Improving Ear Training for Beginners
Improving Ear Training for Beginners
Q: I recently purchased the Ear Training One Note e-book and just started doing the exercises. I have a weak ear and am only getting ~10% correct. I am wondering if I should just continue working at it or should I focus on only some of the exercises? Is there anything I can do to accelerate the process?
Also, do you think it's better for a total beginner to work on one program at a time or do you recommend doing another program at the same time (such as one of the singing books)? If so, which book do you recommend for a total beginner. I am not really interested in being able to sing but am definitely interested in improving my improvisational skills and being able to transfer what I hear in my head to my piano or guitar.
A: I usually have students work on both a listening and a singing ear training exercise at the same time. This usually helps you rate of improvement. Singing isn't just for singers. When working on improving ear training singing can really help you to hear notes by getting you to instigate them from within yourself via your voice. I have two different singing books that I recommend for beginners.
This is a method that can be used anywhere because the answer to the exercise is given after you sing. This course contains about 300 MP3s and includes both major and minor key centers and it's focus is to get you to respond instantly so that you will be improving ear training skill that can be used in real time as you are listening to music. I would check out my Ear Training Blog for more directions on how to use the course or just get back to me and I'll make suggestions based on how you are doing.
This method has a CD which gives you a cadence then a repeating "one" chord for about 5 minutes. There are various exercises in the book that are shown using a music staff. Each exercise helps you remember the sounds of notes in a key center. Fanatic's Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing also spends a lot of time trying to get you to prehear notes in you head before you sing them. This prehearing can help you again remember the sound of a note in a key center over time. Fanatic's Guide to Ear Training and Sight Singing is best done at home because you will need an instrument to check if you are singing the correct note.
For both books I would recommend the digital downloads so that you can move the audio files immediately into an MP3 player which is what I recommend as a device to listen to ear training because you can make various playlists.
Overall remember improving ear training is all about memory so the more you do the ear training everyday to faster you will remember the sounds. It's not unusual to start off only getting 10% correct notes. At the beginning it's more important that you listen, guess immediately and don't worry about whether you get the note right. First we need to build in an immediate response.
Especially at the beginning of this ear training it is easy to go off and do the wrong thing because you are trying to improve your accuracy faster than you should. Improving ear training is tough but the rewards are immense. I recommend staying in touch with me and asking questions about how you are thinking about the exercises and any deviation you are making from the recommended course of study.
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.