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Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? #2867289
07/08/19 08:17 AM
07/08/19 08:17 AM
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PianoWVBob Offline OP
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I'm posting this here to generate some discussion. I'm not looking to be swayed or to convince anyone that they should change, it's merely discussion.

I have been practicing and playing in all keys since I started 6 months ago and I'm not HORRIBLE but the aural connections and fluency are still tenuous at best. it's like I can "almost" get it when I look at certain keys. (some easier than others)

However, I stumbled on this guy who said that the KEY to playing better, understanding music better and all that is your ear, that is how you recognize what notes are what and their function in the progression that you are listening to or playing. And they key to opening THAT door is to play in one key only. (not necessarily 100% of the time but as much as you can) to transpose whatever you are learning to that key and own that key both in your physical ability but more importantly your ear. He said that you'll make much more progress by knowing one key backwards and forwards rather than 12 keys in a somewhat mediocre way.

I can say this; after playing everything in one key for two days only and doing all of my noodling and improvising in that one key I am certainly making mental and aural connections that were murky before. I'm realizing how simply some pieces actually are but seemed difficult and tricky just because of their key.

i'm going to give this a good try and see where it leads me.

Take a look at this video.


Last edited by PianoWVBob; 07/08/19 08:19 AM.
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Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2867296
07/08/19 08:45 AM
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The first thing that comes to (my) mind is that transposing a song in "real time" , sitting at the piano, is sort of a form of analysis.

To try to provide an example, take "Theme from M.A.S.H" AKA "Suicide is Painless". I play it in F. To change keys on the fly, if you have actually "heard" (aurally digested in your mind's ear) the harmonic movement, you know that the chord changes have an Gm7 C F Dm | Gm7 C F D Dmaj (the chord alterations are subject to interpretation)

If you are hearing these chord as having root movement of II V I vi | II V I VI sus VI
you can more easily transpose to another key on the fly.

Of course, transposing something like "Body and Soul" would not be so easy. I'm not speaking as a teacher, I'm speaking as an experienced pianist/musician. Other may have different input.

Last edited by indigo_dave; 07/08/19 08:46 AM.
Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: indigo_dave] #2867302
07/08/19 08:52 AM
07/08/19 08:52 AM
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PianoWVBob Offline OP
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Originally Posted by indigo_dave
The first thing that comes to (my) mind is that transposing a song in "real time" , sitting at the piano, is sort of a form of analysis.

To try to provide an example, take "Theme from M.A.S.H" AKA "Suicide is Painless". I play it in F. To change keys on the fly, if you have actually "heard" (aurally digested in your mind's ear) the harmonic movement, you know that the chord changes have an Gm7 C F Dm | Gm7 C F D Dmaj (the chord alterations are subject to interpretation)

If you are hearing these chord as having root movement of II V I vi | II V I VI sus VI
you can more easily transpose to another key on the fly.

Of course, transposing something like "Body and Soul" would not be so easy. I'm not speaking as a teacher, I'm speaking as an experienced pianist/musician. Other may have different input.

I'm not sure he said it but he recommends transposing away from any instrument. He says that the normal way to transpose doesn't help your ear, you hunt and peck and listen and finally get what you are hearing correct but that's like using a calculator for math, the underlying skill isn't learned.

He says that you should transcribe a tune away from the instrument 100% and only when you have note names and all of that you CHECK what you thought was correct to see how you did. He said that if you do that enough, in one key only then you eventually KNOW from hearing something what it is without question.

Just thought I'd mention that in case he didn't.

He has another video about how he stumbled on this idea..



Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2867304
07/08/19 09:01 AM
07/08/19 09:01 AM
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This may work for some, but it's the opposite of what works for me. I learn the most when I take a piece a force myself to play a piece it in all 12 keys. Then, instead of hearing particular chords, I get the sound of a progression in my mind. Similarly, if I hear a lick I like, if I only learn it in one key, it's useless. Focusing on one key, to my mind, will teach to to be very comfortable in that key, but it is short term gain, but a long term problem. If the goal is to be comfortable in every key, one needs to struggle in all 12 keys.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: jjo] #2867305
07/08/19 09:07 AM
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PianoWVBob Offline OP
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Originally Posted by jjo
This may work for some, but it's the opposite of what works for me. I learn the most when I take a piece a force myself to play a piece it in all 12 keys. Then, instead of hearing particular chords, I get the sound of a progression in my mind. Similarly, if I hear a lick I like, if I only learn it in one key, it's useless. Focusing on one key, to my mind, will teach to to be very comfortable in that key, but it is short term gain, but a long term problem. If the goal is to be comfortable in every key, one needs to struggle in all 12 keys.

Did you watch the video?

From your comments it seems like you might not have.

Maybe watch the first video and even the second one a few comments down. That might make what he's saying more clear.

Last edited by PianoWVBob; 07/08/19 09:09 AM.
Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2867429
07/08/19 05:11 PM
07/08/19 05:11 PM
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I watched about 6 1/2 minutes. He's selling an ear training method. It doesn't seem like such a big innovation to me. Back when I started to play by ear - around 23 or so, I had certain keys I felt more comfortable playing in. Probably C, D F and G. And there are certain types of chord voicings that I got familiar with. The chord that comes to mind is (for example) an Am7(b5) - the voicing I used became ingrained into my fingers/brain. It's as if the topography of the keys became familiar to my fingers. But to try and play this automatically in another key was problematic if not in one of my favored keys.

I'm thinking out loud now. I think that getting familiar with 4 keys might be a nice compromise.
I have NEVER practiced things in all 12 keys. I can play them in many keys (my palette has expanded). I've gotten more fluent in all this and change keys when I need to - usually to accommodate my singing voice.

I'll tell you what I've been doing for about 3 1/2 years now as a discipline. I write 4 part harmony exercises. I change keys freely and often. Sometimes experiment with voicings (like a chord in 4ths or really dissonant passing tones). I write 2 of these exercises most days. I believe they've greatly improved my harmonic grasp and my voice leading. I believe the real value is in the process of plunking at the piano searching for the next harmonic movement. The trial and error is training the ears. But in a different way. The fingers are somehow linked with the aural center in the brain (whatever that is). So I'm thinking that his method is one path one could follow. My path is an alternate path to follow. And the playing in all 12 keys could be another path. Which one is faster ? Who knows. But, might one or another method provide a deeper grasp of what we're trying to grasp. BTW, I believe what I just described may have been how Duke Ellington developed his magic. And also Lennon and McCartney. Searching for things with a little know how and a lot of trial and error.

I can tell you that in my mid 20's I was playing in bands in bars. Playing things like Proud Mary, Marguiritaville , and similar things that I can't recall. The key to doing that playing was to follow the bass player. He was usually playing the root of the chord. You'd play triads (with inversions) in the right hand. And whatever you could fit into the left hand. You heard root movement and followed it.

An example of that.
Proud Mary
VII VII V ... VII VII V ... VII VII V IV III III I III I
Melody Key of G F F D F F D F F D C Bb Bb G Bb G


End of lecture.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2867601
07/09/19 08:49 AM
07/09/19 08:49 AM
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PianoWV Bob: You were right that I hadn't listened to the video, but I have now, and still do not agree with the suggested method. I'd first note that he says if you focus on one key, you'll be playing by ear within a few months, and you can then easily learn the other keys in a matter of weeks. I wish!

But more fundamentally, while I agree that ear training is key, for me, my ear is trained when I learn things in multiple keys, not one key. But perhaps my biggest disagreement is that focusing on one key will make it easier to learn all the others. I think focusing on one key will get a player comfortable in that one key, and forever that will be their strong key, and they will never be as comfortable in other keys.

My teacher started me out on day one in learning a voicing for the ii-V-I progression in all 12 keys. And that has served me well.

