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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: malkin] #2840000 04/16/19 07:45 PM
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Tyrone Slothrop Online Content
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by TimR
And in the process, the student has learned an actually valuable life skill.


How do you figure? wink


Set priorities?
Allocate available resources?

Yes! I agree! No better time to learn that one usually can't do everything. Good standardized test taking skill too.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: keystring] #2840004 04/16/19 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by pianist_lady
But it sounds like she just needs to get through the exam, so it's probably best to help her do that.


"Need" is a funny word, because these days it seems that it can mean a bunch of things, like "wants" (she and her family do want) --- I always think of its first meaning, which is necessity. You're not saying, as a teacher, that as part of her learning and growth as a student, it is necessary for her to get through the exam, are you? But rather that since she has committed to this thing, as unwise as it probably is, she just has to get through it, right?


Well, nobody needs to take an exam, but that's what this student is doing.
As a teacher, you have to balance long-term learning with short-term goals like exams and recitals. I try to help all my students to become lovely well-rounded musicians with strong aural skills (and many of them are on the way there) but sometimes you have to meet a deadline and prioritize.
Sounds like AZN has had to balance doing remedial work with the student and helping her to meet the exam requirements.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: pianist_lady] #2840059 04/17/19 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by pianist_lady
Originally Posted by keystring
"Need" is a funny word, because these days it seems that it can mean a bunch of things, like "wants" (she and her family do want) --- I always think of its first meaning, which is necessity. You're not saying, as a teacher, that as part of her learning and growth as a student, it is necessary for her to get through the exam, are you? But rather that since she has committed to this thing, as unwise as it probably is, she just has to get through it, right?

Well, nobody needs to take an exam, but that's what this student is doing.
As a teacher, you have to balance long-term learning with short-term goals like exams and recitals. I try to help all my students to become lovely well-rounded musicians with strong aural skills (and many of them are on the way there) but sometimes you have to meet a deadline and prioritize.
Sounds like AZN has had to balance doing remedial work with the student and helping her to meet the exam requirements.

Exactly! As a piano student, I set the long-term goals myself, and a few of the medium-term goals and my teacher helps me set most of the short-term goals and most of the medium term goals to get me to the long-term goals which I have set.

Among the goals I've personally set for myself includes taking exams, which is not a goal of my teacher's but one which my teacher supports me to be able to achieve.

So it would be perfectly nature for my teacher to think in terms of "need to do exams" here even though it is my requirement and not that of my teacher's.

And if an exam must be done, and assuming one wants to pass, then sometimes short cuts might be called for to optimize one's ability to pass that exam, if indeed the goal of taking the exam also includes passing it.

Now if, instead, one's goals were only to "learn something" and demonstrate it, then that could be done with or without exams, and in this case, short cuts should not be taken since it would subvert the purpose of "learning something" in the first place.

But if the goal includes taking and passing an actual exam, and considering there is usually limited time and even limited teacher/student patience, than I think it is perfectly fair to consider a short cut as needed to optimize for the result being sought.


across the stone, deathless piano performances

"Discipline is more reliable than motivation." -by a contributor on Reddit r/piano
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"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] #2840172 04/17/19 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop

Exactly! As a piano student, I set the long-term goals myself, and a few of the medium-term goals and my teacher helps me set most of the short-term goals and most of the medium term goals to get me to the long-term goals which I have set.

Among the goals I've personally set for myself includes taking exams, which is not a goal of my teacher's but one which my teacher supports me to be able to achieve.

There are some very important differences here. You started piano relatively recently, knew your goal of exams and also (I think) of learning to play the piano properly. You looked at what was involved and set about it intelligently. You are getting good guidance with a teacher who is ensuring your foundations while you go after this, so it's all gong a good way.

In contrast: This child had six years with another teacher where apparently she was poorly taught. Her present teacher has spent, I think, two years bringing her reading skills up to snuff. I don't know whether the repair work also extended to hearing, since you pick your battles by priority, or if this is recent - and so a real cramming effort. The first "teaching" she got may well have skewed her perception of musical sounds, making it harder than if she were starting from scratch. For the aural part, the foundations you're getting aren't there. Might you see a difference? wink

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2840228 04/17/19 01:11 PM
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The discussion that never ends...

