This ‘Learn Music Faster’ series of posts highlights things my best students do that contributes towards their success. There are no secret formulae or magic tricks. Learning to play well still requires hard work, dedication and above all, practice. However, my students who do these things seem to improve quicker than the others.
Use a Slow Downer tool
There are several pieces of software that allow you to slow down songs and pieces of music without changing the pitch. Many of these also allow you to loop sections of the track. This is incredibly powerful both for practicing pieces and also for transcribing (working out the notes and chords in songs by ear).
Figuring out songs by ear is an invaluable way of improving your musicality. It seems to come easily to some people and not to others. I’ve never found it easy, but I’ve been able to improve over the years, with the aid of slowing down software.
The one I use is called Transcribe. It’s relatively inexpensive and one of the best investments I have ever made in my musical life.
I know there is a flashy looking competitor called Riff Station. It looks like it does many of the same things. I haven’t used it myself so I can’t say whether it’s better or worse than Transcribe.
It’s also possible to slow and loop tracks using Digital Audio Workstations like Cubase, Logic, Pro-Tools and others. However, I like the convenience of a tool specifically designed for the task, rather than ones which do it as two of hundreds of other features.
There’s a free iPad app called Tempo Slowmo which also does something similar. It’s a bit fiddly to loop sections so it’s not as useful as Transcribe or Riffstation, but it’s useful for portability or to get you started. I use it for lessons because it’s quicker and easier than lugging a laptop around with me
I highly recommend any musician look in to it some kind of ‘Slow Downer’ tool. It will make it easier to learn pieces and improve your musical ear.
Let me know if there are any apps or programs you use regularly to help you learn music.
Previously on Learn Music Faster – Have a sense of humour