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Author Topic: Ear training - how do you teach it in lessons?  (Read 1877 times)
green
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« on: February 21, 2015, 10:50:34 PM »

I have been doing solfege, and having younger students sing their songs before they play them on the piano. In lesson I may sing one or two bars then have them sing them back, first on a neutral syllable like 'la', but also using fixed 'Do' solfege. They often have trouble singing in tune, so we may do some vocal warm ups which usually helps.

The usual sequence of learning intervals seems to be m3 (G-E), then la, do, fa, and ti. I use the hal leonard blue book for beginners so the songs are simple and easy to remember. I don't teach interval training because I want students to hear the sense of gravity and pull towards (and away from) the tonal center and related pitches. For instance the pull of ti-fa to resolve to do-mi, this way gradually building a sense of the feel of notes in relation to other pitches, as well as the harmonic changes which can completely alter the 'gravity' and feeling of a pitch.

But I would like a more systematic approach and was wondering how other folks here teach ear training in piano lessons?

Thanks
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Bob
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2015, 11:26:12 PM »

I'd do it as a separate lesson.  College 101 ear training textbooks are out there.

Just mention it in passing, so they know it exists.

And not be afraid to sing anything or have them sing. 
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nj61
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« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2015, 02:29:00 AM »

For children I think the best thing is to join a choir. They will develop a good ear naturally, by practice.  A good choir will require them to sight sing as they get older (best thing for developing pitch/intervals) and give them opportunities to learn the feel of intervals from those around them. It is a skill which develops over time and can't be forced like, say, reading music.  I have been in a few different choirs and help with one now for age 5-11.  At that age, the aim of exercises is not developing the ear so much as general control of the voice.  Warm up is aimed at getting children into their head voice and controlling their pitch up/down, without it mattering so much where the pitch actually is, ie following the conductor's hand as it slides up and down.  Then there will be an easy song which is usually split into rounds.  You could do most of that in a lesson.

If age 10/11+ and the aim is developing the ear, recommend a choir with lots of classical repertoire and a good reputation.  This will require them to sight sing which I feel was the main reason I had perfect pitch when I sang a lot.  Have them practice picking notes out of two note chords eg play a 5th and ask them to sing the top one.  Don't do trickier intervals like 4ths and 6ths and clashes til confident.  I have known that used in choir tests, and its a good foundation for learning intervals.  Have them associate intervals with nursery rhymes, colours, feelings, or whatever appeals to them.  Have them sing a note and maintain it whilst you sing the note a full tone below.  See how long they can keep it up and do it loud!  it makes your head feel weird.  Have them sight sing simple melodies.  if they enjoy choir and are good at it, encourage them to join a chamber/madrigal choir for more of a challenge.  Discourage pop singing, sliding, and belting (unless taught properly, not just to copy stage singing)  If reaching up for a note and persistently flat, tell them to imagine the note is a cloud, they are going to float up (not slide, in the head!) to just above it and land right on top.  If sharp (unlikely) tell them to go up and meet the note.

OK that's not systematic at all!  Just random thoughts.
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green
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« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2015, 10:56:15 PM »

Great! Also asking them to imagine they are floating downwards/upwards as they sing up/down can interesting maintain continuity of pitch for some reason.
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taoxia1970
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« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2015, 04:44:26 AM »

ear training and theory are so important for piano lessons, or music lessons in general, almost all of my students that I have in contact with at the beginning, are not used to it, but gradually you as a teach have to get it going for them, and doing it as a seperate lesson is a great idea, because it is so important, it is worth the time, especially for the benefit of the students.
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falala
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2015, 10:22:30 AM »

I have been doing solfege, and having younger students sing their songs before they play them on the piano. In lesson I may sing one or two bars then have them sing them back, first on a neutral syllable like 'la', but also using fixed 'Do' solfege. They often have trouble singing in tune, so we may do some vocal warm ups which usually helps.

The usual sequence of learning intervals seems to be m3 (G-E), then la, do, fa, and ti. I use the hal leonard blue book for beginners so the songs are simple and easy to remember. I don't teach interval training because I want students to hear the sense of gravity and pull towards (and away from) the tonal center and related pitches. For instance the pull of ti-fa to resolve to do-mi, this way gradually building a sense of the feel of notes in relation to other pitches, as well as the harmonic changes which can completely alter the 'gravity' and feeling of a pitch.

Do you really mean fixed do? The way you're describing it sounds more like Kodaly / movable do (which is what I teach).
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themeandvariation
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2015, 08:50:24 PM »

Hi.
I have the new students sing the names of the notes of the piece in question, after singing the scale of the key signature…  (I find that many start to kindle a sense of perfect pitch… for example,  after a few practices at home, they are able to hear the starting pitch, or the root, without reference to a piano.. )
Moveable 'do' teaches intervalic relations.  Fixed 'do' teaches harmonic/chord relations… These methods  exercise 2 completely different muscles..
(*ps.. i think it is such a good thing to bring voice into the lesson… Some, at first look at me incredulously -  like they are thinking "Why are we doing this? I didn't sign up for Voice lessons!"
  LOL
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