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Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf #2836610
04/08/19 01:46 AM
04/08/19 01:46 AM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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One of my really bad piano students insists on taking the CM exam, and she can't hear anything--no chord qualities, no intervals. NOTHING. She consistently gets confused between C major triad and E major triad if I play them back to back. She hears them as two different chord qualities.

She also can't tell apart an interval that's close or far apart. If I play a minor third, she'll say the two notes are far apart. And if I play a Major seventh, she'll think the two notes are close together.

At one lesson, I got so fed up with her lack of hearing ability, I played simply two notes, a half step apart, and asked her if the note went up or down. She can do that. She can also tell if the notes are same or different. That's it. Up, down. Same or different.

I'm this close to giving her one of those online audio tests that examines deficiency in pitch perception, but that will hurt her feelings cool

Any suggestions? cursing


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836612
04/08/19 01:59 AM
04/08/19 01:59 AM
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outo Offline
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First thing would be to find out whether she actually cannot hear or if she has a problem with short term memory or other inability to analyze the information or even ADD. Not an easy task though. If so you could try to introduce less at once, give more time and make sure the student does not get stressed.

I have a very good ear but because of my memory problems I am terrible at such exercises...

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836615
04/08/19 02:13 AM
04/08/19 02:13 AM
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Interesting.

She does very well at school, getting mostly A's. I noticed that she's very bad with audio processing of verbal instructions, so I almost always write down my instructions, step by step. She's extremely stubborn and LOVES to debate over semantics, even when she's dead wrong.

Definitely no ADD. I've worked with kids who have ADD, and she's not in the same ballpark as them. I think it's something wrong with her pitch perception.

I tried the "song openings" method to teach her intervals. To her ears, Happy Birthday and Twinkle Twinkle and Jingle Bells start on the same interval.

She thinks Happy Birthday is in a minor key.


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836617
04/08/19 02:16 AM
04/08/19 02:16 AM
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How is she at singing?

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836618
04/08/19 02:17 AM
04/08/19 02:17 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I played simply two notes, a half step apart, and asked her if the note went up or down. She can do that. She can also tell if the notes are same or different. That's it. Up, down. Same or different.
If she can do same/different and up/down she is NOT tone-deaf. You might have to think of another word for it. Aurally challenged, inexperienced etc. I would start from the things she can hear and identify, and very gradually extend it. Don't think about working towards a test, just keep gradually extending what she can do, tiny steps. That would be my approach, anyway.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836627
04/08/19 02:57 AM
04/08/19 02:57 AM
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Orange County, CA
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She's a monotone. Can't match pitch if her life depended on it. She must be one of those girls that mouths words in choir.

Don't get me wrong. She's actually a very pleasant student. She's enthusiastic, and actually practices piano!! Her mother can get a little pushy, but what Asian parent isn't these days?

However, she takes her a long time to learn something so simple, even my 7-year-old students can learn quickly. I inherited her from a Suzuki teacher who forgot to teach her to read music, so in the last two years I've managed to turn a non-reader into a kid who can actually sight read decently. Of course, I am THE expert at turning Transfer Wrecks into capable players, but now I've run into something that's even I can't fix. I blame genetics.

I guess I'll try baby steps. But what's the next baby step after Up/Down? Half step vs. whole step?


Private Piano Teacher and MTAC Member
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836639
04/08/19 04:15 AM
04/08/19 04:15 AM
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Kids who can’t match pitch often just haven’t had the vocal experience they need to do this. Start by getting her to sing a pitch, any pitch, without giving her anything to copy or match. Then find the pitch she sings and once again, go from there. If it’s D she sings, for example, you could try a little 3-note song DED and see if she can match that. It sounds slow, but it’s much more productive to start with what the child can do and not challenging her until she’s confident.


Du holde Kunst...
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836695
04/08/19 07:39 AM
04/08/19 07:39 AM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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The other thing one might consider is an ear training app for a phone. She likely has a smart phone as most kids now do. Perhaps you assign her to work with one of the more common ear training apps that have different levels and are progressive. Something like 5 mins per day. At least she would get immediate and objective feedback on her weakness, and get this feedback daily too.

It's not as bad to have your smartphone app call you out than to have your teacher call you out, even if the latter is in the nicest way - I know that would push my anxiety button if I repeatedly were to fail in front of my teacher on something.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2836705
04/08/19 08:16 AM
04/08/19 08:16 AM
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Canada
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
The other thing one might consider is an ear training app for a phone. She likely has a smart phone as most kids now do. Perhaps you assign her to work with one of the more common ear training apps that have different levels and are progressive. Something like 5 mins per day. At least she would get immediate and objective feedback on her weakness, and get this feedback daily too.

