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Using Learning Tracks Effectively

February 13, 2019

Adapted by Donny Rose, BHS Director of Education

This method of learning was first introduced by Jay Giallombardo, then later adapted by Chuck Green. It is a fantastic way for adult learners to quickly learn and retain your music. It’s a 6 step process, and each step teaches to a different part of your brain. Use it... it works!

1) Listen only - full mix

Listen to the full mix and silently follow along with the sheet music. Don't sing, don’t hum, and be, well... silent. Make sure you eyes track along with your sheet music (even if you don't read music) and listen at the same time. Do this 3 or more times. This is to get the big picture and form of the song.

Then…

2) Listen only - your part alone
Hear your part alone (one earbud in, or pan to the left or right speaker side) and follow along with the sheet music. Don't sing, don’t hum, and, you guessed it, be silent. Get a really good idea for your part. Notice the tricky spots. Keep looking at the sheet music! Do this 3 or more times. This is to discover how YOUR voice part fits into the big picture of the song.

Then...

3) Sing along on Ooh

Play the same part-specific track (one earbud in, or pan to the left or right speaker side) and follow along with the sheet music. Very quietly sing “ooh” or hum along... just get a really good idea of the pitches of your part. Your singing should be very gentle and quiet because we want you to hear the recording louder than your “ooh” singing. Do this as many times as you think you need - 4 to 6 times for most of the chart, and 10 or 12 times on tricky sections. Get fussy. This is to learn the pitches in isolation.

Then...

4) Silent singing

Listen to your part only (one earbud in, or pan to the left or right speaker side) and follow along with the sheet music. Silently mouth the words to your part. This step may feel unnecessary but don't skip it! You can now focus on the words and rhythms without worrying about the pitch. Fight the urge to sing, don't exhale an airy sound, and focus on word mastery while silently mouthing along. Do this 3 or more times. This is to isolate and lock in the words of the song.

Then...

5) Soft singing

Sing at a weirdly quiet volume with all words and notes with your part learning track. Try to be note and word perfect at a very soft volume. Your vocal production will be too light for performance in this step, but it’s OK for now. Just sing quietly enough that the recording is louder than your voice. Do this 3 or more times. This is to put the pitches and words together, but still have the track to lean on.

Then, the most important, often forgotten step…

6) Quartet singing

Switch earbuds (or change the speaker sides) and sing YOUR part against the other 3 parts with your part missing... yes, you must create the notes all by yourself! You may discover you are singing wrong notes or words during this step. If quartet singing is too difficult, you may have to first sing with the full mix (all 4 parts are clearly heard). After you are feeling confident, make yourself sing against the trio at some point... it reveals all! Do this 3 or more times. This is to put the pitches and words together, but now NOT have the track to lean on.