Backing tracks are a great tool for learning to play music. They are usually songs with only the basic rhythmic and chordal parts playing - no melody, no singing, no solos. They are often just a simple song someone wrote for this purpose. But sometimes they can be a particular song too, like a karaoke.
Backing tracks provide a music student with a full band to play along with. Usually referred to as "Backing Tracks", we often call them "Practice Tracks" to emphasize that this is what they are for (not for karaoke or performance, or some other use). We keep them pretty simple so they are easy for most students to use. We also give you the basic information for each one, to help you get started playing along.
LINKS TO PRACTICE TRACK PAGES
Videos for Practice Tracks are sourced from several Youtube content creators. Each is specifically chosen by Songdog for students to practice over. Note that most Youtubers do not approach music academically, as we do here at Songdog Music. The titles tend to be long and confusing and some of their descriptions you read - we may disagree with. Therefore each video we select, we write introductory comments to clarify and we give you each song's rhythm and pitch information.
HOW TO USE PRACTICE TRACKS:
1. Just plain listen. You can learn a lot by simply listening to a song while thinking about how it applies to any new music learning you have. for instance: Count along - to practice hearing beats, measures, meter, tempo. Listen for specific instruments - drums, bass, guitar, piano, organ, synth, strings, horns, vocals. Chords - if you already know something about chord progressions, you can try to hear them as they happen. Structure - some songs are very simple with only one part; others have 12 bar blues structure or AABA structure or inumerable other forms; try to figure them out!
2. Play along for rhythm only. Rhythm is the first skill of music. Count, Clap, Strum your open strings (the pitches may clash when you do this, oh well.), Strum your open strings while muting with your left hand (fixes the previous problem), grab a drum or shaker or kitchen pot. Dance.
3. Play chords. If you know the chords AND the structure of the song, you can try playing along using whatever rhythm you are capable of.
4. Pitch: try open strings. Very Beginners learn the open strings first. You do NOT need to wait to learn a bunch of stuff to play along; many songs utilize pitch vocabulary that includes these open strings! So just hunt around on them and hear how it sounds! Note: the keys of G major and E minor use all of the guitar open strings. The keys of C major and A minor use all of the ukulele open strings. You may notice we included a lot of songs in those keys. Guess why.
5. Play a scale. Each Practice Track lists a scale that fits all or most of the song. You can choose to play one single pitch from that scale, over and over if you want. You can play the entire scale, ascending, or descending, or both. Use any rhythm you want: whole notes, any other note value, or just wing it and try to feel the song's beat. RESTS - use them. Often. You will get confused by the complex rhythm of the song, at some point or other. Simply stop playing and listen, then count, that will reset your internal beat, and you can start playing again.
6. Improvise. The Big One - taking a solo. Everybody thinks this is SO hard. It isn't. First, you need your pitch vocabulary - the key and scale that fit the song. Second, you need to listen, and then play something. Anything really, within the vocabulary we gave you. Third, you will either like/not like, enjoy/want to change, smile/cringe at what you just played. Fourth, you adapt and play the next thing.
That's it. You improvised. You took a solo.
Did your solo sound like (fill in your favorite music idol here)? Of Course Not. But what you just did is precisely what they did, for hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades. Just do it. Just play it. You will not sound like them, but you'll be walking in their footsteps.