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Old 09-20-2015, 07:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is there a point to ear training?

Yet another music student reduced to tears by my sheer ineptitude at ear training.

I can play songs by ear. Give me my flute or a piano, and one or two listens for medium difficulty, one or two days for very hard ones, and I can hand you back sheet music. But god forbid you play a major third or perfect fifth and ask me to identify it back to you. Don't play a chord and ask me the quality and inversion- I can't even tell minor 6/4s and diminished/augmented apart. This is my second level course in ear training and I am not improving at ALL- I'm only passing by sitting in there for hours and clicking until sheer, dumb luck gets my score to passing. 2000 examples later, and my average score remains unchanged.

Applying these 'skills' to playing by ear, which everyone here says the main point of ear training is, seems impossible. How could you identify intervals in chords in something that's happening so fast- and why should I try it that way, when my flute and I could do without the mental effort and much quicker? I see some minor use in tuning chords with an ensemble; you'd need to be able to hear intervals and know which section was off, of course- but that's the only use I can think of for this torture. Sightsinging? Plenty of uses, and not that bad- but this business of identifying intervals and inversions.. any wiser and experienced musicians out there want to give me the motivation to back to that cursed building tomorrow? Or give advice on why I am just horrifically bad and not improving, but can play songs by ear fine?
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Old 11-18-2015, 08:52 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have cheats that I use. Use songs and melodies that you already know to identify certain intervals. Always the first two notes.

Minor 2 is easy. Theme from "Jaws".

Major 2: "Happy Birthday" melody, first two notes.

Major 3: same thing or I sing the major triad as an arpeggio.

Minor 3rd: I have several songs that I reference the melody like Ozzy Osbourne's "The Wizard" (harmonica part).

Perfect 4: "Oh, Tannenbaum" melody.

Flatted 5th (aka "tritone"): "Maria" from West Side Story". Perfect 5th: "2001: A Space Odyssey".

Minor 6th: I don't really have anything special. I just recognize the interval natrually. But I'm sure you can find a melody that fits.

Major 6th: The "NBC" network chime which is basically three notes but the first two are a major 6th apart.

Dominant 7th: Typical blues note from the root.

Major 7: Another interval I don't have a particular hack for but again, there are dozens of melodies that reference it.
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Old 11-18-2015, 09:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Old 11-18-2015, 12:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you can play by ear just fine, you should have no problem with ear training.

Or in other words, if you can't identify an interval of a major third versus a perfect fifth, say, when you're listening to something, it doesn't really make sense to me how you can play by ear. Are you talking about having the ability to slowly "hunt and peck" with the aid of your instrument and eventually figure out that what you stumbled upon matches what you're hearing?

If you practice that so it's not so much hunting any longer, you've mastered at least the basics of ear training.

Ear training is useful both for understanding what you're hearing better and for many different situations re gigging, as it's important, and often (if not always) imperative to be able to quickly grasp what the musicians playing with you are playing in some detail, without having to work at that. You want to be able to do it on the fly.

It's also useful if you have any interest in composing--it enables you to simply think of something and easily figure out the details of that. You can even compose without the aid of an instrument.
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Old 11-18-2015, 01:25 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Old 11-22-2015, 08:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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not that this is very helpful, but it all depends on what you're trying to do with music. i don't think it's very important for what I do, but for some paths... it's totally important.
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:15 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm also able to learn songs by ear just fine and have some trouble with intervals in ear training..

I guess when I'm learning songs by ear it's more of a trial and error type of thing...
I would really like it to be more direct...

I've used the reference songs trick and it helps somewhat. But what REALLY helps is learning to sing the intervals. I just tarted to do this and I'm noticing improvement straight away.

Get a good tuner, there are some great tuner apps for android that work very good for this, play an interval, and sing it to the tuner until you get the notes right
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Old 11-23-2015, 11:03 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I guess when I'm learning songs by ear it's more of a trial and error type of thing...
I would really like it to be more direct...
As with everything else, it's a matter of practice/familiarity/inundation. Set aside, say, a half hour every day to transcribe a different tune (you don't have to finish the transcription, just do as much as you can in a half hour). If you do that every day, after awhile you'll start to identify intervals, chords, modes, etc. easier. Eventually it will become second nature.
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Old 12-10-2015, 11:12 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I think it can be very beneficial to a musician.
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