In this week’s ‘Practise with Purpose’ post we’ll be thinking about how to get the most out of Replay, Rockschool’s interactive sheet music player...

Replay syncs notation to an audio backing track that accompanies you as you play, allowing you to adjust tempos, loop bars, and switch between backing and performance tracks with ease. These features make it an indispensable tool for nailing those tricky passages and making your performance pieces as secure as possible before you go into your exam!

Zoom in!

It is always important to have a holistic view of a piece when practising. Thinking about the musical history that surrounds a piece and its composer can help you to contextualise what you’re playing, and exploring all of the cultural influences associated with each composition can help you to gain a wider understanding of the repertoire you’re performing. In your grade book you’ll find fact-files that we’ve carefully crafted here at RSL HQ to accompany whatever arrangement you’ve decided to start playing, giving you a grasp of that all-important musical context. Definitely recommended reading!

As vital as it is to consider this wider setting of the music you’re playing, it is just as important to zoom in on the finer details – this is where Replay comes in.

There is always a temptation when practising a performance piece to play the bits you know you can play well and gloss over the trickier bits that trip you up – it’s human nature to want to sound good when you practise! However, those mistakes won’t fix themselves, and unproductive, passive playing will lead to a false sense of progress. The whole point of practice is to focus on your weaknesses – if you consistently sound good in these sessions then you might want to change your approach.


Slow it up!

A common mistake is to try and play everything at performance tempo immediately. This may work for some passages, but you are sure to encounter some sections that need a more thorough approach. Replay allows you to slow down the backing track in these trickier sections, so that you can practise difficult passages at a more manageable tempo, before gradually increasing them to performance speed.

It’s likely that you will improve more quickly if you spend your time honing in on the more difficult passages, and trying to perfect those instead of going back over material you’ve already made sound secure.

“Replay is making me look at things from a different angle, changing the way I teach in a good way”

Andy Franklin has been teaching our drums syllabus since passing his RSL Diploma back in 2015. We caught up with him recently to see how Replay has helped his students, and you can hear his thoughts in the video below:

Write it down!

Our free Practise with Purpose Diary is the perfect companion to Replay as you get ready for your next Rockschool exam. There is space for you to jot down what you’ve practised, reminders about entry deadlines, and room to write your targets for next week. Take advantage of this and use it as an opportunity for you to consider the finer details of your practice to really perfect your preparation!

Rather than putting down general targets, such as “improve this piece” or “go over that scale”, make your targets as specific as possible in order to get your tunes sounding as tight as you can. You could take one section of a piece and make sure you’re articulating it as precisely as possible; or maybe improve the ease with which you play a particular rhythmic or melodic idea? Why not try and match the tone of one of your favourite artists? The best thing about this, is that it’s completely up to you to decide what’s going to be most profitable for you and your playing.

Replay is currently available for all grades on our drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, and keys syllabuses.

Start using Replay in your practice today!