Ear Training Enhances Your Music Appreciation Skills

Ear training can improve your listening skills and music appreciation. If you learn what a trained musician learns, you too can have a greater appreciation of music. You will hear things in a song you have never noticed before.

When a musician is playing in a band not only does he have to know his part and play it correctly, he/she also has to be actively listening to all the other musicians in the group. One of the most important members of the group is the drummer. The drummer sits in the driver's seat so to speak. He keeps the time and rhythm, and the rhythm is the heartbeat of the music. A well trained professional drummer marks the music and gives signals that other well trained professional musicians look for and understand. A good drummer makes for a cohesive group.

Music is counted out in bars or measures. The drummer keeps the time and pace just as a clock measures time of the day. This time is expressed as 4/4 time or 3/4 time etc. A very common time that is used in a lot of music is 4/4 time. In this time there are 4 beats per measure or bar. Each note of music also has a value, but we will cover that in future pages of this site. So the drummer counts the beats according to the pace of the song. If it is a ballad the count is slower, if it is a fast song the count is faster etc. A very common jazz or blues composition consists of 12 bars. You've heard of 12 bar blues right? A drummer will usually do a drum roll of some sort in the 1ast bar or measure to tell everyone that we are coming to the last bar and starting again. He also will usually do some sort of drum roll or accent after the intro of the song to bring in the solo instrument or vocalist. So you can start your ear training by listening to one of your favorite songs (or the video below) and focus on the part of the drummer.

Here's your first exercise:

1. How many times did you heat the drummer do a drum roll?

2. What place in the song did he do that drum roll?

3. Did you hear any other place in the song beat that the beat was accented?

4.How many bars (or measures) were there in between each drum roll?

5.Did the drummer do a special roll just before the band went to a different part of the song?

Now that you've tried this ear training exercise, every time you hear a song see if you can identify what the drummer is doing and how it affects the music.

Now for the next lesson in ear training let's now look at another aspect of music. Every song has a main theme or melody. This melody is what every other part of the song is centered around. It repeats itself throughout the song. It is the main theme. No matter where the song goes it always returns to that main melody.

Repetition is a key element of music. In Jazz you will always notice that the song begins and ends with that main melody line. After the introduction and the melody has been played through completely once, other musicians in the group have an opportunity to play a solo. This solo feeds off of that main melody of the song. After all the soloists have finished their creations they end the song with a repeat of the main theme--the melody. One of my mentors a drummer named Napolean (who lived in Ghana West Africa) taught me a sure fire way of how to keep track of where you are at all times when backing a soloist during his solo. He taught me to sing the melody of the song in your head while the soloist is playing. No matter what, you will never lose track of where you are. So I tried it, and it worked. Now soloists have several ways that they can improvise during a solo. Solos can be played with infinite possibilities. A solo can be created from the melody, or centered around the chord progressions. But the most important element of a solo is heartfelt creativity. It requires listening and feeling the music, then expressing that feeling musically. So a main enhancer of your listening skills would be to keep these ear training pointers in mind. Most of all however you must hear and feel the music. After listening and understanding the melody you then will find yourself making variations of the melody within the song. Then you will be on your way to learning how to ad lib or improvise.

But of course this is not the only benefit of sharpening your ear. This training also improves your concentration, makes you sharper and more alert and improves your listening skills on the job and in everyday life.

Stay tuned to this web site for more on this subject.

Beginner Songwriting Tips

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