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Thread: Where am I musically?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
    Posts
    170

    Where am I musically?

    My name is Sara Hood and I am a second time adult student of the Baritone horn. I played in high school, but not for about 20 years after that. About a year ago, I decided to pick it up again, purchased myself a horn, and joined the local Salvation Army Band in Sacramento, CA. I find myself wondering, just how much do I know? How do I rate as a musician? Now as far as tone and music production, I can basically hear the answer to that myself. I think that I will take the money I got for Christmas and get myself some lessons.

    But what I am asking myself and having trouble with is music theory (the fundamentals of reading/understanding the technical side of music). I do remember the note names and fingerings (lines and spaces), the note shapes and duration (quarter note = 1 beat, eighth note = half beat, how time signature affects this, etc.) and some of the symbology (treble or base clef, dynamics, tempo, style, etc.). I also have all kinds of other info running around in my head. Key signatures, concert pitches, intervals, some terminology. For example, I know that on a baritone, my C is in fact a concert B-flat. But what that means, or what to do with that knowledge, I don't quite know. I know what a chord is, but not which notes go in which chords, or what a diminished chord is. I know what sharps and flats are, but I don't know which ones belong to which scales/keys. I can basically play in key signatures with up to 4 flats or two sharps. I know there are 15 major keys, so I only have about half of them. I have no clue about what a minor key is though.

    I am wondering if there is some kind of test I can take that will help me to assess where I am musically, determine what I know, and identify where I have gaps in my knowledge. I would like to go from there and try to fill in those gaps, and maybe add to my knowledge. It depends. On a scale of zero (know nothing) to 10 (professional virtuoso like some of the members of this group). If I am a 6 or 7, (know enough to get by in most musical circumstances), then I may not worry about pushing the envelope any further. I am a hobby musician at best, but do want to make playing and sharing music with others a part of my life. On the other hand, if I am a 4 (more than a beginner, but really should learn more so as to be ready for most musical circumstances), then I would like to come up to being a 6 or 7.

    So, you folks have any suggestions as far as musical theory assessment tests go, and then self-paced music theory instruction to build from there?

    Thanks in advance (smile).
    - Sara Hood
    Last edited by Sara Hood; 01-12-2018 at 01:57 PM.


  2. There is also this:

    https://blair.vanderbilt.edu/admissions/apply.php

    Scroll down to "Admissions Theory Exam"

  3. #4
    From the sound of it, you’d be best served focusing on three key areas of practice with a teacher:

    • Rhythmic Reading
    • Scales and Keys
    • Arpeggios

    As you work through these, you’ll get exposure to the theory from the practical work. Right now, a full theory course would throw too much at you that you simply wouldn’t need.

    Here are a couple of resources I’ve found invaluable in these areas:

    Rhythmic Training by Robert Starer: https://www.amazon.com/Rhythmic-Trai.../dp/0769293751
    The Arban Complete Method: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_s...d=B490OSAHJGN1

    A couple of other pieces of advice as you work on strengthening your skills:

    • Make sure to stay disciplined about counting out unfamiliar rhythms. Too often amateur musicians will try to "guess" or "feel" their way through, leading to problems for them and the rest of the ensemble. When in doubt, count it out.
    • Be active in practicing the scales with lots of sharps and lots of flats. These are more difficult finger patterns on brass instruments, but learning them early can make life immensely easier when the band has to tackle literature in odd keys.
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist
    www.adrianquince.com

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

  4. #5
    One more point: Dave has a great blog post showing how scales and arpeggios are the building blocks of music. Definitely worth a read: http://www.dwerden.com/forum/entry.p...s#.Wkh8m4JG3RM
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist
    www.adrianquince.com

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

  5. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Rochester NY, USA
    Posts
    25
    Definitely taking some private lessons would help, and most teachers will give you a little theory as you progress. I would encourage you to start by learning all of the major scales, the scales are the building blocks of theory, and getting the finger patterns under your fingers will help you play in all keys. Once you know the major scales you can start learning minor scales and arpeggios (which are chords broken up so they can be played one note at a time).

  6. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
    Posts
    170
    Quote Originally Posted by adrian_quince View Post
    Here are a couple of resources I’ve found invaluable in these areas:

    Rhythmic Training by Robert Starer: https://www.amazon.com/Rhythmic-Trai.../dp/0769293751
    The Arban Complete Method: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_s...d=B490OSAHJGN1
    I already purchased an Arban book on the strength of recommendations I have seen on this forum. Now I am also considering purchasing Rythmic Training as you suggest. When I look it up on Amazon, I get a bit confused. Do I want the instructor's book, the student's book, the workbook, or what? I also see that there is a 1969 edition and a 1997 edition. Does the edition make a difference? I get all of these choices when I search using the link you provided. Please help me to understand which product you are suggesting.

    Thank you for the tips. I will keep them in mind once I find someone to take lessons with. So I can tell them where I want to concentrate my efforts. I can only afford a few months worth of lessons and would like to maximize the results.

    - Sara
    Last edited by Sara Hood; 01-04-2018 at 08:43 PM.

  7. #8
    Hi Sara,

    As far as I'm aware, there's only Rhythmic Training (which is the one I linked) and Rhythmic Training Student Workbook. In my experience, the workbook is a nice to have, not a necessity. Edition shouldn't make a difference.

    My ringing endorsement of this particular book is that I've bought 6 of them over the years. Each copy I lent out never got returned :-)
    Adrian L. Quince
    Composer, Conductor, Euphoniumist
    www.adrianquince.com

    Kanstul 976 - SM4U

  8. #9
    i taught elementary through high school band for many years, one of the tools i used with beginners was a software called music ace maestro. it takes students through basic theory and ear training, individualized computer assisted training. i was lucky to have access to a small lab where i could take 24 students at a time.

    later, we were able to finance midi interfaces and keyboards for each computer so the students were able to respond with the piano keys rather than using the mouse interface.

    it may be too juvenile for some adults, but if they can get over that, it's worth going through.

    https://www.harmonicvision.com/mamfact.htm

  9. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Sacramento, CA area
    Posts
    170

    Nice, but not quite

    MBrown, this does sound nice. But it runs more than $100 for a single user. It really is meant to be used as part of a classroom, not by an individual hobby-ist looking to hone their skills like me. Unless someone in this group has access and a spare user license they can let me use.... (laugh)

    I did check into theory classes with Udemy and got in on a $11 per class deal. So I am working my way through that. A lot was review, but I am starting to run into new material. So I think that it has been informative and useful to me.

    Sara

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