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One of the big “killers” of 1st year music students is the ever un-popular (with the students) Solfeggio courses. Solfeggio or SOLFEGE is a teaching technique where we use syllables such as DO, RE, ME, etc. to sharpen ones ability to hear and determine what notes or chords are being heard when we listen to music (Many math enthusiasts spend a whole lot of time with equations to show the harmonic relations of scales, chords, and tunings and we do it by ear almost instantly…the mathematical side of music is nothing short of spectacular!).
For MANY reasons, a number of students and musicians are taught to perform music (in some cases amazingly well) and never have spent the time to develop their abilities with regard to note, interval, line, and chord identification -USING THEIR EARS! Sadly, for many talented and up-and-coming music majors (or minors) their first exposure to Solfeggio is when they arrive their freshman year for music study. A good portion of these students struggle to get through their Solfeggio classes (or Theory/Solfeggio integrated courses) and in some cases decide not to pursue the degree because of their perceived difficulty with the subject matter.
Fortunately, there are many great free and fee based software programs available to help in this area and I encourage you to seek out and find them. You have already started your journey by reading this post and also may check the archives here for other software in this category.
Today, I’m going to tell you about the Function Ear Trainer -made available in both a basic and advanced version at Alain Benbassat’s home site. They are both freeware and run on either the Windows or Linux platforms (Mac folks you’ll have to use a PC emulator -sorry).
These software programs are simple and highly functional…. you are given multiple choices with regard to a starting “reference cadence” and have options to select the key, octave range, and notes that you would like to be tested with. It’s a great primer to learning to use your ear for note intervals and increase your aural abilities. The advanced ear trainer tests you with two notes following the cadence and further sharpens your note discrimination abilities while you practice with it.
I highly recommend this program and others like it for all music students and musicians alike. If you are looking for the next step in your ear training quest, check this article by me about the GNU licensed software product, Solfege. Good luck and Good training!
Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018. As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.
He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association, a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website jpisano.com.
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