Ear Training

Ear training is definitely my main musical nemesis. I’ve been struggling with it for a long time and I still suck greatly. This is embarrassing and pathetic. I try to call myself a musician but I lack main aspect of a musician – aural skills. It’s like I am a player of Special Olympics but I play in real Olympics. And it’s not a charity event. This situation is not even funny.

My ear training experience up to this point

Many years ago I took private ear training lessons in order to get into studying music. My teacher started with major third and perfect fifth after that. I wasn’t able to progress beyond this point. I seriously suck. No joke, no understatement. I don’t remember precisely how long I was taking these lessons but it had to be at least half-year.

Next attempt to improve my ear was when studying music. I remember we had two classes per week dedicated to that and I still wasn’t able to distinguish between minor and major triads if they were played in a progression. Major suckage. I was definitely the worst student in that class.

Then I found a David Lucas Burge audio courses on relative ear training. I tried that for few months. The program starts with getting down perfect fifths. I was able to get this and pass the test. Nice. Then, we go on to perfect fourths. I got that as well but when I had to distinguish between these two intervals…I quit after almost a month of frustration and declared yet another failure.

These three were the main ear training attempts that I tried for extended period of time. I also tried to implement few exercises and approaches here and there that I saw somewhere on YouTube or in some articles/books but I didn’t spend enough time on them to consider these to be serious attempts. To sumarize, ear training brings me only failures and frustration. Definitely not happy times.

Back to the present day

Since I have this Medium Attempt thing which serves me as an accountability tool, I figured that I could try to tackle this weakness of mine once more. Now, I know that it will take lots of time and effort. And frustration, and anger. And all kinds of aggressive emotions. That’s why I am going to divide this whole ear training field into many tiny steps. I’ll take my time. This is definitely not a project for one month.

Plan

I have a general outline for the progression that I intend to use but I’m sure I’ll face many unexpected issues which will force that plan to be modified. Furthermore, I could find some great advice which would push me towards changing that plan. So, I won’t even describe it here in advance. Let’s just say that I’ll start with smallest melodic intervals. Firstly, I hope to feel really comfortable with humming and identifying minor second intervals up and down from any note. Once (if) I reach this point, I’ll do the same with melodic major seconds. Then I’ll do some exercises to distinguish between these two intervals. After that, I’ll take some tests which will be prepared in advance. The tests will constitute of at least 10 scales/modes which are made only of minor and major seconds. Second test will be just a more or less random and atonal melody made out of these two intervals. I intend to make that melody to be at least 100 intervals long, made out of slow and even notes. My goal will be to write down the name of the interval and the direction (examples: m2↑, M2↓). I want to get these intervals really well before going on another interval.

After this step, I’ll take a break. I hope to get to this point in 3-4 weeks. After a break, I’ll add minor third to those two intervals and I’ll repeat the process. From now on, the tests will be only a melody made out of intervals that I’ve learnt. I’ll repeat this process by adding one interval at a time and taking breaks between each new interval. If I’ll get to an octave, I’ll declare it an enormous success. Actually, if I’ll get to perfect fourth, I’ll make a huge celebration because it will mean that I’ll be able to identify the intervals in most melodies.

I hope to do the exercises with my instrument and by making some audio files with some kind of program. I’ll use whatever sounds I have without caring much about the quality of audio. I’ll probably post these audio exercises on YouTube. I also won’t care about image that I’ll add to that exercise when uploading to YouTube. I intend to update this blog daily since it helps me with accountability. However, I don’t think I’ll be able to progress smoothly enough to take a new exercise every day.

I guess that’s it for now. I seriously intend to improve my aural skills. I am going to put enough effort to reach either new heights of my aural achievements or new depths of my depression.

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