A few years ago a friend of the family got his son into a Yamaha piano program. The mother accompanied the child to his weekly lessons. Like the Suzuki, at least 1 parent is supposed to be present to reinforce learning at home. After a few years and recital(s), the parents feel that the child has no interest in music and let him quit. In the beginning, it was a big decision to buy an upright and spend all the time and money for the lessons. I've never heard the son play so can't comment on his musical abilities. The decision was made to stop playing and everybody was relieved.

I'm not sure in many cases whether the teacher is the problem. If a child really wants to learn, you can see that he/she doesn't need to be pushed to practice 1h/day. Even if the teacher is an issue, the child is eager to get a teacher in order to move ahead. A lot of times it is the parents who made the decision for the child to take music lessons. You can tell in a short time whether the child has interest and is making progress. If the child has no interest in music to begin with, stopping the lessons may not be a bad idea. If a child takes an exam and does poorly, it would hurt his/her self-esteem than simply keep practicing for another few months until he/she is ready.

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: thepianoplayer416] #2840235 04/17/19 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by thepianoplayer416
The discussion that never ends...

A few years ago a friend of the family got his son into a Yamaha piano program. The mother accompanied the child to his weekly lessons. Like the Suzuki, at least 1 parent is supposed to be present to reinforce learning at home. After a few years and recital(s), the parents feel that the child has no interest in music and let him quit. In the beginning, it was a big decision to buy an upright and spend all the time and money for the lessons. I've never heard the son play so can't comment on his musical abilities. The decision was made to stop playing and everybody was relieved.

I'm not sure in many cases whether the teacher is the problem. If a child really wants to learn, you can see that he/she doesn't need to be pushed to practice 1h/day. Even if the teacher is an issue, the child is eager to get a teacher in order to move ahead. A lot of times it is the parents who made the decision for the child to take music lessons. You can tell in a short time whether the child has interest and is making progress. If the child has no interest in music to begin with, stopping the lessons may not be a bad idea. If a child takes an exam and does poorly, it would hurt his/her self-esteem than simply keep practicing for another few months until he/she is ready.

I don't believe the OP has said the student in question wants to quit or that practicing is the issue. It seems the issue raised is only concerning aural skills or lack of them.


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] #2840256 04/17/19 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I don't believe the OP has said the student in question wants to quit or that practicing is the issue. It seems the issue raised is only concerning aural skills or lack of them.

And, if anything, the student seems to enjoy piano, and music in general. She must be one of those kids who is completely aloof to their musical incompetence. She's been to my studio recitals several times, and I don't think she even realizes how poorly she plays, comparatively.

In some cases, ignorance IS bliss.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2840271 04/17/19 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
..., and I don't think she even realizes how poorly she plays, comparatively. ...


How about recording and playing it back for her? Could that be an eye opener?


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: Tyrone Slothrop] #2840294 04/17/19 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by TimR
And in the process, the student has learned an actually valuable life skill.


How do you figure? wink


Set priorities?
Allocate available resources?

Yes! I agree! No better time to learn that one usually can't do everything. Good standardized test taking skill too.

I've taken this tack when I have a student who couldn't do the aural stuff. We just made sure they got the theory and performance as good as possible, knowing that they'd not get the aural component (or some section of theory).

It wasn't for a lack fo trying, but sometimes the lightbulb moment doesn't coincide with taking tests.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2840301 04/17/19 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I don't believe the OP has said the student in question wants to quit or that practicing is the issue. It seems the issue raised is only concerning aural skills or lack of them.

And, if anything, the student seems to enjoy piano, and music in general. She must be one of those kids who is completely aloof to their musical incompetence. She's been to my studio recitals several times, and I don't think she even realizes how poorly she plays, comparatively.

In some cases, ignorance IS bliss.


I want to learn THAT!


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2840403 04/18/19 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
And, if anything, the student seems to enjoy piano, and music in general....

I am getting the impression recently that the problem has been solved, or solutions are not being sought? What is the status?

