Do you sing in your head while you play?

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Yes, I sing or hum the tune in my head while playing. I play mostly by ear or memorized fiddle tunes. If I could not hum the tune in my head, I would not be able to play it. If when doing a break on a vocal tune I don't know the melody of have just heard it for the first time then I will rely on chords to fill in the gaps in the moldy I don't know. If I do not have the chord progression down then I pass on a break.

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When I'm learning a piece, I usually think about the notes and phrasing, or if intonation is a concern for a passage, I will imagine the passage, and then play it with my "mental soundtrack". Ultimately, though, when a piece is polished, I'm not thinking. I'm just playing. It's really quite wonderfull.

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Generally I leave room in my head for whatever Muse might be willing to occupy the space, for as long as she's willing to stay. If she declines the invitation, the voices come back, unless I get the tinfoil hat back on in time.

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I never seem to have the music running through my head while I'm

playing. When I'm learning  three or four movements of a

quartet piece I concern myself with bowing, fingering, notes, and

rhythm. Once I've worked on difficult passages (over and over), I

pay attention to dynamics, and how my voice fits/flows into the

three other voices. At some point, I'm not thinking so much but

playing (with some emotion) and enjoying the music.

When I stop playing, then the music goes round and round in my


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One of my students emits sound out loud as he plays.

I wouldn't recommend it as something to encourage,

but it is kind of cute.

Asking students to sing something is a good test:

(scales for instance)

You can also see if tey have a good sense of intonation.

Many will be self-conscious, but that's not a bad thing -

tell them if they want to be a performer they will have to

overcome some inhibitions.

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This topic came up just the other day. The weekend jammers I play with were playing Chirstmas songs as part of our annual Christmas party. Some were trying to play from some sheet music one of the participants had brought along but weren't having much luck due to the unaccoustomed keys and composition the music was in. When I arrived they were struggling through Greensleeves. I listened while they went at it and when the ground to a halt I picked up my fiddle and played it. Straight through, at tempo, in an attainable key for the other bluegrass instruments there. I had never tried to play it before but it really came out right without much effort.

Carol after carol came and went the same way. My years of singing in the church choir as a youth came in handy as I was able to saw my way, by recollection, through a simple, easy to play version of just about every song that was brought up.

The fiddle has become my voice. As long as the piece isn't too strenuous physically, it's just like singing. If I can track the melody with my mind's voice, I can play it. No other instrument I've ever tried to play has become so second nature so quickly. My real voice suffers from injury and lack of range so it's nice to have an new one to sing with.

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I had an opportunity to listen to Stanislav Ioudenitch (pianist) up close and he was humming very quietly like a little kid singing while he/she plays with toy, the entire time he was playing. I see some pianists do this on video clips. It is hard with a violin under your chin Also, I heard, in a masterclass, there was a very talented student who played perfectly in tune and everything. After he finished, Midori asked him if he was singing in his head while he was playing. She complimented on his intonation, but pointed out something was missing in his playing.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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