Practice Tips & Tricks: Backing Tracks

Backing tracks are my favorite new practice tool! I'd been using them a little bit for the past couple years, but after moving & transitioning to lots of online lessons where playing in-person duets is not as feasible anymore, backing tracks have taken center stage. And after implementing them so successfully with online students, I've also started using them more with my in-studio students too!

So what is a backing track? 
A backing track is a recorded accompaniment that your piano student plays their piece along with. It can either be a piano duet part or a full band accompaniment. If there are backing tracks for your music, I will bring them to your attention so you can arrange to have access to them at home. 

And how do we use them? 
  • Start by listening. If your piano kid hasn't heard the backing track yet, listen to it first. When available, listen to the version with the melody included, so your piano kid can hear their part & how it fits with the accompaniment.
  • Play along once. If your backing tracks have a "practice tempo" available, start with that one. Try it once, see how it goes.
  • Address any trouble spots. Now that they've heard the track a couple times, they will hopefully be able to identify passages that they are playing differently. Brainstorm on how to fix them. Do they need to go slower? faster? are the notes correct? Try these trouble spots on their own two or three times.
  • Play along again. After you've addressed what you can, try it again. How did it go?  Try this process over the course of a few different practice sessions, and you should start to see some big improvements in your piano kid's performance of the piece. 
Why does Ms. Dawn like these so much? 
Hearing music is very intuitive. Breaking down counts & beats in a mathematical way isn't as intuitive. So after we've done what we can with cognitive counting, letting your child feel how those beats become music is the next necessary step to having them give an expressive performance. Hearing & playing along with a recording of their piece that feels "like real music" is a great way to draw out their natural expressiveness. 

And that's it for this week! Check back in next week for my practice trick for when you don't have a piano handy, or when you're waiting for your turn at a performance.