Zumwalt Poems Online

Ear Training for Children, ages 3 to 6

Early Drills

Work on a drill for no more than 5 minutes. Do no more than 3 or 4 drills in a single training session. A training session should never be more than 15 minutes and for the very young less than that. Make drills fun and aim for a sense of accomplishment for the child. When a drill is easy go to next drill. It is very important not to continue a drill that is too easy for child. It is possible that child will immediately succeed on a given drill. Always do a drill at least 3 or 4 repetitions, but once child shows mastery, validate child’s ability, acknowledge their accomplishment and go on to next drill (or end training session if appropriate.) Observe child and never continue a drill when child is bored or disinterested. Never go to the next drill when child has not mastered a previous drill. If child struggles too long on a drill, go back to the previous drill (the last drill child was doing really well at.) End training session on that drill and resume next training session on that drill before going to next drill in sequence (that drill that child was having trouble with.)

Drill #1: Where am I (created by Louise Fletcher) (child and one adult)

Child Closes Eyes and points to location of parent.

Drill #2: Who Am I (created by Louise Fletcher) (child and two or more parties such a parents, sister, etc.)

Child Closes Eyes, party says “Who am I?” and child says Mommy or Daddy or Gram-ma, etc.

Drill #3 : Disguised Who Am I (created by Louise Fletcher) (child and two or more parties such a parents, sister, etc.) This drill may be skipped for very young children.

Child Closes Eyes, party disguising voice says “Who Am I” and child says Mommy or Daddy or Gram-ma, etc.

If child has trouble with this drill, simplify disguises so child can win. Keep variance of voice minimal and gradually get a little tougher. If child struggles with this drill, don’t disguise voice very much. Important for child to notice that the same person can sound different, but yet be able to identify person. Purpose of drill is not to trick child but to raise awareness of sounds being different but same.

Fourth Drill: Hi or Lo

Teacher plays the lowest note and highest note on piano or other instrument (stay with same instrument) and works with child to identify this note as “Lo” and this note as “Hi” – only the highest and lowest notes are used. Don’t switch the note associated with “Hi” or the note associated with “Lo” ever.

Drill #5a: One or Two – tapping (Can be skipped for children for older children)

Child must be able to count up to 2. Counting is an abstract concept and should be taught first before doing drill. This can be done visually (one or two fingers, one or two toys, one or two softballs, etc.) Have child close eyes and tap once or twice lightly on their hand — ask them if “one” or “two” taps.

Drill #5b: One or Two – given note with child watching

Communicate to child that instead of tapping on hand you will be tapping on the piano (or other keyboard instrument, guitar, etc– any instrument can be used)

Pick a given note on the piano and either play that note once or twice. Have child identify if you played it once or twice.

Drill #5b: One or Two – given note with child not watching (turned in opposite direction from instrument or with eyes closed.)

Communicate to child that instead of tapping on hand you will be tapping on the piano (or tapping on other keyboard instrument, plucking guitar, blowing on clarinet, etc– any instrument can be used)

Pick a given note on the piano and either play that note once or twice. Have child identify if you played it once or twice.

Drill #5c: One or Two — different notes with child watching – start with notes that are far apart and progress to notes a semitone apart (adjacent notes.)

Tell child you will by using different sounds or notes now. Play either one note (One) by itself or one note followed by another (Two.) Start with notes far apart and proceed with notes closer and closer together.

Drill #5d: One or Two — different notes with child not watching – start with notes that are far apart and progress to notes a semitone apart (adjacent notes.)

Tell child you will by using different sounds or notes now. Play either one note (One) by itself or one note followed by another (Two.) Start with notes far apart and proceed with notes closer and closer together.

Drill #6a: One or Two Together — different notes with child watching – start with notes that are far apart and progress to notes a semitone apart (adjacent notes.) When playing two notes play them together (not sequentially.) This drill can be skipped for older children; however useful to use step as an explanatory process if not done as a drill.

Drill #6b: One or Two Together — different notes with not child watching – start with notes that are far apart and progress to notes a semitone apart (adjacent notes.) When playing two notes play them together (not sequentially.)