I do want to emphasize that there are many ways of learning jazz. I have no doubt the method he has described worked for him (although the suggested time frames are nonsense), and that the method may work for others. It just wouldn't be for me, because for me it has been critical to always focus on playing all the chords in all the keys. That has enabled me to play in everything from small combos to big bands and fluently site read most charts.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: jjo] #2867605
07/09/19 08:57 AM
07/09/19 08:57 AM
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PianoWVBob Offline OP
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Originally Posted by jjo
PianoWV Bob: You were right that I hadn't listened to the video, but I have now, and still do not agree with the suggested method. I'd first note that he says if you focus on one key, you'll be playing by ear within a few months, and you can then easily learn the other keys in a matter of weeks. I wish!

But more fundamentally, while I agree that ear training is key, for me, my ear is trained when I learn things in multiple keys, not one key. But perhaps my biggest disagreement is that focusing on one key will make it easier to learn all the others. I think focusing on one key will get a player comfortable in that one key, and forever that will be their strong key, and they will never be as comfortable in other keys.

My teacher started me out on day one in learning a voicing for the ii-V-I progression in all 12 keys. And that has served me well.

I do want to emphasize that there are many ways of learning jazz. I have no doubt the method he has described worked for him (although the suggested time frames are nonsense), and that the method may work for others. It just wouldn't be for me, because for me it has been critical to always focus on playing all the chords in all the keys. That has enabled me to play in everything from small combos to big bands and fluently site read most charts.

That's cool. I said I wasn't trying to convert anyone, just posting for information. I will say this; after doing this for just a few days, things that seemed "tenuous" for me in other keys (even after playing guitar for 30 years) seemed to make sense and connect when I transcribed everything into one key. Not that I didn't know theory or wasn't able to play in many keys, it just make what was already there, crystal clear for me. The repeated patterns and interval choices between what seemed like wildly disparate songs now showed just how similar they really are and they made tons of sense.

In any case...no biggie...we all certainly learn differently.

Last edited by PianoWVBob; 07/09/19 08:58 AM.
Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2867683
07/09/19 01:21 PM
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To possibly augment whatever method one uses, a pitch pipe can be a portable tool. I have a pitch pipe app on my phone. I can play a random note on the pitch pipe and then choose an interval to sing from it. Perfect 4th, Perfect 5th, Aug 4th etc. Then check myself with the pitch pipe to see if I sang the correct pitch.

A nice exercise while driving in the car.

Also, there are some ear training CD's - I bought one by Jamey Aebersold - 2 CD's.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2867836
07/10/19 12:35 AM
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Duke Ellington supposedly said "If it sounds good it is good." I think we can apply that to an educational technique: "If it helps you, it's good." We all come from different backgrounds, and much less so than classical, there is no prescribed route to learning jazz.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2868319
07/11/19 09:47 AM
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Hi

An interesting video, which I've no doubt worked for him and would do for some other people.

Part of the joy of music for me is playing in different keys.
As a blues player, with some limited Jazz improv skills, playing everything in one key would drive me mad.
After a few days I'd start hearing all the limitations of my playing (which I do anyway!); the same licks and phrases being repeated.
Playing in different keys forces me to at least play some variations of my stock repertoire.

And I'm not entirely convinced that if you hear a sequence like:

Cmaj7 / Em7 / Ebm7 / Dm7 / Cmaj7

and then hear it as this in a different song

Fmaj7 / Am7 / Abm7 / Gm7 / Fmaj7

that the brain doesn't make a connection.
Its certainly happened for me. I've been playing the chords for one song and realised that they are the same chords for part of a different song in a different key.

And my ear is rubbish.

Apart from all of the above, I just don't have the time to do it, or conversely learn stuff in all 12 keys.

Cheers


Simon
Yamaha CLP535
Vox Continental 73


Play what you enjoy listening to, listen to what you enjoy playing!




Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2868768
07/12/19 01:44 PM
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A few years ago I had a daily routine that included work on ear training. Amongst other tools, I used the Functional Ear Trainer software. Every day I got a pretty good score, like in the 90% range or so. Then I ran across the idea of sticking with one key and decided to try it. After several days, I started scoring 100%, i.e., no errors at all. Day after day, week after week, month after month, I continued to score 100%. I thought this was astounding; it seemed to defy some law of (my) human nature that says screwups are inevitable. But after a while, I got bored with the whole business and stopped. I don't know what would have happened if I had stuck with it, and expanded into other keys, but clearly, based on my experience, I'd say there is some validity to the idea.

