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Does anybody here have an ear training success story? #2765385
09/14/18 05:14 AM
09/14/18 05:14 AM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 626
Manila
marimorimo Online content OP
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marimorimo  Online Content OP
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So I’m not tone deaf but pretty close to it. It took me years before I could even attempt to try playing the melody of simple nursery rhymes by ear, and even then I needed a base note. Frankly it’s still a struggle to this day.

In an attempt to remedy the problem, I took voice lessons for about a year but improvement has been very minimal. My teacher said that the first time she had me sing, I was waaaay out of tune. By the time I stopped, I could at least mostly hold the tune to the songs we practiced, but I needed lots of coaching and prep work.

I’ve tried some ear training apps but after a few minutes the notes just seemed to blend in my ear and it felt like an exercise in futility. I usually manage 50-60% correct responses at best for the easy questions and for anything harder than “easy,” it’s just a shot in the dark.

Has anybody had a similar struggle and overcome it? I’m hoping for some encouragement and techniques to help me develop my ear.


Working on: Schumann Album for the Young, Clementi Op 36 No. 1 (all movements), Various Bach, Czerny 599
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Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765393
09/14/18 07:08 AM
09/14/18 07:08 AM
Joined: Oct 2010
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bennevis Offline
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My aural skills improved by leaps & bounds, firstly when I moved to a new school 20,000 miles away from home (yes, that's possible wink ) where every weekday morning started with school assembly and hymn singing. If you couldn't sing in tune at first, no worries - there are a few thousand other kids singing to drown out your efforts. And eventually, you pick it up.

And secondly (by quite a huge step) when I joined the school Chapel Choir, where students were expected to be able to sight-sing new scores at rehearsals. My sight-singing was shaky at first, but again, I picked it up (- if I couldn't quite pitch a note, I 'mouthed' it and listened to the others around me sing it). My piano teacher, when she discovered that I was in the choir (she attended the school Easter concert and saw me singing in the Fauré Requiem grin), didn't bother to test my aural skills periodically as she had been doing previously (aural skills are part of the ABRSM exams that everyone did) - she knew it was going to be up to scratch.....

If you don't attend church and sing there, why not just sing along to hymns and songs (any sort - pop, classical, folk etc) on YT? Record yourself if you're not quite sure whether you're singing the right notes - it's easier to hear it on a recording. You need to have a decent sense of relative pitch (and therefore intervals) before you can start to play by ear. But you can still start playing simple and familiar pop tunes by ear - use the easy keys (don't try to play in F# minor just because the singer sang in that key) and only play the melody - after you've established which is the tonic note. Play the tonic chord, and establish that firmly in your mind before you do anything else. Then play the whole scale to further reinforce the key. Unless you have perfect pitch, you can't just play a note you heard by ear, so I don't know what you mean by ".....even then I needed a base note". You will always need a reference note!

Daily - and enjoyable - practice is the key to everything. (Personally, I have no truck with boring apps which don't reflect reality). For most people the solfège system is the backbone from which they learn intervals and become familiar with them. For more awkward intervals, they relate them to a familiar tune.

BTW if you can sing along to this, you're definitely not tone-deaf:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp0opnxQ4rY wink



"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765446
09/14/18 11:31 AM
09/14/18 11:31 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
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Reseda, California
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JohnSprung Offline
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Perhaps try one of the free chromatic tuning apps for you phone or computer -- it'll tell you what frequency and note you're singing.


-- J.S.

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Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765455
09/14/18 11:48 AM
09/14/18 11:48 AM
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wouter79 Offline
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I'm stuggling with the finer points of dynamics and rythmic stability just like you are stuggling with keeping the melody. If you can't hear something, it is extremely hard at least to get better. Some weeks I'm ok and next week I'm pretty bad again. I think overall it's improving but as you, weekly guidance seems still necessary after 2 years working on it.

