Ear Training For Young People

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Ear Training For Young People

Ear Training For Young People

I frequently get parents contacting me about teaching ear training to their children. The only way I have found this to work is for the parent to do the ear training with the child. Keep in mind that most likely your child will outpace you, so try to keep your spirits up. 🙂 This ear training method is entirely about using your short term memory to learn, and there are several reasons why children usually take to it more easily.

A child learns faster because they are not burdened with all the baggage that older people have when learning something new. That is, young children usually don’t have layers of referential information built into their learning process and that condition helps them absorb memory based things more quickly. A child also uses his or her short term memory better mainly because it’s one of the first learning tools they develop. They are information sponges from the get-go.

Ear Training For Young People Problems

One of the main problems adults have in learning ear training is understanding that they should not be relating the sound they are hearing consciously to anything else. I know that seems to go against what I’ve written before in FAQs for these books but there is a subtle difference. Usually I would say that when you guess a note or sing a note you are relating it to the “key center” via the chord progression cadence you hear before answering. This is still true but don’t obsess on the key center; the key center is there as a matter of course, because you’ve learned it just the way you learn how to identify color. You see color all the time but most of the time you don’t think about it. If you left the room you’re in right now and were quizzed about the various colors of objects in the room you most likely would be able to answer correctly. It’s the same with ear training so you need to trust that after hearing the cadence you are in a key center and not concentrate on holding the “root” of the key center in your mind or trying to hear each note within the cadence. Remember if you were unable to hear key centers music would sound like random noise so everyone can hear a key center though often their key center retention is weak.

Adults (as opposed to kids) tend to get upset when they don’t get the correct answer for an exercise. This comes from years of being taught that the right answer is “good” and the wrong answer is “bad.” A child usually hasn’t had decades of this type of programming so they just answer right away because they are not scared about getting it wrong and they don’t get as upset when they miss an answer. (Assuming a patient and loving parent.) On the other hand an older person can get quite upset if they listen to 20 ear training examples and get none of them right. This can set off self defeating thoughts like “I suck,” “I’ll never be a great musician.” Then, as a protection mechanism, the brain releases chemical reactions to protect our minds as we get more and more upset. These protective chemical reactions help us forget these situations, which is exactly what you don’t want to happen because this ear training is again all about building up a short term memory of what a pitch sounds like, until through repetition these sounds go into your permanent memory. So it’s truly important to keep a positive frame of mind when doing the ear training. If you get upset, just stop and wait until you are in a better, happier state of mind.

Kids love games and they also love doing things with their parents –especially if they do better than their parents! So make the ear training a daily situation where you bond with your child and also teach them a valuable skill and as an added bonus your musicianship is also improved. Below is an email I received from a parent about her experience with her child and some of the added benefits she received from the ear training.

Ear Training For Young People Email

Dear Mr. Arnold, it has been several months since I updated you with the progress made by my 7 year old son and me. We started One Note Intermediate and Contextual Ear Training in late January 2010. We can both name all seven diatonic notes with accuracy and speed, and the non-diatonics are starting to stick. We can both sing 1, 2,3,4,5, and 7 and some 6’s. We are currently working on 6.

Just last week, I was admitted into our church liturgical choir. Admittance is based on passage of quite a few skill tests, including sight reading 4 unfamiliar hymns, perfectly. Before I started your program, sight reading seemed an impossibility. During the sight reading test, I was singing a hymn in an unfamiliar key signature (I need more theory work) and I sang a 4 when I should have sung a 5 (having guessed at the key degree, but not the pitch). But, the very next note was a lower 6, and I jumped down to it solidly and continued on from there. The proctor commented how solid I was getting back on melody on the six. She said that in her experience once a person gets off, they have real trouble getting back on the melody. Of course you know why…jumping around based on interval distances has its drawbacks, but I knew what a 6 sounded like, so I was able to jump right to it, no matter what the distance!

By the way, the proctor and everyone else knows all about you and your programs. When I entered the prep choir three years ago, I had trouble even discriminating between a higher and lower pitch. The Choir Director heard me sing recently and his comment was “Your pitch matching has really improved!” I said, “thanks to Bruce Arnold!”