Ed


http://edsjazzpianopage.blogspot.com/

My fingers are slow, but easily keep pace with my thoughts.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2868878
07/12/19 10:42 PM
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I keep 12-sided D&D dice nearby. Often will roll the dice and then try playing, whatever song I was messing with, in the associated key (1=A, 2=Bflat, 3=B, ..., 12=Aflat). Mixes things up.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: Riddler] #2868925
07/13/19 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Riddler
A few years ago I had a daily routine that included work on ear training. Amongst other tools, I used the Functional Ear Trainer software. Every day I got a pretty good score, like in the 90% range or so. Then I ran across the idea of sticking with one key and decided to try it. After several days, I started scoring 100%, i.e., no errors at all. Day after day, week after week, month after month, I continued to score 100%. I thought this was astounding; it seemed to defy some law of (my) human nature that says screwups are inevitable. But after a while, I got bored with the whole business and stopped. I don't know what would have happened if I had stuck with it, and expanded into other keys, but clearly, based on my experience, I'd say there is some validity to the idea.

Ed


I don't doubt there is some validity to the "fixed key" ear training. The question, to me, is whether it has any more validity then all the other paths. I doubt that it does.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2878774
08/12/19 06:11 AM
08/12/19 06:11 AM
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Here is my take on the matter.

Ear training is much misunderstood, there is more than just hearing the tones. However that said if you want to learn how to recognise pitches, then Earmaster Pro is the way to go. Don't expect to get fast resluts with ear training, do ten minutes a day for three months and you will se a difference., Much of the problem with interval recognition is knowing how to create your "lesson" Earmast does this for you and it let's you chart your progress specifically. I used this to get gonig and it was truly a game changer.
However beyond the note recognition there is much more. First their is knowing where you are in a song - timing and counting. In order to inculcate that into my mind I spend time coutning every song I heard in the car, tapping my foot too (the left foot as the right is the pedal). Use this method for coutning the bars, 1234,2234,3234,4234,5234,6234. this way your mind wil eveutally gtive you the bar number of any song. It has to be "innate" a habit has to be established.
Another way of building up ear, a more pianistic way, to supplement the EarMaster, is to use VERY simple song. Take a very simple tune like three blind mice, identify the pitch names (root, third etc|), not just the notes (C. E etc) and then add a simple harmony, using triads. Almost always you can just use the 1 4 and 5 chords. Take this through all 12 keys until you are really comfortable with it. Let your mind learn the building blocks as if they are lego bricks, to be used on other songs. Own them. In this way build up a repertoire of very simple tunes, each time identifying every interval - NOT just the notes. Many learners make the mistake of thinking they know a tune by just identifying the notes (D, F# etc) and not the intervals. Learning tunes in this way means that one cannot transfer the knowledge to other tunes.
Lastly, learning song forms. Can you identify a song form? Most song go like this intro/hook (this might use pick up notes), then a verse, chorus/bridge, perhaps a another verse , an outro There are lots of variations, there is the 12 bar form, which is often used outside the blues, then their are stops, sometimes short 2 bar phrases are introduced. Hearing how this goes on in a piece makes it much easier ot understand and helps you feel when you come in and go out. To learn this, take a piece of paper, and put on any song, then (without needing to write any notation) and simply write out what you think is happening. To do this you will have to have some expereince in counting as described above. Use these terms Intro(if there is one) verse, chorus, bridge outro etc. Doing this will healp you understand form. After a short while - does not take too long) - you can begin doing this in the car on the fly with any tune.
Lastly there is what I term layered hearing, this is when you go into a song and listen to a specific "layer" or instrument. This is also an aquired skill. If you can accomplish writing out the form you may wish to indetify when a particular instrument goes in and goes out. All this will help you understand how musicis constructed.

