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Perfect Pitch, Testing For Pitch, Listening Activities, Ear Training

Tone-Deaf, people can also be "Tune-Deaf", and be unable to beat time or follow a rhythm. Tune deaf people cannot distinguish between notes that were two semitones apart. Tune-deaf people also failed to recognise wrong notes in familiar tunes or spot when something was dissonant - where notes seem to "clash" because they are not in harmony. The condition is not linked to lack of intelligence, mental illness, or lack of exposure to music in childhood. There is debate as to whether there is a link with language ability.


From: "Gregg A. Collins" <gcollins@MARSHALL.EDU>

I really like this game for practicing rhythm in an interesting way. Here is a similar game I have been using to work with students individually on matching pitch.
I adapted a popular US children's song, "Where is Thumbkin?", using the name of a child instead of the fingers. After the children are familiar with the song "Where is Thumbkin?" and have done the finger play for a few lessons, I choose two students to come to me so I can "tell them a secret".
Whispering the directions in their ears, I send one to hide somewhere to one side of the room and one to hide on the other side. I act as if I didn't see them leave. After a few moments, I act astonished to see the two empty seats. "Wasn't there a little boy in that seat a minute ago?!"
The students all try at once to tell me "It was Johnnie!" or "It was Susie!" Then I begin the song: "Where is John - nie, Where is John -nie?"
The student pops out from hiding and sings "Here I am, Here I am!", etc...
When I sing "run away, run away" the student runs back to his place.
The students, who would otherwise be shy about singing alone, sing out with great gusto for me and all their friends! This gives me the opportunity to evaluate their pitch matching ability, as well as decide what other singing skills need to be adressed, such as support, placement, etc. The students, never suspecting that it is a test, beg for a turn to be "Thumbkin".


IMPROVE YOUR EAR TRAINING ON THE WEB (GOOD-EAR) The Online, Free Ear Training on the Net offers simple and challenging interval and chord training with surprisingly high quality samples and results. A great place to point your students for weekly training. They even have a PERFECT PITCH section...I really enjoyed this site!!!
This course will help you to master your ear for melodies and chords. When complete, the first three sections of the course will be equivalent to the two years of core ear training offered in most college music curriculums, minus reading. For some, learning these skills will come easily, and for others, fluency in hearing, singing and playing by ear will require many hours of practice. To use this course, you need a frames-capable browser configured to play .mid files.



Jennine writes these thoughts on ear training:
I have recently had a great deal of success with a child who came to me for individual voice instruction. Her vocal quality was good, but her ability to sing on-pitch was challenging. I determined that it was her ear that was the problem and began working with her for 30 minutes a week. We use the following techniques, but on an individual level and here tonal matching has improved steadily and her singing is really getting there.

I. What's my pitch?

A fun way to work with ear training in the classroom, is to use those chromatic bell instruments that many of us have in the classroom that may (or may not) be collecting dust. I use removable labels to write out the note name of each bell. In the classroom I play a note and give the children (individually) a chance to match the note. I let them strike the note and listen for about 20 seconds before the must make a choice.

They call out the note and I say "yay" or "nay". If they miss it is the next person's turn. In a classroom of 20 or so children this gets boring, so I make up groups of 4 or 5 children who work together with one child acting as spokesperson on the guess. If it is missed, I then go to the next *group*.

II. Echo This

Strike a note and the singer must QUICKLY reproduce the tone. This is even difficult for experienced singers, because we just don't do this often in singing. Eventually the reproduced sound gets VERY accurate.

Always warn anyone doing this that it will take time (even with an experienced singer) to begin to reproduce the tone *on pitch* on the first attempt. This also strengthens the vocal support mechanism because of the quick *calling into action* of the various mechanisms that go together to create voice.

III. Teach the various interval identification song connections

(i.e., first two tones of "Here Comes the Bride" for a fourth up or the first two tones of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" for a perfect fifth up) and play major and minor chords for the children to hear the difference.

Then play a hot potato game. Where the ball stops the teacher asks the child to sing a third/fourth, etc. up or down from a given pitch or to identify the interval played. Also, play a major or minor chords and ask the child to determine which it is.

High notes really are high Perception of pitch and spatial orientation are linked. by Kerri Smith
The tone deaf have poor spatial skills; trained musicians good ones. The way that people talk about 'high' and 'low' notes makes it sound as though musical pitch has something to do with physical location. Now it seems there may be a reason for this: the same bit of our brain could control both our understanding of pitch and spatial orientation.
The result comes from a study of tone-deaf people also known as 'amusics' which shows that they have poorer spatial skills than those who have no problem distinguishing between two musical notes.
Amusics are unable to tell whether a particular musical note is higher or lower than another. The condition has puzzled neuroscientists, because the way in which the brains of amusics process auditory information seems to be no different from normal.
Researchers from the University of Otago in New Zealand were keen to investigate. David Bilkey and his student Katie Douglas (who, as a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir, is particularly interested in how the brain processes music) had noticed that music is often described using spatial references, such as 'high' and 'low' notes with higher notes literally sitting higher on a stave. The same is true in many different languages. So they decided to test the spatial skills of amusic people. "The question was whether the relationship was just a metaphor or something more than that," says Bilkey.
He and Douglas asked volunteers to mentally rotate an object, and click on a picture of how it would look when rotated. Amusic subjects made more than twice as many errors than either of the two control groups one made up of musicians, the other a group with little musical training. The results are reported in Nature Neuroscience1.
"We were really surprised. The hypothesis that spatial processing was the underlying problem was a long shot," Bilkey says. Most studies of amusia have focused on pitch processing as the fundamental deficit, says Tim Griffiths, a neurologist at Newcastle University in the UK.
In chorus
The researchers went on to see if their volunteers could perform both tasks pitch discrimination and object rotation at the same time.
The control groups found this hard, and took much longer to mentally rotate objects when they also had to discriminate between two notes. This is presumably because the tasks interfered with each other. "One possibility is that pitch is encoded in parts of the brain that also encode spatial information," suggests Bilkey. This would increase the workload for these brain regions in normal people, slowing them down.
But amusic subjects were much less affected by having to do these tasks simultaneously. Because they were pretty much unable to tell the musical notes apart, their brain was free to work on the spatial task.
One brain region that might be doing the work is an area in the parietal lobe called the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), says Bilkey, which is known to be involved in processing music, spatial information and numbers.
Space training
Given the relationship between amusia and spatial skill, does this mean that improving one might boost the other? The researchers don't yet know.
It has been previously shown that people with many years of musical training are better at spatial tasks, Bilkey says. But it's not clear how this relationship works, or what causes what.
So it's unknown whether wannabe musicians would benefit from rotating shapes in their heads. Or whether amusic people would benefit from spatial skills training. Griffiths has met many amusics, and is sceptical. "I'm not sure if auditory training would help people, let alone spatial training," he says.