Technology is helpful in so many ways. We would be foolish to be Luddites about it. Ignore it at your peril, yes. But also, embrace it at your peril. Many of us who have discovered the expediency of working with sequencers and DAWS for immediate feedback (even pianos) have suffered losing notation skills along the way.

When I do a project that requires a good sounding demo, computer-based, I am in a DAW paradigm. But if the end result is for human musicians, this must be translated into notation, like Sibelius. I do it a lot, but it's very time consuming.

It would be faster if I could eliminate the DAW, but then I'd have to rely on my mind and eyes only to compose. Yikes! What am I, Mozart?

So, here's an exercise to sharpen your inner ear. Take a piece that you know by heart, whatever your instrument, and write it out from memory. This is harder than you think because much of this memory is muscle memory, not intellectual. But when you do it you make important connections in your brain about what intervals sound like because of what they look like.

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Comment by Harmonia on June 24, 2014 at 9:08am

This is a superb suggestion, Ken.  I'm going to start doing a little of this writing from memory every day, and have my students do it as well.  Even if it's just a melodic line, you are so right about making important connections in the brain by writing music down from memory.  When Bach was a little boy, he used to slip manuscripts out of his brother's cupboard and copy them out by hand.   Even copying is a wonderful exercise in awareness. 


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