Z

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: Simon_b] #2878775
08/12/19 06:18 AM
08/12/19 06:18 AM
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ZeroZero Offline
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Originally Posted by Simon_b
Hi

An interesting video, which I've no doubt worked for him and would do for some other people.

Part of the joy of music for me is playing in different keys.
As a blues player, with some limited Jazz improv skills, playing everything in one key would drive me mad.
After a few days I'd start hearing all the limitations of my playing (which I do anyway!); the same licks and phrases being repeated.
Playing in different keys forces me to at least play some variations of my stock repertoire.

And I'm not entirely convinced that if you hear a sequence like:

Cmaj7 / Em7 / Ebm7 / Dm7 / Cmaj7

and then hear it as this in a different song

Fmaj7 / Am7 / Abm7 / Gm7 / Fmaj7

that the brain doesn't make a connection.
Its certainly happened for me. I've been playing the chords for one song and realised that they are the same chords for part of a different song in a different key.

And my ear is rubbish.

Apart from all of the above, I just don't have the time to do it, or conversely learn stuff in all 12 keys.

Cheers





I asked my sax teacher once which keysand scales did I need? He answered "All of them". He is right IMO. It's not posible to gain freedom on the paino without knwing them all. Tjhis is not insurmountable. It helped me lots to take simple tunes round the keys, now I can do this more or less instantly for most songs. When transposing around all the keycentres, it becomes necessary to adjust the voicings a little to keep the sound within the mid range. I often play an Ab or Gb chord in 2nd inversion for instance to bring it back to the middle.

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2878778
08/12/19 06:33 AM
08/12/19 06:33 AM
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ZeroZero Offline
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I corrected typos and added bits here: (Could not edit the original) Here is my take on the matter.

Ear training is much misunderstood, there is more than just hearing the tones. However that said if you want to learn how to recognise pitches, then Earmaster Pro is the way to go. Don't expect to get fast results with ear training, do ten minutes a day for three months and you will se a difference. Much of the problem with interval recognition is knowing how to create your "lesson" Earmaster does this for you and it let's you chart your progress specifically. I used this to get going and it was truly a game changer. I had tried other methods like Aebersold and got no progress.

However beyond the note recognition there is much more to possessing a good ear. First there is knowing where you are in a song - timing and counting. In order to inculcate that into my mind, I spend time counting every song I heard in the car, or anywhere else, tapping my foot too (the left foot as the right is the pedal). Use this method for coutning the bars, 1234,2234,3234,4234,5234,6234. this way your mind wil eveutally gtive you the bar number of any song. It has to be "innate" a habit has to be established. The foot tends to hurt a little to begin with, (like sore finger tips for guitarists) but it soon acclimatises. You may notice many professional bass players have a constantly tapping foot. The foot gives an "ouside" reference, which the mind seems to need.

Then there is learning the elements within a bar. Can you instantly identify rhythmical patterns aurally? Start by simple Dah Dah Dah Dah, for four beats to a bar. Then vary this by putting in rests. Count the rests by prounousning Mm. For example Dah Mm Dah Dah. The Mm sound is easy for the mind to recognise as silence. One you are confident that you can do this "in your sleep", then start adding in eight notes. I use De for eighth notes. So you might have Dah De De Mm Dah for one quarternote, two eight notes and a rest, then a final quarter note (four beats). Your goal is to be able to dictate in you head any rythmn you choose, this will help with your reading too, dont forget triplets too. This is one form of practise that can take place away from your instrument

