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Steve Weiss Mallet Workshop


Hello everybody,
I've been transcribing a lot and I think that definetely helps my ears, but I'm hoping you guys have some advice on some other things to help with ear training. I've done some things online before, and just sat down on the piano and worked on hearing diferent intervals. That helped too.
Are there any apps, techniques or routines to get better at hearing intervals/chords and all that?


Jdoubleday Sun, 08/14/2011 - 19:20

I've been transcribing an album a week for my weekly gig and its been really helping me. For me, I usually learn the melody on the instrument not even thinking about the chord qualities and then once I have that, I solo for a bit over it and try and figure out the changes. Then I go to the piano and check if I had it right or not. Also, This website has some fun games but I'm sure you've already seen it. It also really helps to have someone come over and quiz you on different chord qualities and tensions. I think most schools have some sort of elective ear training classes you could take.

I have a couple of apps on my iphone for it too. I think my favorite is just called "Ear Trainer". All of the games I have gotten from apps have been helpful in some way.

Its a really slow process but just keep doing it.

Make sure you do some singing too.

ntvito Mon, 08/15/2011 - 01:40

In reply to by Jdoubleday

thanks! I'll try that app. I wish my school did ear training, but I'll have to wait til college next year...
I guess this is kind of off topic, but are there any other ways you figure out the changes? Just soloing over the tune seems pretty obvious, but I should really try that more. any other things you do? that's definietely the most dificult aspect of transcribing tunes for me

Jdoubleday Mon, 08/15/2011 - 02:11

In reply to by ntvito

I just figure out the bass line first when working on the changes and look for the obvious ii-V-I's, then I decide whether its major or minor. I think the bass line is more important. I think looking for patterns is a good place to start on the tune. Anything that i might have trouble with, ill just rewind it and play that section over and over again, If i still cant figure it out, i'll just go to the same spot in the next chorus.

When the band leader for my weekly gig decides the album that we are doing for the next week, I start listening to only that album to really get the tunes in my ear. So when I'm just listening to it away from my instrument (maybe in the shower is best for me to think) I try and hear the form of the tune and the harmonic rhythm. By the time I start working on the instrument, I've already got the tune in my head.

I used to have very very bad ears, but it does get much easier the more you work on it. You just really need to focus on it. I don't believe you can be a genuine player if you have bad ears. Something about super imposing things into a tune, that you can't really hear before you play, seems a little fake to me.

I believe using soloing for figuring out the changes of a tune helps to develop good instincts.

I'm not really a professional but I hope this helps. Lots of these are things I learned here at Berklee in my elective ear training classes.

You should consider auditioning for Berklee. It has been a great experience for me.

toddc Sun, 08/14/2011 - 20:13

I have struggled with this for years.

As a drummer you just don't get to deal with it in a practical way.
That said I had some very big aha moments using John Mark Pipers system on this website.
Also Tony posted all the bars as single tones which gives a great way to develop scope of range on the vibes.

I am not ambitious enough to transcribe albums like Joe and you do.
I do spend time using the amazing slow downer on stuff I really want to know and understand but can't pick out by just listening. I rarely copy things verbatim. My goal is to understand the feel and make it part of what I can do. I do think you get a deeper understanding if you learn it verbatim but I'm a shallow guy.


Randy_Sutin Mon, 08/15/2011 - 06:40

The very near relative of transcription (which I think is an excellent way to train the ear) is sight singing. If you can hear well enough to write down what you are hearing, then you should also be able to look at something written down be able to hear it well enough to sing it (within the limits of whatever your voice can handle... in my case, that ain't pretty).

So pick up a piece of music, give yourself the first note, and sing it into a mic. Then play it back and play along to see if you got it right. My guess is that it will help.

I should note that, as a college student, I used to hate doing this. I still do. I don't do it much. But, when I do...

It helps me.

tonymiceli Mon, 08/15/2011 - 13:07

In reply to by Randy_Sutin

not sure how well i would do at this. but what i can do is: take a solo on my head and hear it and know what's going on here. something different about it from sight singing. but after all these years i hear my crap in my head and can solo and develop stuff. that's actually fun.

but there is a strong connection between singing and playing the vibes. explore it as much as you can especially if you're young! it will go a long way.