It's not as bad to have your smartphone app call you out than to have your teacher call you out, even if the latter is in the nicest way - I know that would push my anxiety button if I repeatedly were to fail in front of my teacher on something.


I was just going to suggest this. I'm not sure what the latest apps are, but I have used musictheory.net with my students. You can customize an ear training exercise (for example, playing only major and minor thirds) and send the link to your student. The game-like quality might be appealing to her.

Not sure how your exam system compares to RCM, but in RCM the identifying intervals/chords etc. portion of the exam is not worth a huge number of points. So if the student is having huge difficulties in this area, I try not to stress too much... hopefully the student can do well in other areas of the exam.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836714
04/08/19 08:56 AM
04/08/19 08:56 AM
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Matching pitch can be very timbre dependent.

I've told this story before, but: I was in church when the pastor played the starting pitch (for an unfamiliar hymn) on the organ then started singing it, at least a fourth higher. None of us had the range to sing it. I fumed to my daughter "How is that even possible? He played the note." But my then middle school daughter said Daddy I can't do it either. But, she sings in choir and is always on pitch. She said she can match pitch to a voice, or to a piano, but not to an organ, guitar, trumpet, etc. It's a learned thing, she couldn't do piano at first but with choir experience added that skill.

So here's my thought. I think you said you have a digital in the studio. Try some different voices and see if there's a timbre that her ear responds to better. Then shape outwards from there. Maybe an oboe would work better, or a flute, or a sine wave, or a bassoon, etc.

Reinhardt (famous brass teacher, now deceased) said trombone players should develop perfect pitch by learning to recognize notes on trombone, then expand to trumpet and tuba.


gotta go practice
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836727
04/08/19 09:32 AM
04/08/19 09:32 AM
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Texas
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I guess I'll try baby steps. But what's the next baby step after Up/Down? Half step vs. whole step?


Ouch - what a bad situation. However, it sounds like there is hope. This baby steps idea is the right idea, and the next thing I would do is half step vs. whole step, then move on the larger intervals, identifying half steps, whole steps, and intervals in pieces, etc.

Question: who is actually insisting on the exam? The student herself, or the parents? If it's the student, then you might want to give her a "come to Jesus" talk: she MUST work hard at aural and take it seriously, otherwise her exam scores will suffer. If it's the parents... thankfully I've never been in that situation, even with my Asian students.


Austin Rogers, PhD
Music Teacher in Austin, TX
Baldwin SD-10 Concert Grand "Kuroneko", Baldwin Upright, Yamaha P-255
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: pianist_lady] #2836732
04/08/19 09:33 AM
04/08/19 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
The other thing one might consider is an ear training app for a phone. She likely has a smart phone as most kids now do. Perhaps you assign her to work with one of the more common ear training apps that have different levels and are progressive. Something like 5 mins per day. At least she would get immediate and objective feedback on her weakness, and get this feedback daily too.

It's not as bad to have your smartphone app call you out than to have your teacher call you out, even if the latter is in the nicest way - I know that would push my anxiety button if I repeatedly were to fail in front of my teacher on something.


I was just going to suggest this. I'm not sure what the latest apps are, but I have used musictheory.net with my students. You can customize an ear training exercise (for example, playing only major and minor thirds) and send the link to your student. The game-like quality might be appealing to her.

Not sure how your exam system compares to RCM, but in RCM the identifying intervals/chords etc. portion of the exam is not worth a huge number of points. So if the student is having huge difficulties in this area, I try not to stress too much... hopefully the student can do well in other areas of the exam.


I’ve been working my way through meludia on my iPhone. There is also a web version: https://www.meludia.com/


Yamaha P-515, Pianoteq Standard 6
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836779
04/08/19 11:07 AM
04/08/19 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Interesting.

She does very well at school, getting mostly A's. I noticed that she's very bad with audio processing of verbal instructions, so I almost always write down my instructions, step by step. She's extremely stubborn and LOVES to debate over semantics, even when she's dead wrong..


Don't be fooled by school success though...if she is intelligent she can do well despite issues in perception. School is easy compared to piano smile

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: TimR] #2836811
04/08/19 12:10 PM
04/08/19 12:10 PM
Joined: Apr 2018
Posts: 4,273
Tyrone Slothrop Online content
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Originally Posted by TimR
Reinhardt (famous brass teacher, now deceased) said trombone players should develop perfect pitch by learning to recognize notes on trombone, then expand to trumpet and tuba.

I assume you mean "relative pitch?"


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
"Success is 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration." -by some other wise person
"Pianoteq manages to keep it all together yet simultaneously also go in all directions; like a quantum particle entangled with an unknown and spooky parallel universe simply waiting to be discovered." -by Pete14
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2836833
04/08/19 01:15 PM
04/08/19 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by TimR
Reinhardt (famous brass teacher, now deceased) said trombone players should develop perfect pitch by learning to recognize notes on trombone, then expand to trumpet and tuba.

