HomeBlogsdoubleshot's blogDoubleShot!'s Band Blog #2: Two Quick Techno-Tips for Faster Learning

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Greetings, CASA!  This is Steve Donnelly, member of Pittsburgh’s All-Vocal Band, DoubleShot!  We are very excited to be a new part of the blogging community here at CASA, and we look forward to your future readership, comments and questions!

Currently the second-newest and youngest member of the band, I have been performing in DoubleShot! for a little over a year.  After graduating from Duquesne University with a music education degree, I was looking for an outlet to perform outside of the classroom.  DS! fit the bill perfectly!  However, just like in the music room, I have had to make some adjustments to maximize my positive influence on these kids… ahem... I mean, Men.

I work with five other incredibly talented musicians in DoubleShot!; all of them have very different musical backgrounds.  Every one of us can follow the contour of the music and most can even play the notes on the piano, however, actually reading music can pose challenges for some of the guys.  When I joined DoubleShot!, I had to figure out an effective way to teach arrangements that would suit every level of musicianship in the group.  The answer: technology.

Using technology to record and send out each individual part not only saved me time but also made the music learning process more efficient and effective for the guys.

The process I use is quite simple:

After conjuring up an idea for an arrangement, I record each part into GarageBand (alternative for PC users: Audacity).  This program allows the user to layer tracks just like in a professional recording studio.  After recording all of the different voices into the software (and trust me, this sometimes takes MANY attempts to get perfect) I was left with 6 individual tracks or parts that I could e-mail to each member of the group and have prepared for the next rehearsal.  After using this method several times, I would recommend it to any group.

Another tool I began using as an extension of this technique was tracking our rehearsals as a group and sending out audio from the conclusion of every rehearsal as soon as rehearsals end.  This has quickly become an invaluable preparation tool between rehearsals, especially for learning new material and making changes and improvements to old material.

The bottom line is that even if your performers can read music, the benefit of hearing their part and being able to take it with them in the car, office, jogging etc. via an iPod or other media player is priceless.  It will make a noticeable difference in the speed in which music is learned and retained.

Feel free to send me an e-mail with any questions/comments you have.  I would be glad to help out or give recommendations.

On behalf of DoubleShot!,
Steve Donnelly



I agree - technology can be

I agree - technology can be an extremely valueable tool. Part tapes are in my oppinion the easiest and clearest way to preserve an arangment through time, or teach quickly/remotly to a group that is bigger than one or two people. I think they're great for collegiate groups, because each year most groups have large turn overs, yet still sing some of the same songs. Part tapes can preserve every aspect, sometimes more clearly than written music. You just need someone to step up to the plate and just take the time to make them.



I appreciate the value of sheet music, but part tapes are a much better learning tool for many.

--Dave Brown

now: Mouth Off host | ICCA & CARA Judge

then: CASA president, CASAcademy director, CASA Bd of Directors | BYU Vocal Point | Noteworthy co-foun

SoundStage has been using

SoundStage has been using this method for the last year or so, and it has greatly increased the speed and ease with which we learn new arrangements.  Something else I've found that helps is to not only send people their own parts individually, but to send a file with ALL the parts.  Then you can make a copy for each person with their part panned to one side and everyone else on the other- that way they can control the balance and also learn how their parts fit into the whole.  I also host all the files for free on box.net so members can download them whenever they want (It's easy and saves me a good chunk of time!)


Recording rehearsals is great, assuming singers will listen to the files.  Not only do you get a direct review of what you did in rehearsal, you can hear everything from outside, AND you get a sense of how rehearsals are running... nothing cuts down on distractions and tangents like having to listen to distractions and tangents.

Many pro singers I know always carry a recorder into rehearsal, and they have always looked at their parts (or listened if it's audio) before they show up.  Rehearsals are for getting a sense of tempo, song form, and overall structure, NOT for learning notes.  Make it a priority to take control of your own learning.  

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