>I could even attempt to try playing the melody of simple nursery rhymes by ear, and even then I needed a base note

That "I need a base note" is triggering me. Unless you have absolute pitch, you will need a base note. Like a tuning fork A or so. Most people don't have that, and it seems not even worth trying to get it.


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Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765468
09/14/18 12:34 PM
09/14/18 12:34 PM
Joined: Jul 2016
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u38cg Offline
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Most ear training apps throw intervals at you until your ears bleed. That approach does not work unless you already have a secure knowledge of scale degrees, which if you're an adult that needed singing lessons, you don't.

Try an app called Functional Ear Trainer. And sing the scale degrees along with it using solfege.


Ask me about bagpipes.
Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: u38cg] #2765547
09/14/18 06:18 PM
09/14/18 06:18 PM
Joined: Mar 2013
Posts: 3,259
Australia
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earlofmar Offline
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Australia
Originally Posted by u38cg
........That approach does not work unless you already have a secure knowledge of scale degrees...........



+1

I started ear training from zero several years ago for my AMEB grade 5 exam, as well as a theory exam which had a new form or torture called melodic dictation. I was somewhat surprised how bad my ear was and how little progress was being made with my usual mode of "learn, sleep and test" regime. Like most things, just starting with an interval app was a step too far, and I had to go right back to basics. BTW the synthetic sounds of these apps were a real challenge for my ear and I had better success with a real piano. Going for a short course of singing lessons taught me how insecure even a basic scale was for me, and even now I still struggle as I don't maintain the level I eventually did develop. Singing scales and lots of arpeggios really helped, of course ear training requires the physical aspect as it is not just a purely mindful thing. Being able to sing down or up from a note to another in a scale was probably the most basic step but very hard to achieve. I would sit at the piano and just sing before pressing the next note and eventually I got progress. For basic major scale intervals I used the method of relating the interval to the start of a tune (eg the first two notes of Star Wars is a perfect fifth).

I am now ok at naming intervals but never became good at melodic dictation. It seems to require the daily dedication I just don't have for the subject.


Problems with piano are 90% psychological, the other 10% is in your head.

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Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765556
09/14/18 06:55 PM
09/14/18 06:55 PM
Joined: May 2018
Posts: 247
Quebec city, QC
CadenzaVvi Offline
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Quebec city, QC
I've never done any ear training until I decided to try that 2 years ago.

I've downloaded an app on my phone - one of those, as described, that simply throws intervals at you. Every day, I had 20 minutes in public transport, so I used that time to do the exercices on the app. It took me 5 weeks to succeed at the first exercice (being able to tell appart fourth, fifth and octave). Then, it took me 3 weeks to succeed at the next exercice, which added minor and major third (plus fourth, fifth, octave).

Last year, I moved closer to my work, and I don't need to take the bus anymore, so I'm not doing the exercices as often (I was doing them more consistently this winter, since I wanted to train my ear for my exams to come. I took a break over the summer. I should be resuming exercices soon). But I've broden the type of exercices I do. My teacher made me discover this web site : https://www.musictheory.net/exercises . I use mostly the note ear training (and I switch the base note once in a while) and the interval ear training. My teacher also made me do some kind of music dictations. He told me to go search for old OST of game (like on NES or gameboy) and try to figure out the relative notes without the help of the keyboard.
His approach was a "degree approach". He said that it is not often teached, but he liked that approach. The idea is to identify what degree of the scale the note you hear is. So you can better hear the role of a note. A dominant in a tonal context sounds like X, and so on for each degree.
I took some melody from the OST of pokemon red/blue and tried this on. It took (and takes) me a lot of time, but usually, the result is not so bad. I have to memorize the melody so I can sing it a will, and stops on some notes and try to figure how far it is from the tonic.
I also identify the rhythm.

When I have the rhythm and the degrees, I go to the piano to find what is the specific key, and write my melody on my staff paper.

When I'll be very good at it, I'll try to write down the other melodic lines in the tunes, but I'm far from that point for now!