Another way of building up ear, a more pianistic way, to supplement the EarMaster, is to use VERY simple song. Take a very simple tune like three blind mice, identify the pitch names (root, third etc|), not just the notes (C. E etc) and then add a simple harmony, using triads. Almost always you can just use the 1 4 and 5 chords. Take this through all 12 keys until you are really comfortable with it. Let your mind learn the building blocks as if they are lego bricks, to be used on other songs. Own them. In this way build up a repertoire of very simple tunes, each time identifying every interval - NOT just the notes. Many learners make the mistake of thinking they know a tune by just identifying the notes (D, F# etc) and not the intervals. Learning tunes in this way means that one cannot transfer the knowledge to other tunes.
Lastly, learning song forms. Can you identify a song form? Most song go like this intro/hook (this might use pick up notes), then a verse, chorus/bridge, perhaps a another verse , an outro There are lots of variations, there is the 12 bar form, which is often used outside the blues, then their are stops, sometimes short 2 bar phrases are introduced. Hearing how this goes on in a piece makes it much easier ot understand and helps you feel when you come in and go out. To learn this, take a piece of paper, and put on any song, then (without needing to write any notation) and simply write out what you think is happening. To do this you will have to have some expereince in counting as described above. Use these terms Intro(if there is one) verse, chorus, bridge outro etc. Doing this will healp you understand form. After a short while - does not take too long) - you can begin doing this in the car on the fly with any tune.
Lastly there is what I term layered hearing, this is when you go into a song and listen to a specific "layer" or instrument. This is also an aquired skill. If you can accomplish writing out the form you may wish to indetify when a particular instrument goes in and goes out. All this will help you understand how musicis constructed.

Z

Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2878861
08/12/19 11:16 AM
08/12/19 11:16 AM
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Posts: 510
Midwest USA
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Farmerjones Offline
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Joined: May 2012
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Midwest USA
I learned violin/fiddle, 20 years prior to piano. One thing to know about fiddles is they are fretless. You define the pitch manually, using your ear as feedback. So my ear was pretty well trained already. But low and behold, when i wanted to steel a new tune, 90% of the time, it would come out in D. Sounds sort of like i was adopting the single key concept automatically. A bit later i found i could play in any key withe violin because it was fretless. I simply slide into whatever key and play along. Didn't know it was called transposing!? Thought it was called "keeping up."
20 years down the line, i wanted to play piano. I started in C. Then moved tunes to D or G. Maybe A. But if the band/group/jam doesn't play in F#, there's no need/incentive. And you can tell when a piano player wrote a tune because it's in a strange key compared to guitar tunes. No problem, i simply move it to a key i know, so there you go: You can't beat a good set of ears. It trumps knowing strange keys in my world.


Rhythm & Chords, it's what I do.
Re: Fixed key learning system for ear training...your thoughts? [Re: PianoWVBob] #2878888
08/12/19 01:04 PM
08/12/19 01:04 PM
Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,225
Moscow, Russia
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Iaroslav Vasiliev Online content
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Iaroslav Vasiliev  Online Content
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Joined: May 2016
Posts: 1,225
Moscow, Russia
Originally Posted by PianoWVBob
I'm posting this here to generate some discussion. I'm not looking to be swayed or to convince anyone that they should change, it's merely discussion.

I have been practicing and playing in all keys since I started 6 months ago and I'm not HORRIBLE but the aural connections and fluency are still tenuous at best. it's like I can "almost" get it when I look at certain keys. (some easier than others)

However, I stumbled on this guy who said that the KEY to playing better, understanding music better and all that is your ear, that is how you recognize what notes are what and their function in the progression that you are listening to or playing. And they key to opening THAT door is to play in one key only. (not necessarily 100% of the time but as much as you can) to transpose whatever you are learning to that key and own that key both in your physical ability but more importantly your ear. He said that you'll make much more progress by knowing one key backwards and forwards rather than 12 keys in a somewhat mediocre way.

I can say this; after playing everything in one key for two days only and doing all of my noodling and improvising in that one key I am certainly making mental and aural connections that were murky before. I'm realizing how simply some pieces actually are but seemed difficult and tricky just because of their key.

i'm going to give this a good try and see where it leads me.

Take a look at this video.

https://youtu.be/cftl2C-5c_E

I think it's actually a very good advice. The thing is that if you don't have absolute pitch (I don't) then you just don't know what key the song is in, and you have just 2 options: you can either start with a completely random piano key, play by intervals and figure out the key in the process of playing, or you can choose some key in advance and try to match notes of the song to the degrees of that key. The latter is obviously a more conscious approach and it gives many benefits.

+1 for Functional Ear Trainer application.


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