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Hi Beth!

I finally had the chance to watch all of the videos with Dr. Colleen McCullough, which were great and very informative, and I have a question. In one of the videos both of you talk about practicing with a drone. Could you please spend a little time and explain what that is and how it works (or how it's done)? I'm very intrigued and would love to learn more about it.

Thanks! ;-)

2 Responses
Posted: January 28, 2011
Last Comment: January 28, 2011

Posted: January 28, 2011
Thanks Beth, I gave the drone a listen.....minus violin. I'm so going to have to make sure no one is around when I give that a go ! LOL ! Can't wait to try it out...I'll let you know how it goes.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: January 28, 2011
Hi Jack - I had actually started a tutorial on practicing with a drone, but then hadn't turned off my cell phone and got a call during the taping! So I need to redo that.

Anyway, a drone is just a constant sounding pitch or (or pitches) with which we can practice to carefully tune our notes. Those electronic tuners generate a pitch, but they are often too soft to hear and sound a little too "electronic". I was experimenting with having students play their scales for me while I repeatedly plunked a single note on the piano. They weren't successful at hearing and adjusting their pitch, so then I tried plunking a 5th (D and A, for example). That seemed to help, but still I didn't notice the kind of intonation sensitivity I expected. Finally, I played the drone on the violin while they tuned their scales and there was an immediate improvement. I realized that the timbre of an instrument plays a role in how easily we assess relative pitch correctness. Over the years I have developed a sensitive ear, so to speak, to piano pitch, but my students had not.

So off I've gone on yet another side project. I want to make practice drones for all 12 pitches. The drones will contain 3 frequencies: the base note, or tonic, the fifth above, and the octave above the base. I've posted the first one on the members' resources page. For those of you who don't know where that is, look for the small font sized "resources" under your name slightly to the right on your home page. Click on the A drone and play an A scale.

Let me know what you think. Without vibrato and bow changes, I sound like a bagpipe! However, I find practicing intonation with a 5th drone is more pleasurable than with a single electronically generated pitch. I'll remake that tutorial in my next round of shooting...