Building Musicianship - Part I


IMG_1427 Musicians often talk about "developing their musicianship."  It's the artistry in performance, it's interpretation, it's an approach to one's instrument, it's the way we communicate without words.  Truth be told, it's something we're never quite done with.  You see, there are always new things to be learned, things that could be more efficient or more natural, different ways of thinking, bad habits to break, etc.  As musicians, we are all continual works in progress.

So, we find ways to develop our musicianship, our artistry.

For me, this means some of the things I mentioned in my list of goals for this year: become a better improviser, sightread and sightsing on a more regular basis, become more efficient at transposing and reading open score (4+ lines of music), and become a more competent listener.  How do I improve these things?  Practice, practice, practice.

I'm taking a wonderful theory class this semester called "Keyboard Skills" - essentially, a theory class at the keyboard.  More on this soon (sneak peek in the picture above!).  The assignments for this class go hand-in-hand with my musicianship goals for this year so yesterday, I sat down with my planner at the kitchen table and blocked off some time in my schedule (with striped washi tape, of course) to spend in the practice room.

Goal: Learn five songs in twelve different keys

This is one of my specific goals for building musicianship this year.  Playing simple songs by ear will improve my harmonic listening skills (listening to more than just the melody) and learning them in every key will aid transposition and improvisation skills.  Each week, I'll focus on a few keys, adding to the list with each successive week until I've worked through all twelve keys (major or minor, depending on the tonality of the song).  Here's how I plan to make this happen:

Week 1: Play song in C, F, G, and D Week 2: Play song in A, E, and B + review C, F, G, and D Week 3: Play song in F#, Db, and Ab + review C, F, G, D, A, E, and B Week 4: Play song in Eb and Bb + review C, F, G, D, A, E, B, F#, Db, and Ab

This week, I started Song #1.

This is the first of a few posts I plan to write about my strategies for building musicianship.  More in the weeks to come!