Below are links to the books I would start with for a child. I’ve given both digital downloads and physical book links. Remember the digital links give you a PDF and MP3s; the physical book links give you a physical book and CDs.

Digital Downloads with PDF and MP3s

EarTraining One Note Intermediate Book and MP3s
Contextual Ear Training bundle Book and 4 CDs of MP3s

Physical Book with CD(s)

Ear Training: One Note-Intermediate Level

Contextual Ear Training Memorizing Sound Through Singing

Bruce Arnold Music Education Genealogy Chart

You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by Muse-eek.com which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!

Bruce-Arnold-Guitar-Flutterby-19 Guitarist Bruce Arnold BLOG Logo music education ear training course ear training Ear Training For Young People

3 Replies to “Ear Training For Young People”

  1. Bruce,a friend of mine learned some interesting things at a Homeschooling Conference she went to back in April 2010. She attended a seminar regarding the value of auditory training in children. According to the instructor, our culture has moved away from auditory learning. Most of our learning is done through sight…reading, computer, TV, worksheets and such. In older times, much more time was spent listening and doing oral work…lectures, recitations, hearing books read aloud and such. As a consequence people are less able to listen and retain what they here. The instructor encouraged the parents to do auditory listening skills and activities with their children. So, your sight singing methods are another great tool for increasing auditory comprehension in children! And, this skill of auditory comprehension is beneficial (nay, even necessary) in other areas of learning, such as learning to read, i.e. using phonics to sound out words. Children using your methods learn to hear and remember what they hear. Of course, I felt very validated on the amount of time we spend on ear training after my friend came home and told me this!

    Here is an update on the 7 year old! He “passed his card” and was admitted to the Choir on July 5, 2010. He took his tests with the Choir Director himself. “The Card” has 16 skills to master, the most difficult one is sight-singing. To pass this test you must sing four short melodies of four measures to “Lu” or solfege with only the first note and the key chord having been played for you. Each test must be right the first time. You can have as many tries as you need.

    The Choir Directors knows that my son has been trained with your methods. He said that he could tell that my son was very methodical in his sight singing. The Director said he could tell that my son knew exactly what the next pitch sounded like before he got there.

    As an update to our training, we are still learning to sing “six” and we still can only name the diatonic, not the sharps. We are on summer break from homeschooling and we haven’t been putting in as much listening time as necessary to advance. We can sing most sixes correctly and I think we are almost ready to move on. I have gone back to using the One Note Intermediate. I had been using the Advanced because of getting through the list in a shorter amount of time, but I now think there is value in the slower list. With the slower list, we have time to hum and reinforce the right pitch to the solfege name after having guessed and gotten it wrong.

    Best Regards, Julie.

  2. Hi Sir,
    I’ve just got your one note ear training , 3 cds. I started playing beginers level. I’ve one doubt about playing the chords, I mean why are we playing chords and then guessing the note, can’t we do it without the chords playing. I think we are playing I-IV-V-I chords and then playing some randon key and guessing the key.

    One Note method is to gain the pefect pitch?

    Please clearify.

  3. Hi Atul,
    Thanks for purchasing Ear Training One Note Complete. From looking at your question I wondering if you read the text or listened to the CDs because a few of your statements don’t make sense nor do they reflect what is found on the CDs. Ear Training One Note Complete CDs do not “play a I-IV-V-I chords and then playing some randon key and guessing the key.” They play a cadence and you hear a note and you guess what that note is in the key. Nowhere in the book is it stated that you are doing “Ear Training One Note Complete” to learn perfect pitch. Ear Training One Note Complete is a contextual ear training method to develop the recognition of sound by identifying notes within a key center. Within the book I also explain in multiple ways why playing chords and then guessing the note is the right thing to do and why doing it any other way is not productive. All of these questions you are asking are also explained in excruciating detail in the FAQs for all of my ear training books found online at http://muse-eek.com Reading these FAQs is also recommended in the book. I hope I don’t sound to harsh here. I don’t mean to lecture you and I’ve certainly seen multiple times where students no matter what is said still can’t understand a concept. So don’t feel somehow degraded but I would recommend rereading the book and checking out the FAQs on the website and see if it makes more sense to you. If upon a second look you still have questions please write back

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