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Flying Hands Music School in Louisville, Kentucky


Really Listening to Music

Advanced High School and all College music programs teach ear training. It starts out recognizing two-note intervals and graduates to recognizing the difference between major and minor chords just by hearing them. In Jazz programs you learn to hear chord progressions, as well as the more complex chords. People with perfect pitch can hear these things without training and can name the notes they're hearing. However, this is rare.

On your own, there are things you can do to develope your ear. If you play guitar, bass or violin, you tune every time you play, right? Try tuning without your electronic tuner, then check yourself against the tuner. If you tuned it in correct pitch, then you have Relative Pitch. That means you have a very good ear!

If you're a drummer, listen to music to try and figure out the pattern being played. Count the snare hits (typically on 2 & 4), what's the hi hat doing? Can you hear the kick drum? If you play piano, listen to keyboards. Are they using acoustic or electric piano or even organ? How do those timbers differ and how does it affect the way it's played? An example would be that the organ has everlasting sustained notes and chords. As long as your fingers hold the key, the organ plays. Piano notes die even with a sustain pedal.

If you are a student of voice or even not taking lessons, you should still listen and learn! What kind of vibrato does the singer have? What is falsetto or a growl? Notice the chest tones and air pushed on low notes. Notice the control of high notes etc...

If you can eventually isolate All of the instruments you hear, you will be able to interact with other musicians much better. You can learn from other instruments, as well. In the meantime, try really focusing on hearing what your instrument is doing. Is the guitar, violin, drums, piano or singer doing something you haven't heard before? Most importantly, can you figure it out and apply it to your own performances? The difference between someone who enjoys music is they hear it; a Musician Listens.