Little Ear Trainer is a new app and as the name says, is all about ear training. Traditionally, ear training hasn't received as much attentions as it should have. There are many reasons for this but usually, music teachers move on and focus on the lessons.
Ear training used to be boring
From a musicians point of view, ear training is not taught well considering that a students progress depends heavily on her/his ability to hear. Thankfully, app developers are closing this gap and since there is an app for everything, there is one for ear training as well. The advantage of using an app is that the burden is lifted from the teachers as students can do this themselves with little to no instruction.
Ear training how does it work?
Ear training is somewhat of a mystery because we humans train mostly in sports related disciplines. So how does one train the ears? Well, it's actually quite easy. We humans have a huge advantage but not everyone used this advantage. Our biggest advantage is that we are designed to get used to things. We get used to where we live, what we recognize. We even get used to speaking a language at an very early age. How do we get used to something? Again, it's as simple as can be. We repeat. Repeating is the key to everything we do. Repeating is preparing and with every try, we get more and more used to it. Repeating and getting used to something isn't a fast process. It if were, we'd all be body builders and speak tons of languages. Unfortunately, most of us repeat only what we have to.
The enemy of repeating
The biggest disadvantage of learning is losing interest. We try something and expect to be good at it right away. The media and the internet are full of success stories of people who are so amazing and they didn't even have to practice. Let me tell you something. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first music teacher told me that it takes 25% talent and 75% practice to succeed. This was true back then and it is still true today so let me say it again.
It takes 25% talent and 75% practice to succeed
When you think of practicing, think of repeating. Repeating makes perfect. Repeating something under the guidance of a genuine teacher or mentor makes even more perfect. So how do we develop that amazing musical ear that just reveals the magic of music to us? We'll, we start with small steps. Everything worth while starts with small steps but the magic lies in not giving up when things don't go well.
Little Ear Trainer - an introduction
Little Composers is a website that caters to young children that have a gift for music. The apps focus mostly on composition because composing music teaches so much faster and better than playing lessons written in a book that don't make much sense and are never good enough. Let's move on from composing to reading music. Little Composers offers online classes that teach kids everything they need to know about music notation and other classes that teach parents how to teach their kids. The first app we added in 2018 was Little Ear Trainer which completes the creative children compose music method.
How does Little Ear Trainer work?
To make sure that everyone who wants to can master the art of hearing, we kept the user interface simple. The app loads and displays seven empty notes. To generate the first lesson, you press the START button and watch. After the lesson plays once, a panel slides down that holds the notes A B C D E F and G. The trick is to find the missing note. Every lesson is missing one note which the student must find. To do so, she/he can use a few simple tricks.
Touch sensitive notes
Hearing is tricky and so we've made the notes touchable as if they were piano keys. Six of the seven notes have a note name written on them and playing the notes will play that particular sound. To find the note which is missing, a student can:
- Touch all the notes to play the whole lesson
- Touch the blank note and other notes which might sound the same
- Touch the last note which is always a C note.
Based on the C notes, one can begin to build the musical steps.
How to finish a lesson
A lesson is considered finished when the correct note name has been dragged from the top row to the empty note and released. If the wrong note was chosen, the student gets two more attempts. With each attempt, the point count goes down so it's best to do a lot of playing and comparing before making a decision. Here is the score system in more detail.
- 10 lessons (max points are 10 per lesson)
- 3 attempts to solve the lesson and earn points
- If the lesson is solved on first attempt, then 10 points are awarded.
- If the lesson is solved on the second attempt, then 7 points are awarded.
- If the lesson is solved on the third attempt, then 3 points are awarded.
If all 3 attempts do not solve the lesson, the app will complete it automatically and play the solved lesson once. Then, the student presses PLAY AGAIN (app menu) to generate a new lesson. The whole user experience is designed for maximum exposure to note names, sounds and understanding the concept of music.
Once all 10 lessons are completed, the app then displays a final score and a message for the student. After that, the student can quit, play a new game (10 more lessons) or post her/his score to the Little Composers website where additional pointers are given that help with getting a higher score.
Here are some facts about ear training.
- Little Ear Trainer can generate 46656 unique lessons. The chances that a student gets the same lesson twice is slim.
- 1 in 10000 children are born with perfect pitch. Most don't know that they have it and sadly, many never get introduced to playing music.
Ear training is very important
I hope that this post shed some light on the topic of ear training, the importance and why we should spend time doing it. Music lesson have many more benefits than we realize. Hearing affects our ability on how well we speak a second language. Example: A few years back a few friends of mine and I stood in line in Vienna waiting my turn to go on to the huge Ferris wheel. In front of us were American tourists and a few spots behind us were also American tourists. The lineup moved slow and before long, they were having a good chat. Eventually, I turned around and offered the young couple behind us to trade spots so that we wouldn't be in the way of their conversation. The first thing they asked me was: "Where in the US are you from?" They were very amazed when I told them that I am Austrian. OK, so I didn't mention that I had lived in Canada for 20+ years but still, they didn't hear an accent. Neither did the tour guide in Honolulu who made a game out of telling everyone where they are from. He wasn't sure where in the US to place me and telling him that I was born in the same country that Mozart was born didn't help the 80-year old much as he never had music lessons.
What's the takeaway point here? Music is in everything we do. It is part of the best moments of our lives from beginning to end. Music is a skill that can be learned if we are willing to add 75% practice to our 25% talent and best of all, ear training is now fast and easy with the help of our latest app so if you want to improve your hearing then check it out.
I welcome your comments and additional insight into the wonderful topic of ear training and all things music. Thank you for reading.