Ear Training with the Radio

Question: For singing I do breathing exercises before bed. I believe in practising breathing and listening together because the listening helps to open the right spaces and even adjusts posture. To do this I just listen to the radio or a CD. Like the breathing I would like to know some specifics and even spiritual aspects to focus on. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should focus on for listening when it’s just listening itself? Read more »

Hard of Hearing and Learning Piano

Question: I am hard of hearing… not really bad… but enough that I cannot hear very high soft sounds. I really want to learn to play but everyone keeps telling me that it is impossible. Wasn’t Beethoven deaf? Besides leaning his ear on the piano, how did he bring out the beauty in his notes? Please advise me as to how I should learn. Joanne (USA) Albert’s reply: The piano only goes up to about 4 kHz (kilohertz). Read more »

Hearing Chord Progressions

Question: I play the guitar which is a string instrument just like the piano, and I play in a little church band. Before I started going to this church I just played by myself, and now I have to play with other musicians and have to play in the same key. I struggle to hear the the right key and the changes. How do I hear that? Struggling Musician Read more »

Hearing Multiple Voices

Question: How is it possible to hear two or more voices at the same time, e.g. each voice in a fugue, with the so-called inner ear? I was once told that one can internally hear everything one can sing. Since I can't sing many voices at the same time (I don't think many people can...), how am I supposed to hear a rich, polyphonic texture in my head? Albert’s reply: Hearing multiple voices in your head is something you already do. Read more »

How to Recognize Intervals

Question: Mr. Frantz, First of all I’d like to thank you for your amazing site. Everything you wrote and explained there has served me considerably. I am an 18-year-old girl who has decided (a year ago) to pursue piano studies in university. I started to play at a very late age (15), but only at 17 did I realize how much piano had become important to me. You have given me hope, for I had never yet heard of a successful pianist who had started at the same age as I. Read more »

How to Write Melodies

Question: Hi Albert, I have for a while now trained to develop relative pitch and now I can recognize every interval when I hear them but I have reached a dead end. Even though my interval recognition is good all of that is just smashed when I try to write down a melody I hear. It is very frustrating since I have put much time and effort into developing my ear. Read more »

Memorizing Long Melodies

Question: One problem faced by my students in aural tests is memorizing a long melody. Any tips please? Thanks. Achilles (Malta) Albert’s reply: The most important thing in learning melodies by ear is to learn to hear the scale degrees. In C major for instance, we can hear C, E, F, G as scale degrees 1, 3, 4, 5 in our mind’s ear. Any accidentals not within the scale are heard by their function. Read more »

Missing Notes in Ear Training?

Question: Here's one I can't explain... in specific ear training where the student is asked to do chord identification (major/minor with inversion) using 4-note chords, the student can only hear (and can sing back perfectly) three of the notes... and it's not always the matching octave note that's missing. She can't hear the 4th one and must make an educated guess by singing in succession. Any ideas as to what this is? Read more »

Music Ear

Question: How can ear training help singers? Jojo (Fairfield, California, USA) Albert’s reply: It is essential for all musicians to train their ear, since music is sound after all and it is our duty as musicians to comprehend it. A musician without a trained ear would be like a painter without a trained eye. Singers actually have a distinct advantage compared to instrumentalists: Singers are forced to hear the note in their mind’s ear before they sing it, whereas instrumentalists such as pianists can simply press a key and the note will sound whether or not they hear it in their minds. Read more »

My Ear Training Exercises

Question: In my ear training exercises, I can currently hear every scale interval in my mind's ear in every key. I am wondering about the minor intervals. I can hear them externally and correctly match them but I have not yet been able to hear them in my mind's ear first in every key. I have heard of listening to familiar songs with these intervals in them and using them as a reference. Read more »