I assume you mean "relative pitch?"


No, I do not. I don't mean the ability to identify or for that matter to play a given interval.

I mean to listen to a trombone player play a simple melody, e.g., and know what notes he is playing at all times. Within the comfortable intermediate trombone range - say, the bass clef up to about third space C in the treble clef - I can usually do this if it's not too fast.

Of course there are more cues available than just the slight variations in timbre. If we can see the player there are cues from the position, there is the information from the notes that preceded, the context of the key, the changes in articulation that accompany changes in partial, etc. I don't know what all goes into it. It is harder with notes in isolation, and when they get into the super high range (F on top of treble clef to the F above) I can't do it at all. I can't play that range myself and that may have something to do with it.

I can't do it listening to trumpet, but I can tell open notes from valved notes usually, and sometimes that is enough to identify what they are playing. For example, if you hear an open note to a major second, there are lots of choices. If you hear open to open major third to open minor third, and it's midrange tone, there's only one possibility.

I'll look up the exact Reinhardt advice and post it if you're interested.


gotta go practice
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: Dr. Rogers] #2836842
04/08/19 01:37 PM
04/08/19 01:37 PM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Dr. Rogers
Question: who is actually insisting on the exam? The student herself, or the parents? If it's the student, then you might want to give her a "come to Jesus" talk: she MUST work hard at aural and take it seriously, otherwise her exam scores will suffer. If it's the parents... thankfully I've never been in that situation, even with my Asian students.

It's both. The girl goes to a school where almost everybody who is anybody takes piano lessons, and over half take the CM test. It's tremendous social/peer pressure, I bet. There's almost a fatalistic disconnect between this girl's enthusiasm for the test and her actual ability. Not sure if I want to try the "Come to Jesus" method of direct instruction.

Mom is one of those gossipy Asian parents who gets all these stupid ideas online. She often would dig up the "achievements" of other girls on FB and ask me if her daughter can do the same. I tried to be as diplomatic as I can, but you know I'm not good at that. I tried to explain my philosophy over email so the daughter can be spared of The Truth. God knows if Mom just shows those emails to the girl and makes her feel even more worthless.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836843
04/08/19 01:38 PM
04/08/19 01:38 PM
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Orange County, CA
AZNpiano Offline OP
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RE: apps and online resources

Tried that. There's no follow-through at home.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2836963
04/08/19 08:07 PM
04/08/19 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I'm this close to giving her one of those online audio tests that examines deficiency in pitch perception, but that will hurt her feelings :


Instead of some internet test, better to go to the best available ear doctors:

https://hei.org/

Given how diligent and successful she is in her other school work, maybe there is something physically wrong with her hearing.


-- J.S.

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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2837077
04/09/19 05:18 AM
04/09/19 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I tried the "song openings" method to teach her intervals. To her ears, Happy Birthday and Twinkle Twinkle and Jingle Bells start on the same interval.

Hm - Thinking about this. Putting these two pieces into C major:

Happy birthday: G, G, A, G, C, B.....
Twinkle: C, C, G, G, A, A, G.....
Jingle Bells: E, E,E - E, E, E - E, G, C, D, E...

They do all start on the same interval: unison: G,G .... C,C .... E,E... unisons laugh

Every one of the problems you have listed has to with a verbal name for something, and verbal instructions. You say she has trouble with verbal instructions. In Happy Birthday, you are not asking her to identify what interval open the song: You are asking her to identify the first two notes that are different. But she has taken you literally.

You've got all these names of things. I might get mixed up too. How is she in playing? Does she play correctly or badly? If she makes a mistake, can she hear it and correct it?

If she debates over semantics, that may again be the comprehension thing: or aspiness. I have been accused of debating over semantics, and it's not just because I'm a linguist, but because I tend to take things literally.

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2837132
04/09/19 07:45 AM
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Thinking about using tunes to hear intervals: the Celebrate Piano method series uses "interval songs" to support reading and ear training. These are short tunes that the student and teacher sing and play at the lesson; all the tunes have the interval ascending and descending, as well as step-wise motion from the bottom note to the top note of the interval. Perhaps you could help your student compose short melodies (2-4 bars only) to help her hear/feel each interval? If she is not into singing, then writing and playing might help make things more concrete.

Regarding exam preparation, at times I have found it helpful to show the parent and student the breakdown of the marks for the various sections of the exam. Sometimes I get students who refuse to practice scales and/or ear training, because they think the repertoire is only thing that matters and that they will get a high score by "perfecting" all of the pieces. Usually they understand when I show them that neglecting these other areas means saying goodbye to at least 10 points, if not more.


Private piano teacher
B. Mus., M.Mus. (piano performance & pedagogy).
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