Practice Ear Training
Home Practice Ear Training Guide is a destination for learning about Practicing Ear Training. Hello I’m Bruce Arnold and I’ve spent decades teaching students how to practice ear training with a method called “Contextual Ear Training.” I teach this method because it really works. Every week I get an email from a student saying how much my ear training has changed their life.
Contextual Ear Training History
Contextual Ear Training has a long history and has been taught to many great musicians throughout history. If you want to see this, check out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for the ear training I teach. I learned it from my teachers, use it myself, and now I’m passing it on to you.
Types of Ear Training Exercises
There are many kinds of ear training and many ways to practice ear training. I’ve given you a quick synopsis here. I’ve also included my opinion on what works and what doesn’t from my own experience and from teaching for so long. In many cases it is how you practice ear training that will make all the difference. Subtle adjustments to your approach will mean the difference between OK and awesome ears!
Hearing Intervals: Unfortunately, hearing intervals is not the way to master ear training. Interval training, which is taught at most music schools, teaches you to judge the distance between notes rather than what notes sound like within a key center. If you have tried interval training as I did for years, and find it doesn’t work the way you need it to, it’s not you that has a problem; it’s the fact that you are learning ear training the wrong way.
Hearing Chord Progressions
Hearing Chord Progressions: Having the skill to hear whole chords much less whole chord progressions is a pretty advanced skill. You first need to hear what key the chords are functioning in and then hear each individual note. This requires some preparatory work as I’m sure you can imagine.
Hearing Scale Degrees
Hearing Scale Degrees is the key to understanding how you hear, and this is the basis of the method I teach. It is often referred to as “functional ear training” or “contextual ear training.” The fundamental idea is that you memorize the sound of all 12 notes within a key center. It is crucial that you first understand that this is how you will build your ability to hear all aspects of scales/melodies and chord progressions.
Hearing Melodies: Before you can hear melodies you must first know what each note sounds like in a key center. There are many exercises that you can use to advance your ability in this area. You start with learning what all 12 notes sound like in a key center and then you add on additional notes to make your melody, while still hearing within the key center. This link will talk about the exercises to get you there.
Doing Melodic Dictation
Doing Melodic Dictation: In order to do melodic dictation (transcription) you obviously need to know what each note sounds like in a key center. The recommended ear training exercises presented here will show you the path to mastering this.
Perfect Pitch Ear Training
Perfect Pitch Ear Training is an entirely different process that any other type of ear training. It is actually easier that most people think and certainly can be learned. Perfect pitch does have it’s good and not so good qualities but when matched with good “Contextual Ear Training” skills is a great asset.
A Rock is Not a Island
Seek Help Don’t Try to Do This On Your Own: First I recommend readying the How to Practice Ear Training Page. I have written many books on ear training and I give free email support to students using my method. It is my experience that no matter how many books or articles you write there is always the possibility of miscommunication! Some students will invariably end up practicing ear training the wrong way. Don’t assume you can go it on your own. I receive an email almost every day saying “I’ve been doing “X” and now I’m stuck and not improving.” 99% of the time it’s because they misunderstood some aspect of the task at hand.
Don’t Waste Precious Time
Don’t waste time! Get help. It isn’t easy to do the right thing 100% of the time. I’ve created a huge FAQ database, an ear training blog, a Facebook Group all dedicated to ear training. With all that, there can be misunderstandings; it’s human nature. So if you use the method please stay in touch.
Practice Ear Training for Teachers
If you are a a teacher and would like to learn more about how to use “contextual ear training” with your students I recommend you get in touch with me via email so that we can discuss a strategy to get you to understand and start working with the “contextual ear training” method. We can work out how muse-eek.com can help you and your students practice ear training. We often give discounts for teachers and their students. Please send us an email.
Ear Training for the Classroom
Many schools are already using my books and my method of ear training. If you practice ear training in a classroom please contact me about the most effective ways to do “contextual ear training” in a classroom situation.