Ear Training Blog by Bruce Arnold for Muse Eek Publishing Inc. Key Retention

Key Retention is a common problem that all ear training students encounter.  This article will explain some of the hurdles a musician needs to get over and some books and exercises that will help to improve your key retention.  I’ve created many courses that will help various aspects of your aural comprehension which I talk about some of these in this article.  Mostly I’d like to bring your attention to a new series of books I’ve been releasing called the Harmonic and Melodic Equivalence Series. 

Although this series can be used to develop your ability to play more modern melodies in your improvisation I also recommend using the Harmonic and Melodic Equivalence Series for ear training because they can really help you with your Key Retention.  First let me explain what key retention is, and why it is important.  Many students tend to modulate (change keys) way too much when they are listening to music.  The more you modulate the harder it is to understand and hear music.  That is not to say that you shouldn’t modulate ever, but most students modulate for instance, on every chord of a chord progression.  This isn’t ideal for hearing music and if you can develop the ability to not modulate as much, and to stay grounded within the key center you will find it easier to hear and play over various types of music.  I originally put out a course called Key Retention Builder to address this issue, and it has helped many musicians to stop modulating so much.  Think of the Key Retention Builder course as a “clinical” way help you avoid modulating at the drop of a dime (or chord change).  While this book gets you going in the right direction you also need to apply this ability to real music.  To address this I released a series of direct application courses called Practice Perfect Applied Ear Training which so far contains the following series:

Those courses require you to practice listening and singing exercises over real music to improve your key retention as well as to apply your One Note Ear Training skills.  All of these courses go a long way toward helping you build your key retention but there is one missing factor in all of this. You see, when I studied with Charlie Banacos he strengthened my key retention by giving me singing assignments with various types of compositions from jazz standards to jazz solos to classical compositions,  all of which I had to sing for him every week.  One series of exercises that I found to be especially hard was singing melodies that were common in one key center, but singing them in a different key center.  For instance, singing the diatonic chords of C major in the key of Gb Major.  Your ear wants to you to pull yourself out of the key of Gb and into the key of C.  With practice this exercise will strengthen you ability to stay in the key of Gb while singing a melody commonly found in C Major.  In the long run I found this kind of exercise to be one of the most valuable Charlie gave me. 

It can be tough to find musical examples that help you with this issue, but you will find them in abundance in the Harmonic and Melodic Equivalence Series.  And this is particularly true with the 19A19B and 19C volumes because they deal with two major triads, a major and minor triad and two minor triads a whole step apart which of course happens in many places in a major and melodic minor ascending scale.  So a good thing to do is take a page from each of these books and sing through it first in the original key, but then in other key centers.  For instance, sing the C major exercise in F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, B, E, A, D and G.  As you get further way from the original key you will find it increasingly hard to stay in the key center.  This is an excellent way to slowly built your key retention and to find out where your weak points are.

So these Harmonic and Melodic Equivalence Series books are excellent choices for this important part of developing your ear training skills and it’s why I have them listed in the Ear Training section on the muse-eek.com website.  Adding these exercises to your daily routine won’t take up an extreme amount of time if you limit the number of pages and measures that you tackle each day.  So add this into your daily practice and you will find that all music will get easier to hear as your key retention improves.

Bruce Arnold Music Education Genealogy Chart

You might enjoy checking 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 Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by Muse-eek.com which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!

Blog by Bruce Arnold for Muse Eek Publishing Inc. Playing Off the Melody

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About Muse Eek

Muse-Eek Publishing Company is a publishing house with a broad focus on music education. Muse-Eek also publishes fine art and poetry books, and has its own record label, Muse-Eek Records. Our online presence, Muse-Eek.com specializes in the publication of music workbooks, video courses and sound and video recordings that teach the foundation of good musicianship through groundbreaking and innovative methods along with traditional methods that have been taught for centuries. These historic methods date back through centuries of great musicians and educators. To see these interesting relationship please see Bruce Arnold's Music Education Genealogy Chart which tells you a lot about the where many of his educational ideas took root and some of the educational pillars that are evident throughout the books you find on this website. The Muse-Eek Records catalogue contains a diverse selection of music much of it by Bruce Arnold in collaboration with some of today's best players in classical, jazz, rock and avant-garde music. These are available in CD, DVD and mp3 formats. We believe in a working relationship with our music education customers; they are free to interact with the author after purchasing a book to help them through any material they don’t understand or which they need further clarification. We also have a member's area which contains a wealth of free information to help a student understand music at a deeper level and access additional files for our books. Many of our books offer cutting edge ideas regarding ear training, guitar technique, rhythm and time. These methods have a proven track record. Our main author Bruce Arnold has taught at some of the most prestigious music schools in the world, including Princeton, Dartmouth, Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, The New School and NYU. Along with Mr. Arnold's publications on the Muse-eek.com website he has also written books and appeared in educational DVDs for MelBay and Truefire. Over the years Mr Arnold has used his experiences with his students to develop a program that can elevate a musician's ability to world class caliber. If you have questions about any of our books or recordings please send us an email. Along with general questions about either our record label or our publishing company we also welcome questions to help a student choose the proper materials to reach their goals. We have over 300 products to help you learn any style of music and to develop your musicianship to its peak. We also make recommendations for practice schedules for students who use our methods to get the most out of their study time. This, along with personal interaction with Bruce through email, nurtures the student's ability through a closely monitored situation, ensuring there is no wasted time or misunderstanding.

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