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Thread: 'Playing along with videos or cds' - bad or good practice?

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Default 'Playing along with videos or cds' - bad or good practice?

    I feel so lucky to have taken up my fiddle again in this electronic age. I am basically interested in 'fiddle' not 'violin', but did spend the first three years of my six-year trek (so far) on classical and especially baroque music.

    I have found it very helpful to learn new pieces from YouTube, from cds that I own, or from mp3s that my fiddle teacher has recorded for me of his own playing.
    I find it great fun to play along, so that's a good motive for practice, but it's also improved my timing, pace and dynamics on particular pieces.

    But I realise there's a downside. One traditional Scottish air that I learned from a cd, for example, confirmed me in timing mistakes because the expert player on the cd himself doesn't get it quite right. Also, my ability to read the time of a piece from the notes on sheet music is rather weak, which is why I need the video/cd help - but using this aid does mean that my weakness is still there and not really improving.

    And though I hope I can make each folk piece I learn 'my own', I can see that slavishly following someone else's dynamics, for example, or even being unduly influenced, would not be good for an aspiring player of classical music.

    I remember reading a Facebook post by a member of Norwich Baroque where she owned up to practising for the coming concert by doing 'karaoke' with a cd, and was shame-faced about it (in a jokey way) because she knew it wasn't a good idea for a professional musician.

    So what do you think, TC strings-players?
    Is it a good idea to practise 'along with' a cd or video in the early stages of learning a piece of music?
    Or is it anathema?
    My fiddle my joy.

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    I guess it depends on the person, but for me, getting a new piece of music and slowly (I'm also still learning) finding the music in it is the most thrilling part of playing. I'm now busy with a Telemann piece and I'm enjoying myself a lot "discovering" the music in it, the timing, the fingering, etc. Then I discuss it with my teacher and he corrects the things I do wrong.

    I wouldn't let anybody spoil that fun!

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    Senior Member senza sordino's Avatar
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    I don't think there is anything wrong with practicing along with a video or CD. It's not uncommon in lessons to play along with the instructor. What's the difference? As for mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. It shows you're learning if you found a mistake in the video.

    But it wouldn't hurt if you tried the piece on your own without the video or cd, but instead played with a metronome. For the trickier rhythms try clapping or singing la la la in the correct rhythm along with the metronome or video, no violin. Working on rhythm separate from the technical aspects of the violin can help.

    I have an app on my iPad from the ABRSM that will slow the accompaniment without changing pitch. I haven't used it. There are many other software programmes out there that will do this. Ideally, what I'd like to do is the following: download the piano accompaniment of a variety of pieces, there's a website for this, and then play it through my speed shifter programme. But alas I don't have the equipment at home to do all of this. But that's where we are with technology in the 21st Century, a violinist doesn't need to hire an accompanist anymore.

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