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Jazz Sax Lessons: Basic Ear Training: Hearing Notes

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>> [MUSIC].
Okay.
I remember back when I was
at Berkley College of Music,
my first day of ear training.
And, we kind of started pretty far along,
and I realized as I got a little older and
wiser that it's important to
start from the beginning.
It was actually a bit of a disservice, so
I want to kind of right that wrong
a little bit, so to speak, for you.
One of the most important
ear training that you want.
One of the most important things
that you wanna do ear training wise,
is to make sure that you have
familiarity at least relatively speaking
with each note on your horn.
What I mean is not that
you have to be able
to play or hear a note and
call it out right away.
But you do want to become
relatively close to that.
You're gonna be in situations
I'm sure where at a jam session,
where somebody says hey, we're gonna
play this tune and it's in B flat.
And you may know what B flat is but
you may not know the song.
It may some pretty simple tune but
hey, if you've never played it before
then you're going to be a bit lost.
In those situations, most of the time,
people aren't going to have lead
sheets there for you to read.
Those situations happen more
often than you would think.
So, to have a pretty good
relative idea of what every note,
not only what every note
on your horn sounds like,
but to be able to recall what
if somebody else plays a note.
Are you going to be able to hear with
that note sounds like in your head.
For instance, if I play here we
have on our keyboard, if I play C,
and play it on my horn.
When I hear that note on a foreign
instrument, and to be able to
recognize that I would then play it on
my horn is step one of ear training.
So if I don't look at the piano,
here I go testing myself.
That was easy.
[SOUND] Now I plug it over here and play.
[SOUND] That'd be hard.
[SOUND] [LAUGH] I'm listening to what
the sound of the note sounds like,
and it's easier, not easy, for me, but
easier because I don't have perfect pitch,
not even close.
But I have good relative pitch,
you know why,
because I've been playing for a long time.
I've been playing for a lot of years and
so, I've played every note on my horn
countless times, and I've heard it, and
I know what those notes sound like.
So, here's some ideas, just in general
when you're listening to a note, when you
want to relate what the note on your horn,
is to an external instrument,
like the piano.
First of all judge, I had one student
who I had to straighten out right away,
because I played something very low I
just used my horn, and I'd say okay,
we're gonna work on
a single note ear training.
And I'd play [SOUND] and
he'd come back to me and play [SOUND].
I'd say well wait, first of all.
Actually, I did have a student like that.
I'd say first of all was that note
I played, did it feel low to you?
Did it fly high to you?
Did it feel in the middle of the horn, and
he said well, it felt kind of low, and so
my obvious response was well,
then why did you play a high C sharp?
I mean, you know, it's down low.
So, So when you're trying to match pitch,
get yourself in the general ballpark,
think about that.
All it is for him, it wasn't like he had
bad ears he actually ended up having good
ears but
he just wasn't thinking about that.
It's not a trick, it's just one division
of attention I guess you could say.
It's that, yeah, that was low,
what am I thinking, and
immediately he realized that he was wrong.
So, so
let's do some ear training together, okay?
And again, know that the more you play
your instrument the more your ears
are going to be in tune with all
the different pitches on your instrument.
Know also that as a saxophone player,
if you play alto,
that's in the key of E-flat.
If you play alto and
tenor, now you're playing two different
instruments in two different keys.
So when you play B-flat on your alto
it's gonna be a different sound
than if you play the same
note on your tenor.
And then if you play flute,
that's in the key of C.
It's another point of reference,
so it becomes a little scattered.
Obviously my main saxophone is my alto,
so whenever I'm
listening to a particular note in my
head to find that note that I'm hearing,
I relate it to the sound of the alto.
If I'm playing a lot of tenor or soprano,
for instance, that becomes
sort of my point of reference.
But just again realize
that the more you play
the more that point of reference
will become solid in your ear.
So I'm going to play a few notes for
you and I want you to match them,
and this is on the honor system.
Can't look cuz if you look at my fingers
you're gonna know what the note is, so,
okay, I'm watching you, I'm watching you.
You don't know that I'm watching you,
but I'm watching you.
Okay, so, here we go.
Ready?
[MUSIC]
Now you play that note.
Did you get close?
Did you get it?
Here's another one.
[MUSIC]
Here's another one.
[MUSIC]
How you
doing so far?
Another trick too is to think, was the
note I just played higher then the one I
played before, or
was it lower than the one I played before,
does it seem like it's an extreme
part of the horn, like this one?
[MUSIC]
No?
And how about this one?
[MUSIC]
Ok, cool.
So if you have a piano handy I
encourage you to do the little test
that I did to myself at the beginning.
And just hit a note, or
if you've got a friend who, or
somebody around the house that can do
that for you and just test yourself.
It's a really great thing to, it's a great
barometer to see where your ears are.
And it's a great tool to focus in.
It helps you on a lot of levels.
Not only improvisationally,
where you're listening for
particular parts of a chord or
you're trying to match one line.
But all different kind of things,
if you're trying to just learn a melody,
certainly, and
somebody plays something for you.
And you just need to know where to
start and where the next notes are.
So give yourself that idea.
This would be a great one.
To record doing this, having some sort of
external source and play along with it if
it's possible for
you to film that and send that to me.
I can give you an idea if
you're having trouble at all.
If you're not having trouble,
You're rocking, great.
But if you are, I can give you
some more pointers in person.
All right.
Enjoy that.
[MUSIC]