How To Practice With Piano Drones
Playing with piano drones will help develop your ear and sense of intonation.
- Find the key of the musical passage you want to practice.
- Press the key on the keyboard that corresponds with the key of the piece. Example: If the piece of music has no sharps and no flats, it is in the key of C (or A minor). Press the C key on the keyboard.
- Play the passage slowly with the drone on. The goal is to listen carefully to the intervals you are creating with the drone. When an interval is out of tune, you will hear "waves." When an interval is in tune, the waves will settle.
- While playing with the drone, notice your tendencies and make reminders on your music or in your practice journal. For example, if you are always playing an interval slightly sharp, then draw an arrow over the note that points downward. This will be a reminder to bring this pitch down.
- Once you have jotted down your reminders and practiced hitting the pitch in tune, turn the drone off.
- Practice the passage without the drone and stop on your problem notes. Hold the pitch and turn the drone back on. Are you in tune? Repeat this process until you are consistently stopping on the note in tune.
- Practicing intervals with a drone is more valuable than practicing with a tuner alone for three reasons. 1. Intonation is relative. A440 is the standard, but some orchestras or ensembles will tune slightly sharp or flat. You need to be flexible and adjust to the people around you. 2. It forces you to develop your ear and listen to multiple pitches at once. When you play in an ensemble, it is important to listen to those around you and adjust. 3. Some intervals require you to play flat or sharp. For example, if you are playing the 3rd of a major chord, you will need to play the note slightly flat in order to make the chord sound in tune.