We often focus on the use of Backing Tracks for performance as a substitute for live musicians, especially in the classical field. A standard backing track gives you something to sing or play over the top of, and in preparation we often tailor our performance to suit the backing track rather than the other way around. This can hamper our musicality, and hold back the expression that we can give to our performance.
So what are the positives for our development and performance that we can get from using backing tracks?
Train your inner pulse : “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”, or words to that effect from Pablo Picasso, sum this up nicely. As with any aspect of our technique, ear and pulse training are crucial, and teachers around the world prescribe metronome practice to students as a way of kicking that inner pulse into gear. The use of good quality backing tracks can make this a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
Visualise your performance : From the comfort of your practice room it can often be challenging to recreate and prepare for how you will feel in a stage or studio environment. Being able to give a full audio recreation of the sound that you will hear in performance certainly makes this an easier process allowing for a well-prepared performance.
Playback through speakers : This allows you to prepare for a live scenario, hearing the accompaniment as you would in a performance situation.
Playback through headphones : This is great training for a studio environment. Most classical singers and instrumentalists like to keep the headphones off one ear so that you can hear a combination of the track or accompaniment and your live sound in the room. Moving from practising without headphones to suddenly needing to perform with them and the red light ON can be disconcerting without preparation.
Become more tech-savvy : Classical singers and instrumentalists have a reputation for being ‘behind the curve’ in terms of changing technologies and how they can help us. Spending endless hours in the acoustic environment of a practice room often keeps us away from the developments that are easily seen by musicians in other genres. Perhaps something that we have all learnt over the course of a terrible 2020 and beyond is that technology is something to be fully embraced if we want to reach audiences beyond the thresholds of our own homes.
Using backing tracks and some basic home recording techniques is a really fantastic way of developing our musicality in ways that we perhaps did not expect a few years ago.
Source great backing tracks : As with anything else in life, we can be limited by the quality of the resources that we use. Great quality tracks that have been tailored to your needs with a sense of realism and musicality really can enhance your preparation and performance rather than being a mere tool.