Reply To: Out of tune players

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Gabriel Villasurda, an orchestra mentor, weighed in:

Begin at once to teach them scales– one octave to begin and arpeggios. Then 2 octaves, etc. Chord along on a well-tuned keyboard so they have something to “tune into”.

Get rid of the tapes. If you can’t go cold turkey, remove them one at a time over a period of time. Tapes are useless except for rank beginners. No intermediate or advanced player has time to look at fingers; there are too many other things to do with your eyes: read notes, follow the conductor, etc.

Teach them to hear octaves then ask them to stop on every note which is an open string note (regardless of octave) and compare the fingered note to the open string.

Teach them to hear sympathetic vibration. When there is no time to go through a genuine octave check, players have to expect the resonance of the sympathetic ring within their instruments.

Teach them to hear intervals. Once octaves are right, move to 5ths, 4ths, then 3rds (which will very by key). Teach them about just intonation. There is a mathematical relationship between musical intervals. Google this is if you don’t know about this.

You might check my website (see below) where I have taken familiar tunes and presented each in at least three different keys. There is a midi accompaniment for each version. Everything is FREE and not on copyright. If they can play a tune in D major, then ask them to play it in a different key.

No secret. Just MAKE THEM LISTEN, EXPECT THEM TO LISTEN. Make listening part and parcel of everything they do on their instrument.

Gabe Villasurda