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Intermediate Studies

Lesson 9 - Section 1

Ear Training

Welcome to Lesson Number 9. To help teach chords it is wise to teach Ear Training as well. Ear Training is something that each musician learns in order to help them to be better players.

I’d like you to be able to increase your skills, so Ear Training is important and rewarding. It’s great to be able to pick out someone playing a minor or a Major chord in a song. And, when you are reading music, Ear Training helps your brain to perceive the possible sound of a chord before you play it. That’s nice.

And if you play the chord, and you hear something unexpected, you can check later to see if that chord is written correctly or if you played it correctly. Keep this in mind, that there are lots of publishing mistakes in written music. I’ve read many pieces of music with lots of errors. So don’t assume that you’ve made the mistake until you’ve checked it out.

Below are some Ear Training exercises. Look at the chord symbol and then play the corresponding mp3 audio file below it to hear the chord.

When you are done, try to play each chord on your own keyboard. Remember to use your chord formulas as needed. Do this for 20 minutes total. Hear it . . . then play it, for each chord several times. 








Lesson 9 - Section 2

Recalling or Anticipating the Sound of a Chord

To help remember how each chord type feels when you play it, it is helpful to pick out a song that you already know and use it as a guide for your mind’s ear. Yes, instead of mind’s eye, musicians use their mind’s ear. It helps them to mentally recall a sound before they reproduce it on their instrument.

As an example, in the song “Anchors Aweigh” by George Lottman and Alfred Miles, the “first chord” is a Major chord. So the organic sound and feeling of that first chord is how a Major chord sounds and feels when you play it.

First Chord Song List - Example

Major Chord (such as F): “Anchors Aweigh” by George Lottman and Alfred Miles.

Minor Chord (such as Fm): “After The Fox” by Hal David and Burt Bacharach.

Major 7 Chord (such as Fmaj7): “Blue Autumn” by Bobby Goldsboro.

Dominant 7 Chord (such as F7): “Bye Bye, Love” by Felice Bryant and Boudleaux Bryant.

Major 6 Chord (such as F6): “Star Dust” by Mitchell Parish and Hoagy Carmichael.

Minor 7 Chord (such as Fm7): “Aquarius” by James Rado, Gerome Ragni, and Galt MacDermot.

Major 9 Chord (such as F9): the first full measure of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Douglass Cross and George Cory.

Try and mentally hear each song in your head with your mind’s ear.

Isolate that first chord of the song in your head.

As you practice, you will find that the chord progressions in each song have an organic pattern that you can feel . . . you can sense . . . which means that you will be able to anticipate each chord before it is played. This is the real power of your mind’s ear at work.

Making Your Own First Chord Song List

Your assignment over the next two weeks will be to look through song books and find songs that you know that start with each chord type shown in the list above. We are doing this because a "First Chord Song List" is unique to each person.

Using the song list above as an example, write the chord type, name of the song and the composers for the song in your music note book. Use songs that you can easily recall and hear clearly in your head; ones that you can hum, whistle or sing with confidence.

Lesson Preview: In addition to chord types, we will also be using this same “Song List” technique for note intervals in later lessons.

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