Drill #7a: One, Two or Three together — different notes with child watching – start with notes that are far apart and progress to notes a semitone apart (adjacent notes.) When playing two or three notes play them together (not sequentially.) This drill can be skipped for older children; however useful to use step as an explanatory process if not done as a drill.

Drill #7b: One, Two or Three Together — different notes with not child watching – start with notes that are far apart and progress to notes a semitone apart (adjacent notes.) When playing two or three notes play them together (not sequentially.)

Drill #8: Different or Same. Demonstrate to Child with child watching what you are about to do before starting drill (with child not watching.) Play one note on piano. Count to 5 and then play same note or different note. Ask child if Same or Different. Start with notes far apart and move to notes closer together. Avoid playing the different notes that are the same note names (same pitch “chroma”; same pitch class – in other words all C’s are in the same pitch class or of the same pitch chroma) in different octaves. If notes of same name are accidently played an octave (or several octaves) apart accept whatever answer the child provides as either can be viewed as correct.

Drill #9: Different or Same on Different Instruments. Same Drill as number 8 but on two different instruments. Important that the two instruments are in tune. Inexpensive recorders (a musical instrument like a flute) and harmonicas can be purchased online or at music stores for $15 or $20. If a electronic keyboard is available the different instrument settings can be used but keep choices simple (piano, organ harpsichord, flute, acoustic guitar, violin, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn) Computers with speakers can provide different instrumental sounds. Download a program like Functional Ear Trainer at http://www.miles.be and use the midi setup under tools to chose different instruments. One can progress on to three instruments if drill is easy for child.

Drill #10 Octave displacement. Explain to child how notes kind of re-occur at different levels. Best to use a keyboard for this. Start in the middle of the Keyboard on middle C and play the white notes in sequence from that C up to the next C. Note are the first and last notes have more in common in terms of sound than the other notes played in between. See if child can hear this. If child has trouble with this concept, continue to demonstrate this over several sessions until child grasps this. Once child can hear similarities at the octave, then play either two different notes of different pitch classes (like C and E) or two notes of the same pitch class (for example, C) at different octaves. Avoid very high or very low notes – stay within a couple of octaves of middle C. Ask child if “like” (similar, matching) or different. Once child is good at this, move to another instrument. If possible do this on several different instruments.

Drill #11 Find Me “C” Explain to child “I am going to play a sound on the piano (guitar, etc.) and then tell me when I play that same sound again. Here’s the sound (play middle C). Is it okay, if we call this sound ‘C’ (If child agrees go with C, if child disagrees or if child volunteers a different name, go with the name child gives it unless it is a letter – if a letter negotiate for child to provide another name of their choosing.) ‘C’ sounds different than its neighbors, (Play another couple of notes, but not any C. To start with, play the A below middle C and then the E above middle C. Show the child C and show the child A and E.) Can you pick out C from this (play A) or this (play E.) (If child is very young start with child watching, then when child is comfortable continue with child not watching.)

With Child Not watching continue. “Here is our friend ‘C’ Now let’s see — is this C? (play same note or the A or E previously chosen) If child gets it correct, validate child (“Yes, that is ‘C’!!!) If one has just played C and child has indicated it is not C. Play C again and show child. If child doesn’t recognize it is the same note, child may be inattentive or not interested and it is probably best to do something else and come back at a later time or the next day. If one has played a different note and child incorrectly identifies that note as C , then play C and the previous note to show difference. Keep this drill light and simple.

Once child masters identifying ‘C’ from the ‘A’ and ‘E’ above it, then expand to include “B” below middle C, D above middle C and then later F and G above middle C. If at any point child asks the name of one of the other notes or asks to name one of the other notes, grant child’s request.

Once child masters identifying ‘C” from the other notes above and below, then tell child you will play two sounds together and child is to guess if C is being played. Start by showing child that you are playing C and E together – “See how here is “C” and here is another sound. And then play A and E – here are two sounds but not our C sound. Do this a few time until child seems to get this. And then try to do with child not watching. If child struggles, come back frequently to visually showing child. Always keep drills fun and light and go on to some other non-related game with child if hitting an impasse. Every tiny bit of exposure to the sounds of notes translates to some small progress.

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