I was surprised to devellop my skills so quickly, in a way. I've started from nothing and achieved an ok result at my exam (9/10 in sight singing and 7,8/10 in dictation. And I've misread the syllabus and didn't know there was an harmonic dictation, so I wasn't prepared for that part at the exam), after only a year and a half of traning (I took a level 7 exam). With consistent practice, like anything else, I think it will come, slowly but surely!

As for the "blending" effect when doing ear training exercices, I've always felt the same. I think those are the kind of exercices you should do only for 2-5 minutes at a time, max 10 minutes. Over that, my ability to identify relative pitch, intervals, etc, only decreases.


My piano journey from day 1
Started piano on February 2016.
Pieces I'm working on :
- Mozart's K545, 1st and 3rd mov
- Tina's theme from FF VI piano collections
Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765567
09/14/18 07:32 PM
09/14/18 07:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,724
Georgia, USA
Sam S Offline

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Sam S  Offline

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Posts: 2,724
Georgia, USA
Way back in 1972 I started college as a music major. Clarinet was my instrument then, and I had never been exposed to ear training. I made a D the first semester and almost flunked out. I was just totally lost. I had to get a tutor. The next semester I pulled out a C, and managed Cs and Bs after that. It was not a lot of fun, but I did it. I don't know if you can call that a success story, but I passed.

I'm still not very good at it...

Sam

Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765797
09/16/18 02:01 AM
09/16/18 02:01 AM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,724
Auckland, New Zealand
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Ted Offline
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Auckland, New Zealand
I too downloaded an ear training program. I used it regularly until I could recognise a wide variety of chord types. However, as aural acuity appeared to add neither facility nor interest to my improvisation, I couldn't see any point in it and stopped.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Does anybody here have an ear training success story? [Re: marimorimo] #2765798
09/16/18 02:16 AM
09/16/18 02:16 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 82
United States
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RyanThePianist Offline
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United States
I do have a success story.

When I was around 17, I had a teacher introduce me to ear training. He would play me intervals and I'd have to identify them... I was TERRIBLE because I had limited knowledge of music theory, intervals, scale degrees, etc. Basically, everything I thought he was doing was complete magic to me.

It wasn't until I went to college as a music major did I really pick it up. I took two years of "Sightsinging and Dictation" classes. Once I mastered the theory of intervals in theory class, we were told to associate song with each interval. For example, for an octave you could use the beginning of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and for a perfect fourth you could use "Hear Comes the Bride". We did this for every interval ascending and descending. We did tons more. We also had to identify the quality of chords, such as major, minor, diminished, augmented M7, dominant 7, m7, half diminished, and fully diminished chords.

We also did a bunch of singing exercises. We had to SING how to to build chords in movable do (ex: Do Me Se Te for m7). We became proficient at solfege which we used a sightsinging book for. We'd be reading exercises of staff music while saying the syllables (ec: Do Mi La Si La Ti Do Re Do etc).

Lastly, we were required to do an hour of music lab work where we used a program that drilled us on everything we've learned, including hearing chords, melodic dictation, chord progressions, modes, etc.

All this combined with consistent practice in the dorms made me become an active listener to even just radio music. I'd sing melodies, and try to sing them in solfege. I'd try to play melodies on piano by ear since I knew the distances of each interval in my ear through using songs like "Here Comes the Bride" so many times, and I'd even hear melodies and recite them in solfege instinctively at times. All this, along with the ability to hear chord progressions made me more comfortable with improvisation and playing by ear. I'm comfortable playing music that isn't classical / jazz by ear, even if I'm not 100% accurate at times. I play with more accuracy if I've heard the melody and harmony of a song for a while (at least a few times in a week).

The last thing you have to realize is you get better and better with time. I'm still imroving myself. You just have to really find the method that works and keep drilling and understanding what you're doing and why.


Last edited by RyanThePianist; 09/16/18 02:20 AM.

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