Choosing the Right Workbooks for Ear Training
Choosing the Right Workbooks for Ear Training
Q: Thank you for your help. I appreciate it. I haven’t purchased yet, for I won’t be home until Monday & it’s easier to download there. But I do have a few questions before I get started, if you don’t mind:
- 1. Choosing Ear Training One Note Complete vs Instrumental Color Ear Training Series: Should I completely pass the Intermediate, Advanced, & Beginner main/piano before going through the color the same way? One instrument at a time, so basically going through the course several times? Mix from the get-go? It just seems there are so many individual tracks that I wanted some tips.
- 2. Choosing Ear Training One Note Complete General: I read somewhere that the Beginner level can actually be a bit harder because the gap before the answer means you need to hold the key longer. Does this mean I should start or end with the Beginner level & not merely do Intermediate & Advanced?
- 3. Choosing Contextual Ear Training vs Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing: I think I read something about sometimes recommending both of these to vocalists & some others. I am wondering if I should work with both of these from the beginning. Main reason…before discovering you a few days ago, I was going to work with a sight-singing software to improve my ear,voice, general musicianship, etc. By sight-singing, I mean singing from sheet music. Sight-reading was always one of my strengths, but I haven’t read music in over 5 years, & I felt this would be a good exercise in general. Plus, my voice is certainly NOT one of my strengths!
Just a little note on my sight-singing: even at my so-called “prime,” my ability to sing any named pitch wasn’t completely instant. It would take about a second to get a strong inner sound of the pitch, & would take me a couple of seconds to find my voice to match my inner pitch. So probably 2.5-5 seconds to sing a pitch. So if I were to practice singing from sheet music, I would use relative pitch to sing after the first note. Before finding this ability, I could basically mentally read music & know what it would sound like. I would basically do the same thing when singing now, for really my Active Perfect Pitch ability is musically useless so far. I can find a starting pitch, but would be too slow matching my voice to totally use this when singing. Maybe this is similar to how people with true perfect pitch can benefit from relative pitch training. I am planning on postponing any perfect pitch training, but I do have a curiosity about your perfect pitch courses. You say you develop perfect pitch one instrument at a time. I would guess each instrument gets easier & after 8 instruments one might develop the ability to recognize even more instruments without instrument-specific training or car horns & all. But would this teach you to identify multiple harmonic tones by pitch? Like 2, 3, or 10 random pitches at once that aren’t easily identifiable by chord type? Or is this a separate ability?
I apologize for getting so long. You have just been so kind & helpful.
By the way, I am planning on choosing Ear Training One Note Complete, Instrumental Color Ear Training Series, Contextual Ear Training, Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing, & the 25 Ear Training Tips: Video Course to start.
Thank you so much for all of your help. You really have gone above & beyond. Have a great day!
A: Nice to hear from you, here are the answers to your questions:
As soon as you are getting around 50% correct notes with either the beginning, intermediate or advanced Ear Training One Note Complete you can start the Instrumental Color Ear Training Series course.
Since you have some background in music I would start with the intermediate method first and see how you do. It’s nice to have the beginning available just in case you need to work on it once we evaluate your progress.
Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing will give you plenty of melodies to sight read and as soon as you pass out of Contextual Ear Training Course you will spend quite a bit of time working through the various exercises in that book. You can also do both at the same time depending on the amount of time you have available to practice. Until you develop a good sense of key I would stay away from any method that doesn’t give you a tonal center first. Later when your tonal center is stronger you can venture out to any ear training that you want. Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing will also help you to pre-hear notes so your ability to sight read will improve from that aspect as well. Along the way I’ll also have you sing through various books like Time Transformation or Sight Reading Solved Intermediate Level with the MetroDrone a Jam Tracks Volume One in the background to give you the key center. We will also work with Key Retention Builder to strengthen your ability to hold on to a key center so you can sightsing longer passages and still maintain the key center inside your head.
Doing multiple note recognition with either Perfect Pitch Ear Training Series or Contextual Ear Training does present a lot of obstacles along the way. Hearing a harmonic rather than the fundamental with string instruments is a good example. With perfect pitch you do learn one instrument at a time but for instance getting perfect pitch on a guitar makes piano a lot easier because both are stringed instruments.
Just one other point about the Contextual Ear Training courses you are about to begin. If you have a multiple note non-traditional structure one of the great things about Contextual Ear Training is if you played one note on your instrument while that multiple note structure was sounding you would know instantly what key you hear it in. This makes improvising over unknown structures much easier because you first know the key to get started and then as you listen further to the structure you can pick out other important tones that will tell you what scale to pick to improvise. Like if you hear a major 3rd in the structure you know that there is a strong chance at least the first 5 notes of a major scale will work. Your ear will tend to take these large structures and make them fit into one of the common scales used in music (which you will find in the Essentials Scales Book) This aspect of Contextual Ear Training really helps you get the big picture of a multi-note sound quickly and then refine as you go.
Hope that helps,
It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold’s Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.