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#1243888 - 08/05/09 10:25 AM How to incorporate ear training in piano lessons?
toejamfutbol Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/09
Posts: 124
Loc: MI
I have only been teaching piano for a little over a year, but I love it!

I am looking to incorporate more ear training in my lessons, but I'm not sure how. I am constantly singing during the lessons, but I never make my students sing. I guess I'm afraid of embarrassing them, since people seem to be shy about singing. I don't want to make them uncomfortable, but I want them to be able to make the important connection between voice and piano.

I also do a few ear training exercies and quizzes where I will play things and the student has to identify what I'm doing or not doing just by listening, but I was wondering if anyone had any more suggestions for singing and ear training within lessons that won't make the student uncomfortable or embarrassed.
"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured and far away." -Thoreau

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#1244730 - 08/06/09 12:47 PM Re: How to incorporate ear training in piano lessons? [Re: toejamfutbol]
aEquals440 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 47
Loc: Richmond, VA
Wow, hats off to you, TJF. Ear training is something that is sorely amiss in piano pedagogy. The only method books I know are college-level, but it may be worth getting a cheap copy of an out-of-print edition on Amazon for use as they start out pretty simply. You may end up having to make your own exercises. You could have the student try to figure out a simple melody they know by ear for an assignment. Give them the starting note in the key of C and let them go at it! You could also have them close their eyes, play a simple motive, give them the starting note and have them (with eyes open), try to copy. Another exercise would be letting them improvise even a simple one note melody and just see where it goes. I agree that many are self-conscious about singing. If you CAN get them to sing or hum, it can only help, of course!
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#1247808 - 08/12/09 09:16 AM Re: How to incorporate ear training in piano lessons? [Re: aEquals440]
Phil Best Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/18/09
Posts: 27
Loc: Fulham, London, UK
For me ear-training is best done by working on rhythmic awareness and pulse structure combined with internal mapping of the sounds and key-structures that the student plays. Good aural sense is an innate ability that needs unlocking. It requires a disciplined focus and shift towards internalised or active playing rather than the passive, external approach that is so prevalent. Aural training done through testing can make people good at aural tests but rarely improves their musical ear. Practical musicianship is the best way!

#1247965 - 08/12/09 02:17 PM Re: How to incorporate ear training in piano lessons? [Re: Phil Best]
dumdumdiddle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 1269
Loc: California
I teach ear training to all of my students, even as young as 4 years. The younger the child, the easier it is to develop the ear. Since I teach mostly group piano, ear training activities are done with other kids and they learn from each other. We do a lot of singing, using solfege. I'll sing a 3-note pattern, they'll sing it back for me. For beginners I'll use only 3 notes (do, re, mi), then later add fa and sol. Once we've sung simple patterns for a few weeks I'll play the same patterns but only sing the 'first' note of the pattern; they have to sing back the entire pattern. Then a little later I'll play the entire pattern with no singing and they have to sing it back for me.

We also do ear training at the piano, with me playing/singing the patterns and the kids playing/singing them back to me. In my studio set-up each child sits at his own digital piano; if you only have one piano you might consider getting a keyboard so that you and the child are NOT sitting at the same piano (with them VISUALLY copying what you're playing, and not using their ear).

I also do ear training where I play patterns and they guess and put them on a large magnetic note board that's on the wall.

Along with single note patterns, I also do ear training using various chords. For example, I'll have students stand in front of my piano and I'll play C chords (I chords) in quarter notes; kids start by clapping hands in the same beat. Then without telling them, I change to G7 (V7) and they have to tap their knees. Later, I'll add the IV chord and they have to tap their head.... Then I'll sing the tone names of each chord (do-mi-sol for the C chord, ti-fa-sol for the G7 ) and they have to sing them back for me.
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