I’ve been on this soapbox before, for good reason. Without intonation, music doesn’t resonate, and if things are really out of tune, it can be a painful experience. Ingrid gives an excellent example of how to play in tune. She spoke with me about practice for my latest book, The Practice of Practice, and it inspired me to play along with drones. It’s radically changed my approach to sound and intonation. Here’s Ingrid in a video from JALC’s Jazz Academy to tell you more about playing with drones:
Ingrid uses a shruti box. But for something more portable (like on your phone), I’ve discovered one of my favorite apps, created by Prasad Upasani, another musician (an Indian classical vocalist) who spoke with me about practice for the book. It’s called iTablaPro and is less than half the price of a shruti box. In addition to drones, you can also play rhythms on tabla, so it doubles as a metronome and makes playing against the drone more interesting and fun. I’ve posted about the app and playing with drones before. Learn more and see a demonstration video here.
You can use a piano, too, just hold down the sustain pedal as you play against it. It’ll help a lot if the piano is in tune! If there is one thing that I highly recommend to players of any age, but especially beginners, it’s to play with drones. It makes for a great warmup.
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