Many great pieces of advice above from really wonderful musicians.
I too get hired often as a transcriber. The "benefit" side is an interesting one.
The short answer is: Yes, and do it as much as you can.
That said, I have felt like there is more than one side to this.
For myself I have come to think of transcribing in two categories:
1. Those pieces I love, and wish I wrote, and I am hoping to write like that in the future
2. Aural sight reading:
What I mean by # 2 is I have so many songs that I have transcribed, made my clients very happy, and I could barely even tell you the name of them. Maybe I would remember the first chord of them.
So just like practicing sight reading, it's hard to say what specific benefit other than a longer goal of increasing talent.
I got paid too. Like JT alluded to, I used to say for some songs "My ears have joined the Metoo movement" Ear rape can happen to any transcriber.
Few bullet point suggestions
- Don't touch your DAW other than tempo mapping. That can be useful, but you still have to think
- sing....sing, sing sing
- Practice transcribing without pitches, and in addition without a recording. Take a song - say Happy Birthday - and just write out the rhythm. This can be very useful if you are still not strong on notation
- Scribbles can be wonderful for "real-time" short hand. (ie. Beethoven 5 _ _ _ ___________)
- Pick music you can check the score later for accuracy
- Apply what you are playing with an instrument.
I guess the point I am making is I find being hired to transcribe music for publication is a little different than what I would do for my own musical practice. Simply because I am not trying to internalize it. Jazz players are most likely the best model for #1. For internalizing I would also say transpose thru all 12 keys, invert a small chuck, play it fast/slow reharmonize etc. etc.
You can also try writing out the score by memory and checking.
lastly for getting going on transcribing away from an instrument I found Bartok's Microcosmos the ideal practice for myself. All of book 1 moves by step motion. He uses some pentatonic scales so you do get minor 3rds, but in the context it's a step. He is so methodical....it's great.
Just don't expect a good "tune". I don't have perfect pitch, so I would check the first note, and everything else would be completed pencil paper at the table.
Thank you for your thoughtful and comprehensive response. Some of the things you said, I really need to go back to, and make a part of a routine. In particular, writing onto paper rather than into the DAW.
This is particularly scary because I can barely read (you know, I still have to use mnemonics to know which note is which, and even though on basic rhythmic stuff I'm getting better, when I look at scores, I have to spend a good 5-10 seconds per note just to be sure of what it is, and I often make mistakes on rhythm)
That said, I'm taking violin lessons, and also have started taking 1-to-1 theory lessons, so this will certainly help!