've done this only after I know the piece fluently, so it is meant to deepen understanding after being able to play the piece in strict time.
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Dekselsedek » Sat Mar 11, 2017 10:01 am

I've never played along with classical music. Mostly because it is not as rigid in tempo as popmusic (not including John Williams :wink: ). I do advise my pop and rock students to play along. In classical music I definitively do listen to phrasing choices and compare them before settling on what I think is beautifull.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Victor2016 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:43 am

Thank you all for your comments. It would be helpful to hear thoughts of CG teachers on this matter.
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by robin loops » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:41 pm

i often practice scales by playing along with songs but prefer to avoid even listening to other player's interpretations of classical pieces until I have them completely learned and worked through (basically when they are 'masterclass ready'). Then sometimes I like to find a few different versions and play along and work with them like I were attending a masterclass with that player, working out the other player's phrasing and such. Then when I find any elements that 'improve' it, I incorporate these into my own interpretation. For the most part I only do this with more advanced pieces which I would actually attend a masterclass for and don't bother with miniatures and parlor pieces.
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Salvador
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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Salvador » Fri Mar 17, 2017 2:05 am

i think if teachers would occasionally give tips, it would be like a free lesson hehe. Though i'm not a teacher but it helps me a lot playing along. But i'm not sure for others because we are different. I remember my guitar teacher warned me not to give people copies of the scores he gave me. Only his students have access to his scores. Sorry about my comment i am only speaking based on my experience.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Alan Green » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:43 am

I've got a musical opening next Wednesday for a short run and I'm playing bass in the band. The music turned up late - I've only had two weeks to work with it before Dress Rehearsal, so playing along with the musical on Youtube has been a must. It's a technique I use every time I'm in the band for a musical - lead guitar or bass - and I recommend it to my students.

Not for CG though - CG has to be an interpretation of what's on the page. Why would I want to sound like another guitarist - same sound, same phrasing, same ornamentation? I'd rather sound like me.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by Salvador » Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:54 am

I only do it to practice my speed only since i don't have a metronome. I don't think it's easy to follow someone style of playing. If you play along with Ana Vidovic i don't think you can play like her. I even doubt if we can keep up with her.

I always have my own interpretations. I never follow what's on the book so i have my own style. I learn how to interpret by watching other guitarists. But it doesn't mean i play like them. That's hard to do.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:04 pm

As to whether it's common to practice CG by playing along with a recording, I would flat out say no. I have studied with teachers at the college/university level and have performed in/watched many master classes and I've never heard anyone recommend this practice. Usually they suggest just listening to various recordings. I've met many rock/jazz/popular guitar teachers who suggest-even swear by-playing along with recordings, but not any CG teachers. This is not to say that there is no value in playing along with recordings-there may very well be-but it doesn't seem to be common.

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Re: Practicing by playing along with music - helpful, common?

Post by RichardUno » Sat Mar 18, 2017 4:29 pm

[quote="Alan Green"]I've got a musical opening next Wednesday for a short run and I'm playing bass in the band. The music turned up late - I've only had two weeks to work with it before Dress Rehearsal, so playing along with the musical on Youtube has been a must. It's a technique I use every time I'm in the band for a musical - lead guitar or bass - and I recommend it to my students.


Here's the pianist Valentina Litsitsa learning a new piece by playing along with a YT video. She has a month to learn the Addinsell Warsay Concerto, a short 10 minute piece, before she is to perform it with the BBC Proms. At the beginning of the video she opens the envelope and sees the music for the first time. She plays along with the YT video and after an hour she's got it memorized and has fixed almost all of the mistakes. Here's a link to the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoLvhHjacMw

I think that playing along with a recording or video is fine, as long as you only do it in order to get the general "feel" of the piece. At some point you have to stop and work up your own interpretation.

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