Q: There's a free software called 'Functional Ear Trainer' and it is taught this way: Hear the chord progression and resolve the note to the tonic whether up or down. For the diatonic notes, the bottom 4 notes resolve downward and for the top 4, the notes resolve upward. After a period of time your mind is supposed to be able to eliminate these steps and hear the note instantaneously. The software even has a random key selection and works in all octaves. Is it possible to learn the notes in this order?
A: First a couple of points on Functional Ear Trainer Program. There are many possible ways to study ear training. Many times people go looking for the cheapest way to study. To me that's like going looking for the cheapest doctor to do your heart surgery. Ear Training is crucial to becoming a great musician and one of the main reasons students of music fail is because they don't develop good ear training skills. In my experience this is mostly caused by:
1. Not understanding how to properly to an ear training exercise.
2. Not being aware that they are doing an ear training exercise incorrectly.
Any ear training exercise you can find can be useful if it is done correctly. The problem is most people don't know how to do it correctly. So if you have a program like Functional Ear Training and you are doing the exercises you don't have anyone to guide you so it's really a crap shoot as to whether you will do the exercises the right way. If you don't you develop bad habits which can take years to undo.
Every week I get someone contacting me about ear training "X" that they have been doing and how they have become disillusioned with their progress. The bottom line here is you can't do
"X" ear training and just "hope" that you are doing it correctly. You need to have readily available information to get you going in the right direction and someone you can talk to when you are unsure.
Back to your question I wouldn't recommend resolving notes to the tonic up or down even as a initial step. Hopefully you have my 'Ear Training One Note Complete and Fanatic's Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing or the Contextual Ear Training books so you can understand exactly what you are supposed to be doing and how. These books and the www.muse-eek.com website will also contain information on common problems and misunderstandings people have. Once you understand this information you could use the Functional Ear Trainer if it gives you similiar types of exercises. Since ear training is probably the single most important thing you can do as a musician, I suggest that you make sure you are investing your time and/or money with something that will be worth your time and effort. If you find an ear training program that just says "do this" with no indepth explanation I would be very wary that you are being directed in the proper way.