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: keystring] #2840508 04/18/19 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
And, if anything, the student seems to enjoy piano, and music in general....

I am getting the impression recently that the problem has been solved, or solutions are not being sought? What is the status?



The problem never was that the student didn't like piano or didn't like music. The problem is that the kid can't demonstrate understanding or discrimination of major/minor or of intervals or ...ok, I'm too lazy to go back and look.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: malkin] #2840544 04/18/19 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by malkin
Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by AZNpiano
And, if anything, the student seems to enjoy piano, and music in general....

I am getting the impression recently that the problem has been solved, or solutions are not being sought? What is the status?

The problem never was that the student didn't like piano or didn't like music. The problem is that the kid can't demonstrate understanding or discrimination of major/minor or of intervals or ...ok, I'm too lazy to go back and look.

I didn't even entertain the idea of liking piano or music. I was addressing AZNpiano, and asking whether the original problem had been solved.

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2850585 05/21/19 01:27 AM
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Something I did when I was teaching an ear-training class:

Have her sing to match a pitch you play. Then play an interval above it (nothing too large). Have her sing every step along the way, and see if she can stop when she GETS to the second pitch you played.

Example: Play middle C. Have her sing it. If she can't, do it over and over unitl she can. If she still can't, record her with your phone, and play it back to her, so she can hear that she is off. (If she STILL can't hear she is off....then do a comparison between what the right pitch would be, and the one she sang. She might even need to stay in this stage for a few weeks.)

Once she can match the pitch, play F above middle C. Have her sing stepwise up the scale from C. See if she can "recognize" when she gets to the F with her own voice. This requires some long term aural memory - and maybe that is something she can't do now, but I think it can be developed.

Another thing -- I know it's been said, but I think it's important to stress JUST how valuable singing is in ear training. Even if somebody can't HEAR pitch, the very act of singing scales and intervals will cause students to actually associate a certain physical (not aural), sensation with each interval; A 3rd FEELS different than a 6th in the throat when you sing it. Once a student internalizes that there is a differentiation in intervals based on how they "feel", they will be on the right track to assimilatin the differentiation in intervals based on how they sound.


Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 05/21/19 01:30 AM.
Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2850662 05/21/19 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
I don't believe the OP has said the student in question wants to quit or that practicing is the issue. It seems the issue raised is only concerning aural skills or lack of them.

And, if anything, the student seems to enjoy piano, and music in general. She must be one of those kids who is completely aloof to their musical incompetence. She's been to my studio recitals several times, and I don't think she even realizes how poorly she plays, comparatively.

In some cases, ignorance IS bliss.


If she's enjoying the journey, even if she's slower than slow, it's worth it. How many talented kids are forced to practiced hours on end and quit the first chance they have?


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: Opus_Maximus] #2850725 05/21/19 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Opus_Maximus
Have her sing to match a pitch you play. Then play an interval above it (nothing too large). Have her sing every step along the way, and see if she can stop when she GETS to the second pitch you played.

Yes to this suggestion! I say this, because I was once that kid! I sang flat all the time in the children's choir of our little church. One day the choir director, a young woman then of high-school age, took me to the piano when the other children had gone away. She played a white key and asked me to sing it. Then she played the black key next to it and told me, "you are singing in the crack between the keys." She worked with me that day for a while, and for the first time I began to hear the difference. After that, I practiced noticing small discrepancies in pitch. To this day, I can hear (if not sing!) correct pitch with a fair degree of accuracy: at least I know when my piano needs tuning! And I will always be grateful to Ruth K for that lesson, which came at a time when I was able to hear and understand what she was sharing with me.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: pianoMom2006] #2850751 05/21/19 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
If she's enjoying the journey, even if she's slower than slow, it's worth it.

Well. It's my sanity that is at stake here. The girl has so many problems--I haven't discussed all of them. She's incapable of playing on time. She has poor rhythm. She has zero expression when playing music. I don't dare teach her anything that requires pedal, because she can't hear the difference between muddy and clean pedal. And now she's giving the excuse that she needs more time to study for school. I guess her good grades come after hours of studying, so she's not THAT smart to begin with.

