Spring 2014 Recital: Playing By Ear

Recital performers Playing By Ear

From March, into April and a bit of May, my students and I engaged in transcription projects. I assigned a tune and jazz solo for each of us to transcribe.

Transcribing, as you may know, is the art of listening to a music recording and figuring out what the pitches are that are played by the musicians on the recording, and then writing them down on staff paper. It’s an exercise in recreating the sheet music for ourselves without going out and buying a copy. This exercise is very good for training your ear.

Most times, musicians are presented with sheet music which we can then read and play on our instrument. Transcribing music from a recording trains one’s ear to hear pitches accurately. You also learn to reproduce the style of the soloist thereby expanding your sound, tone, and style. Another benefit of transcribing solos is getting the licks and phrasing of the Charlie Parkers and Benny Goodmans under your fingers.

On May 29, we presented a performance of our transcriptions to a warm, receptive audience at The Courtyard at Mt Tabor.

Three fine local musicians laid down the rhythm for us: Bo Ayers on piano, Jon Oace on bass, and Jay Harris on drums.


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