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10 tips for a clean intonation

We present 10 step-by-step exercises for a clean intonation. Regular practice and slow approach are the basis, so take on a new exercise every week and train it for 15 minutes every day! In 10 weeks you will already have finer hearing and much better intonation, so stay tuned and have fun with the exercises! 😊

#1: Listen carefully to yourself!👂🏽🎵


The first thing you should do when beginning to learn an instrument is to listen to yourself and get to know the instrument. Completely free, without company and rules... just try it out. For example, you can hold out a note for a long time and then see what changes when you move your hand or when you get louder and quieter. It also helps to switch between two tones. This will give you a feel for the tone and pitch. 🔊🎻


In the beginning, you don't need another person to listen to you. Of course, later it is also important that another person gives regular feedback. However, a tuner, which can be downloaded free of charge as an app, is sufficient for the time being. This gives you visual feedback so you can see whether the sustained tone sounds at least partially in the right range. Because it's not easy at the beginning either. 📲


In the long run, however, it is important to train your own hearing so that you can judge for yourself whether the tone has the right pitch or not! A tuner is no longer suitable for this! ✌🏽


It is important to have patience and rather practice less regularly than a lot once a week. The fast, cool pieces can wait a little longer, because nothing stands in the way of your progress until the foundation (intonation & technique) is right. 😊


#2: Play clean tones one by one!👂🏽🔉


After you have gotten a feel for your instrument and the tone in the first exercise, the second exercise is about playing individual notes cleanly. In the best case, your teacher will play a clean note on the instrument and you will try to copy it. 🎻


This gives you feedback on whether the note needs to be played higher or lower. You just repeat the whole thing often and change the tones. It also helps a lot if you not only play the sound, but also imagine it in your mind and even sing it. The effect of this is that you develop an even better sense of pitch! 💭

#3: Let yourself be accompanied by a properly tuned instrument! 👂🏽🔉


This exercise gets a little more exciting. Now you should not only play individual tones, but also play individual melodies in class. It is best if you are accompanied by your instrument, i.e. by another violin if you play the violin. If necessary, a piano can also be used, although only the evenly tempered tuning can be used there. 🎵


First you play a melody. Then you can try playing the melody at the same time, which shows more clearly if your pitch is off the mark. And as a third step, your accompaniment should simply sustain the root notes/chords and you play the melody over them. This is a bit more advanced, but has a great practice effect! ✔️


Also, try doing the whole thing again in “slow motion” afterwards. This makes it even more challenging and lets you hear the intonation even better and recognize deviations even better. ⏳


Unfortunately, this exercise is limited to the weekly lesson time together with your teacher. Because intonation training has not been possible on your own so far, we have developed Intonica, a digital intonation trainer that can be used to practice regularly at home in addition to lessons. More on that at the end. 💻


#4: Record yourself practicing. 🎙


It's simple but sooo effective! And recording doesn't mean the perfect record for the next CD, but just letting the mic play along. If you simply record yourself practicing, the intonation can often be better assessed afterwards. It's best to just close your eyes and hear every detail. As if you were taking on the role of the examiner in an entrance exam. 😁


It is good to record yourself alone, but also with others or a playback recording of a polyphonic piece. A video recording also makes sense, especially for stringed instruments. This way you can not only check the intonation, but also your technique and posture at the same time. 👍🏽


And if the recording turned out well, send it to your grandparents via WhatsApp (if the technology has already arrived), they will be happy! And bang, killed 2 birds with one stone..🤪 At Intonica you can also record yourself with a virtual ensemble and listen to the overall sound afterwards!


#5: Practice different scales regularly. 🎵


Wow scale...many think so. "That's dull." 💤 Yes and no we would say. Scales are always the same and of course it's more fun to just play a cool piece with nice melodies! 👀


However, scales can also be very diverse. It's not about playing the C major scale 100 times up and down, but also F sharp major or a chromatic scale should be practiced. Then there is the way a scale is played. In different tempi and stroke types as well as everything else there is in exercise variations! 🎵


Through scales you develop your musical ear very well. Because each piece is based on scales and intervals, so that you will become familiar with all keys through the scale training. Otherwise you will be able to intonate the one piece in G major properly at the end, but as soon as the key changes, the intonation will no longer be correct. 😣


Therefore: play scales in every key and various exercises regularly, then you are very flexible! 🙏🏽😊


#6: Bach chorales, the ideal sparring partner for intonation training. 🥊


A few hundred years ago, a musical genius named Johann Sebastian Bach regularly wrote new pieces for his sacred music. He was able to compose several chorales in a very short time in one day and write them down easily...😅


But as luck would have it, JS Bach conjured up something very special at the time and because of the contrapuntal interpretation and the special thematic structuring, these pieces are ideal for ensembles and especially for intonation training. 🙀


