Planning Practice Time for Ear Training
Planning Practice Time for Ear Training
Q: I'm working with your Ear Training One Note books and I was wondering:
- 1. Should I stick with one note for an extended period of time before moving to the next or should I keep working with all notes?
- 2. Will it help if I spend more time every day e.g. 20 minutes versus 40 minutes?
- 3. How long will it take (in your experience with students) before I start seeing results? I know it depends and there is no answer, but if you can give me a median, I'll know when to ask for help if I find myself not making progress.
A: Nice to hear from you. Most commonly students see at least some progress within a few weeks. Certainly if you are not seeing progress in 6 weeks we need to examine what you are doing. One thing that often happens with students is they read the directions for doing the Ear Training One Note training which are pretty straight forward.
- 1. Hear a key center
- 2. Hear a Note
- 3. Guess what that note is
Well in my 30 odd years of teaching I've seen people read so much more into each of those steps. It all has to do with how each individual processes information. Their preconceived ideas of how they should proceed. There patience or lack there of. The list goes on and on. This is why using a free ear training program or a program where you don't have contact with a teacher is an extremely bad idea. We all process information differently and that why I'm hear to guide you through this process so that:
- 1. You do the exercises correctly
- 2. You don't get discouraged
- 3. You don't go off on a tangent where you think you are doing OK just to find that you have been cheating in some way and all your work was in vain.
Here is what I would do initially with the ear training.
- 1. You hear a key center played via a chord progression.
- 2. You don't focus on the root of the key you just assume that the chord progression has established the key in your mind
- 3. You hear a note
- 4. You should then instantly guess either what the name of the note is.
Yep, it's safe to be planning on you probably missing most of the notes. That's OK first we need to get you guessing right away so you built up a habit of doing the exercise correctly. Remember we want to you this ear training in "real time" so you need an instant answer so that you build in a habit of giving an answer right away.
Now you can limit the number of notes you are working on to a couple of octaves of 2 to 4 notes. That is fine but also spend some time each day listening to all the notes so you keep a context of all sounds. If you miss a note play it a few times and just try to remember it's sound.
It's much better to do this ear training 10X a day for 5 minutes than 50 minutes straight. Just think about how you memorize things. You think about them over and over throughout the day and then you remember it in a permanent way. Keep this in mind that you just need to keep these sounds in your short term memory long enough until they go into your permanent memory.
If you are also practicing scales or arpeggios or really anything on your instrument I would highly recommend you use either the MetroDrone or Jam Tracks Volume One. Either or both of these will help you to hear the relationships that scales and arpeggios have to the key center as you are practicing. This will also help to build your theory knowledge and of course you instant recognition of what pitches sound like in a key center.
Overall keep a positive attitude you are trying to reprogram the way you hear sound. This is not going to be easy but with good planning and consistency it will completely transform you as a musician. Be patient and do some planning so you practice every day. Don't skip a day. Skipping a day when you are just beginning is like starting over because your memory loses it's connection to the sound.
Most importantly keep in touch with me and let me know your progress so we can trouble shoot any bad habits that might sneak in.
Speak to you soon,
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.