Originally Posted by pianoMom2006
How many talented kids are forced to practiced hours on end and quit the first chance they have?

Not sure how this even figures in the discussion, but it's true and quite unfortunate.


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2850920 05/21/19 10:49 PM
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Opus_Maximus provides an example of breaking ear training into smaller components. OM’s components might not be small enough, depending on the student’s prior skills. I want to lay some things out as an example of coming up with alternative pathways when someone doesn’t have the skills that are often expected, or that come easier to other people. I’ll start with thoughts flowing from OM’s example, and then turn to thoughts flowing from the situation of interval training.

Some people have difficulty matching pitch to a piano, or to some instruments vs. other instruments. Try singing a note and ask the student to match your vocal pitch.

Some students simply don’t have experience matching pitch at all. Try having the student sing a note, and then you match their pitch. Perhaps sing different pitches and have the student tell you if you are singing “same” or “different” from their note.

If the student isn’t matching pitch, you could have them try to move their voice around until they are matching pitch. You can give them “higher” “lower” “that’s it” guidance.

Before matching pitch though, comes being able to move one’s voice through different pitches. For example, a student may not know how to change pitch with their voice. Or they may not be able to move smoothly through their range. Or they need practice imagining the pitch before they sing it, in order to come out with a planned pitch rather than a random pitch. There are various ways to help people play with their voices and acquire these skills.

You never know where a key, or an obstacle, to growth for the student might be lurking. I have read a teacher describing a student who never sang in tune with the rest of the chorus. It turns out that when the student sang in tune, he experienced his voice as “disappearing”, and he thought that disappearance meant he was singing wrong, so he was actively singing so as not to do that “wrong” thing. I’m not sure how the teacher discovered this, but once she did she was able to reassure him that that disappearing feeling in fact is the proper feeling for singing in tune — and he started singing in tune.

Earlier in the thread it was proposed that perhaps a “smallest step” for AZNPiano’s student would be to teach them to distinguish half-steps from whole-steps. That may I’m fact be the correct first part of the ear training process for some students — but I think it would be worth considering that something that seems obvious (the difference between half and whole steps) and basic (because they’re the smallest intervals, after unison, I’m western music), might not at all be a useful initial step for working with the student. For example, you could experiment with: second vs. octave.

And even before that working with specific intervals, an even smaller step is distinguishing two notes as same or different, and later, distinguishing the second as higher or lower than the first (I forget if AZNPiano has said whether the student can already do these things.)


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Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2850931 05/22/19 12:21 AM
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I would counter the notion that ear training should begin with half steps. Chormaticism can be difficult for a lot of people, and most of the basic western melodies we know and love (Happy Birthday, Mary Had a Little Lamp, Ode to Joy, etc), are based off a major scale. I think the first step would be singing and recognizing major pentascales - intervals up to a fifth. Better to start with too little than much. Once the student has this grasp of 4 major intervals (2,3,4,5), you can procced to the major scale, then half/whole.

Re: Teaching Ear Training to the Tone Deaf [Re: AZNpiano] #2850934 05/22/19 12:30 AM
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Re: "Tone Deafness"

The brain works in mysterious ways. Neuroscience is a hobby of mine - and it really has NO idea how our brain (and spirit) proccess hearing. None. What I do students to give them confidence when starting ear training is this:

I'll play Happy Birthday. Then I'll ask my class "Ok - does anybody recognize this?". Of course, all the hands will go up.
Then I tell them that if they can recognize a melody, they already have all the tools for success they need in my class - progress will just depend on how much drill they're willign to put themselves through.

Becuase it's true: if your brain can create meaning and recolleciton out of a pattern of intervals, then you are NOT tone deaf. You can't be. You are hearing notes, and something inside of you is reacting to the arrangment of the tones in a specific order and going "AHA! I know that!". So it should follow that the blockage that students face when recognizing intervallic patterns is not an innate lack of ability, but some sort of auditory processing facility that needs to be unlocked, starting from the smallest steps.

Last edited by Opus_Maximus; 05/22/19 12:31 AM.
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