Advice on more efficient music learning

As I was coming off of “The Freshman Plague”, as some like to call it, I had my first vocal lesson of my undergraduate career. I was quite apprehensive going into my lesson with my voice not at full strength. Thinking that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything without it. But Professor Bentley’s guidance in the lesson allowed me to dive into the heart of the piece that goes past just singing the correct notes and rhythms. Focusing heavily on the text and how to tackle it made my fear of singing in other languages go away. The incorporation of (IPA) and modes of practice helped immensely as I practiced this past week.

I do have a question about practicing that I hope someone can answer. As someone who doesn’t have advanced piano skills, I was wondering what ways people get around this when learning the melody of a piece? All suggestions are welcome!

Such a big, important quandary to find a way through! I’d love to hear from your studio mates on this. Number One– puzzling out your part, and even some of the piano chords/lines, is just the thing to improve that skill set. Don’t be put off by how slowly this may progress; every minute spent engaging is building (then reinforcing) neural pathways. It’s work that pays off, if you stay committed.

More good suggestions?

Hi CS! I think something that has really aided me in being able to play through my vocal rep is sightreading just a little bit of piano music whenever I get into a practice room. It can be really helpful over the long run to try to quickly and clumsily digest lots of music. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, just play! That little bit of extra time will help.

Hey CS! I totally agree with KH, practicing a bit of piano on your own will be super helpful. Maybe taking lessons as well! I took lessons for 4 years, and it makes learning music (and stumbling through playing my own accompaniment) a breeze.

Another option that students have is Sibelius. You can use the library computers to access it or use your own computer to download Sibelius and use while you’re on the IU WIFI network (if you’re not on the network, you can connect to the IU VPN to use it!) (links to an external site). With Sibelius, you can scan a score, have it recognize all the notes on the page, and have it play it back to you.

A more time consuming version of the above would be using a website like NoteFlight (links to an external site) or a free Sibelius-like software MuseScore (links to an external site) to “write” the melody in and have it play it back for you.

My last suggestion (and probably my least suggested suggestion) would be to listen to recordings of the piece. The reason this is my least suggested is because if you listen to a recording too much, you’ll start to pick up on the singer’s performance practices, bad habits, etc. and unintentionally copy them. We’re all here to become our own musicians, so we don’t want to copy someone else! But recordings can be a great first step in learning a new piece as it can familiarize you to the style and maybe some standard performance practices/cadenzas/etc. that you should know about. It’ll also help you get acquainted with the voices of different singers out there and help you find a sound that you may like and sounds that you don’t like. You can become more analytical of the voice and choices you make in your own singing.
Sorry if this is way too much information LOL

All suggestions already given here are great and extremely useful. Besides all that has already been said, I find it helpful to start learning the melody from the rhythm; clap/”ta” the rhythm of the melody. Secondly, speak that text in your accurately learned rhythm. After this, you may now start finding the notes on the piano/a music composition software; this way, you won’t be trying to learn the notes, text and rhythms all at once. I believe that this will make your process of learning the melody easier.

Obviously, take your piano proficiency classes very seriously as well and in a few months, you will not have to worry about it.

All the Best!

Gosh, you’re all so wise. I’m going to jump in again, to underline how important it is to be patient with yourself, and also redundant. Do your best to repeat the steps you’ve taken in one practice session asap, and then again, asap! That’s the most efficient use of your precious practice minutes– (you guys have so much going on, that all the minutes are precious, really). A good, long practice session that doesn’t get its sensations repeated asap– all the good things you think about and choreograph– is almost worthless, compared to a short, thoughtful practice that you replicate later that day, then twice the day after that.