Optimize Ear Training Practice Time
Optimize Ear Training Practice Time
It has been a while since we last corresponded on ear training. I went ahead and purchased Ear Training One Note Complete and Contextual Ear Training very recently. It has been a week now at beginner level and my success rate is around 30% (unfortunately) I want to ask a few questions mainly on how to optimize ear training practice time for best result. Since playing bass is a hobby for me and due to the fact that I have full time job with a family, my available time for the instrument and music is not as much as I could afford 15-20 years ago.
- 1) I noticed I keep on doing same mistakes for certain notes. (confuse B with D etc. especially descending, not ascending) I think listening to all the notes of the chromatic scale in various octaves is too much at first and it sounds like I bite more than I can chew so I consider making a short playlist to concentrate on my trouble spots. I saw in FAQ section of your web site that you are OK with people listening to a short list of notes on ipod/mp3 player as long as they listen to the rest of the notes of chromatic scale other times. Assuming you are on board with this, what do you suggest about how I configure my playlists? For instance since I always get confused between B and D, should I just pick these two? Or just focus on notes of major scale then expand on that? Any suggestions.
- 2) I understand your objection to having to make an internal judgement to recognize a note since a performer doesn't have time for this in real time. What happens with me especially with a few notes such as major sixth, is that when I hear it, I can recognize immediately by associating it with tendency to resolve to root. (Kind of cadence) I guess you don't object to linking the note to a cadence or recognizing the tendency to resolve as long as one doesn't sing in steps to get to that note. Agree?
3) Every day I try to play for at least 1 hour on bass. Could you recommend an way to optimize ear training practice time and include my instrument so that I'm multi-functional, serving the ear training, especially the exercises on One Note. I always try to come up with ideas on developing multiple areas with a single exercise, since time is invaluable.
- 4) Regarding the singing exercises for Contextual Ear Training, does it make any difference if I whistle the note rather than singing. I feel more comfortable whistling it most of the time. Does it make any difference as long as I have the correct pitch?
Looking forward to your response
Nice to hear from you. Here is what I would recommend:
- 1. The most important thing with this ear training is not to give up. Every student I’ve ever had, has gotten this ear training if they just stick with it. It is though important to optimize ear training practice time especially if you have limited time each day
- 2. It is OK to optimize ear training practice time by limiting the number of notes you are guessing and the octaves. If you limited it too much it will not be as effective. I would recommend at least having 4 notes in two octaves. I would include a few notes that you never get or confuse with a couple of notes that you are pretty good at. If you are bad at all of them then limit your playlist to one octave and 3 or 4 notes.
- 3. Even though you optimize ear training practice time by limiting the notes I would still spend at least one 5 minute session a day where you listen to all notes in all octaves.
- 4. The secret weapon here is singing and there are multiple types of singing exercises that you could do but this will greatly increase your interval ability to produce and recognize notes so try to find two 5 minute periods a day where you can do some singing exercises. The exercises in the Contextual Ear Training or Fanatic’s Guide to Ear Training and Sight Reading. Since you have little time try using the Contextual Ear Training and putting all the roots of all major and minor key centers into a playlist and see if you can get all of those correct. Once you can do that add in 3,5,7,9,4,6,b3,b5,b6,b7,b2.
- 5. Do not do this cadential recognition of notes. Any note can resolve anywhere so you are just going to cause problems in the future. You would be much better off to create a play list where you have 3 notes. Two that you pretty much know and “A.” If you do that then you will hear “A” more and hopefully just start to remember it. This is all about memory not calculation. You could also do the same thing with the “Contextual Ear Training.” Have a singing list that is the root, 5th and 6th and work on singing those just in one key until you can do it instantly then move to a list where all the roots are playing then back to the list with root, 5th and 6th. As you can see I’m trying to use a type of training that is working on your memory. With all these singing exercises whistling is fine.
- 6. One of the most beneficial things you could do to optimize ear training practice time is to get the MetroDrone and use it when you are practicing the bass. If you are playing scales or any technical exercise put on a MetroDrone to reinforce the key center. This will subconsciously help you to start hearing things that you play in relationship to a key center which overtime will make a big difference.
I would also highly recommend you get started with the Scale Analysis course. The overall idea of this course is to teach you how this ear training works when you have a chord progressions. Basically Scale Analysis teaches you how you will hear the scales that go over a chord progression. There are two sides to this course. One is filling in the worksheets and the other is doing the ear training exercises that accompany the course. If you could get started filling in the worksheets now and in 6 months or so start the ear training exercises when you get better at the "one note" ear training that would be the best approach. I'd like you to do one worksheet a week which will take about 20 minutes to fill out. There are 36 worksheet to complete in the course so that will take 36 weeks or 9 months to complete. If you can get to the point that you intellectual understand how this ear training works it will help you see what you are working towards and you will also start processing chord/scale relationships in the right way.
Let me know if you have further questions,
Warm Regards, Bruce
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.