Simply put, these pieces have 4 voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) each with its own melody and each voice is equal. Nevertheless, a very harmonious sound is created together, since each tone is the structure of a chord. This allows you to simply play any voice while practicing and let the other voices accompany you harmoniously. As a result, your own intonation can be heard much better and a tone deviation is noticed more quickly. 💡


In addition, the pieces are very slow without fast passages and technically not too demanding. Therefore, when making music, you can concentrate 100% on the harmonies and their intonation as well as on musicality. 🐌


#7: Chords really help you hear! 👂🏽


Ever heard of chords? Major 7, minor, sept,...if so, great, here are a few tips on how to use chords in intonation training. If these are all foreign words, then you are welcome to deal with the topic! ✌🏽


In general, we recommend listening to and playing as many different chords as possible. And in every key. In jazz, chords are often given more importance than in classical music, but chords are always part of music. Getting comfortable with chords and developing a good ear for them takes your intonation to a new level. 🙌🏽


Practice tip: grab a key and a chord, e.g. B. a G major chord and plays it in different variants. Tone levels can be combined in different ways! You can also try different tempos and volumes. As always, it will help you a lot if you are accompanied by a clean instrument, in which the accompaniment leaves the root note or even plays the chord completely. 💡


Since this is unfortunately difficult at home alone, this is where Intonica comes into play again! With the chord module, we offer the perfect training program for all chords and scales by providing you with professional accompaniment and flexible setting options! 🎶


#8: Practice pitch jumps and think in intervals! 👂🏽


So you've already dealt with intervals, harmonies and different moods. Today we would like to give you the suggestion to generally think much more in intervals. To do this, just start playing different pitch jumps in slow motion and be very aware of what you are doing. 💡


What does a major seventh sound like, where is it going? Really make time for each interval. Then transfer this thinking to your normal game! Take z. B. a Bach chorale and while playing always think about the interval of the tone jump. Even just imagining an interval (without playing it) trains the ear very well. The aim is that at the end of the day you will already have every interval correctly in your head in your imagination. You need a lot of practice for that! 🔝


As a final step, analyze the piece and see what changes in harmony there are within the piece? Does the tonic change or stay the same? What chord does the note I'm playing belong to? 😱


Lots of difficult questions, but in order to bring your intonation to a higher level of subtlety, that is exactly what is essential. But beware: we are talking about student level here and no longer about amateur musicians. The main thing is that you enjoy making music! 😊


#9: Use different tones! 🔉


Now we want to experiment with the great timbres of our instrument or our voice. There are huge differences between string instrumentalists, wind instruments and singers! Especially with wind instruments and singing, the timbre or the pressure has a great influence on the intonation, because it allows the pitch to be controlled. With stringed instruments, this effect is a little less, but here too it is exciting to focus on another topic and still pay attention to the intonation. 🎻


So just try to sing / play very loud and powerful, or very soft and quiet. Vary your wind instrument approach or try different vowels and sounds as a singer. For example, you can experiment with portato or legato on the string instrument. 🔬


Just try it out and still pay close attention to your intonation! How does this change during the different timbres? Does the sound get higher or lower as you apply more pressure? Can you perceive your intonation better or worse when you play very loud? What happens when you increase the bow pressure on the instrument? When can the overtones be heard particularly well? You are also welcome to let the tuner run to support you. 🦻🏼


Just like at the beginning you should get to know your instrument or your voice better, only on an even finer level. With regular training you will get more and more experience with the timbres and bring your intonation to a new level! 💪🏽


#10: Play in ensembles with others! 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦


Now we come to the last intonation exercise in this exercise series! Namely the high art of playing together in an ensemble. The big goal of most musicians when learning an instrument. Because let's be honest, it's just great to make music together with other people and to create a harmonious overall sound! 😍


However, this is a big step and for many there are initial inhibitions. "What if I annoy the others with my dirty tones?" "What if the whole orchestra looks at me because I'm not intoning it right?"...a lot of awkward ideas. 🙁


And the fact is that intonation is even more important when playing together with other musicians, since irregularities are more noticeable in the overall sound of the harmonies. That is why previous experience and good intonation are often basic requirements for playing together with other musicians. However, one learns best within an ensemble to fine-tune one's own intonation and create a harmonious overall sound! 😇


Intonica is the perfect testing environment and helps solve the above problems. At Intonica you have a virtual ensemble and can make music with real professionals. And you don't have to be intimidated or afraid, because you're on your own and can repeat the piece as often as you like. Digital sheet music, flexible customization options and the selection of individual voices create the ideal intonation training for you and prepare you for getting started in a real ensemble. 🙌🏽


If you feel safe with Intonica, then go out into the world and look for other musicians to make music together! But even that is not possible everywhere and at all times. A meeting once a week is realistic, but with Intonica you can switch on your virtual professional ensemble alone at any time in addition to the lessons and ensemble and make music from home.


We hope the tips could help you! It is best to save this page so that you can look again each week to see which exercises can serve as an impulse. If you would like to try our digital intonation trainer Intonica, simply register using the button at the top right "to the app".

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