There are many ways to get music materials to teach these days. It’s become so much simpler then in times of past. We can find books in stores, iBooks on our iDevices and web tabs just to name a few. So why with all the accessibility to materials does nyc guitar lessons by Mark Marshall decide to make their own transcriptions?
The reason is I want to take time to analyze the song I’m going to teach. I want to know how the mechanics work, get under the hood. When transcribing it’s important to pay really close attention to every note, expression and articulation.
I could open up a book and teach you “X” song but that would be a “generic” lesson. When a lot of teachers do this they haven’t spent much time with the song to figure out how it applies to your progress. At nyc guitar lessons I want to know as much as I can about the song to guide you. Sometimes the most subtle things in a composition are the biggest nuggets. When I transcribe I’m always thinking about these little gems and how they apply to you.
Let’s talk about how I approach transcribing a song.
This is list of items that I use when transcribing. (not in any specific order)
1. iTunes (or other music playing device)
3. Sibelius (or blank staff paper)
7. note pad
On the first listen I like to….. Listen!! Seems kinda obvious but you would be surprised how people I come across at nyc guitar lessons that pass over this very important step. I want to absorb the feel of the song. Take in the dynamics.
On the second listen through the song I’m going to want to catch the tempo, key signature and form. I’ll have my metronome app open (my favorite is Tempo). I’ll also be near a piano so I can tap a few notes to find the key. (I use Real Piano HD on my iPad) I’m doing this in the background as I’m paying close attention to song form. Every section of song that passes by I write down. Verse, chorus, etc.. on my note pad.
If I’m really on my game at nyc guitar lessons I’ll even write down how many bars are in each section. You get extra points if you nail this. Most often this will take a second listen to nail. Most often I get distracted as I’m fiddling with the metronome.
This brings up a good point of getting good at feeling bars. Once you’ve been playing long enough you can feel 4,8,12 bar sections. It’s possible to be figuring out a key signature and still catching the bar count in the background. A good tip I give at nyc guitar lessons is to use the Tempo app as a training aid. It has a count feature that stops after a specified amount of bars. Set the bar count to common lengths and play along. See if you can feel when you get to 8 bars. It will stop automatically when it reaches the end of the 8th (or other specified) bar.
You should take the listening test. How much information can you get from one listen of a song? Can you listen a full time through without getting distracted?
My next step is to open Sibelius, name the song and author, pick the key signature and time signature. Once Sibelius is open it’s time for nyc guitar lessons to start adding in sections of the song. I look at my note pad and create enough bars for the first section. I will now grab my guitar and start learning the changes if I didn’t already know what they were from listening.
I’m also writing out any specific guitar runs of riffs. If a run happens to be too fast I’ll open up The Amazing Slow it Downer. I’m guessing from the title you know exactly what this app does. But in case I really need to spell it out it slows music down so you can hear what they’re doing.
After the chords, notes, repeats, endings, coda and dynamics are done I’ll add TAB. At nyc guitar lessons we prefer notation but also include tab for students.
One of the many things that are special to my guitar classes is I keep a spreadsheet with specific information about every song. It’s a database of the different techniques and great lessons to be learned from every song I transcribe. Take a peel at a quick screenshot of my database.
If you’re looking to learn a rock song using they key of Bb I can look into my database and find an appropriate choice for your skill level. Not only am I transcribing the song but I’m keeping track of it’s technique.
These leads us to the subject of lesson plans. I create lesson plans for each class we have. That means not only do I know what song I’m going to teach but how I’m going to teach it. I have a goal structured and key points to mention. NYC guitar lessons are not assembly line classes.
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