Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Carols

I love Christmas music, and, over the weekend, I discovered that Christmas carols sans sheet music can be a great learning tool for those who want to improve their ability to play by ear. I'm usually working on memorizing fiddle tunes, but playing fiddle tunes by ear is different. When you are playing by ear, you know where the next note is and your fingers know how to play that note. When you are memorizing a tune, I am more apt to think of a series of fingerings and patterns than the actual melody. The two processes are related, but playing by ear has some advantages over relying on memory.

The Fiddlers played at one of the downtown historic homes yesterday, after the annual Christmas Parade. To prepare for that, we rehearsed some Christmas carols by playing them by ear. (We don't use sheet music in our performances and we didn't have any Christmas music on hand.) It was surprising easy. We picked easy keys, of course: G or D, an occasional A. No four flats for us! It was great fun, and you could concentrate on playing the notes, rather than on remembering the tune.

I heard that Sunday's fiddle performance was very well-received by an enthusiastic and dancing audience. I was not able to go, as my daughter had a Christmas choral concert the same afternoon (which was also wonderful), but I think I will add "playing Christmas carols by ear" to my practice schedule this month.


Guanaco said...

Having heard the Christmas carols over and over for most of my life, I find I can play almost any of them by ear, without even thinking about it. I'm sometimes amazed that my fingers just seem to know where to go.

Maricello said...

It's great, isn't it? Maybe this is why we should listen to those Suzuki CDs. :-)