Help with use of the new Linda Perry Violin Book Accompaniment CDs

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Jul 27, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

I give instruction in volin and viola. Though I learned piano for a few years as a child and as my minor instrument in Conservatory, I have always wished I were a stronger pianist. Then I could accompany my students when they are ready with a piece, or a section, and be able to teach effectively at the same time, the way my first teacher did (Jeanette Meyer of Cleveland) with ease, mastery and sensitivity. Such was the violin lesson environment in which I was fortunate to grow up, from elementary school through the end of my senior year of high school. She also accompanied all her students at competitions, studio and public recitals, concerts and scholarship auditions. I shall be eternally grateful to her for this. With the large number of students she taught, I have no idea how she found the time! I suppose I was spoiled by having accompanist on tap. If only I could offer half as much for my students, like in-lesson practice with accompaniment.

And so it is with great anticipation that I have just purchased the Suzuki Violin Books 1 through 4 of the Linda Perry piano accompaniment midi disks and CD’s. I am seeking advice on how to maximize the effectiveness of the CD’s and their software, for use in the studio. Somewhere in these discussions I read that there is a way to alter the pitch without changing tempo (so they can be used for viola, or even baroque tuning), and a way to set any desired tempo.

With a computer CD player at hand in the studio, I have thus far used the CD’s just to play the accompaniments, at the speed and pitch presented. The students have had to play softly, and imitate the exact speed and rubatos etc. This is not how I like to teach, and I am hoping to be able to use them more effectively if possible.

For example, I have read somewhere that one can play collaboratively with these CD’s, by connecting the instrument via electronic pickup into something that connects to the CD software, rendering the accompaniment responsive to rubato, accelerando, other changes in tempo. Is this true? This technology would be my sci-fi dream, if I could only find the way to use it and adapt it fully to my needs. I have been looking but haven’t found instructions within the software provided, or from anyone I’ve spoken with. I can follow directions but need help: I am not the techie I wish I were. Can anyone explain, for example:

-Without using a pickup, how much flexibility is there in the direct ‘acoustic’ use of these cd’s? How does one do that?
-If a pickup is necessary to tap into the more sophisticated advantages available on these cd’s, what kind of pickup is recommended for students at various levels? (assuming as the quality rises, so does the price)
-Into what does it get plugged?
-Will the software also detect and respond to changes in dynamics?
-Is there a way to set rehearsal points, or letters, in the accompaniment so it will be easy to go back to a certain spot repeatedly?
-Is it possible to set various tempi, or rhythmic alterations with a single touch, for creative practice of passages?
-Am I expecting too much of these CD’s?

If there are some techies reading this, familiar with these CD’s, please share your suggestions and pointers, or if you are short of time and patience please direct me to the right place for a tutorial.

(Of course for recitals, concerts and contests, I work with a few terrific local pianists who do very well in supporting, listening and relating sensitively to my students’ playing. Nothing could take their place; these CD’s would be used for preparatory work in the studio.)

With great thanks,

Wendy Z.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 13, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

With the Linda Perry MIDI Cds, you can install the Home Concert software on your computer (the Home Concert software should be on the CD).

That Home Concert software allows you to change tempo, add a metronome click, and change key by half steps. Tempo changes apply to the whole MIDI recording: you can’t make the MIDI part play back metronomically, or change the tempo of a particular rubato spot.

So far as I understand it, if you want to change the rubato, etc., the Home Concert software can follow a MIDI instrument that is plugged into your computer. Basically, that means keyboard. It does NOT follow acoustic instruments like piano, violin, etc. This would be useful if you, on a MIDI keyboard, were to play, say, the right hand piano part, and let the computer follow you for the left hand part.

If you want the accompaniment to be able to follow an acoustic instrument with a pickup or through a microphone, what you’ll want (I think) is a SmartMusic subscription and the SmartMusic softward (completely different product than the Linda Perry MIDI CDs, and does not work in conjunction with them).

My recommendation for getting the most out of the MIDI recordings by Linda Perry is to get a good set of computer speakers—so that you can turn up the volume loud enough for a student to play along but not play too softly.

OR, if money is no object, buy a Disklavier. They are supposed to work with the Linda Perry CDs.

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Aug 13, 2012
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

Thanks, RaineJen! I checked into that. Looking a bit further, it looks like Zenph Home Concerrt Xtreme may do what I had heard about somewhere, but still not sure what is involved in implementing its features (besides purchasing the software for $99?). It looks like it may be sensitive to tempo changes, dynamics, articulation changes, and nuance generally. I have looked on the website; still not getting the full picture, and their user forum appears quite limited. If anyone has personal experience using this software, in the context of enhancing the use of the L. Perry CD’s, I’d be very interested to hear more.

I am not thinking at this time about purchasing a Disklavier, though that sounds very cool.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Jennifer Visick said: Aug 14, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Are you on a Mac or a PC?

Just making sure: You should be able to download an update to the home concert software that’s already on the Linda Perry CD—you do NOT need to pay $99, in order for the software to do what I described above.

I lookeda the zenph website. It appears that their newest Home Concert Xtreme software follows MIDI instruments only—I don’t see any indication that it follows an acoustic instrument through a pickup or a microphone.

If I recall correctly, the only thing you get if you purchase the Home Concert sofware seperately from the “limited” version of the software that already comes on the Perry CDs, is that you can work with other MIDI files besides the Perry accompaniment files.

Lisa Miles said: Sep 18, 2013
Lisa MilesViolin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Juneau, AK
4 posts

Has anyone figured out to get the MIDI features of slowing the accompaniment down to work on a Mac?

May Your Heart Forever Sing,
Lisa Miles, TheHeartStrings.org

Jennifer Visick said: Sep 18, 2013
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

I have used it on a Mac. But an older mac, not a newer one. What are you having trouble with?

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