The Art of Transcribing from Memory
WHY TRANSCRIBING TO MEMORY IS SUCH A GOOD THING TO DO - AND WHY USING HARMONICA TABLATURE IS NOT A GOOD IDEA FOR LEARNING ACTUAL SONGS AND SOLOS (scroll down to view videos on the "HOW TO" of Transcribing to Memory)
• This is about developing one's ear; using written harmonica tablature becomes a distraction from what YOU should be doing - really listening and dissecting what you hear; really learning the art of accurate listening which becomes easier and easier the more you flex this muscle.
• If someone presents you with a written tablature, it encourages a certain amount of disconnect when one's attention is split between focusing on a piece of paper and what you're listening to and encourages a certain amount of “lazy” listening. Figuring it for yourself commands your attention and focus; the art of active listening forces one to become much more engaged in the learning process. A case in point, I had a new student share with me in his first lesson with me that he had taken lessons with brilliant harmonica player and teacher Joe Filisko, who by the way makes the most functional – and beautiful(!) – hand written harmonica tablature I’ve ever seen. This student then shared with me that he always learned more when he figured things out for himself rather than relying on what Joe had written down. I was not at all surprisded to hear this.
• The harmonica (or most any jazz and blues instrument) has mostly been taught with the idea of an “oral tradition”, and this carries on that tradition.
• The art of transcribing to memory is much easier than you think once you use my method, which in fact encourages you to be much more accurate about what you're transcribing
• following my method with the program “Transcribe!” with marked up files makes quick work of committing solos to memory once you are comfortable with the methodology. Your ears and the ability to hear, sing and play a note or group comes much faster once you start flexing this brain muscle. SINGING which initially seems daunting to many of my students (“I can’t sing..!”) is also much easier than you think. Everyone can hear pitch and imitate it. Take a lesson with me and I’ll show you how. BTW, I’ve had some of my most “challenged” students who were really hard pressed to hear the difference between one note and the next become some of my most disciplined and successful students.
• There is no better method of training your ear to hear relative pitch, and to learn “pitch memory” - it is as simple as getting from one note to the next, which in turn makes it easier to be able to call quickly the difference between any two given note intervals.
• The subtle nuances of a good soloist cannot be written down on a piece of paper, so this "active listening" forces one to engage and really absorbing what the soloist is trying to communicate: the nuances and subtleties of dynamics, and the push and pull of rhythmic syncopation within a given bar/measure of music. Here's a great 3 minute "THE REAL REASON YOU SHOULD START TRANSCRIBING...". It's no different whether you are transcribing just one cool blues riff or a more complex solo.
• Taking the time to really break down a good variety of soloists by using your ears, can only rub off and help you become a more versatile player
• Not to mention, that doing this will increase your neuronal connections in the brain, this is simply some of the best brain exercise you can do! Again, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Again, this is not as hard as you think it is. If you are intimidated from watching these transcribing videos (ie, you’re thinking “geez, this just looks like too much work!”), take a few lessons with me, and I'll share with you in a few lessons the art of transcribing well and effectively. Essentially most people doing this on their own tend to skip many steps and become lazy transcribers (and as a result, “lazy” players); I’ll show you how to encourage good and patient practice habits so that they become second nature.
There are 5 introductory videos which show the basics of using the program "Transcribe!" (you can purchase Windows version HERE and Mac version HERE). The first 3 are specific to the "HOW TO" of using the program and Video #4 and #5 get into the specifics of how I transcribe to memory.