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

Singing Jazz Standards Ear Training Exercises


I assign students who work through my ear training (and many courses such as “Approach Notes,” Scale Analysis,” “Ultimate Arpeggio” or “Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing”) to apply the information they have learned to real music. I recommend using jazz standards for this, because the lead sheets are easy to find, and the chord progressions cover the ones typically found in all styles of music.

Exactly what you apply to these jazz standards will vary for each book, but the underlying principle is that you are hearing all notes in the key center, not in relationship to each chord. Obviously if a tune modulates you would use an entirely different approach.

There are many kinds of exercises in my books but here is a quick synopsis of some of them:

In the “Approach Note” course I have students write out solos where they put chord tones on beats “one” and “three,” then place any combination of the chromatic and diatonic approach note figures into these chord tones. They then sing these written solos first over a drone by using the “MetroDrone®” and then by playing the chords and singing the melody. Again all notes are heard in one key center. When singing the solos in one key as the chords change, students often discover that they need remedial work to be able to do the assignment successfully. For this I recommend:

“Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing”
“Key Retention Builder”
“Hearing Chord Progressions”
“Hearing Bass Lines”
“Diatonic Chords”

I should note here that sometimes students to not have a history of listening or playing music with many chord changes that include tensions. If that is the case, I often recommend they listen to — or if they play a chording instrument learn how to play the chord progressions found in– these books:

“Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One”
“Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume Two”
“Harmonic Analysis”
“Scale Analysis”

Please note that the same chord progressions are found in all of the above-mentioned books, and there are many other approach note techniques in the “Approach Note” course that could be used as templates to write solos as well. In particular is the approach to tensions. In this case I recommend that you first start with the chord progressions in the above books because they have all tensions clearly written out, as opposed to “chord/melody” charts where tensions are very seldom included.

In “Scale Analysis,” which relates all chord scales within a composition to one key center, the list below is a good place to start, because all the tunes listed can be heard in one key center. The assignment is to write out the scales for each chord based on the key center. In this case, at least at the beginning, a student should start the scale from the root of the key center rather than the root of the chord.

In “Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing” I give an assignment on page 17 that should then be applied to the list below. This assignment usually involves chord tones but I will commonly add in harmonic reharmonization based on the information found in one of the following books:

“Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One”
“Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume Two”
“Harmonic Analysis”
“Scale Analysis”

In “Ultimate Arpeggio” I recommend that you apply the 13 possible three note arpeggios to common tunes such as Singing Jazz Standards. The list below is excellent because it gets you applying these “trichords” by thinking of them all in one key center. I also recommend that you apply these “trichords” to the chord progressions found in these books:

“Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One”
“Scale Analysis”
“Harmonic Analysis”

I have students start to apply the singing of real music such as Singing Jazz Standards after they have completed the “Contextual Ear Training” course. In this instance, I also recommend working with Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing Volume Two.” This book concentrates on singing and hearing notes over 17 different types of key centers.

The kind of exercise that I assign in the chord progressions below will vary depending on the course they are studying or the particular problem they are encountering in the ear training studies. Here is a break down of some of the common assignments. At the beginning you will use the MetroDrone® and choose a tempo where you can get through the whole tune or A section without stopping (of course with some practice.) Some tunes will be much easier than others.

1. Just sing 7th chords; don’t add tensions though you can alter the 5th if it’s appropriate. Also if it’s a bass note over a triad, sing the bass note and then the 3 notes of the triad.

2. Write out and sing scales in one key

3. Try singing the root of each chord or sing bass lines. Use “Jazz and Blues Bass Lines” if you need help constructing a bass line

4. Sing “guide tones.” If you need help understanding “guide tones” see the book “Guide Tones; Theory Application and Aural Comprehension.”

5. Write out and sing modal sequences over chord changes. If you need help understanding modal sequencing see:

“Two Note Modal Sequencing”
“Three Note Modal Sequencing”

As you can see, this is an involved, multi-year process and is why I offer free email support to customers who purchase muse-eek.com books. This makes sure they are progressing in the most productive order and doing the assignments that will maximize their progress.


The Historic Precedents Of This Kind Of Music Education

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!


Singing Jazz Standards Ear Training Exercises by Bruce Arnold for Muse Eek Publishing Company

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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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