Hearing Notes Absolutely Versus Contextually

Hearing Notes Absolutely Versus Contextually

Hearing Notes Absolutely Versus Contextually

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Hearing Notes Absolutely Versus Contextually

Q: I’ve been at it for 1.5 months now and I’m making slow but steady progress.  I’d say about 25% doing all notes in all octaves. One thing I’ve realised with Contextual Ear Training is that  when I learn a new degree it seems to confuse my perception of previous degrees, so I’m guessing I won’t really have it down until I’ve done all 12!

I  had a few questions:

  • 1) I have a tendency to hear certain notes in absolute terms in the one note exercises. I’ve tested this on the piano and found for instance that B always just sounds like B no matter what key I’m in, i.e. I’m not getting the ‘seveness’ but rather the ‘beeness’ of the  note. I suppose the best medicine would be to work in other keys but from what I can see the one note products are all in C major/minor. What can I do? Do you think that once I’ve learned seven in the contextual singing exercises this perception will  change?
  • 2) Are the direct application CDs just jam tracks that require you to simultaneously play the random note CD in order to turn it into an exercise? If not it would be quite easy to memorize the order of questions, no?

A: Nice to hear from you and thanks for the update. People often develop perfect pitch on some notes as they are doing the Ear Training One Note. It is most often “C” of course because that is the key the cadence is in. You are a more unusual case where you are memorizing sound of the “B.”  I’ve actually had some student before that have developed this and it’s interesting that it’s always the “B.”  Not sure why that is but the good news is you probably have an affinity to learning perfect pitch. It would be interesting to see if you did the Instrumental Color One Note Ear Training whether you still hear the “B” with perfect pitch.  If you did then that is quite impressive because most people learn perfect pitch on one instrument at a time. I usually recommend the Instrumental Color One Note when you are around 50% correct answers but you could give it a try and see if you are still hearing notes like “B” with perfect pitch with a sax, trombone, trumpet etc…

You mentioned that when you learn a new degree it seems to confuse your perception of previous degree you have memorized. This is very common and is why I want students to always do a few practice times each day with all notes.  I guess you could make an analogy to color.  If you only know red and blue you aren’t really getting a true picture of those colors until you have seen all colors. In general remember learning the sound of these notes with either the

Ear Training One Note 

or the

Contextual Ear Training

Ear Training is all about memory.  So think of “B” as you bonus because you developed perfect pitch with that and usually the “7th” isn’t a hard note for most students so I’m not that concerned about how you are hearing notes like this one.

The Contextual Ear Training will take care of you learning the “7” in all keys so I don’t think it’s necessary to do the Ear Training One Note in all keys.  If you did it in all keys you are still going to know what “B” is in that key so it’s always going to be one note that you are not getting via Contextual Ear Training.

Since you are at 25% I’d wait till you are around 50% to start the direct application. The notes are and answers are fixed to a specific order but haven’t had anyone complaining that they are memorizing the order though I suppose if you made a point of memorizing it that could happen.  Most people just listen to the whole CD and just guess or they start the track a few seconds into the track so that they don’t know the order. If you do end up being one if the people that is totally memorizing the order on the direct application tracks let me know I have some other workarounds for that problem.


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.

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